Don’t Be Afraid to Dive

Childhood summers. 

Days filled with friends, relaxing, and the local swimming pool. The feeling of walking on sun-kissed pavement into the coolness of the water. You know you have to go all the way in, no matter how cold it feels. So you take a deep breath and go under, your hair drenched with water and chlorine. You see kids jumping off of the diving board, which looks like great fun. You get in line, climb the stairs, and look down into the water. Somehow, you muster up the courage to jump. You hold your breath and cannonball straight down into the water. Finally, you accomplish the next great hurdle of the swimming pool. Diving. You aren’t allowed to dive from the diving board (Ironically), so you go the edge of the swimming pool. You put your hands up, bend down, and fall headfirst.

You go headfirst into deep water. You don’t know what will happen. But, you come up again. You swim to the top, with a wave of determination rushing over you. And, you come up, greeted by sweet victory.

Diving can be scary. Letting ourselves fall seems counter-intuitive to everything instinct seems to tell us. We don’t want to let go. We don’t want to loose our grip on gravity.

It can be the same way with our faith sometimes. The thought of committing everything to a God who we can’t see or touch sounds foreign to us. The thought of letting go of the reigns sounds downright frightening. Nonetheless, I’ve come to find that when we surrender to God, we become more fully ourselves.

God made each of us with great potential, but what we do with that potential is up to us. He wants to work in our lives in ways that we could never even dream of, but whether or not we let Him is our choice. Surrendering to God does not mean losing ourselves, it means becoming more authentically us than ever before. God gave us our personality and passions for a a reason, He’s not going to call us to something that we hate. He takes seeds buried deep in our heart and waters them.

I’ve always loved stories and I’ve always known that someday I want to write professionally. When I became a Christian, I realized that I could use my passion for written word in a way that makes a difference, both in this life and the next.

Another thing that I’ve gotten into is lyric-writing. I wrote my first “song” when I was about seven or eight years old. When I got to high school, I began writing song lyrics as sort of a personal diary. As I’ve grown in my faith, my songs have reflected that. Someday, I hope to get those lyrics out there as songs that inspire and encourage others, just as songs by people like Britt Nicole have inspired me.

Whatever your goals, whatever your personality, and whatever your passions, I urge you to grab onto them, and dive into the ocean of faith. God can take those things further than you can dream, and use them in ways that are beyond what you can imagine.

So look into the water, bend down, and don’t be afraid to dive. 🙂


The Meaning Series Part One: Dreams

Today is day one of a new blog series that I’m starting, called The Meaning Series. The Meaning Series is going to basically talk about some of the things that I believe give meaning to life. The series isn’t in order of importance, but rather in a random order. This is going to be a five part series with a different topic for each post, covering the subjects of dreams, work, community, individuality, and faith. Today, I’m going to be discussing dreams.

I suppose I’ve always been a big dreamer. I love possibilities, looking at what could be rather than what is. I’m probably more of an idealist than a realist. Some people would argue that dreaming is futile and silly, but I disagree. It is dreams that have created some of the realities we see today. Where would we be without the dreams of the founders of America? Or, Martin Luther’s dream for equality? Dreams (along with hard work) are the things that progress society into something better and brighter. You may be thinking “Wait, how can my dreams benefit others?” I believe that if you look to the heart of your dreams, you’ll find that they often aren’t just about you, but about something that you feel you can offer others. Say you want to be a be a writer; Do you desire this because you feel you have something important to say to your readers and you want to teach through story? Or, say for example, you want to be an actor; Do you believe that film is a medium that influences society greatly and are there truths about the world that you want to demonstrate through your acting and movies?

Sometimes, if you take a closer look at your dreams, you’ll find a lot that you didn’t realize was there.

Thus, I urge you to hold onto your dreams. Keep working hard to make your dreams a reality. From my perspective, dreaming, and wanting something more in life is an important part of living and being fully alive. Don’t miss out on life now in the midst of dreaming, but hold onto those dreams, in hopes that someday in the future, they’ll be a reality.

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

I just finished reading an incredible book called A Million Little Ways by a previously reviewed author, Emily P. Freeman. Emily is one of those rare authors; the kind of author who writes as if they know you personally. It’s almost as if she’s been sitting on the edge of my brain, taking notes of my thoughts, feelings, ideas, passions, and concerns. Though she’s a good twenty years older than me, I feel that if I knew her, we’d be best friends. I could easily sit in a coffee shop with her, discussing the abstracts of life over decaf tea and a plate of donuts.

That being said, A Million Little Ways is the kind of book that stays with you. I found so many wise statements that I drained two poor highlighters, fiercely coloring impactful statements They may have recuperated by now, but they were in bad condition when I was using them. Anyways, the theme of the book, is how every good thing that we do in this life is art. We are all image bearers, called to create for the glory of God.

Being that I’m somewhat of a creative type, I love how she views our dreams and personalities as art, as unique ways that God expresses Himself to humanity. The way she describes God’s creation of each one of us as art reminds me of a belief that I held as a child. I didn’t have any church background as a kid, but I did believe in God’s existence and that He created the world. I often imagined that God created the world through painting. I believed that he painted a portrait of the earth, and it sprang out of the canvas and came into existence. This view was probably more cartoon based than theologically based, but I did get one thing right: God is an artist.

Furthermore, as Emily Freeman states, because we’re made in the image of God, we’re also artists, and the unique aspects of our personalities, as well as the things that make us come alive, are forms of art. This could mean more obvious forms of art such as painting and drawing, but it could also mean any hobby or talent that God has given you. When I think about all of my friends unique interests, it’s pretty incredible how different they all are. I have friends who are into acting, sports, math, science, politics, psychology, singing, cooking, computers, photography, etc.

All unique forms of art.

Throughout the book, Emily also gives helpful advice that could be applied to various forms of art, and challenges the reader to do some deep soul-searching to find their desires and passions in life. One thing that I found particularly interesting, is how she points out that our passions can often be traced back to our childhood. I personally related to this, as I’ve always had an intense obsession with stories. I asked to learn how  to read when I was about three years old, and have read books compulsively ever since. Throughout grade school, I read books the way I ate food. During middle school, I obsessed over The Left Behind Young Trib Series, feeling as if I knew each of the characters, and mourning when a character died. I’ve also told stories from a young age, driving my whole family crazy with the way I made every inanimate object talk. It didn’t matter if it was a doll or a hairbrush; It became a character with a unique personality. Not to mention that from the moment I knew how to write, I didn’t stop. I wrote and illustrated stories with pencils and crayons in elementary school, graduated to short stories and two nonfiction published works in middle school, and now the current series that I’m working on (As well as a stand alone book). I suppose looking back, storytelling and writing was always in my DNA. I’m sure that you have your own memories of dreams growing deep inside of you from your childhood as well, if you look hard enough.

In addition to our passions, she goes on to teach that our personalities and the things that move us are forms of art. Each of us were knit together in a way that is completely different than any other person throughout history. Each of of us have unique quirks, traits, and temperaments that shape us. Each of us are moved by something, just waiting to emerge in a way that makes the world a better place.

To summarize the point of the book A Million Little Ways, and paraphrase some of the information, you were created by a Divine Artist, and because you were created in His image, you are an artist as well.

Not as an equal to God, but as a reflection of Him.

God created you the way you are for a reason, and you have something to contribute to this world. The things that God has gifted you in were placed inside of you for a reason, to come out as a form of worship in a million little ways.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

To conclude, I found this book incredibly informative and would highly recommend it to anyone who desires to learn more about how they can live their life as art offered up in worship to God.

Note: I got much of my information here from the book A Million Little Ways, so I owe credit to the author, Emily P. Freeman. 

God’s Direction and the Rocky Road To Our Callings

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

This seems to be a lesson that God is trying to teach me right now, as the concept behind this verse appeared in a Christian nonfiction book that I was reading last night, as well as the sermon that I listened to in church today. Both places emphasized something that I tend to have a bit of a rough time doing.

Trusting God even when He’s calling you to do something that doesn’t make sense in the flesh. 

Sometimes, God calls us to things that we may have never pictured, prompting us to lead in a way that we feel less than equipped to do. By this, I don’t mean things that we would hate doing. I believe that along with a particular calling, God will also place in us a desire to fulfill that calling. Nonetheless, we may sometimes doubt if we can really succeed at the task that we feel God has given us. When God stretches us beyond what we feel we can handle, it’s easy to start making excuses and questioning it in our minds

I’m not qualified. I’m too young. What if I fail?”

Lately I’ve been battling these types of thoughts in my own life as I feel led to take a leap of faith in the way that I believe God is calling me. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably battled similar thoughts of incompetency in your own life. Nonetheless, we’re not alone and we’re certainly not the first to question God’s calling for our lives. Moses felt inadequate in speech and eloquence when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jonah obviously felt afraid when God called him to go to Nineveh and preach, as his first instinct was to run. It seems that God often uses people who feel unqualified or incapable. “Why is that?” you may ask. After all, God could call anyone. Why would He choose the unlikely?

Perhaps He does so on purpose. Maybe He calls the unlikely so that we rely on Him, and so that His power is made evident through us. Maybe He wants us to be in a place where we’re humble enough to rely on His wisdom and not our own. Maybe His power is made the most clear when our callings seem illogical according to human reasoning.

You may feel inadequate by your own power, but as Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I believe that whatever God is calling you to do, He’ll walk with you every step of the way.

If you feel unqualified about God’s calling, know that you’re not alone. We all have moments when we wonder if we have the strength to follow through with the way that God is leading us. Nonetheless, I believe that if we trust God and follow His will, He’ll lead us on the right paths in our lives and make a way when it seems there isn’t one.

In the words of the Christian band Anthem Lights, we just have to keep following God’s heart, allowing Him lead us, guide, us, and direct our path.

I Want to Leave a Legacy, How Will They Remember Me?

Warning, this post became somewhat long, so grab a cup of hot tea and expect to spend some quality blog-reading time. 

Martin Luther King Jr. A simple Baptist Preacher with a dream. A dream that “one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” and that “[His] four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Today he’s remembered as one of the greatest heros of the civil rights movement.

C.S. Lewis. An academic from England who became a renowned, deep thinking apologist and writer. And I mean really deep (If you’ve read any of his books, you know what I mean). He was raised in a Christian home, turned to atheism after the death of his mother, and than after years of academic searching and reasoning, turned back to God, realizing the evidence for God’s existence.

He went on to become one of the most influential and well read Christian apologists to this day.

Among these more historical examples, there are also modern examples.

Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack, yet, didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Early Contemporary Christian bands and singers such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, the Newsboys, and DC Talk, who were on the front lines of creating Christian themed rock, pop, rap, hip hop, etc.

Alex and Brett Harris, two teenage boys who wrote the bestselling books Do Hard Things and it’s follow up, Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. Through their blog and books, they started the Rebelution, challenging the social norm of low expectations towards teenagers.

Looking at people’s lives such as the aforementioned is inspiring for me. Ordinary people with fairly ordinary lives, accomplishing not so ordinary things. Each small piece, contributing to a larger puzzle of life. Each chapter, adding more depth and beauty to the story of humanity. I may not know all of the details, but I know that someday, I want to be someone like these great, admirable people. I want to leave a legacy. I believe that’s something that a lot of people want. To be voice among the crowd, a change of tempo in a song, and a spark that starts a fire.

To quote the 2011 movie, Lemonade Mouth “I don’t want to be remembered as just another face in a yearbook.”

If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering exactly how you can leave your mark on the world. One thing that I’ve found, is that if you have a dream, you can start working towards it right now. Even if the end goal seems out of sight. I want to be an author and songwriter someday, so I’ve already begun writing books and songs. I’ve published two books, Teen Impact: Look No Further, the Bible Has Your Answers and Know Jesus, Know Peace. Furthermore, I’ve been working on writing fiction novels for a couple of years now, though none are published to this date. I also have a plethora of songs that I’ve written.

Whatever you want to do, you can start now. Either through physically doing something such as writing or training towards a particular goal, such as reading science books in order to someday become a great scientist.

Next, stay faithful in small things “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 (NIV). As we make goals and dream dreams, it’s important not to neglect the opportunities that God has given you right here, right now. Sometimes the small things, like reaching out to a new student at school, or helping an elderly lady cross the street can seem small to us, but can be huge to someone else. If you’re faithful with what God has given you, I believe that he’ll give you opportunities to make a difference on an even grander scale.

Furthermore, pray about God’s will for your life. If your dreams are in accordance with God’s will, He’ll open the right doors when the time is right. If it’s God’s will for your life, He put that dream inside of you. He created you in such a way that you’re capable of fulfilling that dream. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV). Don’t doubt yourself, but instead believe that God has equipped you to be all that you’re meant to be. 

Lastly, never feel that God can’t use you. God has a history of using ordinary people for extraordinary things. He chose a young peasant girl to be the mother of Jesus. He chose Moses, an inelegant speaker, to lead a nation out of slavery.

You can be the change that you want to see, if you just keep trusting God, staying within His will, and starting right where you are.

Legacy by Nicole Nordeman

This is an incredible Christian song about leaving a legacy. I owe credit to the writers of this song for the title of this blog post.