If it’s free, it’s for me.

So, in an effort to save money, I spent part of today searching the internet for free stuff. I found a little bit of everything, snacks, drink mixes, beauty products- the works.  I’m hoping that this will be the beginning of a lot of savings for me. Once I start getting things in the mail, I’ll be sure to post them!

It’s been a bit difficult because most of them require a purchase, are expired, or have a million hoops to jump through. We’ll see how many things I actually receive.

When Worlds Collide

Tonight at work, I saw something completely new. Sorority letters that were not my own. I work at a Christian Camp; so, fraternities and sororities usually don’t have a positive reputation. I remember first coming home from college my sophomore year after being initiated. People were shocked that I’d join one of “those clubs.” They didn’t understand what I was thinking; they just knew those Greek orgs were bad news.

When applying for jobs in churches, I actually had one congregation tell me they would not consider me, simply because my sorority was on my resume. She also told me if I was serious about getting a job in a church that I need to get that “garbage” off of my materials.  (How do you even respectfully reply to that?! “Well, yes, God bless you, too Ma’am.”)

Little by little, I’ve been challenging my coworkers to think outside the box they put me in all those years ago. They know I request off every summer for one conference or another. They overhear conference calls and one on ones, especially during peak recruitment or Honor Council times. But they still just don’t understand. It’s hard to be proud of something that is constantly scrutinized. For a long time, I struggled with my desire to be involved in the fraternity& sorority movement instead of pursuing a “full time ministry.” It’s been difficult because it’s not often that my two worlds collide.  I find this rather ironic because I see fraternity and sorority so similar to the Church today. Two communities who have been given specific purposes to improve this world, and two communities who are under fire constantly for the discrepancies between their ideals and their reality.  But anyway, back to the story.

I was working in the bookstore and I turned to see the woman in line wearing a Delta Sigma Theta jacket. Trying to remain calm and not freak her out by how excited I was, I casually asked her about her sorority. She smiled, laughed and said. “You know, it’s funny. I actually denounced my involvement in the sorority a long time ago.” First, my heart sank. Then, I thought “why the heck are you still wearing that jacket then!?” She continued:

“But let me tell you how the Lord brought me back. After years of denouncing my membership, I was laying in bed one night and felt the Holy Spirit push me to reconnect. So, after a lot of prayer I did, and let me tell you! It’s a mission field. We’re coming up on our Centennial, and I can’t wait to see what God is doing.”

So often, we get encouragement when we least expect it. We never really know how much of an impact little things will have. I doubt this woman knew that her choosing to wear her letters at that time would result in such an encouragement to me. It was the push I needed to get ready to dive into the responsibilities of advising this semester.  I believe God cares about all the details. He gave each of the women in my sorority that little sparkle and spunk that makes us sisters.  He created Sigma to be home for me and so many others. He’s put me in a position of taking care of His sheep, even my sisters who don’t know Him yet. I don’t need to convince the collegiate women that they need Him. I simply need to listen to His instructions and reflect the love He’s given me.

This was a reminder that I don’t need to shy away from talking about my sorority. I don’t need to hide the joy that I’ve found within my sorority involvement. I also don’t need to shy away from taking a step out in faith when God does the prompting. I believe Jesus loves both of my worlds, and one day, they’ll fit together a little bit better.

Lessons from Esther #3: She didn’t let fear get in the way of her purpose

One thing I can never get over in Esther’s story is how suddenly her world got turned upside down. One day she’s at home, living her life. The next, she’s thrown into this contest to be the next queen. She blinks, and her life is being put in danger in order to save her people. Things changed quickly for her, and in a big way. What I love is that in the Bible, her emotions aren’t hidden. She isn’t portrayed as someone who had an easy time. In chapter four, Mordecai explains Haman’s plot. Esther didn’t smooth over the situation and say “oh, don’t worry. I’ll just talk to Xerxes and we’ll get this fixed. No big.” She’s open about her fear and the risk involved. She doesn’t pretend to be the brave heroine.

More importantly, she doesn’t let her fear get in the way of what needs to be done. She addresses the fear in the best way she knows how. In Chapter 4: verses 16-17, she forms her plan. She orders Mordecai to have everyone fast and pray, and she agrees to do the same. By dedicating that time to God, she has faith that she will be able to do what is asked of her. Even in that moment, she doesn’t pretend everything is going to be easy. She was willing to lay down her life for her people. “If I perish, I perish.”

Esther understood that she was called to be in that exact place in that exact moment.  She was willing to put her fear aside and put her whole trust into the Creator. Even if it meant losing her life, she was going to fulfill that purpose.

This isn’t the only time Esther was really afraid. She asked the King for a banquet in order to explain. When the King put her on the spot, she chickened out and simply asked for another banquet. It happens. We don’t always get it right on the first try, but Esther didn’t give up. She overcame her fear of death, and fell right into God’s plan.

It makes me think of the persecuted Christians today. In America, we don’t often understand our freedom to worship openly. There are countries that kill people, just for proclaiming Jesus. It’s illegal to have a Bible. People are dying every day. These people are willing to give up their lives to honor God, and we, myself included, complain about going to church or back away from telling people about Jesus.

Where is our courage? Where is our boldness? What will it take for us to say “if we perish, we perish.” ?