Monday, April 15, 2013

What's Your Makeup?


"Why do I wear makeup?"

I was going about my normal "getting-ready-to-leave" routine, putting on makeup and brushing my hair and such, when this question hit me. And I had to stop and think. Why do I wear makeup? I know that I'm good enough just the way God made me. I fully believe that. But why do I feel it necessary to wear it when I leave the house?

I realized that it was because I am terrified of people seeing my flaws. I am terrified of being vulnerable.

Even just typing those words strikes panic in my heart. Because I'm admitting a weakness. I'm admitting fear.

I wear makeup because I want to control how people see me. I want the blemishes to be hidden and the bright parts illuminated. I want to know that people will see me exactly how I want them to see me.

I'm the same way in my life. I'm frequently sarcastic because I want to control what people see of the inside of me. Sarcasm is a safe wall to ensure people never see anything deeper than the humor in whatever immediate situation we're facing or discussing.

But that's not the entirety of who I am. I may build up calluses of sarcasm and cynicism externally, but I'm a softie underneath. I love people. I care about them. I want to help them smile. I have hurts. I have weaknesses. I have a past and a story. And while it may be terrifying to admit those things, they are true. I am more than just the makeup I put on my personality to try and control how people view me.

I don't believe there's anything wrong with wearing makeup, nor do I believe the humor in sarcasm is inherently wrong. It's the motivation behind my actions that I need to examine and fix.

Vulnerability is not bad. No matter what society pressures us into thinking, we are not less of people if we own up to being less than perfect. We are good enough even if we don't constantly put on fronts. Granted, I'm not advocating standing up on a stage and telling everyone your darkest, grossest secrets. There is wisdom in discretion. At the same time, however, there can be incredible power in vulnerability. My life has been literally changed by people who were brave and opened up about their past for the first time ever.

So what is your makeup? Is it literal, physical makeup? Is it putting up walls so nobody sees your scars and past? Whatever it is, think about it. And don't be afraid of vulnerability. You don't have to wear your makeup to make you good enough.

There is no witness so powerful for Christ as the Body coming together, admitting their imperfection, so that together they may boast in the perfection of the One who they died and are resurrected with. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Songs, Lessons, and Reasons - 2012

At the end of every year since 2009, I've chosen a theme song to recap the year. 2012 was a hard year to pick a song for, because it was one of the most full and incredible years of my life. I finally settled on Restless by Switchfoot. Why did I pick Restless? Every year before, I've picked a song with an upbeat, positive message—and more importantly, one with resolve. Restless is all about being restless in our pursuit of God and longing for that resolve of finally being with Him.

As much as I love a happy ending, I've realized in reflecting over the past year that the biggest lesson I learned was that things don't always have a positive resolve. Perhaps one is coming, but we don't always find it right away. But that's okay. Life on this earth is not about quick fixes to find a happy ending. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus is our "quick fix" or that we'll always have a completed story in this world. We are restless. We are fighting against our human nature, longing for that one thing to fill us up. And it takes days, months, and years to struggle through the things that we think will satisfy us, only to find again and again that Christ alone is our satisfaction.

2012 was full of ups and downs. The biggest thing I learned through each one was that only God "satisfies the longing soul and gives the hungry soul good things" (Psalm 107:9). It took the ups and downs to show me that. Until the day that any of us realizes this truth, we are very much like waves in the ocean, desperately trying to grab onto the shore but never able to find peace. Life is like that, but our hope is in the "sea of glass" where we'll be "at last completed and complete." I learned this year that, although I will always be restless in this life, I can find complete peace and satisfaction in my God who someday I will be with. Although I fight my restless human nature every day that I walk this earth, my hope lies beyond, to the day that He calls me away from this human nature to be with Him in perfect peace.

In reflecting on 2012, I also listed 12 reasons that 2012 was such an incredible year. In no particular order:

1. Discovering Lecrae.
2. Being directed to Patrick Henry College. [although it's still not 100% official that I'm going there]
3. China.
4. Traveling a lot. [a total of 21 flights plus several road trips!]
5. NCFCA. [the amazing people I met and the lessons learned through tournaments]
6. Every friend I made. [you all know who you are]
7. Debate camp.
8. Meeting Jordan Spalding. [<3 p="p">9. NITOC 2012. [both getting to see Brenna, Julie, and others, as well as discovering the amazingness of Colorado Springs]
10. Seeing Switchfoot live and holding Jon Foreman's hand. [!!!]
11. The low points that taught me God is always sovereign, always good, and always loves me.
12. God's faithfulness in every single detail of my life.

May we all taste His grace and be satisfied completely in His perfect love through whatever experiences we have in 2013.

Monday, November 19, 2012

China. [Our God is Able]


How do you even begin to write about an experience that moved you beyond words? As I sit here with my coffee trying to process my thoughts, I'm finding that words are so very inadequate to share what all God did over the past two weeks. But since, unfortunately, I can't just plug my heart into the Internet for you all to listen to, I'll have to stick to words for now.

For those of you who don't know, in the first two weeks of November I had the privilege of traveling to China with a team from my online school, The Potter's School. Just preparing for the trip was an experience in and of itself, but I won't bore y'all with stories of staying up until midnight slaving away over homework and college applications. ;)

The journey began on October 29th when the team met up at a hotel in Washington, D.C. That also happened to be the day that Hurricane Sandy began pounding the northeastern U.S. We spent the majority of that day doing some pre-trip prep and watching our flight be cancelled and re-scheduled approximately every 30 minutes. The trip leaders told us to continue to plan on leaving in the morning, although it wasn't likely that we actually would. Sure enough, we woke up, came downstairs prepared to leave, and got the news that our flight had been cancelled for good. That day was definitely an experience of trusting God's perfect plan, as our admins had an incredibly difficult time finding flights to get the team to Beijing, and actually came within minutes of being forced to call off the entire trip. By God's amazing grace and provision, however, the travel agent Lattany worked with found flights just in time that could take all 23 of us. From the very beginning, we realized the only way we would be able to do anything, even just get there, would be by Him alone.

3:15 AM on Wednesday the 31st rolled around much earlier than we were ready for, as we all woke up, packed, and headed out in 15-passenger vans to the Charlotte airport! From Charlotte, we flew to Detroit, had a 5-hour (and fun, I might add!) layover, and finally boarded our plane to Beijing. Roughly 13 hours later, we landed and spent the night in coffee shops in the Beijing terminal before boarding our early morning flight to Chengdu. All in all, we spent somewhere around 48-52 hours traveling with no beds or showers. Needless to say, we all were beyond thankful to finally reach our hotel in Chengdu on Friday afternoon for a quick time of rest and relaxation.


(happy to finally be in Chengdu!)


Our rest time was brief, however, because the family education conference we were helping out with started that very evening. Originally, we had planned on arriving on Wednesday evening and having all day Thursday to adjust to the 12-hour time change and prepare for the conference. With the hurricane and flight changes, however, we ended up arriving only hours before the conference started. Yet again this was a chance for us to experience God's sufficient grace working in our lives. After literally days without having had a solid night's sleep and a big time-zone change, we dreaded the thought of trying to teach a 3-hour program for around 70 children ages 3-14 whose language we could not speak. During our team meeting and dinner before the conference, we felt completely out of it, absolutely dead in our bodies, nauseated by the strange food, and more of us than not were close to having a meltdown. We knew that we'd only be able to do this job through the strength God gave us, which was both a terrifying and beautiful thought. The evening came and proved 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 absolutely true. His strength was made absolutely perfect in our miserable weakness, and we were not only able to function and take care of the children, but we were able to pour love into them and teach them a substantial amount of English through creative measures. That night was a true testimony of His grace that I'm incredibly grateful to have been part of.

The rest of the weekend was spent leading the English program for the children at this conference. It was such a blessing to be able to pour every ounce of energy God gave us into these precious little children and their families as they learned about home education and parenting. Additionally, we got to know and work with some TPS families who live there in China and had set up the conference on that end. Working with them was not simply productive in making sure the conference ran smoothly, but an absolute blast in getting to know them personally as new friends. 

(some precious faces from the weekend)








We took Monday (11/5) off to rest, prepare for the upcoming ESL program, and visit the Chengdu Panda Preserve! Despite the cold and rain, it was really cool to see live pandas. (My personal favorites were the babies—if you needed a picture to define adorable, I'm pretty sure they would do the trick.) 





That evening, I came down with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and fever. The symptoms unfortunately lasted throughout most of the rest of the trip, although they were better and worse at varying times. Thanks to our wonderful drug dealer...I mean, one of our trip leaders...I was able to take the necessary meds to push through various times of work and travel without the symptoms being too hard to deal with. Once again, God's grace pulled me personally through a time when I physically felt unable to serve. He made His power perfect during my sickness that week. I did have to stay back at the hotel on the last day, Friday (which was just a fun and games park day). That was rough, because it meant I didn't get to say goodbye to the children I had come to love in such a short time. God had a reason for it, though, and He definitely reminded me in that time that He is truly the one thing that remains in all of the highs and lows. (can anyone guess what song I was listening to over and over that day? Haha.)

Tuesday through Friday, we ran an ESL program designed for kindergarten-aged children but ended up having kids from about ages 3 to 14. In addition to teaching English (and singing a lot of "The Wheels on the Bus"!), we were able to share some American culture with the children through activities that focused around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Once again, it was an incredible blessing to spend time pouring into these children and to be impacted by them as much as we hope to have left an impact on them. Some of them taught us patience and reminded us that true love is unconditional (Hurricane J, anyone?). Some of them reminded us that harsh oppression still exists in this fallen world, and that for many, Christ is the only freedom they will ever know. Some had stories of losing parents or living in tough situations that broke our hearts. All of them, though, impacted us by teaching us a crucial lesson: love can be communicated in powerful ways far beyond a language barrier.

(a few snapshots from the ESL program)





While in Chengdu that week, we also experienced some local, cultural activities that were fun and...well, left us with lots of memories for sure. One night, we went to Jinli Street, a lovely area with lots of neat authentic Chinese shopping as well as food and culture in general. It also had a Starbucks, which I and a friend ended up spending most of our time in (I was sick and she was tired). Another night, we visited a HotPot restaurant, where you get a random assortment of foods and actually cook them in a boiling vat of oil or broth right in front of you. A lot of the team (and all of the teenagers except for me) cooked and tried pig brain. I got off on the excuse that I was sick enough and didn't want to get any worse. ;) The remaining evenings in Chengdu, we either visited an American-style coffee shop or went to the nearby mall/Carrefour (which is essentially like a massive Wal-Mart).


(Jinli Street)

(HotPot)
 (The cooked brain!)
 (Leanna's, the coffee shop/bakery where we hung out several nights)
 (Mall/Carrefour/McDonald's)


We then said goodbye to Chengdu and all of our new friends there, and on Saturday morning flew back to Beijing. From Saturday to Tuesday we got to tour the Olympic Village, walk the Great Wall, watch an acrobat show, visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and tour a Hutong Village and the Summer Palace. We also shopped at the Pearl Market and Silk Market, which definitely taught many of us ignorant Americans a thing or two about bartering. It was also strange to be in a place where Western tourists are common after having received a lot of attention in Chengdu. It's not every day that a mother randomly walks her 3 or 4-year-old up to you, has her hold your hand, and takes a picture of you and the child on her smart phone...in KFC. :P

(pictures uploaded out of order. The Forbidden City entrance)

 (Pearl Market)
 (Touring the Hutong Village in a rickshaw with Allie! <3 br="br">
 (at the Summer Palace)
 (Playing the guitar in the Silk Market)
 (inside the Water Cube at the Olympic Village)
 (the Bird's Nest at the Olympic Village)
 (the Great Wall!)
 (Tienanmen Square)


Finally, Wednesday morning (or really, in the middle of the night), we packed up, flew back to the States, and said all of our tearful goodbyes. Saying goodbye to the team who had so quickly become my family was truly one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life.

Speaking of my team, they definitely deserve a paragraph (at the very least). This trip would not have been what it was had it not been for each and every one of the outstanding members of the team I was so incredibly blessed to serve with. I've never been with such a close, supportive, drama-and-clique free, and passionately in love with Christ group of people ever in my life. When I had to face fears (like escalators), they never made fun of me, but always supported me and helped me conquer it. When I was sick, they would offer all sorts of comfort, such as prayer, meds, Gatorade, or a netti pot. ;) And I was not the only one who received this kind of support - every member of this team looked after each other and would help each other out in times of weakness or need. The amount of selfless, Christ-like love everyone on the team poured into each other absolutely blew me away. They alone made the experience unforgettable. 



Although this huge post barely even scratches the surface of the trip, I hope this at least gives you all a good general idea of just how amazing the whole thing truly was. If any of you have questions or want to hear more details and stories, ask away. I have yet to get tired of talking about it. :)

Four verses for me truly summarized the whole experience, and I wanted to close the post with them. If you actually read this far, thanks for bearing with me and listening to my ramblings about the phenomenal time I was blessed to be a part of. :)
--
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
-Ephesians 3:20-21

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Monday, October 1, 2012

To a Princess of the King



About once every six months to year, I suddenly decide I'm a poet or songwriter. It typically passes within a day or two, but when I feel inspired, I have to write out what's on my heart or I go crazy. This inspiration came about 4 months ago when I was especially saddened by the distorted lies so many precious girls believe about themselves. While digging through some files looking for something else, I stumbled across it tonight. I know it's by no stretch perfect poetry, but it's sincere from my heart. I hope it blesses you. :)

--

Princess, put down your broken mirror
That rocks of men, failures, and sin
Have damaged along the way.
You see yourself in a damaged frame
But what you see is not what you are.
No! The King bled to make you whole.
In Him, beloved daughter, you are whole.
You are free.
You are clean.
You are His.
So pick up His mirror, princess.
Lay down the broken glass of lies.
I know it's tightly bonded to your hands
But His blood alone can loosen those bonds.
It will loosen those bonds.
Trust. Trust your King.
He calls you His beautiful beloved.
So lay down your shattered mirror
And pick up His, which is whole
And enter new life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Unique displays [ditching the pageant for a gallery].

It's not a competition; it's a display.


These words hit my heart this afternoon as I was pondering the concept of beauty.

I had just casually thought, "oh, [random girl]'s new profile picture is so gorgeous!" That thought, of course, led my brain down the typical rabbit trail it goes on when, well, any thought enters it. After some mental twists and turns, I came to the realization that often times, I feel guilty when I look at a picture of myself and truly think it's beautiful, and even moreso when I post it online. Why? Because society has told me that it is conceited and wrong to think of myself as beautiful. Society has told me that there are prettier girls than myself out there. And society has told me that I'll never win the "pretty" competition.

But society doesn't define me. Christ does. And He says I'm beautiful.

Beyond just myself, God created each individual in His image, and He said each one was very good.

Each and every person on this planet is a unique masterpiece. None of us are a copy, a recycled model, or less than enough. And God says we are very good.

We're not competing for first place in beauty. We don't have to keep comparing ourselves to others. Life isn't a Miss America pageant.

It's an art show. And you are God's unique masterpiece.

So don't be afraid or ashamed to consider yourself beautiful, girls. [or for the guys, handsome.] Don't feel guilty when you think you look good in a picture.

You are a beautiful/handsome creation that is worthy of display. Not for your own glory, but for the glory of the One who created you. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To My Mama (who I don't deserve)

My mother is an incredible woman. And yes, I know everyone says that about his or her mother. But I mean it. And I'll give you a story to back it up.

When she was in her mid 40s, Mama believed God was calling her to have another child. Her children at the time were 16 and 13.

The doctors told her it was dangerous. Especially with her bad back, she could be severely hurt by a pregnancy.

Her family tried to dissuade her.

Pretty much everyone thought she was crazy.

But she and Dad truly believed the Lord was telling them it was time to bring another Davis into the family. And so, they did.

That child just happens to be me. And I just happen to be one of the most blessed daughters on earth.

Mama has sacrificed so much for our family. From teaching me at home, to taking me all over the place for different activities, to traveling around the country to help my brothers whenever they need it, and somehow through it all keeping us fed, our home clean, and our clothes washed and dried—she has given up what could have been years of leisure and doing the things she enjoys to serve her family.

Mama has taught me, not just academically, but far beyond. By example, she has taught me about love and grace and forgiveness. She has taught me how "a soft answer turns away wrath." And she's also taught me practically, about how to keep an amazingly clean house (although I am definitely guilty of not living out what I've learned), how to cook and bake, and all the various little things of being a home keeper.

Ever since I could talk, Mama has listened. She's listened to my dreams, whether weird and confusing or scary and tear-inducing. She's listened to my rants about just about everything under the sun, both good and bad. She patiently listens while I go on and on about debate rounds, school, Downton Abbey, people, or whatever other topics that aren't really that important may be on my mind.

So to my mother, who has been such an incredibly huge part and influence for the better in my life—a simple blog post cannot match the years of love you have shown me. But it's my way of trying to express this: thank you. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You were made for so much more (Truth vs. Lies)

I don't know about you, but I frequently have this nagging feeling that the way I naturally feel or act is bad. Often times, I think dreaming is foolish and shoot those dreams down with a mental AK-47. Other times, I feel a strong need to trust no one, despite my natural craving for closeness with others. The list goes on.

God works in crazy awesome ways. In literally the past few days, He's been revolutionizing my thinking with just about everything. It started with a simple comment on a Facebook photo, where someone mentioned that they wanted to see me. No big deal, but it sparked some thoughts about the way I view myself and my life. It ultimately led to a big internal revolution, where God has started purging the negative and untrue views and replacing them with His truth. Again, this happened over the span about one day. How He works this way, I don't really know.

All of that personal lead-in to say, last night, I sat down and separated the good things that I so often think are bad from the things that actually make them bad. After writing it out, I realized that it's truth I want to share. This list and afterword are as much for me as for you, but I ask that you open your heart and mind to consider the truth below. It's powerfully freeing.

It is good to...

-Hope

-Dream

-Wish

-Love

-Be honest

-Trust

-Feel emotion

It is not okay to...

-Expect (based on self-made hope)

-Obsess

-Demand

-Idolize

-Wallow in self-pity

-Find security outside of God

-Accept emotion as the end

Every one of these things in the left column is good and created by God. You are worthy to experience every single one. Nothing makes you less of a person where you do not deserve to experience these gifts from God — not your appearance, not your past, not your struggles or sins, not that one personality trait you cannot stand in yourself, etc. None of it. You are more than all of those things, and you are every bit worthy to hope, dream, wish, love, be honest, trust, and feel emotion. The reason we think these things are bad is because we live in a fallen world, where beautiful life-gifts from God have become tangled up with the things of the world that are not good. If you can separate the two and live out the good gifts from God while rejecting the bad views from the world, you will experience your new life in Christ like never before.

You were created for all of these good things. So enjoy the life God has given you. It truly is beautiful. :)