Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Honest Wanderer: Introspection and Freshman Year

To my readers who stayed so faithfully despite my over-a-year-long absence . . .

The Lord has put it on my heart to start up this blog again. I had it closed -- and intended for it to be closed permanently, but I realize now that this is an ongoing story. This is God's testimony of His constant faithfulness, going back years. Oh, the girl writing this post today is so very different than the girl writing her first post in 2010. She is (more) confident in her Father's love and wants to write about it for your sake, as a ministry -- and for my own, as a way to record and remember His presence.

Young daughters of the King, you are my calling. My heart is for you. I am your sister, you deserve to know that you're not alone.

I remember the countless letters, emails, and comments from you ladies, facilitated through this blog over the years. As you echoed my pain and told me your stories, it was proof that God was at work with each keystroke I made, even the somewhat immature ones. Part of me wants to go back through every post I wrote, to weed out woefully pitiful writing habits or recorded emotions that went public far too soon. But I can't do that. From the moment I started this blog as a 16 year old, I promised total honesty, total humiliation before my readers as a sinner in desperate need of divine adoption. This is my life as an open book. There is no reason that book should be closed - my Father is only beginning to write my story.

In the vein of total honesty, here's a recap on my last year.

I wandered. 

The Lord never left me. He was by my side the entire time, he never changed, he never "hurt" me to cause me to look away from him. I did it on my own. I went to college, a Christian one at that, and suddenly . . .
My world was about me.
My schedule, friends, success, downtime, reputation.
My feelings.

It was as if, somehow, I had forgotten that I am not my own, that as His daughter there is no such thing as "I" statements at all, even though we are forced to use them as human beings.

I went from a situation of total dependence on Christ for daily survival, to an environment where I was safe. I had a roof over my head. I had a meal plan. I was not struggling through poverty like I had been for years . . . Oh, comfort can indeed be our biggest enemy! Instead of pursuing God actively every moment of my day, literally "praying without ceasing" -- I was in a Christian environment where I didn't feel the need to fight the battle for my faith. There were no hardship to bring me to my knees. Christianity was fed to me through theologically sound classes, mandatory chapel sessions, and nearly every interaction I had with professors and peers alike. Instead of using that to grow my intimate relationship with my King, it made me complacent.
My guard came down.
I felt ... too... safe.
It was a year of piggy-backing on my Christian surroundings.

How far I wandered. 

Where did she go, the girl dependent on Him for each breath, talked to Him constantly, was known for her encouragement? Who included Christ as not a part of her life but as the centerpiece of it?

A few weeks ago, as I read through my daily (ahem, more like routine, robotic, emotionless) devotional, I came across a passage from Isaiah in my bible that had carried me through some of my darkest days. It was like a V-8 commercial, and I was the one getting bonked in the head.

Lauren, you are Israel. You executed plans, but not mine. You took the reins. 
And .... Still I love you. I'm here, aren't I? Have I ever left? I'm not leaving you. 
Turn back to me. 

His voice was so clear in my head. Clear ... like how it used to be, when He would speak to my heart. How long it had been since I truly heard the whisperings of my Father. 

When you hear your beloved's voice, how can you not run into His arms? How can you not collapse into his undying, unfailing love? 

It is impossible for me to resist Him. It is impossible to live a life of complacency for long, in light of this radical love.
Sophomore year, you are not going to be defined in terms of me. 

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Asking For Directions

I'll admit it - I have a type A personality that gets me in trouble sometimes. I like to work hard, solve problems, and fix things. Unfortunately, I don't always realize that someone else could do it better.

Rewind to last year, in October. Me and my friends were touring the beautiful grounds of Princeton University, where we had gone to compete in a moot court tournament. And, if you know anything about Princeton University, you know that it's BIG. Well, pretty big. So, we tried finding the library at first without a map, however, that was conducive to naught but getting ourselves terribly lost, so, we finally caved. With map in hand, I proceeded to lead our little group all over the campus, with no real understanding of where we were going or why we should be there.

"Why don't we just ask someone for directions" my friend Aaron asked.

30 minutes later, we were still wandering aimlessly around in circles, trying to find the coveted library.

"Seriously, I'll do the asking. I think we need to ask someone.... maybe a student...?"
"Absolutely not! We're totally fine! I know exactly where we are! Uh, we're, uh.... here! Yeah!" My friend Megan shot me a strange look.
Then I pointed to some random spot on the map just to look like I knew were we were.

After about an hour of walking, we finally got to where we wanted to go. Comically I look back on that and think, yeah, Aaron was right. We should've just asked someone.

Unfortunately, this propensity to "do-it-myself, I-can-fix-anything" doesn't stop with my refusal to ask for directions. In every aspect of my life, I want to be the person to FIX whatever it is that's the problem. I feel like I'm the only one who can truly solve it.

But that's not what Scripture tells us. Handing over the reins is really hard, but when we do -we won't be sorry.

What I've realized was that God was telling me to ask Him for direction. Instead of wandering aimlessly, trying to understand what to do or where to go, He was offering to handle it for me if I just stepped back.

Today I read a quote that really changed my perspective on this.

Oswald Chambers says, "When we deliberately choose to obey God, He will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us with all His almighty power." That's so awesome!

It is so much more comforting, when I'm able to let my heavenly Father be my earthly Father. He will absolutely be your light and your guide, if you let him.

How cool is it that we have a God who's a father -- a God who wants to be our shield in every situation -- will funnel all his power into us, enabling us to do all things in His name?

Next time I'll ask for directions, I promise.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dealing With Self-Harm

There's only a certain level of pain we can take. And, though Christ gives us super-natural strength, sometimes we fail to realize it. For many, self-harm has been an escape, and a way to control the things in our lives that seem to be out of control. If you've used this as a way of dealing with the pain, I hope the following testimony from one of my classmates, Joel, encourages you as much as it encouraged me.

My name is Joel. My testimony is typical for the most part. I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents. I’ve gone to church every Sunday for as long as I can remember. I’ve gotten straight A’s in school and I love to work hard at everything I do. I love music and want to study it in college. I sing on the worship team at my church and go to Bible study every Wednesday night. Before three years ago all these things would have only been half the story. While true, it would have only been the good looking truth. One thing I’ve learned over the past several years is that while all truth is good, not all truth is good looking.

Looking at my life now you probably would not have been able to guess that, three years ago, I was deeply depressed and heavily into cutting. There were times where I didn’t leave the house for weeks at a time and any positive things in life seemed to have completely disappeared. I couldn’t tell how many times I’ve cut if I wanted to, it happened so often. I never understood why people hurt themselves until I became one of them, and even now I still couldn’t give a 100% definitive answer if I wanted to. What I can do is share my experiences and give my testimony.

It had started after an argument with my parents and siblings, what seemed to be the worst argument I had ever had. The feeling of being completely alone and hated was what drove me to do it. The truth was that I had so much stuff I wasn’t dealing with, and had not dealt with, that I had allowed myself to get to this point. It felt impossible that things could get worse. Suicide seemed extreme, so cutting for me, was a last resort alternative. I didn’t think there was anyway I could be feeling as bad as I was without being physically hurt. I remember thinking to myself at one point, “All this pain can’t just be emotional. I feel like I’ve been beaten or something, c’mon where are the bruises? Where am I bleeding to be feeling this bad.”

One of the reasons I was also cutting was because I was so hurt and angry at everyone around me, I wanted them to feel just a small fraction as bad as I was. I could never have hurt anyone physically, but I knew they cared about me. So by hurting myself, someone that they cared for, I would be hurting them. I want to pause for a second and say to those people who want to play down depression, and say that it’s just a person acting out or a phase. You are living in an ignorant reality. It is very real and lots of people deal with it. Some are people that you would never expect to deal with it because they hide it so well. Depression can’t ever really be fully understood until someone has gone through it. Someone could have literally handed me a new car or a million dollars and I wouldn’t have been happy with it. It was so much more than just a consistent pessimism. Waking up in the morning and wishing my life was over is just a small way to describe how “life” was then. It stayed like this for more than 7-10 months. I started drinking on a regular basis thinking that it would help numb the pain. I didn’t think it could get much worse because cutting was my last resort. I thought living in constant pain was just how life was going to be from then on out. Then there was a breaking point. I’m not sure if there was any one thing that triggered it, but I guess I just got tired of living in constant pain.

Suicide started to seem more and more like an escape. I didn’t know how to feel anything other than pain and it got to the point that I didn’t even want to feel that anymore. My dad, being an pastor, works as a counselor to people who want to commit suicide all the time. So the idea of suicide wasn’t anything new. I understood the whole “think of all the people you’ll hurt” angle and at that point I couldn’t have cared less. As I sat in my room with a gun on my bed, I got onto Facebook to say goodbye to all my friends. Then a friend started talking to me. I told him what was going on and what I planned to do. He begin to tell me how much God loved me. He said he had a friend that committed suicide and it really hurt him. He said that he, and all the people at youth loved me, and he asked me to not do it. I can remember God saying to me at that point, that it was decision time. It was the most conflicted I can ever remember being. All I could do at that point was weep and cry out to God. The beauty of being so low is that you have God to carry you all the way up to where He wants you to be. That night was the night that Satan and depression lost their control over my life.

After that night, I began to turn my life around. I started to see all the little things that God had done in my life. At the same time, I noticed all the changes He had made during that dark time in my life. Before that time in my life, I didn’t know what it meant to rely on God. I couldn’t comprehend having a personal relationship with God. Those things changed after all those negative experiences. Not to say that God made it happen by any means, but I do believe that God took what satan intended for evil and used it to bring my life around to where he wanted it. I can stand here and say that God allowed me to be broken down, not because He’s an evil, vindictive God. But because I was so stuck in a false relationship with Him, while living for myself, I wouldn’t have found Him any other way. He outwitted satan and brought me to the point I’m at now.

For the longest time afterwards I felt relieved that God had saved me, but I wanted the past to stay in the past. It’s so easy to get ashamed over cutting as I had. As my relationship with God grew, so did my understanding to the extent of which I was able to share my story. I had felt ashamed, but only because satan put that fear in my mind in order to keep me from talking. Satan knows that there’s power when things are brought to light and that was one thing I still hadn’t fully grasped. It took up until now for me to realize that I could do so much more harm to others by not speaking up. I want to emphasize that I don’t think that I can do anything. Anything that is done, is done by God through me. I didn’t have anybody speak to me about cutting and if I had than I probably would be telling you a different story. My biggest prayer and my vision is that I’d be able to share the hope of Christ that I’ve found, with people who don’t know that life gets better. To tell others that are dealing with cutting and depression, that life can be hard and life can kick you down, but to relate God’s love to them in a personal way. So often people stop short at just relating to other’s pain and not sharing the good news of Christ. We were put on this earth to bring God’s love to the hurting and hope to the hopeless. I’m here today because I realized that I couldn’t do that by staying silent and I pray you won’t either.

This brings me to today and what God has laid on my heart. Over the past several months God put it on my heart to try and reach those that were dealing with self-harm and depression. After a lot of prayer, I decided to start a ministry to do just that called Scars of Faith. The mission of Scars of Faith is to show God’s love in a way that doesn’t judge, condemn, or hate. But in a way that will allow people to see God’s unconditional love for their life. Also to stop the lie that people are worthless by showing them that their value is found, not in what man says they are worth, but in what God’s says they’re worth. I’m really blessed to be joining with Arial Marsh and her ministry, Lions of God, in order to reach as many people as possible. I pray that you would help in anyway you can, wherever you can, by showing unconditional love to those who need it most.

Be sure to check out Joel's ministry, "Scars of Faith." I hope you're inspired to let Christ heal your pain, and let Him tell your story so that YOU can heal others. :) God bless.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Hidden Among Us

I wonder what it would be like, if people literally wore their hearts on their sleeves. If you could tell what a person was feeling, just by looking at them - if you could read their struggles like you read a book. Wouldn't that be something? To be able to see past the fake, pointless smiles, and know the truth about what people are really thinking.

Unfortunately, that's impossible. Depression is often hidden behind a smile, and sadness is bountiful where there seems to be happiness. Unless we're ultra super-sensitive to the sorrows of our fellow man, we can't just look at a person and know their life story.

Everyone wears a mask. Everyone wants to appear like they're doing OK - even when they're not, and they're actually really struggling. That's why, today, I want to just write this little post to remind you that there are sufferers in your presence.

They are the Hidden amongst us, the ones who seem to be handling everything fine. They are the secret grievers, the invisible mourners. Their physique proclaims to their family and friends that all is well - while the "inner man", as Plato once called the soul - is drowning and overwhelmed.

The lesson is: Don't ever assume that the person you're talking to, the person you're mad at, or the person you passed by at the mall is OK. The smallest rudeness on your part could wound them more than you know.

Be kind to everyone - because you never know who's fighting a battle for their lives.

You might just be crossing paths with one of the Hidden.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

My Post Is Better Than Yours

I happened upon my blogger dashboard the other day and became depressed. Why? Because this little blog called "Daughters of His Love" has apparently gone cold and unwelcoming, with signs of abandonment. I'm convinced that no good blog should have to undergo a stagnant state for as long as my good blog has, thus, I will mimic my dear friend Caro over at "Pasta and Waffles" and make this my new years resolution, if you will: Blog.

Writing this, even now, makes me happy. It's my little place to ponder, and deduce. It's my place to write freely about struggles, circumstances, and miracles. A lot has happened since my last post, and I think it's a good thing that I take the time to write about it. It helps me think it all out, and to come to some conclusion.

Here is my most recent mountain to climb: Competition.

I do competitive debate. There's a thrill in convincing an audience, of arguing a point, and defending a position (even if you don't agree with it). It's my favorite thing to do in all the world, and I'll speak in front of a crowd any day. I love it. I love that I could hone crucial skills while doing what I love most: speaking to influence a change in heart and mind.

I'll tell you a secret of mine...

I'm not competitive. At all. In my personal life, I don't think I have the capacity. I hate arguing with others, and I'd rather just avoid difficult situations than confront them. If you want to fight, you'll see me resign quickly from your company - I don't like going back and forth about things that won't really matter in a few years, anyways.

This mindset, for me, translates into the debate round. It's not about slaughtering the other team. I can beat them in words, sure, but will I win the heart of the audience? Probably not. I don't want to be a debater, I want to be a performer. I'm not here to debate . . . I'm here to win your heart.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. In an atmosphere that heavily promotes competition, the debate realm tends to promote personal irresponsibility with words. The louder you are, the better... and saying things that really are worthless end up being praised. Arguing for arguments sake, in other words. Plato once said, "a wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool, because he has to say something." So here is another New Years Resolution: I won't be competitive. Yes, I'll definitely try to win - but only in a debate round. Winning does not mean being competitive.

Scripture makes it clear that careless words, even in jest, must be accounted for.
As Christ said, "...men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-38)

Isn't that enough to make us watch our tongues?

At the root of being "competitive" is the desire to be better than our fellow man. Not only that - but to let the other man know that you are better than him! ;)

Galatians 5:25-26
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Proverbs 16:18-19
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

Proverbs 26:12
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 27:2
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

2 Corinthians 11:30
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

This is my New Years Resolution, to remain joyful in humility. It's an uphill battle, especially in the "debate atmosphere" I so often find myself in. But I am encouraged, knowing that in Christ himself, the one who was born into poverty, suffered, died, and was hardly the competitive type.

I am happy to walk in his footsteps, instead of trying to be the best.

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P.S. My post is better than yours. ;)

Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. --Pearl Strachan

Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so he is. --Publilius Syrus

Words are plentiful; deeds are precious.-- Lech Walesa

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Slingshots and Other Such Nonsense

Not having a Dad messes you up more than you know. For me, the reality of everything never really set in until this year. I was hurt, but now the definition of "pain" has taken on a whole new meaning. It's no longer just the aching sense of abandonment felt within, but a controlling impetus that threatens to effect nearly every area of my life. Christians are so great at saying "I'll pray for you" or "give it to God." But many of them don't know how hard it is to hear those words. Because many of them really don't understand the pain.

My way of dealing with things is shoving them on the back-burner until I have the time and energy to deal with it. In my own little sphere, I figure that I can take charge of the situation on my own time, when I feel comfortable and ready. Unfortunately, that's not always what happens. I end up pushing it away so much that it comes back with vengeance. The mental picture I have in my head is one of a sling shot - the further you pull it back, the more force it will use when propelling a whole new set of life circumstances headed straight at the target. The target being, quite often, emotions and feelings that I thought I could control.

I suppose my new challenge for myself is dealing with the blows as they come, instead of letting them all build up inside of me. Instead of carrying the weight of a million different things, as Pilgrim did in Pilgrim's progress, I should be laying them down at the foot of the cross each time... So that I'm only carrying 5 pounds instead of the 500 ton load I chose to ignore. Christ is open and ready to receive my hurt . . . I just have to trust Him.

To all you young ladies out there who can't trust. . . I understand. I know what it's like to have virtually every man in your life - Dad, friends, mentors. . . walk out on you, time and time again. Know that it's OK to have a breakdown every once in a while . . . and that God will put your heart back together, time and time again. He is faithful, even when fathers are not. He is faithful, even when best friends are not. He will never change, like so many people in life do.

He is steadfast . . . While so many people are not. Give your heart and trust to Him - and know that He will bring people into your life someday who will care more about you than they do themselves. I see the Lord doing that in my own life, and I trust Him completely to continue the work He has started.

Pardon my rant. I suppose I've been a bit non-sensical at times, but hey, this is my blog, and I reserve the right to not make any sense. ;) I guess the point I'm trying to make is: Go have a breakdown. It's good for you. And then begin laying your burden down at the cross every time something happens, or you feel down. Every single time. Even if that means you're at the foot of the cross on an hourly basis. Don't let the burdens pile up. Christ is the definition of peace and rest.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unconventionality? Check.

"So, which religion are you?" They looked at me.

Uh oh.

Not this question. No, please, not this question.

Every non-believer I've ever met has this among other reasons for rejecting my belief when I say "I'm a Christian":

"I'm just not a religious person. I don't feel like I need to follow all your 'rules'".

Then, they typically make some negative allusion to home-school skirts and 18-passenger vans (of which I have neither, which makes the remark all the more humorous). I often giggle in response - which is just awful - never laugh at an agnostic, that probably isn't the best way to convert them - but I can't help it. There are so many cliche stereotypes that Christians must forgo. It's as if we're expected to sit there and submit to the conventional image.

I was once at a friends house, who didn't know the Lord. A few of our other friends were there, and they started talking about their New Age ideas of spirituality.

It was then that they turned to me, who had been sitting quiet at the opposite end of the table (quite intentionally). I knew the answer to their question. And, if I had done what I have done a million times before, I would've answered "Christian. I'm a Christian." But I knew that wouldn't go over well. I wanted to influence these people, not turn them away.

"Well? Are you religious?"


....There was a silence.

"Seriously? You don't believe in God? The Universe? Anything?"

"Oh, yeah, I believe in God. And Jesus. But I'm not religious."

This completely confused them. "Jesus" and "Religion" were like ... inseparable! Two peas in a pod, siamese twins, a snake with two heads!

"You believe in Jesus?"


"Like... That he's God?"


....another silence. They knew something was fishy, here.


Bingo. I now had a chance to explain my 5 reasons for believing why Christ is in fact who he said he was, without even referring to scripture. So far: Hadn't even mentioned the word "Christian."
After I was done explaining, my friends were obviously intrigued. They liked this idea. Love Jesus, and don't be religious.

What a thought!

"That's kinda cool. And different" one of my friends said.

"Yep." I smiled. :) In reality, I'm just another Christian. But I'm a Christian without the conventional image of "judgemental religious pew-sitter."

Unfortunately, right when I thought I got off the hook, another one of my friends connected the dots.

"Doesn't that make you a ... LIKE... a Christian?"

But, by this time, I could say "yes" without turning them off to my reasons for why I was a Christian - I had already given my reasons. I had made my case for Christ. I had told them why I believed in the historical and scientific evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was divine.

"I guess you could call me that, if you wanted."

The conversation went on. And my friends are now curious about what it is I truly believe. Still to this day, those same people are asking. And sometimes, that's all it takes for Christ to draw another one of His children to Himself.

Scripture tells us to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. This completely pertains to the way we evangelize. Know the enemy - and know how to defeat him. Know how to stand up against the Devil's stereotypes of Christians. Street corner evangelism is great. Passing out tracks is great. But I've found that being real, and being intriguing, is the most effective.

Just a thought for you to munch on today. :)

My love to all of you . . .

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