What (We Think) We Need

I’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah lately, and I just love it. I love this feeling: learning, questioning, stories, a rich and deep history with so much evidence of the Lord. It helps that Nehemiah is a total #baller. The dude up and left a swanky job at the palace to go rebuild a wall, and he stood up to his enemies, relied on God and those around him, and worked together with a group of Israelites to get the entire thing done in fifty-two days. I mean, don’t you just want to make a “based on a true story” sports movie about it?

Nehemiah 9 is a great way to understand the Israelites’ relationship with God without reading anything else in the Old Testament. Verse 33 sums it up perfectly: “In all that has happened to us [the Israelites], you [God] have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly.” The Israelites review their history with God, listing out His goodness and faithfulness and all the ways they’ve rebelled against him. It’s a powerful comeback of repentance. When I was studying it last week, verse 21 caught my eye:

“For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.”

-Nehemiah 9:21 NIV

This verse piqued my interest because I think it highlights two types of God’s provision.

  1. Giving us what we think we need. The Israelites’ clothes didn’t wear out during forty years of wandering in the desert. Sometimes, the Lord provides for our needs (physical or otherwise) like we expect Him to. The job offer comes through. We meet a new friend at exactly the right time. We find twenty dollars. Someone gives us an encouraging text when we’re feeling down. It seems like a miracle but we get the stuff we need to get through.
  2. Making us more able to handle it. The Israelites’ feet didn’t swell up throughout all that walking. Sometimes, the Lord doesn’t give us what we think we need. But when that happens, He gives us strength, peace, and whatever else to face it and to be okay with it.

In this season of life, I’m learning a lot about God’s provision. Sometimes, it looks like an acceptance letter. Sometimes, it looks like a financial aid letter. It’s exciting news about getting to sing at church or the perfect amount of time in study hall to finish the work I needed to get done before the next class. (Senioritis, y’all.) Other times, it looks like a small sense of reassurance when the acceptance letter or financial aid letter doesn’t look like what I want. It looks like unexpected confidence when I’m speaking in front of a crowd. It’s faith that, when things don’t turn out the way I would have picked, they are turning out exactly like He planned.

No matter what happens, the Lord gives us what we need. It may not be what we think we need. It may be something on the inside that helps us keep a good attitude and grateful spirit when He doesn’t give us what we think we need. But God does provide for all of our needs, even when we don’t feel like He is. It’s not our job to work for that provision; it’s our job to trust it. I am learning in the book of Nehemiah and in this final push of senior year how rich and glorious that provision is.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:19

Songs for the Snow

IT’S SPRING!

If you know me, then you know I hate the cold. I am a bundler and donner of immense amounts of knitwear, I sometimes drive to school in a Snuggie, and I welcome those random 70 degree days in the middle of winter with my Chacos and open arms. This winter was cold, as winters are wont to be, and I needed a killer playlist to get me through it. Here are my songs for the snow!*

*Yes, it did snow, a whole two times for at least half an hour.

  • Matthew Mole. This man is amazing and makes me cry. His voice and accent are the perfect balance of rough and polished, and his lyrics are beautifully written. The messages in his songs are cute, positive, or both. While he’s simply enjoyable to listen to, his music also has meaning and makes you think. His whole album will also be featured in my wedding someday. I recommend Matthew Mole to anyone looking for something fun and acoustic, but also deep and rich in meaning. Favorite songs: “The Wedding Song,” “Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine,” and “Same Parts, Same Heart.”
  • “Jackrabbit” by San Fermin. This song is catchy, upbeat, and different. Though the female vocalist has insane range, she shows it off well without it feeling excessive. The instrumentation is really unique and driving. Recommended for fans of Florence and the Machine or if you’re just looking for something fun.
  • Sleeping At Last. Sleeping At Last creates a really interesting, wide range of music, from beautiful instrumental to singer-songwriter. I like his instrumental stuff and his other music equally, because I think he carries over awesome musical skill into both types. The messages in his lyrics are absolutely gorgeous, really positive, and well communicated. His music leaves you feeling uplifted, optimistic, and hopeful, and I highly recommend powering through his Atlas album whenever you get the chance (or if you’re maybe writing an entire four-page paper in one night lol not like I did that or anything). Favorite songs: “You Are Enough,” “Sun,” and “Pluto.”
  • “It’s Alright Now” by Bombay Bicycle Club. Oh my goodness, I love this song so much. I never, ever skip it when it comes on. The instrumentation is driving and different and the perfect complement to the vocals, and it’s just a fun jam, especially in the car. Recommended for people looking for something unique, but not too strange.
  • “Pierre” by Ryn Weaver. Ryn Weaver’s vocals are both pretty and bold. This song is fun to dance to or to just listen to and sort of bob your head (because you definitely can’t help but bob your head). The music behind her vocals works really well with her voice and the tone of the song. I recommend this song for fans of Florence and the Machine again (or “Jackrabbit” above). (Other songs of hers that I like include “Free” and “Traveling Song.”)
  • Empires by Hillsong United. After seeing Hillsong United perform live at Passion, I started listening to the Empires album, and OMG it’s really good. Hillsong’s lyrics are beautiful and unique, praising God without being cheesy about it. Overall, this is a more chill worship album, but it still has some good builds and climaxes. Recommended for someone who wants non-stereotypical Jesus jams. Favorite songs: “Heart Like Heaven,” “Touch the Sky,” and “Here Now (Madness.”

And that’s my winter playlist! Hope you enjoy!

Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part VIII

February 4-6, 2016: The Last Church Retreat

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I’ve been putting off this blog post for a while. My last church retreat was wonderful, phenomenal, one to never forget, and full of so many tears. Senior year has a lot of lasts, and so far, each and every one has been emotional. #myLIFE16 was no exception.

On Saturday night, at the beginning of my last session ever as a student, I looked at one of the girls I’ve had the privilege of walking through life with for the past five years… and we just burst into tears. I felt so sad that it was really and truly ending, but at the same time, my heart was full of gratitude. In the past four years, Inside Out has been so good to me. They’ve grown me and my faith, given me a family, and been there for me, a constant, when everything else was going wrong. My last church retreat was one last hurrah, but also an opportunity for reflection. As I looked back on four years of fun, friendship, and faith, I definitely couldn’t keep it in.

I cried because I’m sad to leave Inside Out and some of the best people I’ve ever know. I cried because I’m happy that Inside Out is never really over, because I want to pour back into this ministry that’s poured so much into me. I cried because I’m so thankful for all God has done and how He’s moved in the past four years. I cried because I’m grateful that He will continue moving for the next four years, and forty, and four hundred bajillion. I cried because I’m a crier and God is good and faithful.

And that’s #myLIFE16 in a nutshell.