Summer Thoughts From A Future RA

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Ever since I moved back home for the summer, I have been dreaming of the day I can go back to college in the fall…and become a Resident Assistant (RA)!!  I am so excited I got chosen for an opportunity to be in charge of a hall on campus, and help foster my girl’s social, emotional, and even spiritual lives.  I know that it might be a little early to start calling them “my girls” but I cannot think of a better name for them!

This summer is crucial that I prepare myself for the responsibilities of a RA, and to make sure that I enjoy my summer too.  One of the things I began to prepare myself for is how my dorm and hall will look like!  What theme should I have for my hall?  What color scheme should I choose?  How should the door “decs” look like?   What do I need in my dorm as a RA?  What style do I want to go for?  As a early planner and person who loves to decorate and prepare, I made a lot of decisions about the appearance of being a RA.  In the middle of shopping online, pinning ideas from Pinterest, and making plans, a question popped in my head: “What else do you need to do?”

In that moment, I knew that question was from God.  As I stopped scrolling a store’s website and ponder about the question, I was convicted of what I was not doing.  In that moment, I felt God saying to me:

“Lisa, you can prepare the appearance of your dorm and hall but, what matters to me is how you are preparing yourself emotionally and spiritually so you can be the best RA you can be.”

I am not saying that wanting to make my dorm or hall nice and welcoming for my girls is wrong.  I believe that God has given me a gift to plan and decorate, so that I can use them for His glory.  I strive for that.  However, I definitely believe that not only should I be preparing for my dorm and hall but, I should also be preparing my heart, mind, and soul for a RA position.  That was what I lost sight of, and I am so thankful for a God who always (always) helps and guide us!

So, how do I prepare myself emotionally and spiritually to be a RA?  Seeking God in His word and prayer is always a great first step!  I also began writing down expectations and boundaries for myself.  It is important that I am flexible with these lists because once the real deal comes it may be best for me to get rid of an expectation or alter a boundary!  I have also been reflecting and observing my behavior during certain situations and seeing how I can take care of myself so I can re-charge.  I am quite sure that my training to be a RA in early August will also cover these topics or lists, so I cannot wait to learn more of these kicks and giggles in my training!

Even though I am excited about being a RA, I am also kind of nervous.  “What if my girls do not like me?”, “What if I do a terrible job?”, and “Can I really be a RA to some (or most) of the girls who are older than me?”  Those questions have been sitting in my head…  However, I choose to not let those questions invade my mind.  Yes, it can be true that some of my girls may not like me or think I am doing a terrible job.  Yes, people and my girls may have their own thoughts about a younger RA and what I should be doing versus what I am not doing.  I accept that I will not be a perfect RA, and that I will make many mistakes!

I strive to be the best, genuine, and caring RA I can be–in the eyes of God!  Before heading off to college, a close friend and mentor noticed that I am a huge “people pleaser”.  She encouraged me that I am not trying to please the eyes of people but the eyes of God.  So, with that being said, people interpret what a “best, genuine, and caring RA” can be like in so many ways but, for me I am stating that I will try my best to exemplify the leadership of Christ, love extravagantly,  speak courageously, and act responsibly as a RA!  I want to do things where God will say, “That’s my girl!” or “I am so proud of my Lisa!”

lisa (3)

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A Beautiful Mess

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Imperial Beach / San Diego, California / 2015

In these nineteen years of life so far, I believe I can say that I have gone through a lot then I should have.  I am not saying that my story has greater worth than others or that others have not gone through difficult situations.  As much of the pain, loss, and trauma that we want to deny that we have experienced, we have felt them and it is real.  I want to share and digest this small piece of my complicated mess and how God is working in me this summer.

I have faced loss, rejection, and abandonment.  All of these have been traumatic for me to this day.  I have a hard time living in what happened to me and my family.  Even though I believe that God is the One True God and my Father, it became hard for me to believe that He is  good because of my pain and hurt from my past.  How could He allow those things to happen?  Why am I still hurting from it?  Will He even heal me?  I know that it sounds hypocritical for me to even ask these questions as a Christian but, it is these hard questions that run through my mind as I grieve from my past.  I was afraid of how people–and mostly how God–will look at me if I asked those questions.  However, when I did God did not love me any less than He did before.  He did not get upset at me for asking these questions.  He knew that I was just trying to cope and heal from everything that happened.  He chooses to hug me a little tighter and make  me see that He is a loving and good Father.

When difficult situations arise and we do not know why it occurs, one of the many things we do is blame God.  I certainly have!  However, as I asked God my hard questions, He reminded me of who my real enemy is.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy […]”

— John 10:10

I hate Satan.  He has stolen from me, killed my peace, and attempt to destroy my family, and my hope and faith in God.  I will probably never know the answer to these questions and why God allowed the hurtful and bad things to happen.  I believe that God has used and will continue to use the hurt, the mess, and the brokenness in my life for good.  How?  I have no clue but, being able to look back this last decade I can see how faithful He has been in bringing me into my healing that I need, and that I can trust Him.

(One of the reasons that The Story of Joseph (Genesis 37-47) is my favorite Bible story is because it has the same theme as my story: using the bad for good.  Go and check it out!)

I choose to trust God because God knows my pain and He deeply cares for me and my pain.  He hurts with me.  “On the cross, He willingly felt every sin, illness, and heartache.  He did it for one reason: LOVE!” (Kim Niles and Grief Bites).  God is a personal God.  He truly cares about my heart, and when I come to the cross I have nothing to give except for my heart, hurt, pain, and brokenness.  And God replies and says, “Lisa, that is all I need.”

As I give my heart to God, I asked Him to speak what is true to me.  I asked Him to remove all lies Satan tried to convince me of so that I can clearly see who He is and that He IS a good, good Father to me.  God hopes for no harm for me and wants me to abundantly enjoy the redeemed life that He fought for died for.

Throughout this post, I have been describing my situation as a mess or broken because it is but, it is also a beautiful broken mess.  I will never have it all together.  I am no angel.  I am a daughter who is going to choose to seek God and His heart through every circumstance that comes my way.  I have a beautiful purpose in God’s grand story.

And so do you.

lisa (3)

Lessons I Learned From My First Year of College at UNW

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“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

— Isaiah 41:13

And it went just like that.  My first year of college went by so quickly, and I am convinced that the rest of my college years will go even faster!  I am so fortunate to say that I had a fantastic and amazing first year of college!!  It was everything that I wanted it to be like.  If I could describe my first year of college in a couple of words they would be:

exciting, fun, stressful, overwhelming, new, adventurous, and freeing!

So, after cleaning and packing up my dorm, saying goodbye to my amazing roommates, and moving back home, I got some time to think about my year and try to digest everything.  My mental list of “things I learned” kept growing so I thought it is a good time to write them down.

+ God is faithful.

This one had to be the first one! 🙂 I have been reminded of this truth in so many different situations and I needed to hear it so badly.  Even though it is just three words, it is a promise and truth that always comforts me and makes me want to grab onto God more!

+ Enjoy the freedom & have fun!

Once I moved out of my house and onto campus it hit me that all (if not, most) of the 168 hours of the week for the rest of the school year is my time to decide what to do.  I put a lot of pressure of myself, especially in my academics so I forget that I can go and have fun.  Choosing to take a fun study break, a night out to do something new, to relax, or be with friends made such a difference in my college experience.

+ Time management is not easy so find a system that works & stay disciplined! (Priorities, priorities, priorities!)

I found a system that worked for me: record everything I am going to do for the week, literally.  (I have mostly everything written down to the hour.)  It took a while for me to begin it but once I figured it out it helped me so much to manage my time!  I found what worked and stuck with it!

+ I may never be ready.

As a newbie on the college campus, I thought I should not “go all out” or jump for the big roles on campus because I was “not ready”.  It makes sense that I would think this way but it just limited myself to the opportunities out there for me.  I may never be ready to make a big decision, to start a new relationship, or graduate from college but using discernment and getting guidance will help me so much in the process.

+ Bless and love other people.  (Yes, be intentional.)

The first two people I think about when blessing and loving people on campus are my roommates because I see them everyday!  🙂  I am so fortunate to have had two amazing roommates through random assignment.  I ENJOYED living with them both–seriously! 🙂  I learned that it helps a lot when I took the time to learn about my roommates!  We figured out what worked out collectively, and then over time through conversations and doing things together I learned so much about them.  I was able to love them by doing what they enjoyed and doing what made them happy/feel loved!  At the same time, it is important to allow other people to get to know me–the real me! 🙂

+ Make sure to eat & do not be consumed with the Freshman-15!

Alright so most of my days was scheduled from 8 AM to 9 PM.  I had to make sure I ate my three meals!  There were times I did not eat dinner because I lost track of time in the library…  Remembering to eat and to eat a well-balanced diet is crucial!  Also, the Freshman-15 can be a big deal for first year students so students may watch their food intake and weight more closely.  I get it but do not be focused on it so much.  I knew I was going to gain weight my first year, and I found to be content with my size.  My weight–a number or how I look like–does not define who I am or prove my worth because I know that my identity and worth is found in God!

In addition, listening to what your body needs whether that is food or sleep is important also.  Multiple times after classes I would go straight to my dorm and take a nap because it was something my body needed.  (I probably looked like a zombie walking back to my dorm!)  Yes, getting homework done, studying, being there for a friend/family are all important things but if I am lacking in an area in my life that is preventing me from being the best that I can be, then I have to make sure I am keeping myself (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) well-balanced.

+ Resources are there for a reason.  Use them.

From high school I kept this lesson with me:  Do not be ashamed of getting help!  It’s quite simple and basic so I’ll leave it at that.

+ It is okay to be okay.

There were so many days where I was simply okay.  It is a weird state to be in (I thought), so I always assumed it was a bad thing to be.   I learned it was not bad to feel this way, and that I am not alone!

+ Do not forget about the people right in front of you, Lisa!

There can be so many great (and not so great) things happening in college.  In the midst of it all, I learned not to forget the people right in front of me!  Whether that is your friends, roommates, mentors, or even your family!  There can be so many things I did get caught up in but remembering, acknowledging, and updating those who has helped me and who have been there for me is so important!  A relationship is a two way street and it is mutual.  I have had many experiences where I lost a lot of my relationships.  I do not want to let small circumstances, feelings, and even priorities get in the way of those close to me.

+ Lisa, be smart about your spending!

It took me to experience the consequences of spending too much money to learn this one!   (There is so much I can say about this topic but I will keep it very short.)  I have been told this so many times but it is true.  Consider your intentions (need or want) and your budget!


Okay, I will stop here.  This list can go on and on and on…  Something important that I want to emphasize is that the things I learned in my first year of college does not just apply for my college career–it goes beyond these four years as an undergraduate!  The list above are things that I can take and apply in so many different areas in my life.  College gives me experiences and opportunities to grow, to be challenged and build up my credibility for my future.  If anything, I learned how fortunate I am to get access to higher education and to not take it for granted.  I want to use this time to learn knowledge and wisdom so I can better help people in the future and give back to the people in my life and my community.  I am unsure of what my career will be but no matter what it is I want to be able to do what I love with God.

I am overly excited about my second year in college!!!  I will be a Resident Assistant and continue in some of my roles from this past school year.  There are see many things to look forward to and I cannot wait to be able to look back at my path and see where I have gone.  I may not have a yellow brick road to follow but I have God’s hand holding tightly to mines.  I am not afraid to walk my unknown path and to follow Him!  So, cheers to college life and experiences.  I look forward to what is to come.  Meanwhile, I will be enjoying the warm weather, laughing with family and friends, and preparing myself for another great year–it is what you make it to be.

lisa (3)

Beyond The Horizon

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[A song that has been resonating with me about this post: Cagelesss Birds.  Press play!]

I went on a Girls Getaway to the North Shore (MN) shortly after I finished my first year of college.  (I want to give a shout out to God for the beautiful weather and keeping me and my friends safe!)  Visiting the North Shore was beyond what I could imagine.  Driving along the coast of Lake Superior made me tear up.  I was mesmerized by God’s creation.  I had no words to what I was feeling.  I was so overwhelmed by the sensation of the grand, blue horizon before me.  The water glittered and moved so gently.

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Not knowing that my friend was taking pictures of me, I dived deep into my thoughts as I sat along the shore.  I decided to take advantage of this peaceful time and talk to God and tell him how I was doing.  I tried to put words to where I am in life and the season I am in.  I stumbled on finding words and grew frustrated with myself.  Little did I know that the water before me was calming me, and that the sun shining on me was God’s warmth telling me that it is okay that I cannot find my words.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

— Romans 8:26-27

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God knows what is going on in my life and the season I am in even when I fail to use something simple as words to tell Him.  He knows.  This is a truth that God always reminds me of, and He always has unique ways to relay this message to me.  This time it was the horizon before me.

lisa (3)

Even When It Hurts

I was tired and worn when I walked into the chapel to try to find God’s presence and peace in this Easter season.  I tried to push all my thoughts about my studies, family, and future aside so that I can meditate on God for the next hour and a half.  God welcomed me into His arms as I sat down in one of the pews.  I found His peace, and the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection overwhelmed me.

(If you’ll like to read the death and resurrection of Jesus, then head to the Gospels in the Bible!  This past week I focused on Matthew 26-28.)

I was in awe of how:

  • Jesus asked God to pass the cup of suffering…three times
  • Jesus experienced abandonment and rejection
  • Jesus was wrongly accused
  • Jesus was mistreated physically
  • Jesus remained silent
  • Jesus shed blood on the cross…for me and you
  • God forsake Jesus on the cross

Oh God, how can this be?  That my sin and shame is put on the Jesus so that I can be redeemed?  How can it be that Jesus took on the accusations, rejection, pain, and death for me?  How can it be?

During this hour and a half, I meditated on a lot of aspects of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  What stood out to me the most was when He prayed to God before He was arrested (Matthew 26:36-46).  He asked God three times: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not my will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39, 42, and 44).  Before praying this prayer, Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch and said “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).

Imagine the way Jesus spoke to His disciples.  Imagine the amount of sorrow Jesus was in as He went face down to the ground to pray.  Imagine the words that came out of His mouth during His prayer.  Imagine how Jesus felt when He saw that His disciple fell asleep on Him.  Just imagine with me, and see how you feel…  As I think about it I come into tears.  Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him.  He knew.  He knew!  Yet He still wanted support from His disciples, His friends.  He still went to God in a humble prayer.  He still showed obedience and went to the cross.  Jesus even knew the cause of His death will do: to set His people free!

So, even when it hurt Jesus to be rejected, abandoned, and mistreated He remained obedient, faithful, strong, and resilient!  My question to you is “Even when it hurts how will you respond?”  There is a lot of brokenness in my life, in the world, and I am sure in your life also.  What do we do when it hurts?  How should we respond?  My friend, it will not be easy. but there is hope in Jesus Christ because this is not the end of the story.  Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave! YES, He did!  He overcame His pain, hurt, and DEATH!  Therefore, we can overcome our brokenness and hurt in our lives because God has won the victory for us! So, my friend: I urge you to put your hope and faith in our Lord and Savior!  HE IS ALIVE!

HE HAS RISEN!  HE HAS RISEN INDEED!

xoxo, Lisa

Intimacy

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The kind of intimacy I am referring to is a closeness, attachment, and familiarity to someone.  It must be mutual between two people.  Recently, God’s intimacy and love for me has been so evident that He is my only focus right now.  He is the only one I keep my eyes on because I can feel His “spacious love” being bestowed upon me!

“In the spacious love of God, our souls can lie down and rest.  This love from him is not something we must struggle for, earn, or fear to lose.  It is bestowed.  He has bestowed it upon us.  He has chosen us.  And nothing can separate us from His love.  Not ever we, ourselves.  We are made for such a love.  Out hearts yearn to be loved intimately, personally, and yes, romantically.  We are created to be the object of desire and affection of one who is totally and completely in love with us. […]  God wants intimacy with you.  In order to have it, you, too, must offer it to Him.”

— John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating

My prayer is that you will come to know of God’s love and intimacy with you!  May it increase everyday.  You are so dearly loved and cared for, my friend!! ❤  Allow God to show you His kind of love.  You do not have to do anything to earn it, it is simply bestowed upon us.  So, take it.  God will lavish it on you.  Then you can “lie down and rest.”

xoxo, Lisa

Seeking for Answers

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Have you ever wondered what God is doing in your life or what He will do next?  I noticed that I have been asking God “What’s next?” or “When will…”.  For me, it has been difficult trying to figure things out such as my major, what I want to do this summer, and how I can be improve in my relationships and skills.  Since my second semester of college has started, I feel like I am slowly sinking and getting frustrated with trying to find answers to my questions.  God has not answered my questions yet, however, He reminded me about contentment and what He has done in my life so far.  I realized that I am still learning to trust God in all of the areas in my life.

“We must learn to trust God completely if we ever intend to enjoy peaceful living.  We must meditate on what God has done in our life instead of what we are still waiting on Him to do.”

— Joyce Meyer, Life in the Word

After reading a devotion from Joyce Meyer’s Life in the Word devotional, I realized that even though the future is unknown and no matter how many questions I have and want answered, I should be thanking God for what He has already done in my life.  I do not think it is bad to ask God questions and pray about them but it is what happens after the prayer that matters.  Am I going to be impatient about it and try to take matters into my own hands?  Am I going to continue to seek God through prayer and His word as I wait for His response?  I think that what determines our actions after our prayer is whether we are content or not.

So, instead of me being impatient and wanting things my way, I choose to wait on the Lord’s response and guidance.  In the meantime, I will continue to seek God and thank Him for what He has already done in my life.  There are so many things to be thankful for.  No matter how big or small it is, God provided and gave it to me and you.  I (and you) can find contentment and trust IN God.

I encourage you (and myself) to take some time to write or reflect on things that the Lord has blessed and provided for you so far.  Then praise and worship Him for what He has done…and what He will do.  Bask in His promises and TRUST in His unfailing love and plans for you.

“Heavenly Father, I am sorry for trying to figure things out on my own.  I found out that finding answers on my own and in other things will not give me contentment or reliable results.  It is through You that I can find everlasting peace and contentment as I seek You and all that You have for me.  Lord, You want me to be focused on You in all that I do and I pray that I will be strong and faithful to keep my eyes on You.  You are so beautiful and there is nothing in this world that can satisfy my soul!  Abba, thank you for all that You have done in my life.  There is so many things I can list that You have done and given me even when I did not deserve it.  Thank You for Your everlasting mercy and grace.  Although, I do not know what my future will hold, I choose to trust in You and believe that You have far greater plans for me.  You are the Creator and the All-Knowing Planner of my life, so use my life for Your glory.  In Your precious and Holy name I pray.  Amen.”

xoxo, Lisa