Friday, May 25, 2012

A Love So Loud- Selfishness.

     So many people have been asking me why I haven't written a new post lately. And my answer has been the same every single time..I can't find the inspiration that I need to write a heartfelt post. And while telling that to my best friend just now, I found my inspiration. Selfishness
     The reason I've been so uninspired is my selfishness. I remember my preacher said something one Sunday about how it seems like we have to keep having things happen in our lives to stay truly on fire for God. Like all that He does and all that He has made isn't enough? How is it that we are so selfish as human beings that we can't walk outside and just be inspired by the beautiful world? How is it that we are so selfish as human beings that we can't be inspired by a smile from a stranger? Who empowered us to believe that we are the ones who deserve to be inspired by things greater than what's typical in our day? Like it will only take a miracle or a job promotion or the big break you've been waiting for- to truly be happy.
     I'm guilty of this lately. I had surgery and I've been irritated about the fact that it has, and will continue to, change a lot of little things in my life. I donated my hair, my hair was my favorite thing in the world, and I'm sad that it's gone. WHAT? Is that living like Christ? Am I doing all I can be to bless the people around me with a Christ-like attitude? No. Not if I'm sitting around pouting about the pain I'm in and how short my hair is. I'm selfish. We are all selfish. And it took me reading Job to realize how absolutely ridiculous I can be when I let my human nature completely consume my heart. Because I can cry over how bad it hurts to move my legs, but at least I have them. And I can cry over how short my hair is but I couldn't imagine being the person on the other end of the donation.  
     Because ya see, I felt that God was pushing me away. I thought that God was testing me and trying to tear me down with all of the tiny things that kept building up in my life. But God is the same today as He was yesterday and as He will be tomorrow. And our God is so good. He isn't the one who changes, we are the ones who change. He doesn't ever go away. He's there while you turn your mess into your message. He's there when you feel like you have no hope. And He's there when your selfishness is too. He's there to show you that your problems aren't that bad. That your world really isn't caving in. And to show you that you're never alone. Cause even in your darkest hour, even on the days you can't find inspiration- God will wake you up. He will show you the beauty of the world, He will show you the kindness of a stranger. He will prove to you that you are loved. Because you are. We just have to stop being so selfish, and realize all that God inspires us with if we just take a step back and take the time to see it- cause life isn't all that stinkin' bad after all when we serve a God like ours. A God that showed the greatest act of selflessness by giving His only Son to die so that we, in all of our sin and selfishness, could have an opportunity at an eternal life. I think the challenge this week is for all of us to think before we pout about something selfish..because imagine what our world would be like if God had been.  

 "He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Love So Loud- Mackenzie's Testimony

My name is Mackenzie King and this is my testimony.

     When I was ten years old my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological disorder, which means it affects the brain and its functions. This disorder has several effects but they all link back to legions on the brain. Some people who have MS may not be able to walk sometimes or move certain limbs of their body, and some people may get really bad headaches and stress out so bad they just have to be alone in quiet to ease the pain. The latter is the type of MS that my mother has. 
The past couple of months haven’t been the greatest and I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility. I have gone back and forth from home, to my grandparents, to my aunt and uncle’s dozens of times in the span of about a month. I’ve tried very hard to make sure my 14 year old brother is doing what homework he has, is transported to sports practices, youth group, and wherever else he needs to go, while making sure he has everything he needs. Between gas, food, transportation, etc, it got kind of expensive. I have a job but I make minimum wage and only get paid every two weeks.
     More importantly, I had become very stressed and tired. I started to have headaches about as frequently as my mom. A lot of stress/strain was put on our relationship. I was trying to balance school, work, musical practices, time with friends, getting ready for prom, and taking care of my little brother and it had gotten difficult. But at the same time, I was leaning on God more than I ever had. I began to pray and read my Bible more than I ever had. This really began to ease the distress I had been feeling. But I still felt a little discontent. 
My mom had always told me about tithing, or giving money to the church’s offering, and how God always rewards people who do that. Luke 6:38 says "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” I was unaware of this verse exactly at the time, but I began to do so, and blessings were definitely “poured into [my] lap.”
     One week, I decided I would start tithing. I put about $4 in the offering that Sunday (10% of what I had) and prayed that God would use it. I felt like this was a necessary step and it is. A school week had gone by and I continued taking care of my brother, driving back and forth to his football practice, work, and practices of my own. I had almost forgotten that I had even given money in our offering, when Friday I was called to the office just as I was leaving school. I entered the office of our attendance clerk and without looking up she handed me a sealed envelope labeled “Makenzie King.” “Someone left this for you,” she said. I walked out of the office carrying this mysterious envelope and as I looked at it, I saw a twenty dollar bill. Strange. I opened it up and to my surprise found $30 entitled to me. I was amazed. The very week I started tithing I spontaneously receive money and I didn’t even know who it was from. I left school with a huge smile on my face and feeling blessed as ever. 
     But it only gets crazier. The following Sunday, I tithed again, this time about $7 (10% of what I had). I didn’t expect anything else to happen and I was pretty content with the $30 I had received the week earlier. But boy, was I ever wrong. That Tuesday, I was called out of my second period class to report to the office again. I made my way down there without the thought of what happened the week earlier even crossing my mind. I entered the attendance clerk’s office and again she handed me another envelope labeled “Makenzie King” in the same penmanship as the one I had received the week earlier. “Who is leaving me these!?” I asked, absolutely stunned. She shook her head, looking just as astonished as I, “I have no idea. I went to the bathroom and when I came back it was just laying on my desk.” I shook my head in amazement and left the office. I had gotten about halfway up hall 1 when I realized I hadn’t even checked the envelope out. I stopped in my tracks and began to unseal it. My jaw dropped and my hand immediately covered my mouth when I saws the first hundred dollar bill; yes, first. I took the contents out of the envelope and to my surprise had been given $400. Tears immediately began to well in my eyes as I started to cry. Amazement, thankfulness, gratefulness, comfort, and absolute awe were just a few emotions running through me, but confusion was not one. This was a God thing.
     God promises to always stay true to His word. When he says he’s going to always take care of us, that’s exactly what He means. I received a text message this past week saying that someone had anonymously ordered and paid for graduation invitations as well as name cards for me. Is it from the same person? I’m not sure. I’m not sure who any of it is from. No one had seen me put money in the offering at church or really had any idea of what I had been going through. But were they sent by God? Absolutely. This is without a doubt a miracle and has taught me that even through hard times God is there taking care of us. I know I can always trust God and because of this I will forever put my full faith in Him and know that there’s hope. Sometimes, mercies really do come in disguise.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Love So Loud- Plans.

     I fell in love with the game of basketball when I was in the sixth grade. It consumed every single part of my life. I woke up thinking about it and I went to sleep knowing how excited I would be to play again the next was my life. Some of you reading this might know just a little bit about my career, but for those who don't- I really grew into my role as a leader and a teammate my Junior year of high school when three of the greatest players in Lady Royals history, graduated. And because of that, I had to come up with some sort of a plan to keep winning. I had to figure out how to make my team better, how to make me better, and most of all I had to figure out some way to get me into college to play this game that I had grown to love so much. And to those of you reading that know anything about how my Junior year went, you know that my plan didn't work..we won 8 games total- I knew it was time to reevaluate. I had to think of some other way. I started to work harder, and I started to become a better player, a better teammate, and we became a better team my Senior year. In October of that year, I got my first offer to play college basketball- and at the time I don't think I had ever been that happy. I remember exactly what I was thinking, where I was standing, what I was doing, and I remember how pumped I was to even have an offer. I remember how good it felt knowing that someone truly believed in me. I signed to play college basketball for St Catharine College in November. I was entering a program full of amazing people who I had just met, I was playing for a coach who would become a lot more like a part of my family and I knew that I fit. I knew that this was the plan, and it felt good.
     August came flying in and before I knew it I was off to college, I was so excited to start reaching my full potential as a player and I couldn't wait to see all that was in store for my life. Conditioning was the worst thing that I had ever gone through, but I pushed on, I worked hard because that was where I wanted to be. October came again, and one day during the very first drill in practice, I took a bad step. The pain immediately began, and it wasn't a typical injury. My knees felt good, so did my hamstrings, but my groin and everything central to my body was on fire. Athletes get hurt, it's a part of it..but this was different, something was really wrong..of course I kept on going. It took me a while to fit into my role in college, but like I said earlier, when I found it, I knew that I fit. I played with this same intense pain from October to December, I began to develop a limp, I took four ibuprofen before practice and games and during the day to try to kill some of the pain but nothing worked. I knew it was time to go to the doctor, I knew that this was more than just a tweak that would heal. The first three doctors I visited told me that I had Osteitis Pubis, which I have mentioned before, and that it was chronic, there was nothing I could do. I was devastated because I was comfortable and I fit..and then my plan had to change. I quit basketball last summer, I didn't want to disappoint anyone by being a player that couldn't produce, I didn't want to be a waste of money or a waste of time. I went to the community college for a semester, but I constantly found myself wondering how things were going at St Catharine, how the team was, how my coach was. I missed it, I missed it a lot. Like I said in my first post, I was blessed enough to be able to go back this past semester because my coach and I came up with a plan. I got to pick a basketball back up for about three weeks before I realized I couldn't do it anymore, I had to be a redshirt and I hated every single second of it. So now that the background has been laid down, let's get to the point of this post.
     I don't know if you all have noticed the common theme, but every single time it was my plan that failed. I thought I had it figured out and God smacked me in my face and put me on my butt and I wonder how I could ever think that my plan would actually work, because it won't. We get so torn up about things that don't work out because we invest our hearts and our time into them, like I did with basketball, and most of the time they don't end up how we had planned them to. The awesome thing about all of this though, is that God's plan for us are so much greater than our plans for us. I can always reference back to Romans 8:28 or Jeremiah 29:11, but we all know those verses. We know that God has a plan not to harm us, we know that all things will work together for good for those who love Him. We know that. So why don't we put that into action? Why don't we ever just fully trust and submerge ourselves into the ocean of God's unending love? Because we're scared. We're scared of not having our plan.
     On Monday, April 30th, I went to meet with a surgeon about my injury. He told me I could have surgery, he told me I would be better with a lot of rest and a lot of hope- and that I was going to be okay, it would just take time. Time, that I knew, I didn't really have when it came to basketball. And my plan, once again, had to change. I had been praying a lot about my future, I needed to know what God had in store for me, I needed to know what I should do. I came to the conclusion this past Wednesday when I drove away from St Catharine for the last time as a student with tears streaming down my face. Because ya see, God has a bigger plan for me than basketball. He has the whole time. And He was patient in letting me keep choosing to do what I wanted to do. He made my body weak so that my faith could soar, He made my muscles tired so that my hope could be renewed. He made my heart strong, so that I could be okay with the decision I had to make. 
     Because plans change, but our God never will. Our plans fail, but our God has never failed us. And even after losing something I loved so much, I know that it's all part of His plan..and His plans for me make mine look pretty small. His plans for all of us who believe in Him, go far beyond anything we could imagine. So if you are struggling today because things aren't going the way you thought they would- look up. Smile at your Creator, and know that there are better things coming your way..because there are.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Love So Loud- Testimony Pt. 2

My name is Kenton Murphy, and this part two of my two part testimony.

The unknown.

Everyone reads that and it is probably one of our greatest fears in life. What lies ahead in the next minute, day, week, month, or year? Even though we question “the unknown” we still expect better days with no troubles or worries, but that’s not the case. In my last post I wrote about my experience with cancer, but what I experienced after my battle with cancer has also had a large affect my life.

With the unknown, comes death. We don’t like it and we all fight it everyday, but unfortunately we eventually come face to face with this phenomena with people we least expect.

For me, the unknown hit me hard with the loss of my dad on February 7, 2011.

*For those doing the math from my last post...yes, my dad died 364 days after I found out I had cancer*

I’m at a weird spot with the acceptance of what comes with death. On a daily basis I smile and think how lucky I was to able to get to experience 19 years with my dad, but on the same days I feel remorse and at one time, anger. Remorse in the fact that it was ONLY 19, and not 20+. I think about how much my dad will miss out on and how much I still needed to learn from him. Everyday I come to terms with the loss because it is a continuous growing process that will probably last my entire lifespan.

I also said anger. I can’t deny that right after he passed away that a little part of me was hurt by what God was putting me through again a year later. I kept questioning why this was happening to me and what was the point in trying so hard if the world is going to be ripped right from underneath you. Please don’t read that as me giving up on God or my faith because that isn’t the case at all. I was questioning what was happening, something NOBODY should do. Questioning what God has in His plans is not for us because we need to realize the bigger picture of life. We have to continue into the unknown, without fearing or worrying about it. Us fearing the unknown is us questioning what God is doing for us and His ultimate plans for us.

Through my dad’s death I learned a valuable life lesson that I’m sure that God wanted me to learn. Make a difference. Every breath we take is an opportunity to make a difference, but most of us are to busy wasting it on questioning the unknown. I’ve been guilty of this all my life, but it hit home when I lost my dad. The unknown was right in front of me and I was still questioning. This isn’t what God wants us to do. He wants us to live in the now and make a difference in the world. I was able to get a grip on this concept days after my dad’s death because I was able to see the impact that he’d had on so many lives on his time on Earth.

Remember, quit worrying about the unknown and put all your trust and love into God and He won’t lead you wrong.

One last thing...have you made a difference today?