Friday, September 1, 2017

My SLU Experience | 8.22.2017

Dr. Jay Strack has said, “You will be the same person ten years from now except for the books you read, the places you go, the people you meet, and the Scripture you memorize.” Whenever someone asks what my favorite part about my SLU experience is, it is always hard to narrow down all the memories, knowledge, and experiences into one “favorite.” However, most of the time I tell questioners this quote because I believe it encompasses my entire SLU experience of a lifetime.

“The books you read” … Before SLU 101 even began, my dad was super pumped about me getting to go on this trip. Through all of his excitement, he told me to read. He found the SLU reading list, and he ordered all the books for me to begin to surround myself with the knowledge and prepare myself for this experience. Before this, I enjoyed reading; however, my normal reading plan was filled with romance novels and Christian fiction, not biographies and leadership information books like what was on the SLU reading list. Through all of the books I have read over the years—from the SLU reading list to more biographies and informative books that I have added myself—I have learned so much more than I would have had I not read. When different situations arise, I use the wisdom gained from the books and apply it. We all grow through the SLU sessions, but books bring more in-depth challenges to leadership and they continue the excitement of the one week SLU to a lifetime of application. With biographies, there is wisdom to be gained through that person’s life. With informative books, there is life application through nuggets of wisdom in between the lines. Ten years from now, my future will be changed because I read thought-provoking books.

“The people you meet” … While the books I read really began at 101, the people I met at 201 truly changed my perspective. At SLU 201 in Washington D.C., we heard from amazing speakers, including founders of nonprofit organizations, governmental senators, actors, and military men. I had never been so exposed to so many wise people in one place. From the podium, each spoke wisdom individually into our lives. Specifically from 201, I have learned to soak up wisdom from anyone that is willing to share. Whether a college student who is only in town for the summer telling me how to be prepared for college or an older lady in the grocery store that I have never met showing me how to have joy in the mundane, I have learned to listen. I remember a time when several out of town college students stayed at our house for two days. They had so much wisdom to share about their college journeys. I only wish I had more time to spend talking with them! I’ve learned to never take anyone for granted. With the people you meet, always listen. Learn from their experience. The people you meet will change you and make you wiser.

“The places you go” … SLU 301 was the first time I had ever been out of the country. While I didn’t know what to expect at first, I saw both similarities and differences. The European people looked the same, yet their culture and way of living was slightly different than anything I had ever experienced before. Even after one day of being on a different continent, my perspective was changed forever. Since 301, I have been to two other continents (Colombia, South America on a mission trip and Israel in the Middle East with SLU 401), and seeing the different ways people live is life changing. When you experience a totally new culture and environment, your life is forever altered. When you meet people from different parts of the world, your heart yearns to meet them at their point of need, and your heart is expanded for sharing Christ with the nations. Your perspective changes. Your goals change. Your life changes. The places you go changes you.

“The Scripture you memorize” … Before the SLU 401 trip to the Holy Land, I felt God’s call in my personal walk with Him for me to memorize more Scripture. After a few weeks of Scripture memory, I saw the importance of it especially in spiritual warfare against the devil. I even applied a lesson I learned from a speaker at 201 to pray Scripture over people in our spheres of influence. Chaplain Barry Black said, “When you pray back the promises, you move the hand of the Omnipotent.” Because of my foundation in memorizing Scripture, God’s Word came alive on 401! With my mind full of the Bible, I experienced SLU 401 to its full potential. I would not have been able to see all God had in store if I didn’t memorize Scripture beforehand. It also would not have meant as much if I did not know the Scripture references to the places we were visiting. With 401 and with all of life, God has the power to open our spiritual eyes in different situations and bring Scripture we have memorized to the forefront of our mind. The hardships of this world pale in comparison to the power in God’s Word. Your life will be changed by the Scripture you memorize.

But now that my SLU experience is over, how do I continue to think, dream, and lead? How do I keep my dream alive? While this is the whole purpose of SLU, many forget to continue to live the life of a leader who pursues excellence. If we continue to apply the wisdom we learn from books, people, places, and Scripture, I believe we will grow into the leader that God desires us to be. My challenge for myself is to continue to read books that are thought-provoking, listen to others and the wisdom that they have, go places to experience the world through different eyes, and memorize more and more of God’s precious Words of life. Will you join me?

My Suggested SLU Reading List*
Before SLU 101
Leadership Rocks by Jay Strack
The Call by Brent Crowe

Before SLU 201
Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Lincoln Speaks to Leaders by Pat Williams
Identity Theft by Jay Strack
Truth Matters by Andreas Kostenberger

Before SLU 301
Seven Men by Eric Metaxas
William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity by Kevin Belmonte
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
The Boys of Pointe du Hoc by Douglas Brinkley
ReImagine by Brent Crowe
Seven Women by Eric Metaxas

Before SLU 401
Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick
Read as much of the Bible as possible—I suggest looking at the schedule for each day of 401 and researching where the places are in the Bible before you go on the trip (example: for Mt. Carmel, I wrote down and read 1 Kings 18:19-40).

*Based off of SLU’s official Recommended Reading List, but I added my additional book suggestions, and took off those I did not read.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Reading 2017... and how it has changed me

As college starts up next week, my summer is quickly coming to a close. I set a goal to "read a lot" in the summer. Without any major or specific books in mind, I simply went for it and read a lot. With all the busyness of travel and college preparation, I surprised myself with how many books I read, and I decided I wanted to share with you the six that I completed this summer of 2017.

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst... I went through this book with a mentor and best friend as we entered the busy season of summer and looked on to the future of college. Through the book and the times meeting together, we learned what it means to choose the best yes. God places many good decisions in our life because if there was only one wrong choice and only one good choice, we would lose are free will when it comes to choosing good. While there are many good decisions to choose from, Lysa encourages her readers to decide what is best in your life. She shows how to practically apply wisdom to those many decisions.

"There is no perfect decision--only the perfectly surrendered decision to press through our fears and know that God is working in us to bring about good through us."

I have applied the wisdom in this book so much already. I tend to be a people pleaser--never saying no because I feel obligated and guilty if I don't help someone--but this book has helped me identify when to say no and when to say yes. Whether it be saying no to a coffee date because my schedule is already filled, saying yes to playing with my siblings because I'm moving out for college soon, this book is filled with insight on how to make the best yes.

The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick... I'll be honest, I started reading this book because it was a requirement for a leadership position I was in. However, after the first chapter, I was hooked. Lomenick intertwines profound leadership principles with real life examples of people living out those principles. He doesn't write about unattainable qualities, but urges leaders to step up and lead NOW.

The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom like,

"Always choose the job that no one else wants."

"Capable leaders are constant leaders."

"Making a difference many times starts with just simply making a move."

"See where you want to be and lead like you're already there."

While challenging, this book gets leaders excited to lead now. In my own life, repeating the little sayings of wisdom (some seen above) pushes me to meet the challenge and pursue excellence in leadership.

7 Women by Eric Metaxas... About a year ago, I read Metaxas' 7 Men, and I was amazed by how he put his readers into the shoes and lives of the men he wrote about. I knew I needed to read his following book about seven amazing women of the world. This book shows how seven women, each in different situations, changed the world for the glory of God. 

"Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa--each of these world-changing figures followed the call placed on her life, doing so with remarkable feminine dignity."

I have been challenged to look into the lives of these women and apply the character qualities in my own life so I, too, can change the world. 

The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas... I have wanted to read this book for a while, but I finally pushed myself to read it over this summer. Thomas inspires his readers to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first as you step into a season of looking for a marriage partner. He covers a variety of topics in order to help readers prepare their own heart for marriage before they look for someone to marry. Thomas uses Scripture to navigate the "why" of marriage, not the "who."

"[Bad marriages] usually erupt from trying to build a life together without purpose, without mission, without something that not only establishes a connection but keeps you caring about each other for the next fifty to sixty years."

I have applied this book in my own life through the wisdom it offers combined with the wisdom of the Word. Anyone who thinks they would like to get married, is in a dating relationship, or is already married should read this book!

The Bible's Seven Secrets to Healthy Eating by Joyce Rogers... With my interest in being a dietitian, my dad pulled this treasure out of his office library and gave it to me to read. I have been so challenged and inspired by Mrs. Rogers' book. She applies both Scripture and healthy eating to how we should treat our bodies. As Christians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we need to take care for our bodies in any way we can.

Mrs. Rogers quotes from Dr. Baxter who said, "How many thousands today are in our overcrowded hospitals who never would have been there but for wrong eating! How many have inadvertently committed slow suicide with their knifes and forks!"

I have definitely been able to apply this book as I store up her wisdom for my future career. Making it practical for anyone, Mrs. Rogers places a list of recipes in the back of the book so that readers can apply what she taught in the earlier part of the book. 

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris... My boyfriend recommended this book to me, and I could not put it down when I started reading it. This book is written by teens, for teens, to challenge each other to rebel against low expectations. The Harris twins incorporate real life stories of teens changing the world and wisdom that fills each page of the book. It truly inspires readers to get up and do hard things NOW.

"'Do hard things' means fighting for greater levels of excellence because there is always something harder to do," the Harris twins quote from a real life rebelutionary.

"If we're willing to strive for excellence, even in the boring, repetitive tasks and responsibilities that others delegate or neglect, we will reap the powerful benefits that others miss."

I have applied this by rebelling against the low expectations arising in college. The biggest one seeming to be that most college students fall away from their faith. I am choosing to go against the flow and pursuing the relationship with Christ that He desires me to have with Him. I've "no less days to sing His praise" so why stop in college? Every teen NEEDS to read this book.

Dr. Jay Strack says, "You will be the same person 10 years from now except for the books you read." I have seen this true in my life... at the beginning of this summer, I didn't have all of this wisdom I received from all of these different books. My life would've looked totally different now had I not read these books. 

This is my challenge to you: are you reading? 

Years ago I would've answered yes... I was reading Christian fiction and romance novels. But how does that help me change the world? 

Are you reading biographies of Christian men and women? Are you challenging yourself with leadership or career-based books?

Learn from others' lives through reading their life stories. What (or Who) gave them the power to change the world? Soak wisdom up from scholars who base their works of the Word of God, and who challenge you to live every aspect of your life (dating, career, leadership) for the glory of God. 

If you do not have a current reading list, I encourage you to start with one of these. 

Read. Learn. Be changed.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Colombia - 3.13.2017

Day 3 of our Colombia Mission Trip! Our energy was revamped as we spent our entire day with the kiddos of Leticia and toured on the Amazon River.

We traveled to Monkey Island where little "micos" crawled all over us, visited a "petting zoo" (that included boas, more monkeys, turtles, sloths, and more!), and built relationships with the kids on our long boat rides in between.

The tour lasted about 7 hours of our not-so-rainy day, then we went to a pizza party with the kids in the evening. We played their favorite games (most of them new to us), sang worship songs in Spanish and in English, and showed the kids pictures on our phones because they were fascinated with them!

We ended our evening with a team meeting around the hotel pool, discussing plans for tomorrow's VBS. Once we were done, we all gradually went to our rooms and hit the hay for another exciting day in the Amazon... We can't wait to see how the Lord continues to work!

Please pray as we present the gospel through our VBS tomorrow. Also, please continue to pray for prevention against mosquitos. Several people have been bitten, but we're thankful for our malaria meds!

*For those still waiting on pictures: some have been posted on the Bellevue HSM social media. We are having trouble with the connection here in our hotel so it's harder to post pictures to the blog. We hope to resolve this problem soon, but until then we hope you'll join us in living out our word of the week: flexadaptability.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Colombia - 3.12.2017

After a short but good nights' rest, we continued our trip with more traveling. Before boarding the plane, we went to a Crepes & Waffles restaurant, and together, we all ordered a variety of tasty food... we all had a good dose of happiness! When we landed, we went to a church to worship with the natives of Leticia and met some of the kids for the first time on our trip!

While everyone is a little tired from long days of travel, our excitement to see these precious children's faces is keeping the energy of our team up.

"Because the poor are pludered, because the needy groan, I will now arise," says the LORD; "I will place him in the safety for which he longs." -Psalm 12:5

Jesus cares so much for the poor and needy! On this trip, we are truly being His hands and feet as we minister to these kids. With every act of service we do on this trip, we are echoing God's heartbeat.

Pictures coming very soon! 

Colombia - 3.11.2017

And we're off! 

We all safely landed in Bogota at 12:15am. The layovers and flights were tiring, but the excitement and energy of the group is getting us all pumped to meet and work with the kids in La Aljaba. 

Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disviples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have givenyou. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

Wow, we are putting these verses into action! Because Jesus has all authority, we can go and share the good news about Him with others. When we go, Jesus promises to be with us always. 

Please pray that we have a restful night tonight, and continue to pray for us as we travel tomorrow!