Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Relationship Status Part 1: Checklist Mentality

Relationship Status: Part One; Checklist Mentality.

Disclaimer for this entire series: The purpose of this series is to talk and open discussion about something that I think a lot of people in the HRM (Hebrew Roots Movement) are scared to talk about to an extent: Relationships. That being said, I am a 19 year old girl who has never been in a romantic relationship. Anything that I write in this series will be from either my personal experience/ opinions, things I've observed from seeing other people's relationships, or something I've read in the bible. Sorry if you don't agree with me all the time, as everyone isn't going to agree on everything 100% of the time. That being said, I hope you get something out of this series, and that it helps you in some way.

So, I've never been in a relationship. However, being a single person in the world of dating, I can tell you a few things. The first of those things, is that an overwhelming amount of people want to get married, most of them are young, and most of them think that turning 25 without being married qualifies you as an “old maid” and that getting married at 30 is a little late in the game. First and foremost, chill. Its not. I promise. (Authors note: by no means am I against getting married young. My mom got married when she was 18, and her and my dad are going on 28 years of marriage. I also see myself getting married probably in the next 5 ish years possibly, so don't get all up in arms yet. You'll probably want that for later.)

Second of all, and the reason that I am writing this blog post, is that the way many people go about trying to find their future spouse is fundamentally flawed. As a group, we need to stop treating every person of the opposite gender that we meet as a potential future spouse. Seriously. First of all ( and I speak from experience here) after just meeting a guy, I want to be friends. Please do not start screening me for marriage, its creepy, we can tell, and its seriously not the right way to go about things. It also employs something that I like to call “the checklist mentality”. Now, I will agree that there should be some things that you will not budge on whilst thinking of your future spouse (I have like 3, maybe 4), however, whatever courtship/dating/whatever the heck else book told you to write a cohesive checklist on all of the things you need your spouse to be, should probably be burned. Let me tell you why.

Some standards simply cannot be met. There is no perfect person. Maybe the person that God intended for you to marry is metaphorically standing right in front of you, but you'd never know because they don't meet that one qualification that literally no human can meet. However, with the checklist mentality, not only are you comparing people to the idealized version of what you think a spouse should be, you are also comparing them mercilessly to each other, and you are training your brain to do this subconsciously. Imagine this for a minute; you find a person who checks off most of the things on your list. You marry them. A while down the road, you meet another person who seemingly checks off more items on that list. Have you married the wrong person? Should you leave the person who has 80% of the list to go after the 20% that they are “missing”? Absolutely not, but by comparing people to an unattainable figure in your head, and comparing them to each other, this is exactly what you are training yourself to do. I'd even wager to say that you won't even completely know what you want or need in a person until that person shows up in your life; there may be qualities you never even thought of before that you now find that you'd never be able to live without. Therefore, the checklist becomes obsolete.

As a friend of mine once said, “this is not a cattle issue.” We are people, and should not be being measured up against any other person. When I get married, I don't want my husband to have married me because I checked off more things on his list than some other girl, I want him to have married me because he recognizes that God put us in each others lives for a reason, and because he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I don't want him to be embarrassed of my shortcomings or feel shame on my behalf, nor do I want to feel like I'm never quite good enough. I want him to be able to point me out and say with pride “That's the woman I married.” despite what level of crazy he'll have to endure for the rest of his life (sucker).

So what do I suggest? Well, modern dating probably isn't the best thing to do, but (don't shoot me here) neither is courtship (I'll explain in a later post). Probably some sort of combination of the two, but for starters, how about you just try being friends with people? And then, after you get to know some people, if someone stands out to you, maybe you should, oh I don't know, -gasp- say something to them? I've seen a lot of people dancing around relationship lane, and a lot of people want to be in a relationship, but are chronically single. Sorry to say that I'm mainly looking at the dudes here, but as the leader in any kind of potential relationship, if you say nothing, nothing will happen. Shocking, right? Now, I'm not saying to straight up propose, but get to know them, probably pray a bit, and tell them you're interested. Take it from there, we're all adults here, right? (right? Maybe? I have no clue of my demographic?)

But hey, that's just me, a 19 year old girl who's never had a boyfriend and sucks at reading signals. But please, put away the checklist, and above all else, make sure you take it to God. Remember that a chord of three strands is not easily broken, and a couple closer to God is closer to each other.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” - Ecclesiastes 4:12

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."1 John 4:7-8

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Time to Decide

As I blew all of the cat hair off of my keyboard today, I decided to forgo working on all of the other blog posts and poems I have in the works at the moment, and write about something that has really been at the front of my mind recently. Its something I've felt strongly about for a while, and something that I feel like some people might really need to hear.

I think that most of the young adults my age are a very “all or nothing” people, especially when it comes to terms of faith. I've seen it go to the extremes in both directions, and have also been considered an “extremist” by some of my friends and acquaintances. Something that a lot of people don't know is that I myself only really made the conscious decision about my faith and to start being serious about it probably about a year and a half ago.

Don't get me wrong, God has pretty much always been real to me; growing up, having gone to Sunday school at an Assembly's of God every Sunday, kind of cemented the idea of God in my head at a very young age. Then, when I was in middle school, my family took a step in a different direction, and made a decision to search out our faith in a completely biblical manner; while still believing as Jesus as our Messiah, we started observing the Sabbath, celebrating the biblical feasts, following Torah, and trying to learn and study even more. This was strange to me at first; no one I knew of besides my mom, dad, and sister believed anything like we did. However, it also made an unusual amount of sense to me. I've always been the kind of person who questioned things, so much so that I'm sure when I was a child, my parents got an unnatural aversion to the word “why” because of the number of times I would say it in a day. This questioning spirit of mine actually became something of a compelling force to cause me to make some very important decisions later on in life.

That's kind of why I'm writing this. I feel like a lot of people have never actually made a conscious decision about what they believe. I'm not talking about an altar call when you are five, or being baptized at the ripe old age of eight (guilty). I'm talking about an actual adult decision. Not whether or not you are going to go to college, what career you are going to pursue, not who or when you are going to get married, not when you are going to move out of mom and dad's house, I'm talking about the single most important decision in your life. What do you believe? Not what do your parents believe, or what their convictions are. You, as and adult. You can't live under the umbrella of your parent's or family's faith forever, that's not how it works. Ask questions, and seek out biblical answers. Search for the truth. Tap into your child- like curiosity. But the bottom line is this; make a decision, and start being serious.

I guess I'll leave you with this: a call to action. Seek out the truth. Start asking questions. Read your bible. Make a decision and make it real. Start getting serious. Find an answer to this question: what do you believe?  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Waiting on Life

My whole life, I've been waiting. Waiting to become an adult, waiting to graduate high school, waiting to leave home, waiting on someone else, waiting for my life to begin, waiting to change the world.

A piece of advice from someone who's tired of it; Stop waiting.

Here's the thing about the real world; its not going to wait for you. The world will keep on turning, injustice will keep on happening, God will keep on calling your name, but here we sit, waiting for the flashing neon sign telling us that its time. But now is the time. You don't have to start building an orphanage in some third world country in order to start changing the world; you don't have to worry about changing the whole world all at once. That feat is both daunting and impossible. But you can change other people's worlds. It doesn't even have to be anything that you perceive as big; giving the homeless man on the end of your street a hot meal, helping an old lady with her groceries, making finger puppets to send to an orphanage in India, living your life as you are supposed to live it and glorifying God. So why wait? Start now.

I have no experience,” “What can I do?”

These are thoughts that I've had at more than a few times during the course of my life. But then I realized something; there is something that God put in you that the rest of the world needs. The way you are and every aspect of your personality was designed specifically for a purpose. Otherwise, it wouldn't be there. Your God-given talents are what you can do for people; making music, creating art, construction skills, ability to teach others, even just the ability and will to learn. Literally, anything that you are good at (or anything you aren't good at, for that matter) is something that God put in you, and something that someone else needs; no experience needed.

I'm too young to make a difference.”

I've thought this before as well, but let me tell you something, dear friend; there is no time like the present. Lets take a look at someone we all know; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Regardless of each of our backgrounds in music, we all know the great and powerful symphonies that Mozart had written, and what a powerful influence he was on the rest of the world.

Mozart wrote his first symphony at 8 years old.

You can cry “child prodigy” all you like, but this is what I see: I see a person who took the gift that God gave them, put it into action at an early age, got people to look past his first name being “Wolfgang”, and became one of the most well known composers in the world. Now, not all of us are destined to become famous (in fact very few people ever will), but my point is that Mozart wasn't waiting around for anything. He saw what he could do and the gift that he was given, and he did something with it, and has reached billions of people around the world. You can't let your age stop you from doing what God has planned for you to do. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, start a group (FCA, prayers at the flagpole, ect.) at your school, sign up for a mentoring or tutoring program, do what you can with what you have, and God will direct your path.

I'm afraid.”

We've all fought our battles with fear, and doing big things is absolutely one of those battles. However, we as believers in Yeshua know that we do not need to be afraid.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

We do not need to be afraid; we know that if we trust in our Father, he will guide us and protect us. I will also go as far to tell you that if you are afraid in doing something, a lot of times (not always, but a lot of times) it means you are doing the right thing. Doing something so big that you know you can't do it without God's help is always a bit nerve racking, but that is exactly how I want to live my life. So laugh in the face of fear. Something bigger than that has got your back.

For those of you waiting on another person, whether it be that guy who won't text you back, or the girl that never returns your calls, or just waiting for someone else to do something, let me tell you right now, its not worth it.
Sure, they seem like the best thing in the world right now, but if they're blind to your true worth, let them be swallowed in your wake. If they were actually worth your time, they would see the value in it and they would make time for you, instead of keeping you waiting. Don't be anyone's second choice. If you really think about it, if you are distracted because you are waiting on someone else, you could miss out on other friendships, relationships, and opportunities that you should be investing your time in. Once again, take it from someone who got tired of it; instead of waiting on someone else, do it yourself. Stop waiting and move on.

There is something to be said about patience. In reality, the only thing we really need to be waiting on is God.

Patience, as I've told myself numerous times while waiting in line at Chipotle, is a virtue. It is clearly shown many times throughout the bible that patience is important, but look closely. Patience toward what? Are we waiting on another person, situation, opportunity, or anything else? Rarely. In most cases in the bible, it's either giving us a lesson on self control, or it tells us to wait upon the Lord.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;do not fret when people succeed in their ways,when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!”

Psalm 37:7

Wait for the Lord;
Psalm 27:14

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
Isaiah 30:18

Patience is a great thing to have, but there comes a point when you need to stop being patient and start being real. It's been said before, and I'll say it again; you can't steer a parked car. Neither can God steer you, if if you are not moving. How can a door be opened if no one hears a knock? When was the last time something wonderful happened to you while you were sat on your couch, doing nothing but waiting for something to happen? My guess would be never.

So start moving. It doesn't matter if you don't know what direction you should be going in, just start in a direction, and God will guide you to the path that you are supposed to take. Your life won't begin until you take a step.
So go ahead. Stop waiting, and do something.

"But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works"
James 2:18

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
James 1:22

"And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
Luke 11:9

Monday, February 1, 2016

I Was Afraid

    I've pretty much always been fighting a battle with fear and anxiety. For a long time, I just thought that it was a part of who I was, and I had started to try and accept that. I was wrong. I recently decided that with the help of God, I was no longer going to let fear and anxiety rule my life. I'm still working on it, as I wrote this more than a few months ago, and have been afraid to post it since then, but by the grace of God, I have begun to sever my ties with fear. So join me, as we laugh in the face of what we've been holding so dear, but whats been holding us so far away from what and Who really matters. I hope you enjoy it!

By Rebecca Zachry

I was afraid.
I was afraid to go out and do something
but I was afraid that standing still was not enough.
I was afraid to love, and to be loved
but I was afraid to be alone.
I was afraid to move on
because what if it was to soon,
what if I moved on too far and too fast
but what if moving on was the fear I was supposed to face?
I was afraid of caring, and caring too much
and the inevitability of being crushed.
I was afraid to change,
but I was afraid of the monotony that I was stewing in.
I was afraid to let go
and I was afraid to hold on.
I was afraid to think, to reason, to trust.
I was afraid that I wasn't enough.
I was afraid of death
but I was also afraid of living.
I was afraid of the pain
but I was afraid of not feeling.
I was afraid to speak out,
because what if I was heard?
What if someone was listening?
But I was afraid of being silent
and afraid losing my voice.

I was afraid to let my guard down
so I built my walls high.
I was afraid of letting anyone see me at my weakest,
and to let anyone see me cry.
I was afraid of the inevitable,
so much so that I couldn't focus on the present.
I was afraid of the dark,
and what could be living there.
I was afraid of being transparent,
of letting anyone see me as I really am.
I was afraid to let anyone in.
I was afraid of fear.
I was afraid of my own pulse, thundering though my ears
because it meant I was alive,
it meant I had to do something.
It meant that I couldn't just simply vegetate,
waiting for someone else to do something
waiting for something to change on its own
waiting for someone to save me.
It meant that I had to do it myself, or not at all.

But I was afraid.
I was being suffocated.
I was paralyzed.
Because I was afraid.
I was afraid and tired of being afraid.
Yea, though I walked through the shadow of the valley of death,
the spirit of fear was still standing over me,
griping me like a vice.
I was not strong or courageous.
Fear was my enemy,
but also the toxic friend whom I needed the least,
but was always there.
It had become nearly symbiotic,
my relationship with fear.
My relationship with this parasite.
I did not know how to be unafraid,
but I was cutting my ties with fear.

Little by little,
I found that I could praise.
I hadn't found courage, but perhaps I had found its source.
I found that I could pray.
I hadn't cast out fear completely, but I had found the one who could.
I found that I could trust.
I hadn't been able to control my life, but I was gaining an understanding as to why.
I found that I could love.
I hadn't completely grasped the concept, but now it was slightly less elusive.
I found that I could be loved.
I hadn't seen before that there were people around me who cared.
I found peace.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
I found my constant.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord-- He is their help and shield.
I became more strong and courageous,
because my Father in heaven goes with me,
He will never leave me nor forsake me.
I found that I could move again.
I could be His hands and feet.
I found my voice,
and I found that some people did want to hear.
I found that I could look forward to the future,
and not behold its mysteries in sheer terror as I had done before,
because God knows what plans He has for me,
plans for good things, to give me hope, and a future.
I found I was not afraid to show people how God truly made me,
I was not afraid to be real, to be transparent.
I had found hope.
I had found peace.


"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Psalm 118:6

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me"  Psalm 23:4

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

"You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield."  Psalm 115:11

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."   Joshua 1:9

For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Darkness

I wrote this poem as a reaction to the rest of the world. It seems these days, for believers especially, that we are surrounded by darkness that is trying to suck us in,  and telling us that everything we believe is wrong. I reject this wholeheartedly. I, for one know the truth, and refuse to be silenced, shut down, or told to be quiet. I refuse to be blinded by the darkness. Do you?

The Darkness
In this fallen world
the darkness surrounds.
Suffocating, smothering,
reaching its cold, dead fingers around
to strangle that last bit of light,
that single drop of goodness out.
The  Pain.
It scratches and tears,
and rips apart from the inside out,
stopping only to give the hope that it will end,
only to come back as avid as ever,
but more painful than before.
The Silence.
Ears slowly going deaf from disuse,
not a single note, nor tone, nor lone voice crying out
for the fear of being heard.
The fear that silences us all.
This darkness does not relent,
this darkness consumes.
Not some things, but all things;
every last happy thought,
no more smiles, no more laughter.
Every vivid hue is sucked into the black abyss that is
this darkness.
And so I wait.
I will smile, I will laugh,
I will anticipate the glorious return of the Light.
I will not cower behind others, doubting a savior.
I will stand boldly,
knowing that mine has come and will come once more.
Many are blinded by the dark, and stumble along
the continuous path to pain, to misery,
to destruction; to death.
But I saw.
I  refused to be blinded, and I chose.
I chose to love the light,
instead of worshiping
The Darkness.

-Rebecca Zachry

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

10 Things I Learned in Public High School

I've been in the public school system since kindergarten, and since June 5th, I've been officially done. That's right, I've officially graduated high school, and I cant tell you how glad i am that its over. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad. It was... an adventure of sorts. There were many different experiences, opportunities, and friendships I would've missed out on if I hadn't attended public high school. And thus, I give to you, what I've learned in my experience with public high school.
During graduation, sitting with my fellow class officers.

1) Being yourself doesn't always fit a mold, and finding who you are can take a while. A very long while. Any one who has known and somehow tolerated me over the last, well, decade, can tell you that i have gone through many many various personality "trends" as I like to call them. The concept of fitting in is oftentimes extremely important to the teenager's mind, as it was for me, starting in middle school. I've been the "omigosh I'm so random rawr means I love you in dinosaur lololol" phase, the agnsty teen, pseudo "emo" phase, the fake redneck "cant you tell how much i love country music" phase, the "I'm too cool for any of this crap" phase, and countless others before I really stopped caring what people thought of me, and decided to be who i actually am, regardless of whether or not i fit in with anyone else.

2) Taking risks and trying new things is the only way to find out what you really like. During my  high school experience, I've been a part of many  different clubs, ranging from marching band and drama club, to technology students association. I knew that I loved music and drama, but I didn't think I would like TSA (or "nerd club") until I joined it, but i really did love it. I even placed first in state last year for building a little CO2 dragster. There were certainly things that I tried and didn't like, but if you never try, you'll never know.
The cast of the 2015 Seaford Drama Club's production of "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" I played Olive :)

3) Time management. So much time management. This is even still a thing I suck at. I had to deal with this quite a bit my senior year of high school. I was balancing a job, all IB classes, homework, band, drama club, my relationships with family, friends, and God, and so many more other things. somehow, magically, I pulled it off. I graduated with all A's and 6th in my class. I can not tell you enough how important prioritizing and time management really is. Seriously.

4) Friendships (like  any relationships) take work. I was blessed with a network of very diverse, very loving friends. Something that most people find out in a hurry is that in any  kind of relationship, each person needs to be giving 100%  into that friendship. any less from either side, and no one  will be happy. Friendships also entail a lot of forgiveness. I cant tell you how difficult it is to be "holding a grudge" on someone who is in all  of your classes, sits next to you in most of them, is your lab partner, is also working with you on that one project for history... the list goes on. In my friendships, i try as hard as I can to be quick at forgiveness, and I also try to be easy to forgive. True friendships are important. I was lucky to have a group of people who had my back no matter what. Also, don't freak out if you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend. I've never had one, and honestly,  aside from the fact that there was really no one I could see myself being in a relationship with anyway, I don't really care about it all that much. Its just not  something that's super important to me right now. Odds are that it would be overt in a few months anyway, and it was just un-needed stress I didn't need or want in my life. Also don't flip out if you don't have a date to homecoming dances or prom or anything; in my experience, its way more fun to go with friends :)
Some of my friends and I, waiting to graduate.

One of my best friends (my "date" to prom) and me. We had fun :)

5) For the most part, your teachers do not hate you, and they probably don't wish to see your ultimate demise. probably. Most teachers, while they may seem sadistic, and you may imagine them rubbing their hands together and maniacally laughing in a dark corner, they aren't actually jumping for joy at your pain and misery. While some of the work they may give you seems like enough to drive you to the brink of insanity, it is more than likely meant to help you. Or fill up their need for a lesson plan. But that's not my point. I found that especially in my senior year, most, if not all or my teachers were really looking out for me,were very encouraging, and wanted more than anything to see us succeed. I had teachers who would routinely make my class brownies (amazing brownies that I could consider getting fat off of), write "happy notes" of encouragement for each individual student, let us rant to them about the injustice of cafeteria food and math homework, and a few teachers that at some times (usually just when you needed it) seemed more like a friend. Teachers are people, too, and deserve to be treated like it.
Me and my band director after my last concert

6) Being in charge is not always fun. I was in high school marching band for the entire time I was in high school, and for 3 of those 4 years, I was the drum major. For those of you who don't know, drum major is the next step down in authority from the actual adults in charge of the band. I conducted at all the football games, including stand music, I helped run rehearsals, and helped keep thee band in line in general. While I enjoyed it immensely, it wasn't always fun. I had alot of close friends in band, and sometimes it was hard being a figure of authority for your friends and peers. Leadership is difficult, and not something to be taken lightly.
Band prayer and group hug; our tradition before each game

Me (in white drum major uniform) and the band :)

7) You won't always get what you want, or what you were promised, or what you deserve. No matter how hard you work , how much effort you put into something, or how many times you were told something, the fact remains that *newsflash* life inst fair. Heard it before? Every one's grading scale is different, no one ever thinks the same way, and many, many times, you wont get what you deserve, and neither will anyone else. Its something you learn to accept and live with, no matter what kind of injustice you may or may not be facing, and no matter how difficult some people may be.

8)  How you look does not define you, and neither does what people say about you. It does not matter if you are bigger or smaller, short, tall, classically "pretty" or not, none of it matters. What really matters is whats on the inside, how you act, and the fact that you are a creation of your heavenly father, made perfectly, beautifully, and for a purpose. The only person on this earth who can define  who you are, is yourself. Even if  there  are false  rumors gong around, if people talk about you behind your back, if people lie, the only way possible for what they say to define you is if you let it.

9) Don't let peer pressure change what you believe. All too many times I'd see people go back on or go against what they believe, just because it wasn't "cool", or their friends didn't believe the same thing. Worse than that, I'd see people leading almost a double life, carefully acting one way around their friends and then turning around and being a completely different person around their family, other friends,  or religious group. Personally, I have always tried to hold firm in my beliefs, and not compromise them for the sake of trying to look cool. My beliefs are a very large and important part of who I am, and I decided a long time ago not to hide that from anyone.

10) Having a good support system can mean the difference between ultimate success, and epic failure. I cant stress this enough, having people too support you is probably one of the most important thing you can have. I was blessed to have my wonderful family and friends that would always be there for me, listen to my delusional  ranting, help me when i needed it the most, and keep me in check. While there is something  to be said about keeping  yourself accountable, it always helps  to have a group off people here to help keep you in line and  together. I really  don't think I could've gotten through anything without my friends,  family, and most importantly  God.
Me and my family after  graduation

Me and  my sister after graduation

While there were many undesirable parts of my time in public high school, for the most  part, the good outweighed the bad. I had a pretty good time in high school; i learned few things, tried new awesome hobbies and clubs, met some pretty awesome people, played new music, learned how the world works, and so many other things. It wasn't all bad at all. However, given the choice, and taking into account my past experiences,  if I ever get  married and have kids, I'm  going to home school them. I will not, however, ever forget the short 4 years (as long as it may have seemed) in public highhschool.

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Changed My Life

During the course of our lives, many, if not most people will experience that one defining moment or experience that will change them completely. This moment could be almost anything, but for a lot of people, the effect is the same. A realization, a complete turn around; something that leaves you with a new and more certain sense of who you are and what you were designed to do. I recently had one of these experiences; a missions trip to Costa Rica.

Its been a few weeks since I've gotten back, and ever since I have, my mom has been telling me that I need to write a blog post about it; either on my blog, or on hers (a little shameless advertising here, her blog is toteallyreal.blogspot.com, and you should totally check it out 'cause its pretty awesome). So here it is; this is how my life changed.

First off, I want to talk about the amazing leadership and teachings we had. All of the leaders were wonderful; all of them were so supportive, knowledgeable, wise, inspiring, motivational, loving, and just all around amazing people. They, individually and as a whole, taught us all so much in those short 10 days. The main theme that was kept constant during the course of the trip was leadership; how to be an effective leader, what is keeping us from becoming the leader we are meant to be, and (the most dreaded by almost all) public speaking. I think the part of the teachings, and the trip that hit pretty hard was when we talked about the lies we believe about ourselves that are keeping us from reaching our full potential as a leader, and worst of all, keeping us from God. We didn't just write them down, no, we talked to each other about them, we recognized them as lies, and rebuked them. They left us. It really made an impact on me, and I'm probably going to do a whole other blog post on it at some other time in order to do the whole idea and experience justice.
Listening to an amazing teaching 

      We did a lot of activities while we were in Costa Rica. We toured an organic cacao plantation, where the owner's goal is to run his business as he thinks God wants him to, we painted a fence for a little school building, and yes, we did go to the beach.These experiences did highly contribute to my experience as a whole, and I would be more than happy to elaborate on anything if anyone has any questions. Those times gave me the opportunity to take everything in, think about what was happening around me, and get to know and grow closer to a wonderful group of people, each of whom I love very much. However, as life changing as that may have been, the real moments that changed my life were still yet to come.
Touring the cacao farm

learning how to make chocolate :)

At the beach with some wonderful  people :)

     My first moment was when we went to the Indigenous village. As we stepped off the tractor and said hello to Pablo the monkey (yes, you read that right), I knew I was in for something, I just wasn't sure what. After leading praise, worship, and dancing for a seemingly unresponsive crowd, we began to pass out food bags and bibles to the villages inhabitants. Then came the fun part; passing out toys and school supplies to the village's children. This experience alone probably could have been enough to change my life, all by itself. The looks of pure joy on the children's faces when you hand them a tooth brush, or a pencil are enough to break my heart. But I loved it. And then I saw an older lady sitting on a bench, hunched over and reading intently one of the copies of the Spanish bibles we brought for them. At that moment, my heart was crying. Crying from joy and from sorrow, from the fact that these people had so little, but realizing that this only meant that we had so much more we could give them, including God's word and loving-kindness. But that was just the beginning.
The tractor we took up to the village

Pablo the monkey, climbing on my friend Noah

A little boy from the village who.... really liked those pens :)

Passing out food bags

TThe food bags and Bibles all lined up

Worship team :)

Children from the village watching us dance

My next moment came on my birthday. We had gone to Bri Bri to an elderly peoples home. I later learned that most of the ladies and gentlemen who live there are there because they were abandoned by their families. After we sang and danced for and with them (some of them loved the music and dance so much they wanted to join in!), we handed out coffee, cake, and simple little presents. There were many of the same reactions that I had seen before, but something else really struck me. While I was there, I met a wonderful lady named Clara. Clara had been staying there for a number of years, and was able to speak some English. The thing that really stood out to me is that even when we couldn't understand each other because of the language barrier, she still really wanted to talk to me. All off the people there did; even though hardly anyone in our group (with the exception of a few awesome people) spoke Spanish, Clara and all the rest of the people there would still try in earnest to communicate with us. They wanted and needed our attention. I saw that we could give these people so much more than just material possessions; we could give them attention, time, a sense of devotion, and the love that they craved and so desperately wanted. And better yet, we could let the light and the love of God reflect through us, so that these lovely people could better see it for themselves.
Me and my friend Rachel talking to Clara
Painting Clara's nails :)

Worship team in Bri Bri

Dancing for the nursing home :)

My third and last moment, as well as probably my favorite day of the trip was at the orphanage. I was told that this orphanage is well funded; there was enough room for everyone, they had enough food and clothing to go around, and their living conditions were pretty decent. When we got there, we took a tour of some of the houses that the kids lived in, and then we had a while to play with them (or if you are me, hold an adorable baby) before we passed out cake and ice cream and started praise and worship. After we got done playing music for them, we danced with and for them, which they really enjoyed, and I had the opportunity to dance with an adorable little girl who later came to hug me goodbye. Then came the passing out of gifts and school supplies. It was the same scene as before; children crowding around, squealing out of joy and excitement from receiving some pencils, a note pad, and a small thing of bubbles. It wasn't this that got me though. What really got me was how these kids and teenagers had created such a sense of togetherness and family even though they had none. Even though many of them still had a desperate need for outside attention and affection, it was amazing to see how they made the most of their situation and learned and grew to love each other like one massive family. It really opened my eyes to how grateful I should be. I have a family who loves me, a roof over my head, plenty of food, more of everything else than I could ever possibly need, and God, who loved me enough before I was even born to send His son to die for me; I have no right to complain about anything  at all.
Dancing for the kids at the Orphanage

Lining up to play a game :)

Some cuties from the orphanage :)

These experiences clearly have changed me. I no longer care about the selfish desires or plans I had made for myself before I went on this life changing adventure. I don't know how much of an effect I had on anyone I came into contact with while I was there, but even if I only truly touched one person's life, every bit of it was worth it. I've decided to no longer rely on myself anything, really, because after coming back I've realized that the only thing that truly matters is my reliance on God. I so truly believe this and have been effected so much by this experience that I have decided (and hope I will be able) to go to missionary training camp next year through one of the trips leaders ministries (Crucified Life Ministries, if you were interested). I cant tell you in words how truly happy I am that I took the leap and jetted off to a foreign country by myself, or how much God has shown me in doing it, but I hope to have given you at least a taste of the experience that changed my life.
"Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works amoung all peoples!" 
Psalm 96:3
"We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault in our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We paitently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind."
2 Corinthinans 6:3-4
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8

"Failed" jumping picture at the beach with some awesome people
Photo creds for this post go to basically everyone except me. Yupp. I was lazy.