Answers In the Woods

There is something phenomenal about youth camp with the fact that it leaves you feeling refreshed and on fire for God, like gaining answers in the woods.

Youth camp this Summer was the last thing I would do before going back to school for Fall semester. We arrived for check in on Thursday night and left Sunday afternoon. Monday after, I would start school. I had a desire for camp to not only be fun but to really help us draw closer to God. I really wanted there to be good worship and prayer more than anything else.

The drive to youth camp was about two hours and I had the responsibility of bringing dinner and snacks for that night. I ended up driving alone because my other carpool rides didn’t work out. But I like to think of myself as an independent person so I was like eh, its fine. I’ll drive alone and have some time to reflect on life by myself. Well, I ended up losing service and getting lost when I arrived on the camp site. I had to leave the campsite and drive off to find service until I eventually found some. And I got a hold of our youth leader who helped me get to camp safely. Almost cried and went back home. And that was the start of a very interesting youth camp. Luckily things got way better after that rocky start!

Camp was indeed very fun. The nightly highlights were going to the dock in the middle of the night and stargazing. Those deep talks though! We played volleyball for majority of the day and night (well not me as much because I suck), we went zip lining, canoeing and swimming, we played group games, had good talks, explored, and watched a movie. I personally did not have a bored moment.

But the most amazing part of camp was getting closer to new and old friends but also seeing how God worked in all of us. It was amazing being in God’s presence and looking out with tear stained eyes for a split moment to see everyone in awe of the Lord and worshipping at his feet together.

I really prayed for God to work in this camp. I felt we all could use a little extra prayer and Jesus to shake up our life a little bit. I’m so glad that God worked in us. The beginning of camp was great because everyone was getting along. But somewhere in the middle of camp problems arose amongst some of us. And I look back at that moment and it makes my stomach drop. Because in the end we didn’t even know why we were upset in the first place and the problems that happened were stupid and pointless. It was as if the devil came in and tried to shake things up and keep us from getting close to God.

But luckily we worked things out. In the end we all wanted God to touch this camp and for us to leave feeling refreshed and renewed. On Saturday night we had our last church service with our pastors. At this point we had all made up and talked things out but things may have been a little bit rocky still. With each song that our worship group sang, I began to forget about yesterday and it’s problems but focus on God in this very moment. We ended our worship list with “How He Loves” where Dima asked us to repeat the lines before ending in prayer. After this, the Holy Spirit really amplified in the room. I don’t think I was the only one who could feel His thick presence.

Our youth leader asked if anyone wanted to go to the front to receive the Holy Spirit or be prayed over. Everyone was praying but no one went up to the front. He asked again, but still no one went up. I felt a tugging on my heart to go to the front. But then immediately the negative thoughts came up that said, “After the way you were acting yesterday, you don’t deserve it. And you might be the only one going up.” So I stayed in my place up in the front with the worship team frozen in fear. But then I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Go to the front and the others will follow. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday.” And I responded back with, “But what if I’m the only one who goes up” and God answered me with, “I wouldn’t call you to do something and leave you all alone to fight for yourself.” Well with that I went to the front on my knees and started weeping, overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. Sure enough, others followed and we were there on our knees praying together.

I have never wept so hard in my life or prayed so hard since probably the day I was first baptized with the Holy Spirit. And here I was at camp feeling ashamed and regretful for some of my actions and conflicts from the other day but God was still working on my heart and filling me with His Spirit. Our youth leader asked us to pray for one another and my best friend and I wrapped each other in one another’s arms and bawled together. At one point I was bawling so hard that I was actually choking for air. Truth is, I was so hungry for God.

Camp really was great and I’ll never forget that service. I know that you don’t need camp to have a close encounter with God. And you cant go into camp expecting that you’ll be a completely changed and renewed person after that. But camp does have some mysterious way of helping you get answers and draw closer to God while tucked away in the woods.

This verse Psalms 12:01 will always remind of camp which says “I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him and He answered my prayer.”

I think the fact that nothing over the top or really out of the ordinary happened at camp is good because it will help us stay focused on him and hunger for him as camp is over. The most important part of camp was the fact that we humbled ourselves before God and that the Holy Spirit touched us and left us with a stronger hunger for God.

At camp I learned that it doesn’t matter the mistakes I made the day before, because God can still work in me and use me for His glory. God can redeem any broken relationships and cleanse their broken hearts and hurt and restore them to be healed.

Camp was a success not because of the activities or because of radical revivals but because God was in our presence and we could encounter Him. I believe that we will not let this experience be a one time thing but that we will continue to pursue him after and have the desire to grow in our relationship with Him.

It’s funny how He can grow beautiful flowers out of the inner most darkest places of my heart as He showers me with His grace.

God restores all things, even in the midst of brokenness.

I found the answers I was seeking in the woods.

Blessings,

Angie

Turn the AC Off On Your Heart<3

I always have the AC cranked up in the car while driving, doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside. I like being cold rather than hot. Sometimes I am driving someone around in the car and turn around to see them shivering to death without saying anything. Oops.

I prefer to be cold on the outside but I sure do not like how cold this world often is [on the inside looking out].

Today in the middle of the day I got a notification on twitter that someone liked my tweet from a lllooonngg time ago  that said “Somebody turn up the AC because it’s a competition to be the most cold hearted”. Although it’s weird that someone stalked my twitter to find that tweet, it sparked my idea to write about this. Everybody is too scared to show their feelings, to show they have any type of emotion. Feelings are seen as a weakness because if you show someone how you’re really feeling you may seem too excited, crazy, or end up hurt in the end.

I’m an emotional person which I know I have already mentioned in other posts. Is it really that I am an emotional person or am I just more open about my feelings than everyone else? I mean, I don’t sit there and cry all the time. I actually don’t cry that often and when I do it is usually during an encounter with God. Last week I went with my friends to watch the movie “Me Before You”. That movie was very emotional. My best friend sat there bawling her eyes out while I sat their peeking over at her and laughing hysterically. The movie was sad and good. But I believe her and I express our emotions differently.

What I am trying to get here is that feelings are often seen as a sign of weakness often. People try to be cold as possible. It’s like the song lyrics from the popular song on the radio right now “7 Years” by Lukas Graham that go “Soon I’ll be 60 years old, will I think the world is cold…” You know that I go hard at that part every time in the car when it comes on and am jamming out.

Feelings are fleeting and we should not always react immediately to every feeling that comes our way, that’s for sure. But we should be more open and honest and not let our hearts turn to rocks or be stone cold. There is a difference.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

Boy and girl like each other but both are too scared to actually admit they like each other. How many times do I hear my friends say “Oh I don’t want to make it seem like I am obsessed with him.” How does showing him interest to let him know you have some romantic feelings become being obsessive and crazy? When did actually asking people to go on dates become too scary and too forward. Now people just “hang out” so that in case nothing works out no one has the ability to be hurt. People have “things” instead of relationships so that when the thing ends, the other person is not allowed to be upset because it wasn’t a real relationship anyway. People go to parties and “hook up” and then the next day act like it was nothing and completely desensitize any feelings that should naturally occur when having any form of intimacy with someone. You get in a fight with a friend and instead of working out the issues and solving the problems people harden their hearts like rocks and become cold. We’re scared to simply compliment someone, we’re scared to give words of affirmation to someone, we’re scared to be too happy and positive because that is annoying, and we’re too scared to show we care because that person may not care as much as we do. Because to catch feelings, to be vulnerable, to put yourself out there, to be transparent can really screw yourself over in the end.

No.

I used to do this. Be too scared to show my emotions and be too scared to put myself out there in fear that it would leave me rejected or hurt in the end. But I soon realized that being cold is not fun. It ends up hurting you more later. I still struggle with being transparent with my emotions. Sometimes I keep things so bottled up and they marinate inside until they explode a long time after. That’s not good. I am working on that part of me.

I’m not just talking about romance here. I’m talking about life in general and how people try to be as cold as they can be. People close themselves up and don’t want to let anyone in or to put themselves out there for someone else. What a shame. We all want change in this world yet our world is so cold. Every day we turn on the news and hear more horror stories of shootings, violence, hate crimes, terrorism, and more. We need to show love and compassion to one another in such a cold world. We must.

I challenge you to be more open hearted. Be more forward with how you feel. And when you don’t know how you feel then be honest about that. Be more transparent and see how you can positively affect someone else’s life.

[Thank you to my friend Noah for instilling the idea of being more transparent in my life.]

 

Much love,

Angie

 

Why Do I Even Write?

There is something about having a very hectic mind and being able to transfer these crazy thoughts and ideas onto something real.

I was not always into writing. Well, English was always one of my favorite classes in School because I thought it was easy. Math has always been a struggle and still is. Some people love math because there is a formula you must follow and then you know there is always one straight answer. But for me, I don’t like that there is only one answer. Because I have to follow the formula exactly to get that answer. There is no other choice. In writing there  are many different standards and formulas. You can have your standard MLA format or you can have freestyle creative writing. And even when we all follow the same formula, we all have a different outcome because our thoughts are all different. There is no right or wrong answer per se, in writing a piece. Does this tell you a lot about how I view life in general?  But I was not always into writing. It’s something I became interested in not too long ago.

As a child, one of my phases was writing short stories for fun. But like all phases, that surely came to pass and I became interested in other things.

I took Baptism on August 29, 2015. A stormy crazy day but also the most beautiful day of my life. I can’t even describe how wonderful that experience was. Words cannot do it justice. One of my best friends gave me a present on that day and she included a notebook in it that had Bible Verses on the bottom of every page. This notebook would be the literal turning page in my desire to start writing.

This same friend was baptized this past weekend! Along with another one of my really good friends. There is something about seeing another person dedicate their life to Christ that brings so much joy, emotion, and a renewed sense of desire to follow Christ. Am I right?!

baptism

Congrats Girls! ❤

People talk about the trials that happen either before, during, or after baptism for most people. I definitely went through some really hard times after baptism. One thing that really helped me during that time was writing in that notebook. I put all my negative emotions in there. And it helped relieve me of the pain and emptiness surrounding my heart.

It’s funny because as soon as my life changed for the better, I stopped writing in that notebook. My last entry was four months ago and I have not felt a need to write in it anymore. I cannot even describe or explain the change of heart the Holy Spirit has done on my heart since taking baptism. Comparing who I was a year ago to now…WOW. And to know that he is not finished yet, he is still working on me.

I used to be so quiet, and I would usually keep to myself. But now I can’t shut up lol. I want to express my thoughts and ideas. I want to make new friends, I want to share experiences. I’m also a communication major so I love to communicate with people in various ways. I’m still a quiet gentle spirit by nature but more outgoing. When I stopped writing in my private notebook, I realized how much I loved to write in general. That notebook helped me reflect personally on my life. It allowed me to see how much I’ve learned and grown as a person. But that was only to benefit myself. I want to help other people, I want to reach out to them and encourage them. I want to use my crazy thoughts for the good of helping others.

My sister is someone who always encourages and pushes me to follow my passions and is someone who loves to empower women. She told me that I should start writing a blog, and I was like hey…I actually have been thinking of starting one.

I have been in a bit of a writers block lately. Was not sure of what to write about. So I thought maybe I would write an article about what inspired me to start writing a blog in the first place.

I don’t have all the answers to life’s problems. I still have things I struggle with. But writing a blog lets me be creative, spill my ideas, add encouragement, express my faith, learn new things, and be more transparent as a person.

Hopefully next week I am inspired to write something new.

Much love,

Angie ❤

Let Us Chat Over a Cup of Coffee

Oh my dear friend, how I wish we could sit together for a nice cup of coffee.

What a delight it would be to sit across from You in such a cozy atmosphere. To look deep into Your full of wonder eyes filled with all of life’s mysteries. I know You probably don’t even drink coffee, not that you need it. That wouldn’t even be the point of our coffee date. Many a friends I have taken for coffee runs. Many fierce, heartbreaking, inspiring, and puzzling conversations I have had over coffee with countless friends. But all of them would transform to be pointless, if I could trade them all to have one conversation over coffee with You.

It’s not to say that we don’t ever speak as it is. In fact, we usually spend every day together in some way. I think about You constantly and You are the last person I talk to every night. I love You so much. I use the word “best friend” pretty loosely, but You truly are my very best friend. No one compares to you.

Sometimes I am a bad friend to You. I forget to talk to You or spend time with You. I trust in myself and wallow in worries before coming to You with my problems. Sometimes I am so scared to admit the things I have done wrong and so ashamed. You promised me You would never leave me or condemn me but yet I feel that this time I may have truly gone too far. But deep in my heart, I know that simply isn’t true. You constantly remain faithful in Your promises. I feel at peace when I finally come to You. You always bring me so much joy, my best memories are truly with You. You’ve gifted me beyond measure, there is no way that I would ever be able to repay You. I regret to say that I am not the best friend to You that You are to me.

I know that I have not been the best friend lately. I know I have distanced myself. I am so sorry. But I could really use a friend right now. Even though I don’t deserve it. You see, I have some deep troubles right now. Some answers, I need help. I sit and think about it all day long. I paint a smile on my face every day to mask my true colors. But it’s been raining for the past few weeks and the rain is starting to wash away the paint. People are starting to see the damage hidden underneath. I don’t really know what to do. You have always given me the best advice before, please help me once more.

Oh how I wish to sit You down over some coffee at my favorite coffee shop downtown. To be in Your presence is enough to make me feel at ease. This is what I assume the encounter would go like. I’d look deep into Your eyes and you would look back so knowingly. You would look at me and already know what is on my mind before I even utter a word. I’d start to cry and say, “I just don’t know what to do anymore!”

You would wipe away my tears and say, “Don’t think I’ve been away. I’ve heard your cries in the deep of night. I whispered sweet melodies into your ear and rocked you to sleep.”

I would ask you all the questions that have been troubling me. Get some things off my chest. Similar to what I do with my other friends, but with You, I just know that You would be the most understanding. You would tell me what to do. You would give me the answers I so desire.

But although I would love nothing more to go on a coffee date with You, I know there is a reason I can’t physically do that. But I know that I can still spend time with You any hour of the day and  that You will always be there for me.

I really hope our relationship grows stronger through the years and we overcome all obstacles. I can’t wait until the day I can truly be fully in Your presence. Thank You for being my best friend and truly loving me unconditionally. I love You so much.

[NOTE: This blog post is a little different. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops with my friends and trying to get work done. Life is full of mystery and confusion and many times I think to myself, man I wish I could just have Jesus right in front of me so that I could ask him some questions and get some concrete answers on how to live my life! But it’s important to remember that He is always with us and He does answer our prayers in many different ways.]

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Angie

 

 

Sarcasm Makes Life Easier (This is Sarcasm)

I get myself into some very interesting situations sometimes from my sarcasm. Not many people fully understand my sarcasm and how it has a strong connection to my humor. I personally don’t understand boys very much so my main approach to talking to them is by speaking very sarcastically. Often times this can come off as rude or “salty” and people cannot tell when I’m being serious or just joking. But other times people tell me I am really funny and there is not better compliment coming from a guy than “You are really funny.” Well of course he could give you better compliments saying that you are beautiful or have a beautiful soul, and much more..but hey I’ll take funny any day. As long as it’s not funny looking because my friends love to post ugly pictures of me in our group chat but ok I am getting way off topic here! Basically, if you understand my sarcasm and humor, well God bless your soul.

But sarcasm has gotten me into some very interesting situations. Good or bad, definitely makes me look back on life and laugh (sometimes the laughing happens right away, sometimes it happens years after once the initial embarrassment and shock has worn off.

As you can see, although I love to talk about serious things, I also love to joke around. So please take everything in this post with a grain of salt and a light hearted attitude. I like to share my more funny and awkward experiences to show that life doesn’t always have to be so serious 🙂 In fact if you know me in real life I am always laughing and messing around. So this post will hopefully show more of my personality.

Story #1

So one time my friend (who is a boy) was taking me home. He was talking about how I remind him of one of his ex girlfriends because of how we connect through our spiritual conversations. We often laugh because of how similar we both are (but apparently not in all ways!). Often times this boy vents to me about one of our mutual friends who he has a major crush on. After hearing him talk about her for the past two hours and then receiving compliments on how him and I connect on such an intellectual level, I sarcastically/jokingly said, “Why don’t you just forget about (our friend) and date me instead.” This was met with silence and then an awkward serious conversation after. I probably said the wrong thing. He explained that although he thought I was attractive, and we get along great that he prayed about it before and that it wouldn’t be right to mix in the friend group and that he still really liked my friend.

That’s all fine and dandy and I was just like alrighty…thanks for the ride. Good bye!

Was this conversation over? No. Because then a few days later he asked to meet up and we had to discuss again why I said what I said and what it means. I should have thought before I joked out loud. We’re cool now and really good friends. But that was a weird situation.

Story #2

Now last week I went to get bubble tea with one of my friends while taking a break from studying. A new bubble tea place had opened up in the mall. At the check out, the cashier was speaking to the manager and asked him why he had hired him. The manager was laughing and said, “It’s because we see potential in you and because of your great smile.” Well I too started laughing and the manager looked at me and continuing his sentence said, “Just like hers.”

I responded in my sarcastic/joking way, “Thanks! Can I work here too then?”

Well this led to me filling out and application form and having an interview on the spot in front of the long line of customers. It ended with minimum wage being the starting pay so no thank you! But this was a time that sarcasm actually worked in my favor and landed me a job opportunity.

I will not stop my sarcastic ways because well it makes life entertaining and because it comes naturally to me. But I will have to make sure that I actually think before I speak sometimes and make sure it doesn’t come off rude or put me in some weird preventable situations.

This is how I laugh about my life. :))))

Stay laughing,

Angie

 

I Forgive You but I Cannot Forget You (Part 1)

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” Matthew 6:14

Forgiveness is not always easy. What does it really mean?

I decided to name the title as part 1 because thinking about forgiveness, I realize that it is actually a complex topic. As I grow and learn more, the more I want to reflect on what forgiveness is and to see how my heart has changed. I don’t think I can only write once about this topic. The act of forgiving is a beautiful thing because it means showing grace and love unto someone who has wronged you, and you yourself being separated from the bondage of resentment and hurt. But that being said, forgiveness is not always easy as it often comes after a time of deep hurt and deep trial.

The Back Story

Last night I had our annual Monday night Bible Study session with some of my friends at 7:30. We have been doing this since the New Year started, I think. We have a No-Cancellation-Policy which means that some nights we would have Bible Study really late if needed. Anyway, we go through this book of Bible Verses every week and each week there is a different topic to discuss. Last night’s topic was Forgiveness.

Everybody sat around my couch eating popcorn and sipping on their coffee. Once we stopped getting distracted by laughter, the doorbell ringing, and my Grandma coming in ranting and making funny jokes in Ukrainian, we dove in to discussion.

As we went through, we realized that forgiveness is much more complicated than we ever initially thought. What is forgiveness? Did any of us still have unforgiveness in our hearts, even though we were Christian? How did we deal with forgiving others before? If we don’t forgive others, will we not be forgiven by God? Is forgiveness a one time act or is it a constant decision? And lastly, how can we really forgive someone who doesn’t care or doesn’t ask for forgiveness?

These questions boggled my mind all night. It still does. I don’t have all the answers. I’m still learning and praying for wisdom.

Discussion

As the night went on, people began to share personal stories of battling forgiveness. Some lives have been forever changed by one person’s actions towards them, and that makes forgiving hard. And knowing someone just doesn’t care to even ask for your forgiveness, makes it even harder. We struggle with forgiving others and then feeling guilty because we know that God has forgiven us of all our trespasses and that he calls us to forgive others as well.

As the night went on I was a bit silent at first. Soaking in the confusing topic and trying to understand the meaning of forgiveness. Sitting in that room, I unfortunately knew that even though I wanted to be completely forgiving of everyone, that deep down I still carry some resentment and unforgiveness deep down in my heart.

So this is what I asked the rest of the group, “Do you guys think that forgiveness is a one time thing where you forgive someone and get over it? Or do you think it is something that sometimes you have to choose to do daily. Even if you’ve already forgiven someone, sometimes the pain still haunts you almost daily and you have to choose to forgive that person instead of thinking negatively about them. I have times where I think I have completely forgiven someone but sometimes the hurt creeps back in and I feel guilty and think, what is going on?!

In which case they responded, “Angela, I think you just answered your own question.”

Forgiving and Loving go almost hand in hand

I say almost because love is an even more complex topic and forgiving is only one aspect or side of loving someone, there are more sides to loving. But yes, forgiving someone is an act of love. God sent his son in the ultimate act of love to die for our sins so we may be forgiven. (1 John 3:16)

I personally believe that love is not just a feeling but also an action. We must choose to love every day. Being human, loving doesn’t always come easy. It’s easy to love your family and close friends, most of the time it comes naturally and unconditionally. It’s harder to show love to someone who is a stranger or to someone who is against you. Similar to forgiving. I used to believe forgiving someone is a one time act. That once you forgive them once for something, that you will no longer care about it and it has gone away. Sometimes that is the case. Especially for minor things. But, sometimes it’s not the case. Sometimes it’s an every day decision, (this is what I concluded at the end of last night’s Bible Study). Especially when the hurt they caused is now something you must live with for the rest of your life.

So what do you do when forgiveness doesn’t come easy? Here are some suggestions.

  • Realize that you have hurt others before and you need grace just as much as them. That we are all human and fall short.
  • Pray for them. Even when it hurts, pray for them.
  • If you can, please please please try and talk to them! Let them know what is wrong and try to come to a mutual understanding if possible. This is not always possible in certain circumstances, but when it is you should try. Sometimes you may need time to get to this point.
  • Vent to a trusted friend who can comfort and pray for you.
  • Distance yourself if needed. You can’t change anyone or make them understand what you are going through. But you can change yourself (with God’s help and other means of help). You can keep yourself from negativity.
  • If you must see them a lot, try to kill them with kindness and show love. Eventually it will become easier. Almost like fake it till you make it.
  • Avoid gossiping about the person who you have something against. Fueling gossip only fuels your own anger and hate!

Obviously every situation is different and complex, these are only my suggestions. And I write them for myself as a reminder because I have been struggling with forgiveness. I’m honestly a very emotional person. And it makes me feel even guilty to say that because I am a Christian and I know God calls us to forgive and he forgives me even when I seriously mess up over and over again. But that’s why we can all learn and encourage each other.

Good points made by my friends:

  • Often times people don’t really understand the extent of how much they have hurt you. If they did, the would feel just as heartbroken.
  • Just because the other person is over it, doesn’t mean you have to be. It takes people different amounts of time to feel ok and to process what happened. Take as much time as you need.
  • Don’t wish someone bad or curse them. Wish them well and actively try to change your mindset. If a negative thought pops up about them try to diffuse it.
  • If you forgive someone, doesn’t mean they have to be back in your life.
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean you forget what happened. It means you let go and used the situation to better yourself.

MY BIG BELIEF: JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS BEEN A CRAPPY PERSON TO YOU OR IN GENERAL DOES NOT MEAN THAT IS THEIR SET CHARACTER OR BEHAVIOR FOR LIFE. ANYONE WHO IS WILLING CAN CHANGE. TREAT THEM WITH THEIR POTENTIAL AND MAYBE THEY WILL BELIEVE THEY CAN ACHEIVE IT. GOD LOVES US BECAUSE HE SEE’S ALL THAT WE ARE. HE DOESN’T SETTLE ON OUR MISTAKES OR SINS. FORGIVING AT THE TOUGHEST TIMES IS THE WAY THAT YOU CAN SHOW THE LOVE OF GOD TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT!! YESS!!!

I will be thinking about this and also trying to live this out in my life. I will write hopefully a part 2 when I receive more insight and experience on the topic. One friend from Bible Study had an epiphany and is now going to ask someone for forgiveness. We must also realize that if we feel guilty for something we did, it is never too late to apologize to someone that we hurt. Even if it’s years later! We all need to be intentional with loving, living, and forgiving every day of our lives!

Whoever you are, reading this..if you want to shoot me a little prayer, that would be great. 🙂 If you need prayer. Let me know!

Hope:

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” Daniel 9:9

Have a great week my friends,

Angie ❤