Tips & A Testimony (Guest Post: Cassie)

Hey y’all! I’m Cassie from Anchored in Amazing Grace & I’m so excited to be here! Today I will be sharing a bit of my testimony and how it affected my freshman year of college, as well as a few tips for all new and returning college students.

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So I’m gonna keep it somewhat vague, because detailing out 19 years would make for a quite lengthy read, but I’ll jump right into it. Now I’m gonna share a bit about who I am & what God has taught me in my short time on this earth.

I had a pretty “normal,” stereotypical, Christian childhood- I was a happy kid who attended church 2-3 times a week, and I was usually quite optimistic and cheerful. At the ripe age of 7, I decide to ask Jesus Christ to be my savior- because that’s what Christians do & my parents were proud. It was very exciting. As a 7 year old, though, I didn’t quite grasp the power of God’s love, or what being a Christian entailed. I hadn’t really gone through anything that tested my faith, so how could I not believe in and trust this wonderful creator I’d been learning about in Sunday school my whole life?

About a year later, God gave me the gift of dance- a sport that became a huge part of my life in the years to come, but it had rocky beginnings that I didn’t quite enjoy. In fact, I was absolutely awful. I’d never really been bad at anything before. I was considered quite smart for my age back in the day, as I did very well in school and took part in the Gifted & Talented program, drama clubs & other sports I participated in. But dance… yikes. Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent, God gave me dance. I didn’t know it then, but this was working towards a grander plan for me! The next summer, I was about 9, my aunt lost her battle to cancer, and within 2 consecutive months I lost 3 other family members. This was my first experience with death & I was unsure how to handle it. I continued going to church- I didn’t really have a choice- but something changed inside me. I felt anger, confusion, and darkness fill me. I believed in God, but I was upset with him for taking the people I loved from me. How can this perfect, merciful creator I have been praising take the lives of his creation early? Why them?

 

For the next 8 or so years, the childhood illnesses I had progressed and caused me a lot of problems. I went to dance as my release, and advanced quite quickly because all of the pain I bottled up was only released while I danced (and I attribute that to keeping me alive- Thank you, God for giving me a creative outlet), but inside and outside of the studio, I faced severe insecurity, bullying, depression and anxiety. I carried around so much darkness & wore a sparkly, perky facade so that no one- not even my parents- would know how I felt on the inside. I knew all of the “Sunday school answers” at church & didn’t get into trouble. I didn’t rebel, at least not in the way other kids did, but I was crumbling.

Fast forward to high school. I was on the drill team when I suffered a hip injury that made me unable to dance for 6 months. That was an adventure. I struggled fitting in, as I was shy & very self conscious. At this time, every girl was dating & guys paid no attention to me- which only built on my insecurity (pro tip: don’t rely on guys to make you feel beautiful- you already are and God loves you SO much!!). I was still struggling with my health & anxiety, and the stress of school got to me- I’m a perfectionist and nothing I did ever felt like enough, including who I am. I was not confident in myself: a nerdy, passionate, artsy, caring & introverted individual. I focused a lot on being someone else and that was not okay. I continued walking my distorted and dark road that was disguised by a sparkling facade that I had created. I continued to let the devil convince me how horrible I was. I didn’t have any joy most of the time, and I didn’t care to be alive. I didn’t have suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t really care if I lived- if something happened to me. That’s such a dangerous place to be in & if you or someone you know is there, please get help! So summer rolled around & my father got very sick and was hospitalized. My dad is my best friend and this was a breaking point for me- but also my turning point. We weren’t sure if he was gonna make it and I didn’t know what else to do. My siblings had already moved out, so it was just my mom and I at home. I tried to be strong for her, I didn’t want her to see me cry. When I was alone, I bawled my eyes out. At dance, I released all my pain. One day, I was particularly stressed and turned on my pandora to hear a song I hadn’t heard in a while by one of my all time favorites, Relient K. The song was “For The Moments I Feel Faint,” (check it out, so beautiful!) and one line struck me: “never underestimate Jesus, they’re telling me that there’s no hope, I’m telling you you’re wrong, when the world around you crumbles, he will be strong.” I fell to my knees and cried out to God, and prayed for a few hours to help my dad, and to help me. An instant weight was lifted off of my shoulders & I rededicated my life to Christ. It hasn’t been an easy road since, but my perspective has changed. I’m genuinely optimistic and am a lot more secure with who I am. I found God and he brought me through my darkest points & I dove into the word. I began to believe I was beautiful, that I had worth, that I didn’t have to be perfect, that I deserve love and that I am not alone. This has made all the difference. My dad got better & is doing better than he’s ever been. We’ve been facing financial struggles & I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness that is sometimes quite unbearable, but I am able to face it and fight it with optimism and hope. Hope to use it for his glory & hope to overcome. This hope comes from Christ. I am just a mere vessel that was constantly getting lost at sea, but Christ is the anchor that stabilizes me and keeps me from capsizing adrift.

This newfound hope has helped me so much with my journey of getting to college and actually living on my own in a new place. I just want to offer love, hope & encouragement up to all who are reading this. You’re not alone and through Christ, you can get through anything. Keep the hope, stay anchored.

Before I go, here a few must-haves/tips for all college students:

  • Emergen-C: y’all, I swear by this. Everyone gets sick in college, but this really helps boost your immune system!
  • a planner! It is so important to keep a routine and stay on top of your schedule/deadlines to help reduce stress
  • Okay not really a thing, but check your email daily! You never know when due dates change, classes are cancelled/rescheduled, or when extra credit opportunities come up!
  • Brita water filter: this comes in handy if you’re in a dorm and need a way to stay hydrated, because sink water isn’t ideal!
  • Go to office hours! I kid you not, this is so important when it comes to success in your class and final grades. It could be the difference between a B and an A!

Thank you for reading, and feel free to stop by sometime! I talk about God, school, missions, and the occasional nerd blurb!

“Sea” ya later,

Cassie

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure,”

 -Hebrews 6:19 NIV

Student Ministry (Guest Post: Lily)

Good morning friends! Today I’m sharing another one of my favorite bloggers wisdom with you. Lily and I have a lot in common, both serving in a student ministry called Young Life! I’ll let her introduce herself and tell you more about the importance of loving students where they are….

 

Hey all! Before I jump into the main content of this blog post I just wanted to give you a quick intro about myself. My name is Lily, I am a 21 year old living in colorful Colorado with my Fiancé, Jared, and our beagle pup, Rizzo. I love all things health, wellness, outdoors and performing arts. I am passionate about student ministry because I think it’s important to show up for kids, I even met Jared on a Young Life leader’s retreat. Ministry makes my heart swell with joy and I think it’s increasingly important that we invest in youth and in students because their future matters. Thanks for stopping by to read this guest post If you like what you see, you can head over to my blog, Love Wyns for more content. And a special thank you to Ally for giving me a little space on her blog to share my thoughts. Ya’ll ready for this? Here we go!IMG_8258

I’m not going to lie… student ministry has wrecked me in ways I never knew possible. I have slept in church hallways, stayed up late counseling someone about the divorce of their parents, I’ve washed hair in kitchen sinks when there are no showers open on mission trips, I’ve wept along families and friends at funerals of young people, I’ve had all sorts of gunk thrown at me during a muck war and I have watched kids come to know Jesus. Student ministry has wrecked me but would I do every single one of those things again? Absolutely. See, I don’t do student ministry because it’s easy or because I have some awkward desire to be liked by high school students, I do student ministry because I truly believe it’s the work of Jesus. Student ministry has wrecked my heart for the better so let’s chat about why it’s so important.

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I wasn’t kidding about washing hair in a sink….

Students need consistent adults. Let’s be real and say that I am the least “adulty” adult there is, but you don’t have to have all the answers to hang out with students. You just have to show up. Showing up will do more for these kids than you could ever imagine. Show up to youth group and chat with them about their lives and you’ll be showing them Jesus. Show up to that basketball game, that play, that swim meet, and you’ll be showing them Jesus. Meet them where they are and you’ll be showing them Jesus. How cool is it that one simple thing, showing up, shows kids Jesus? The bible tells us in Luke 19 verse 10 that “the son of man came to seek and to save the lost” this is said after Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus the tax collector. Jesus didn’t wait for Zacchaeus to come to him, he sought him out and came to his house for dinner. So let’s seek out students and buy them Starbucks (because that’s clearly the modern day equivalent). Kids need adults to show them that they are loved and important and all you have to do is show up. I could honestly probably stop talking right there but, I’m a talker so here’s some more insight for you…

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Yes, I am shorter than all of my students. You learn to live with it.

How do I know that students need this kind of love? Sure, I’ve been a leader and I have seen this type of consistency to get kids to come to church, to get kids to study the bible, to get kids to get baptized, to get kids to lead other kids, but the real reason I know that the whole consistent adult thing is true is because I was a student once too. I was a student at the very same church I later was a student ministry intern at, I grew up in the youth group scene and loved it. I didn’t drink or party in college or high school because of what a youth leader said to me my freshman year of high school. I am a testament to how showing up for kids works. I am who I am today because of the fantastic leaders I had in my life. I am a leader today because of the fantastic leaders I had. I believe in Jesus because leaders have shown me Jesus. Jesus was tangible to me in high school because I was surrounded by adults being the hands and feet of the Lord. So trust me when I say that showing up is everything.

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High school me, serving with college leader Brianne

Student ministry is awesome because you get to bring kids to Jesus but it’s also amazing because Jesus will become real to you as you do his work. Now, I recognize that not everyone is called to student ministry but if you feel that tug on your heart, run to those kids and never look back. I promise you’ll never regret it. It’ll wreck you but it’ll wreck you in all the best ways.

I’ve never experienced Jesus in such a powerful way as the time I first served communion to students. I was a student ministry intern and I loved those kids (still do and always will by the way). As I served them communion, the spirt overtook my soul. Not my heart, my soul. I wept as I saw student after student come to remember what their Jesus had done for them. I cried knowing that they were radically loved by both me and by the Father. I experienced Jesus that night alongside them and I’ll never forget it. So yes, you’ll find that in ministering to young people, your relationship with Jesus changes as well. Your love for his people will grow and flourish and that’s the best thing ever.

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In a time where depression runs rampant, suicide rates increase and bullying is at an all-time high, students need Jesus. They need you to show them Jesus. In a time where kids don’t know their worth, they need you to show up. In a time where going to church is the last thing a student wants to do, they need you at their basketball games or taking them out to lunch. These students need leaders and it’s our calling to make disciples. So if this blog has tugged at your heart in any way, shape or form, I encourage you to reach out to your church or your local Young Life ministry and get involved. Go show up for students, go show them Jesus.

Xo,

Lily

Connect to the Creator (Maali Padro)

Surprise, it’s me! I’ve been MIA in the midst of moving and summer school, but I couldn’t wait any longer to share welcome the words of my friend Maali onto my blog. I love what she has to say about connecting to God through scripture, and how we can use the Bible to further our relationship with Him daily. Friends, keep this in mind as we head off into another busy school year!! Don’t let your connection to the Creator take a back seat. 

 

There are many reasons as to why we should read God’s Word, but, first, I want to start off by answering a few questions.

What exactly is God’s Word?

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” John 1:1

The real question is not “What is God’s Word?”, but “Who is God’s Word?” God’s Word is God. It’s as simple as that. While many of us may already know this, fully grasping the meaning of this gives the Bible a whole new meaning. It gives it life. It’s no longer just a book full of other books, chapters, and words. It’s no longer just a book full of short stories, parables, wisdom, or poetry. It’s no longer an ordinary book from the shelf written by a few men, but it’s an extraordinary book spoken into existence by the breath of the Creator (2 Timothy 3:16).

And It’s so beautiful that God chose to use ordinary men to be a part of something extraordinary, and that He still continues to use us as a vessel for His voice to be heard. It’s His breath in us and His essence in all that we do and say in His name.

Fully grasping that shifts the act of reading the Bible being a chore to something we do because we want to know our Creator. The Bible is no longer just a book we read, but a person we can connect with. When we read God’s Word, He gives us a piece of Him. Just like when we speak, people get to know us, we get to know His heart, mind, and spirit. His Word gives us access to Him.

Who is God?

“In the beginning, God created…” Genesis 1:1

God is the Creator, our Creator. He has always been and always will be. He has no origin because He is the origin (Colossians 1:16-17). In the same manner, His Word has always been and always will be. It’s eternal, without end or beginning, because it’s the essence of God. It is God. One might say, “Well, the Bible only has a certain amount of books, it’s only so long. It has a beginning and an end.” Physically, it does, but the Bible isn’t just a physical book. Like God, it surpasses the physical realm and dwells in the spiritual realm, and spiritually it has no end. We can read a passage one day and get something out of it. Read the same passage a few days later, not even days, minutes later, and God will reveal to us something else. God’s Word will never cease to speak to our hearts and souls. It’s an endless fountain of words that bring life to life because it is life. He is life. He is the beginning and the end.

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13

With that said, here are 5 reasons as to why we should connect to God’s Word, to Him, on a daily basis.

  1. It’s through the written Word that we can resist the attacks of Satan and him himself.

The truth is that “Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). God’s Word is our weapon. It’s what God has given us to fight this spiritual battle (Hebrews 6:17) because this battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Hebrews 6:12). When Satan went to attack Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responded to each attack with the phrase “It is written..” and He spoke the Word of truth over the lies of Satan (Matthew 4). Because God’s truth, His Word, pierces with light through the lies that Satan tries to darken our minds with. Satan knows the Word probably better than we do. He was one of God’s angels once (Isaiah 14:12-15).  In fact, He was one of the most important angels. He knows how to switch up just a few words so that it sounds truthful enough to be the truth (Genesis 3:1-4), but if you know the real truth no lie can get pass you. Light shines brighter in the midst of darkness. If God’s Word is in our hearts, when the lies come, the truth will shine brighter in midst of all that darkness trying to creep in bringing to light the lies.

  1. It’s through the Word that our minds are transformed.

God uses His Word to convict us about the matters in our hearts that aren’t right and of the things that we do that don’t please Him.

“For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrows; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Without reading His Word we will continue to stay ignorant in the ignorance of our sins. Our minds can’t be transformed without conviction of ourselves and of the things we do that we have deemed as not a big enough sin to bring us down spiritually, but like the saying goes “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). All it takes is a little bit of sin to darken your heart. His word pierces through our hearts and souls bringing to light all the dark areas and gives us the knowledge our minds need of to alter our behavior and to continue on or start walking in the truth and light of His Word.

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word. Order my steps in Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:9, 133

If we speak His Word into our lives and declare it over our life each and every day. It’ll transform us inside and out with each passing day.

  1. It’s through the Word that God guides us.

God left us His Word as a guide in this life. His Word is as much as a physical guide through life as it is a spiritual one. There is no problem that can’t be solved with God’s Word. There is no answer that can’t be found in God’s Word. All we have to do is seek Him with all our hearts, silence our hearts, and we’ll find all our heart, mind, and soul needs in Him, in His Heart (Jeremiah 29:13). His Word is our light when our worlds get dark.

“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalms 119:105

  1. It’s through His Word in us that we will shine and the world will know we are His.

What we put in comes out. Plant an apple tree seed, an apple tree will grow. Our hearts are just the same. If we plant hatred in it, hatred will come out. If we plant love in it, love will come out. By reading God’s Word, we are planting its seed in our hearts, and as we continue to nurture it by spending time with the Source it will sprout from our hearts into everything we do; and everything we do, small and big, will point back to Him and the world will know we are His because we shine His light through all we do. Because He shines in us, we shine over the world. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, creation pointing back on the Creator through its creation.

“…Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the Word of life.” Philippians 2:15b-16a

  1. It’s through His Word that He directly speaks to us, and He wants to directly speak to you.

This is something that God has heavily been speaking into my heart. It’s so easy to replace God’s Word with Christian blogs, Christian books, Christian podcasts, Christian friends, and other Christian resources. All these things are good, don’t get me wrong. But those things or people should never replace God’s Word in our life. God wants to directly speak to us. For example, if you’re in a relationship with someone you wouldn’t want to communicate with that person through their best friend all the time. Occasionally it’s okay because it’s sometimes hard to get a hold of a person. But there are some things that regardless of how long it’ll take you to reach that person you’ll wait because it needs to be said directly to the other person. My point is there are some things that God wants to speak directly to us, and He can only that through His Word. He wants a direct relationship with us. Connect to the Creator and listen. There’s nothing like listening to the Father’s voice as He whispers into our hearts and connects with us.

“Faith (the beginning of our relationship with God) comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of God.” Romans 10:17

(Be sure to check out Maali’s blog over at Heartfull Whispers! Show her some love and tell her I sent you) 

With all the love,

A

Untitled Love (By Celina Kay)

Happy Friday, Friends! I can’t tell you enough great things about the community that I get to be a part of as a college christian girl blogger. My new friend, Celina, shared the following post on her own blog last week and I can’t get enough of it. I told her that these words could have been my own, and they needed to be shared. So, with her generous permission, I’m sharing this with you today. I hope your heart feels touched and understood like my own did.

Dear You,

I’m coming to realize that all I’ve ever wanted since I was a little girl was to feel cherished, irreplaceable, and safe. My favorite and most memorable childhood pastime was playing dress up. Sitting here and thinking back on these simple times, I can still feel the joy that raced through my heart as I sang and dance around my house, pretending to be someone else; someone of the utmost importance and value. As I grew older I learned that one way I could find this sense of security was by pouring my heart into the characters that surrounded me.

I find this to be one of the biggest reasons for my love of period dramas. A favorite thing of mine to do is find a character that I can relate to and fully experience the dramatic events that they go through. Heck! Even if I have nothing in common with the character, I will seek out one tiny thing to hold onto that connects me to them until I deeply feel their pain, their joy, and their story.

Take Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. I have pretty much nothing in common with her. I am not a spoiled Southern belle, I do not have a 17-inch waist, and though I may have the tendency to exaggerate for embellishment, I am not nearly as self-centered, bratty, and prone to hysterical outbursts as she is. Even with all of these key differences, my young heart somehow became very connected with hers as I watched her story unfold. Even today, I feel precisely what she feels when she goes through the events of the movie. When her heart is taken advantage of by Ashley, my heart is taken advantage of. When she falls for Rhett Butler, I fall for Rhett Butler. When Rhett leaves Scarlett to Ashley at the end of the movie, I feel every single piece of her heartbreak once she realizes how stupid she had been to cling to unavailable Ashley for so long.

The point is that I have always found ways to invest my whole heart into the lives of others. Sometimes this has been such a wonderful thing. The ability to connect at the deepest levels to others can create powerful bonds and bring a lot of beauty into this world. But more often than not, I have allowed it to come to the point where I have given others power over my heart, whether they asked for it or not. Instead of guarding my heart within my connections, I have left it–my most prized possession–totally vulnerable to many who enter into my life, simply because I have wanted to be cherished and unrejectable. Being open and loving is a miraculous thing and I’ve come to see that there must be some self-protection when pouring into the hearts of others. A balance in order to benefit everyone you come in contact with. If you empty yourself without maintaining resources to replenish yourself, any attempt at helping others will likely be insincere and fruitless.

Over these past couple of years, I have been working so hard to learn how to not let others have control over my life. And, I’ll tell you, it truly is a choice. I’ve had to learn how to take responsibility for my reactions because I am the one who decides how I handle encounters with others. There are two sides. They act and I have the power to react in any way that I choose. Oh boy, has it been one heck of a process as this has been one of the greatest battles for my sensitive heart to overcome. Though it has the potential to be if not tended to, I don’t see my sensitivity as purely negative. I simply want to know how to be sensitive to others without letting their problems, criticisms, or emotions rip me up inside. What’s the healthy balance between showing empathy and fostering my own strength? I’ve been fighting against the habit of allowing empathy to drag me into the lowest of lows when it should really be a beautiful thing used for healing and the good of others. I really believe that time and self-examination are the keys to finding this balance within myself. Time is just a tricky thing to wait on.

Now over these past few weeks, I’ve specifically had love on my mind and many questions have come to me. How do I love without giving so much that I end up wounded? Or is love about giving until you cannot give anymore and risking taking in some wounds? How do I love with complete purity, sacrifice, and steadfast dedication? Is this possible and how do I love myself in the mix of all of this?

With all of these questions inside of me, I absolutely believe that the heartbreak we often experience in this life is worth the love that is gained through it. If I love with all of my heart and experience disappointment, it will have all been worth it because I truly believe that love calls for true sacrifice. Still, I don’t believe that it calls us to give up the deepest parts of ourselves to just anyone. That’s where wisdom and discipline come into action. How can we love if we are empty? We must protect the core of who we are. Then, we can find the strength and discernment to truly love.

I want freedom to encompass my love. Loving others without the chains of fear holding me down. Loving sacrificially while remaining true to the core of who I am. And I know that I can’t truly display or even accept this kind of love until I heal the wounds of my past and understand that I am cherished, endlessly wanted, and of value because of the truths that God has spoken into my very being. Through this painful process of life, I am learning important characteristics of this love that I can often be caught daydreaming of.

Love will give. Wait. Hope. Stand firm and protect. Prioritize. Sacrifice. Accept. Challenge. Forgive. Love fights. It is not for the weak.

And perfect love heals.

So may I, and all those I come across, discover the courage to act with this kind of powerfully infinite love.

(With a fullness of) Love,

Celina Kay

PLEASE head over to Celina’s blog (Dear You, Love Celina), and soak up her wisdom and joy. You won’t be disappointed. Be encouraged, friends. 

5 Ways to Manage Chronic Illness in College

Happy Tuesday friends!! I want to introduce you to one of my favorite blogger friends, Liu! Today she’s sharing her top 5 ways of managing chronic illness in college on my blog, and I’m sharing my top 5 things to bring to college on her blog! Make sure to leave us a comment telling us how you manage your illness at school! 

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Hello, my name is Liu Miao and I am a college student. I am done with my second year and very excited. Psychology is my major and Spanish is my minor. There is one thing that most people don’t realize that I have. I have chronic pain and some other health problems due to my physical disability. I try not to show my pain to others. Since I started college, my health got worse. Having no energy and pain when moving or siting are some of the things that I have to deal with in college. I do take medicine for my health problems; however, there are things that help me cope with having a chronic illness in college. This is to help incoming freshmen to prepare for college and be successful. It is hard being a college student with health problems but it can be done.

  1. First thing is to rest. Going to school and doing simple tasks take a lot of energy for me. I tire very easily and it is important to get rest. Yes, I know that as college students we are busy but rest is very important. Not having enough rest is not good for our health. I am a firm believer in naps. Sometimes I need to take long naps and sometimes I take short naps. I even nap in the car and nape while waiting at the doctor’s office.
  2. Food is another way I cope. Yes it’s not the healthiest option, but it makes me feel better. Having your favorite food can make you feel better. Coffee with friends helps me forget about my illness and worries. Indulging in snacks and candies also makes me happy. I am a big fan of gummie candies and spicy Asian foods.
  3. Keeping my self warm is also important. Since I have severe joint problems, it feels good when my joints are kept warm and toasty. Taking a hot shower/bath, sitting in a hot tub, and using a heating blanket are ways that keep me warm.
  4. There are times a good cry is needed. Life can be very overwhelming and crying is a good solution. It feels good getting all those feelings out. I prefer crying alone but sometimes I need a good friend to cry with.
  5. The last method is letting my emotions out in a calm way. This includes talking with a friend, doing a creative activity, listening to music, and physical activities. These activities help keep my mind off struggles. Writing is the best way for me to express my thoughts. I love blogging and helping others through my writing. Hand lettering is also one of my favorites.

It is hard dealing with a chronic illness in college, but you have to make the best of it. There will be hard days and some easier days. Managing chronic illness in college is so important.

~Liu Miao~