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Your Not So Typical Self-Help Manual: Stress Edition

Posted by on 8:32 am in Blog | 0 comments

It can now be said that I am officially a sophomore at Valparaiso University! I am two weeks into the fall semester now and the time is flying by. This last week seems like it just began and now it’s already over. I have a sense that this is what the rest of the year will be like. To any new college freshmen reading this, be prepared: Thanksgiving will come quicker than it ever has before and finals will be right around the corner in a heartbeat. In addition to my academic life, I have taken on several leadership positions this year including serving as a peer minister in a freshmen residence hall, the chaplain for the Social Action Leadership Team, an Ambassador in Admissions, and various other positions in different organizations. It is an extremely busy semester for me, and I have begun to realize that I may have bitten off more than I can handle. Stress abounds in my daily life and sometimes I struggle to get a grasp on it.

How does one manage stress? They don’t really teach kids how to handle it in high school. It’s just assumed that you know what to do when life gets busy and deadlines come at you from all directions. There is actually no easy answer to this question I believe. Sure, there are self-help books that will teach you different techniques like breathing exercises and better time management. They will definitely help you, but I think there is more to relieving stress than what the Help for Dummies book can tell you.

As a Christian, I don’t believe that self-care stops at taking naps each day to get more rest. Instead, I’ve recently been pushed to find solace and peace in my faith. My favorite verse about dealing with stress comes from 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (ESV). Christ came down to earth to experience the anxieties, burdens, and stresses that are a part of everyday life for each one of us. I actually love the Message paraphrase of this verse: “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” I read this the other night and it hit me. We are not meant to deal with this stress on our own. We are to be “content with who we are” and not put false fronts up saying that we can handle everything that life throws at us on our own. It is actually ok to say that everything is not fine and dandy. God cares about us and his Son carries all of our worries on his back. How amazing is that?

As a result, we are to “live carefree” and be happy with who we are! That is freedom my friends! We are no longer under the burden of stress, or more importantly the burden of sin and condemnation, for Christ has set us free. Let us rejoice in that fact, that we are children of the Father, and that no stressor will be too great for us when Christ is walking by our side, or carrying us when we can no longer walk. Therefore, pray when you’re stressed and take a few minutes and open up the Word to see what God has to say to you, for He is with you in your times of joy and your times of need. Christ is the ultimate stress management counselor! Praise be to God!

St. John Spotlight: Bethany Werner

Posted by on 8:41 am in Blog | 0 comments

One day, her dad picked her and her siblings up from school and told them they had to go to the dentist. She was not happy, because the dentist sucks. (Like seriously) Soon enough they found out that they were not headed to the dentist, though. Actually, they were headedto the zoo forDisneyHoneymoon a surprise excursion. Her mom even met them there.

Now, who is this mystery person? Well, it’s Bethany Werner, our new youth communications coordinator. It may be a mouthful, but it’s an important job. She’s in charge of this very blog, and helps PR by sending out emails, the family newsletter, and other things. She used to be a DCE (Director of Christian Education) in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s pronounced Lou-ul-vul by the locals. Yeah I know, crazy. Bethany suggests practicing with marbles in your mouth until you perfect your Kentucky accent.

Bethany was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and grew up in Honey Creek, Iowa. She now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Michael Werner, son of our very own Betsy Werner. Bethany is a cat lover, but unfortunately her husband is allergic, and doesn’t want to be near them. So, they don’t have any pets.

On the more serious side of things, Bethany has a strong faith in the salvation from Jesus Christ. She prays before and after meals, in the evening before bed, or whenever she feels the need to. As we mentioned earlier, she is also a DCE, and spent 4 years in Kentucky working with youth and family ministries. She started her job here in Seward on August 1st  as a way to stay connected with youth.

Bethany currently has lots of free time on her hands, and often will stick her nose in a book. She loves fiction and non-fiction.  She likes to go to concerts, and recently went to a John Mayor concert. She also knows how to rollerblade, loves to ride her bike and go to Jazzercise.

Bethany was married June 15, 2013. That means they’ve been happily married for just over one year. (Congrats!) She says that Michael has taught her many things. He encourages her to try new foods, and listen to weird music. Michael is a music guy who listens to everything except the norm. He even listens to the Spanish radio station during long car rides. Bethany says she’s taught him how to fold clothes, even though she still does it anyway.

Although she no longer lives with her parents, Bethany still communicates with them frequently. She says she talks with her mom at least two to three times a week, and her dad about once a week. She says she’s not biased against her dad, it’s just that mom knows everything. She loves both her parents very much.

Q&A:

Q: Do you know any jokes?

A: Why did the monkey fall out of the tree? Because he was dead.

Why did Tigger was his hands? Because he had been playing with Pooh.

What do you call cheese that’s not yours? Nacho Cheese.

Q: Do you have any siblings?

A: I have an older brother named Jesse and a twin sister named Rachel. We’re not identical but we’re close.

Q: What color is your hair and eyes?

A: I have blue eyes and brown hair.

Q: What’s your favorite color?

A: Teal, it’s very in right now.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

A: Christmas! We see the whole family, go to church a lot, and eat ham. 🙂

Q: What’s the best way to get ahold of you?

A: Texting, Facebook or email.

Q: Is there anything you want the youth to know about upcoming youth events?

A: “Everything’s going to be super awesome!”

Suicide

Posted by on 8:56 am in Blog | 1 comment

Suicide. It’s not a fun topic, but it needs to be talked about.  We hear about it quite a bit, but rarely are we personally affected by it. And even if we don’t necessarily hear about it, that doesn’t mean it’s not present. Whether or not they have spoken about it, many people have struggled with suicide. What does the Bible say about suicide? Why would someone want to end their own life? There are so many questions surrounding the topic.

Life is a gift. That life is always in God’s hands, never our own. With all life can throw at us, it would be easy to take our life into our own hands! However, while suicide is an act meant to take away temporary pain, it does so in a permanent way. The Holy Spirit is inside everyone (1 Corinthians 3:16), yet everyone still feels low at times. Those are the times God invites us to call to Him. Those times we feel like nothing else will help–when we feel so low that it will never get better–when we are angry, sad, depressed, anxious, upset, or any unwell feeling, those are the times God invites us to call on Him.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 32 is so comforting. I wish I could tell it to everyone who is hurting. It’s very true, too; the Lord is always there for us, when we are at our highest and when we are at our lowest. How can you be sure? The same Jesus, who went to the cross to show His great love and forgiveness for us, He rose to life to walk with you, daily, in your life. He IS with you. He loves to see us happy and never wants to see us cry out of sadness. But when we are sad, He does something about it, if anything by never leaving you. And though we don’t always want His help–imagine that!–He is still with us and strengthens us. When everything else seems to have fallen away, He strengthens through His Word, through Christian worship, and always through Jesus’ body and blood in communion. They’re His strength for you!

Life is a gift, a gift from God. Suicide takes that gift in a permanent way in an attempt to solve a temporary problem. At times the pain and trials may seem so bad that you can’t deal with anything at all. God doesn’t say, “Deal with it.” God Himself deals with it!

And there may be a time when God will use you to “deal with it” for a friend or family member. There are often warning signs of suicide. If you are worried about someone, be on the lookout: self-harm, isolation from others, deep depression, and many others. Self-harm is a very dangerous act, sometimes even called a gateway to suicide because it can become an addiction. Don’t ignore these signs. If you see them, act, out of love. Act with the assurance God gives in 1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. What powerful and encouraging words!

Life is a gift. Suicide isn’t the answer. God’s promises are the answer. Whether it’s your own struggle, or as you walk with someone else through their struggle, rest on these promises of Christ our Savior. Life, it’s a gift!

Psalm 147:3– He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9–We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
1 Peter 5:6-7– Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
2 Corinthians 4:6–For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
Acts 18:9–One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 

Editor’s Note: Suicide is a serious topic, and one that need to be addressed right away when it comes up. While we know that God can overcome every obstacle, it is also important to realize that this is often accomplished through the help of trained professionals. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact a trusted adult right away! Check out these resources for more information!

 

Finding Home, Alaskan Style

Posted by on 8:31 pm in Blog | 0 comments

The last time I wrote a blog I was sitting in my dorm room six hundred miles east of here preparing for finals and the end of my first year of college. It was great to return home after the school year wrapped up and be welcomed back into the St. John and Seward communities. I recently had a second homecoming in Seward after spending two weeks in Alaska, which were amazing. This was my fifth year as a member of the Alaska Mission Team to Akiachak, Alaska. It was a true blessing to return there again with my family and a great group of friends and team members to share the love of Christ, while also being witnessed to by members of the village. During our last night in the village I found myself struggling to say goodbye to the kids, teens, and adults that I have gotten to know well during my five weeks spent there over the past years, as I know that my return to the village is unlikely in the next couple of years due to the reality of pursuing a career in science. I realized during the week that I spent in the village this year that Akiachak is one of my homes. Seward is my permanent address and Valparaiso is where I spend two-thirds of the year now, but Akiachak is also a place that I can call home now.

This year was my favorite year in Akiachak so far for several reasons. First off, the team was incredible, and very funny. We had several people that could probably be comedians if they wanted to, and some of us stayed up pretty late playing pitch and other card games. They were great ways to de-stress after busy days. I also had lots of fun at Bible camp this year. I felt fully connected to the kids this, and had my own row of elementary school aged boys to help lead and assist throughout the week. One of the boys, Tyler, helped lead the kids in “Jesus Loves Me” by strumming the tune on the guitar of one of the team members. That was an awesome moment for the team, as Tyler not only witnessed his faith, but also wanted to help teach his friends that were there at Bible camp. This is also one of the first steps towards one of the team’s goals, which is to have the adults and kids of Akiachak lead Bible camp while the team assists them. The last reason why this trip will always be memorable for me is the increased opportunity we had to witness to the young men at the basketball open gym each night. Through the use of the Book of John, different members of the team shared about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and the hope that He brings into every person’s life.

Through all of this, I realized that Akiahak is one of my homes. During my time spent in the village, I have meant wonderful people who have cared for our team and supported our mission. The children there always remember those that return to the village and excitedly call your name as you walk through the town. This year, a teenager only a few years younger than me called out to me a few minutes after we arrived in the village. I met Ira five years ago when he was just entering high school. Since then, I’ve gotten to know him fairly well and watched him grow up and mature. While we were in the village this year, Ira’s grandpa died. The team attended the funeral to support Ira, his family, and the community, which was very interesting to watch as it took place in a different language. Even though we couldn’t understand most of what was said, I felt like we were part of the community, which helps make it a home for me. Just as I am a part of the community of Seward and Valparaiso University, the mission team is a part of the community of Akiachak whether it is in the village or not. The people of Akiachak have accepted us with welcome and open arms. The warmth of their welcome and the joy of the kids have kept me coming back year after year, and it is hard to realize that I may not be able to return for a while. So I say so long for now to my home of Akiachak and I’ll see you someday again in the future. Thanks for all of you who have supported the five mission teams and I pray that you’ll consider joining the team in 2015 or later in the future.

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St. John Spotlight: Paul Soulek

Posted by on 10:48 am in Blog | 0 comments

1-photo1Who had twelve aquariums full of guppies? Who enjoyed fixing sewer problems when he was a kid? Who now has 18 tenants between all his rental properties? From being a dorky, only child to sharing God’s love through his service inside and outside of the church, this person has impacted lives in not only Seward, but the world. Well, obviously it’s Paul Soulek, but you may not call him that. Some of you know him as Mr. Soulek, others as Cantor, but overall he’s known as that crazy good organist who fills our church with wonderful music.

So, what makes Cantor Soulek tick? Well, out of common knowledge, he’s a big fan of bananas. I remember he used to label his bananas for each church service (he may or may not still do that). He also relies on coffee each day and wet morning kisses from his puppy, Silas (be warned, Silas is scheduled to get a haircut sometime soon, so he may not look like the same shaggy dog we all know him as).

Once again, the answer “there is no typical day” comes up in another interview. However, Paul spends his day working with people from a wide range of ages, and what he does with each group can vary drastically. He says that “every day is an opportunity to teach about Jesus.” From crazy object lessons at the CDC to playing the organ for a funeral, Paul gets to experience many different styles of work. Besides leading the whole congregation in music, Paul also leads various groups in choir and hand bells. He writes articles for every service in the bulletin inserts that are handed to everyone as they walk into church, and he composes music of his own. Paul said that he would like to write more music, however he does not always have enough time to do so. He’s a very busy man whose days are always filled.

Paul helps the community by leading the congregation in singing and encouraging them in worship to hear the good news of Jesus. He wants to be an example of how a single person can use their talents to show joyful love and service. You can never know where someone is in their faith, so he always takes the opportunity to talk about Jesus. Another not well known fact, but he tends to fluster Mormons with his loyal Lutheran beliefs and make them think deeply about what they believe. He always takes the chance to express his beliefs.

Now, some of you may wander about how Paul got so good at playing the organ. Well, he took classes in college and got a degree in it. He also says he just played it a lot and had lots of very good role models and people who supported him. However, sometimes an organist gets tired, but Paul doesn’t really take full days off. He usually just takes off short intervals of time when needed.

Paul says that in order to fit God into our schedules, we need to be able to say “no” to things and figure out our limits. We need to make time and stick to it – though he’s still growing in this area himself. He goes on to say we should give thanks for the present and not chase the future. “Give thanks for what God has done right now,” he boldly states. And he’s right. God has blessed us with so much right now, and we should praise him for it.

 

Q&A

Q: What would have been your dream job if you hadn’t become a cantor?

A: A school bus driver, and am currently trying to get my bus license. (But I’m not planning to leave St. John anytime soon!)

Q: How is it easiest to reach you with any questions we may have?

A: Phone and texting

Q: What is favorite color?

A: Brick dust red from Seward Lumber’s paint department

Q: What is your full name?

A: Paul Michael Soulek (Jr. High was interesting because of my initials)

Q: What’s your favorite Christmas carol?

A: Joy to the world because it demonstrates a major descending scale “Do do do do,” Paul sang.

Q: What adjectives would you use to describe your own music?

A: Confident, energetic, and a little spastic.

Q: How many contacts do you have in your phone?

A: I have 53 A’s so you do the math.

 

Boxes

Posted by on 2:36 pm in Blog | 1 comment

It’s May and that means moving time for many people, including myself. I am currently working on packing up here at Valpo, and by the time this is posted I will be back in Seward! I look forward to seeing all of my Nebraska friends and family very soon! While packing here in my cramped dorm room, I am reminded about how tiny our lives are. My eight months here in Valpo is currently being condensed down into one carload of clothes, books, shoes, and anything else a college student could need. My entire life fits into just a few small boxes. That’s a shocking thought to me as I sit here on my now-bare mattress.

A few boxes contain my life – and what is actually in them? Not very much to be honest. Sure, there are lots of things in them. Coats, blankets, utensils, paper, and miscellaneous objects fill them to the brim. Is that my life though? Am I as insignificant as these few boxes crammed full of common objects that everyone has? No, absolutely not! Both you and me are unique individuals and who we are can never be contained in boxes. Boxes can only contain material objects; they cannot hold memories, dreams, wishes, disappointments, emotions, or faith. The thing that truly defines our past, experience, is not limited to the dimensions of a box. Neither are the desires of our future subject to what a moving truck can transport.

But even if all of these things are tied up into objects for you, I still believe that faith can never be removed from a person and placed into a box. A person defines what faith is. It can be as small as a mustard seed or as large as a mountain, but faith remains inside of each of us no matter its size. We believe that Christ lives within us, not in any cardboard box or any other material object. He is directly tied to us through His death and resurrection and that is something that we can never remove from our lives.

Therefore, I pray as you go about your day, that you remember that Christ is within you, and that your faith is living and active within you. Live out that faith daily and don’t try to hide it away in a box. Boxes limit us to what we know, see, and measure, but faith is believing what we cannot see or hold or touch. It is intangible, yet integral to our daily lives as Christians. May you live that faith for those around you to witness, and may you remember that your life is larger than the boxes.

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Are You ALL IN?

Posted by on 6:07 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Stellar Kart returns after three years with a new album, record label, and renewed sense of purpose and passion for sharing their faith through music. All In is a pop-punk record that is both upbeat and heartfelt. This album shows new depth and growth lyrically and musically, while also being the fun band that we all have come to know and love since it’s first release in 2003. Says lead singer/guitarist Adam Agee, “So much of this album is about not wasting the time we’ve been given. I hope these songs are anthems for people to live that out.”

All In is one of my favorite Christian albums released within the last two years. Stellar Kart released this album on August 27th 2013. This is sort of a late album review, but I think this is an album that every Christian should give a listen to. The album shows many different emotions about being a Christian, from not denying your faith to denying the devil everyday of our lives. The track listing is on the short side (Sadly). All In has ten songs on the album and they are as follows.

  1. Criminal And Kings
  2. All In (Apologize)
  3. My Surrender
  4. Never Left Your Side
  5. Hollywood Reality
  6. Just Like You
  7. Time’s Not Waiting
  8. Before And After
  9. Nowhere To Go But Up
  10. Ones And Zeroes

All of the songs on the album are very good. They are all put together well and lyrically are perfect. As with most Christian bands, it comes down to how you connect with the lyrics to determine which songs will be your favorite. Personally a few that I am going to talk about are All In, which is the title song for the album, Just Like You, Nowhere To Go But Up, and also Never Left Your Side. These four songs are the strongest faith songs on the album, in my opinion, and are all very touching and strong emotionally.

All In is one of the more relaxed songs on the album. It is a song about being All In, in your faith. It’s about not being afraid of who we are as Christians, and how sometimes it’s a good thing to stand out. The lyrics showcase this from the very beginning saying, “It’s easier to be the crowd and not stand out at all, to make a case for apathy and never risk a thing in case you fall.” Eventually we all are around surrounded by individuals who think what we believe as Christians is silly, and we can’t be ashamed of what we believe. As the lyrics say “I am not ashamed wont walk away, not trying to disguise or ever hide the reason that I choose to be a fool for the one who saved my life, I wont apologize.” This song hits home because sometimes we are criticized for being Christians, but we can’t let that get to us as we have to stay all in. Just like Jesus paid the ultimate price being all in for us and dying on the cross, we need to be all in our faith. We shouldn’t live half way, but instead be devoted to living our life to the glory of the One who saved us.

Just Like You starts off with a relaxing piano and drum beat. This song is one that we as Christians honestly don’t want to have to hear. This song is about how we as Christians always seem to fail, and when we do fail we make up every little excuse as to why we failed, “ I can always justify every little compromise.” We are blessed enough to have the never ending grace of God’s love to save us. As the lyrics say, “It’s just like you, to always be faithful when I can be hateful and cruel, it’s just like you to only keep loving me, you wont give up if I do, when I’m a traitor, a faker, a doubter, a failure, you remain s true, it’s just like you.” This chorus is kind of a loving harsh one, as we all go through doubts, sin, faking, all of this that is mentioned. However we have a wonderful God that will NEVER give up on us, no matter what we do. I can’t think of anything better I want to hear than that message.

Nowhere to Go But Up is one of the “punky” songs on the album, which isn’t a bad thing for the message this song brings.  “It’s time we realize we are going down” This song brings a message that we can never be full in our lives without God, which is very true. We have to realize that time and time again we will fail to be perfect. However, when we hit the bottom we have nowhere to go but up and that a perfect place to start because God will always reach out his hand to save you from the bottom.

Never Left Your Side is a song with a similar message of falling into sin. It reminds us that as children of God He wont leave our side. Even though we will sin that does not mean we are giving up on God in anyway, shape, or form. Never Left your side is a song filled with catchy guitar and a slow but very enjoyable pace.

I highly recommend going and checking out this album. It’s in my top five favorite albums for sure and easily gets a 10/10 from me. Every song is catchy and only takes one listen to start singing along to. Stellar Kart came back in a big way with All In and I can’t wait to see how the follow this one up!

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Now for a few extras:

  • Stellar Kart Also released a Frozen EP, which includes covers of songs from Frozen, catchy go check that out as well!
  • Also Unscene Patrol dropped a new single on Wednesday last week called “We Are More”
  • Remedy Drive will be playing in York in June, more information will be released in the coming weeks.

Technology vs. Faith

Posted by on 6:35 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Mass media has become a part of our daily lives. We are constantly checking our phones for texts and calls, we watch television for news and entertainment, and we worship and bow down to our status on social media sites. Is all of this technology hindering our faith lives? This is an important question to ask yourself while using all of these things. Is the technology you’re using a positive influence in your faith walk? There are helpful websites that will help keep you on track, but there are many, many more that are a negative influence.

As many times a day as we use technology, most of them are not to worship. Sometimes, the things we post online aren’t all that God-like either. Ephesians 4:29 says: Ephesians429

This plays into context with what we post online because it means that we should only speak in ways of building up and to give people grace. I see people saying rude things to others quite a bit on the internet and this verse says to do the opposite. To portray the Godly image He wants us to, we should not bash people, but only speak well of them.

I know that if I had the choice, I would much rather stay in bed all day than go to school or be active in society. Technology relates to our faith life in a similar way… the time we spend on technology dwindles away the time we could be practicing discipleship and preaching His word to others. As Luke said ever-so blatantly in Acts 2:40, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” I’m not saying this meaning that if we spend time on the internet or watching television we’re not doing what God wants us to do. Our actions only fall under those lines if we spend too much time on those devices and don’t use them for the best purposes.

There are many ways we can use technology to praise our Lord. There are plenty of apps and websites that have daily verses to read. Simply reading some scripture each day helps improve your faith. You can also listen to Christian music using technology. There are a few great Christian artists to give a try on kthorburn’s posts here on the blog. Listening to Christian music is a great way to use technology in a positive way. One last way to positively use technology is to post bible verses. Posting verses or even lyrics to uplifting spiritual songs is a great way to get The Word out into the media.

There are many pros and cons to the use media and technology. We can place it at a higher standard and “worship” it, rather than spending that time to improve our faith; or we can use to our advantage and preach The Word and share His Grace. Since we all use technology, we should try to not let it hinder our connection to God, but strengthen it and not place it at a higher standard than Him.

 

What Will You Decide?

Posted by on 9:59 am in Blog | 1 comment

photoDecisions, decisions, decisions. What classes do I want to take? What college will I go to? Where do I want to work? When will the wedding be? What should I eat for breakfast? Everyone has a decision to make whether it is as easy as deciding on what movie you want to watch, or as hard as deciding if you should take the job in another state, thousands of miles from where you are now. Several people have asked me how I made the decision to be an exchange student and why I chose Bolivia. My reasoning for Bolivia was simple. I wanted a Spanish speaking country and I only had Mexico or Bolivia as a choice for that request. However, the reason behind my choice to become an exchange student is less clear. I honestly do not have a great answer. It took many, even me, by surprise when I decided that I wanted to do it. I was scared and excited all at the same time.

Decisions often are scary, but thanks to God we don’t have to make them on our own. Proverbs 3:5-6 says; “Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” This verse makes it sound simple. However, you may pray to God every day asking him to show you an answer and end up frustrated that nothing ever seems to make the decision easier. First of all, you have to be patient. Don’t expect the answer to just come to you. Wait for it and in the meantime, don’t give up looking to God for help. Remember that God has given us His very word in the Bible, and that is where we should look for answers. Prayer is only part of the equation!

You make more than 5000 choices each day. Even the smallest choices can make the biggest difference. Let’s say for example, you wake up to find your older brother eating the last of your favorite breakfast cereal. You can either choose to become upset and start an argument, possibly causing yelling and crying and leaving you and your brother angry at each other the rest of the day, or you could simply let it go and eat something else that morning. And making that choice happens in less than 10 seconds. 10 seconds! Think about that. The choice you make can affect the entire outcome of your day. How often do we take the time to seek God’s will in those little choices?

Isaiah 30:21 tells us; “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” We should be extremely grateful that we aren’t alone in making decisions. Think about it this way, who helped God make the decision to create the world? To die on the cross? To allow sinners like us into heaven? No one. He had to do it on his own and those decisions were MUCH harder than our everyday decisions. So in the 5,000 decisions you make today, take a moment to pause before deciding. Ask the Lord for his guidance. Pray about it, spend time in the Word getting to know God’s will better, and choose to follow as He leads you forward. We may not always make the right decisions, but we can have confidence in God’s love for us no matter what! He has already paid the price for every wrong decision we have (and still will) make. We get to live each day confident of that truth, but our decisions are still very important. Choose wisely!

Springtime: A Reflection on the New Season

Posted by on 1:43 pm in Blog | 0 comments

“What is your favorite season?” This question seems to be one of the most popular get-to-know you questions of all time. So what’s your answer? Do you enjoy the freedom that summer brings with vacations and warm weather? How about autumn, which contains harvest, the turning of leaves, and most importantly, Husker football? Do you fancy winter and its holiday season? Or are you a spring person who enjoys the beginning of green growth (we pray) and the release from winter’s cold grip? Personally, I enjoy every one of the seasons. As a meteorologist, there is something to love about each season’s weather, and the challenges and blessings that each season’s weather brings with it. The pictures included with this post are some of my favorite memories from past springs. I am especially thankful for this spring, as winter seemed to last for half of a year. In case you didn’t know, Chicago had its third-worst winter ever, with almost 80 inches of snow and many days below zero. The warmer weather is a new feeling for Valpo students and we are very grateful to see the sun again. With the start of spring, I believe that three major emotions can emerge. These are anticipation, worry and excitement.

zb21In the weather world, spring is often associated with the expectation of rain and increasing temperatures. It is the time of year in Nebraska where farmers look forward to reenter their fields with tractors and planters in preparation for a new season of crops. It is the fourth quarter for many grade school and high school students who are excited to begin summer vacation. High school seniors look forward to walking across the graduation stage in just over a month. Husker fans scout the prospects for the football team’s success with the Spring Game. Anticipation surrounds the season of April. There is so much to look forward to and an excitement begins to buzz about as birds chirp more and the sun’s rays last longer in the day. However, this is not all that one can look forward to in the month of April. In fact, the event I haven’t mentioned is actually the one you should anticipate the most! It’s Easter!!! Yes, Easter does outweigh the spring game, surprisingly. We have been travelling together over the past 40 days in the season of Lent, as we have remembered Christ’s journey to the cross and anticipate his resurrection on Easter morning. It is truly a season of anticipation!!

Spring isn’t all about anticipating happy things though. It can also be filled with worries for many people. The farmers are probably concerned about this year’s crop outlook, as snow skipped over the state, and fires encroach their dry lands. High school seniors may be making their college decision over the next couple of weeks as the May 1 deadline approaches. That is a nerve-wracking time, as I was just in that position last year. Families may be worrying about how Easter will be celebrated, and if strife will cause stress at home. Meteorologists worry about the safety of the public, as tornados increase, and loss of property and life become real possibilities once more. It is a season of worry. Yet, Jesus says,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

Clearly, God is looking out for each one of us. Therefore, we should not worry about tomorrow, or this summer, or what will happen to us next year, because God already knows and is holding you in His hands with every step you take.

Finally, spring is a time of excitement! The 2014 Major League Baseball season recently opened, so it is an exciting time for me, as I am finally back in Chicago to support my Cubbies once more! (For all of you doubters, this will be the year!) The spring season of high school and college sports is underway as well, and finals are coming up quick (five more weeks!). Winter is finally over, so it’s time to scream and shout and dance in the open air and rejoice that spring has come! Don’t let the busyness of the season keep you from enjoying a moment in God’s wonderful creation. Don’t let the spring-cleaning list keep you from enjoying time with your family. Most importantly, don’t let your schedule keep you from celebrating the Good News of Easter with your family in Christ this April! Blessings on your spring as your anticipation grows, your worries go away, and your Easter excitement overflows to those around you!

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