Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Church May Say

If you've been following the news lately at all, you've most likely seen headlines, stories, and blog posts about Rachael Denhollander and her courageous stand against Larry Nassar, a former US Gymnastics doctor and her abuser. Rachael is, in my opinion, a hero. A hero the 21st century church desperately needs. Her gospel presentation to the man who vilely hurt her are words that could be only said by a woman who knows her Lord, who knows her Lord has "set the captives free", and who knows her Lord will come in victory and punish evildoers with glorious, solid finality. She knows that her Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3), and she has stood in front of a watching world and born witness to the strength given her by her mighty Father. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, this same Lord - the all-loving Father Rachael and I share - has brought me once again through a bruising season, from which I am finally emerging. And once again, I have learned that He heals and frees and loves even in terrible darkness. As proof of this, He sent a favorite recording of Psalm 124 across my path, and the passion, the emphasis of victory in every word, the defiant trust in and celebration of His goodness hit me with an incredible impact.

Rocky Mountain National Park; spring 2015

Now Israel may say [Church! This is you!], and that truly
if that the Lord had not our cause maintained
if that the Lord had not our right sustained
when cruel men against us furiously
rose up in wrath, to make of us their prey

The furious wrath of cruelty breathes down our backs and terrifies us. We wonder if freedom or safety are even possible. We wonder if justice will ever be done, if injustice will ever be called on the carpet. We wonder if the light will ever break through the fog of despair. We wonder if tears will ever cease or if the pain that forces them from our eyes will be healed. We wonder when victory over sin and Satan will come, if ever.

Maybe this is it... Maybe this is the end of the line. Maybe this really is how it all will end.

Maybe we are defeated.

Maybe we are prey.

Maybe the cruel men have won.

Then certainly they had devoured us all
and swallowed quick, for aught that we could deem
such was their rage, as we might well esteem
And as fierce floods before them all things drown
so had they brought our soul to death quite down.

It's just as we feared.

We've been devoured. Swallowed. Drowned by fierce floods and brought to death. Where is the happiness we once had? Where is the innocence? Where is that safety we instinctively crave? We've long moved past looking for the light at the end of the tunnel - now we're just trying to stand upright in pitch black, unending darkness. Like the Egyptians during the plague, we can't see our hands in front of our faces, much less wipe the tears off our cheeks.

This is intolerable, unsustainable.


North of Pacific Beach, Washington; winter 2015

The raging streams, with their proud swelling waves
had then our soul o'erwhelmed in the deep.
But blessed be God, who doth us safely keep
and hath not given us for a living prey
unto their teeth and bloody cruelty.

Somehow, in the midst of these swelling waves, our feet brush against a Rock. A jolt of realization and hope makes our eyes flash and our hearts leap. In the dark stone tunnel, the teary eyes sparkle, because a great Light is shining to those who once were in darkness.

He has kept us, even as we didn't - couldn't - realize the keeping. He has rescued the prey and prevented defeat, and once again, Daniel cries, "My God has sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me!"

Even as a bird out of the fowler's snare
escapes away, so is our soul set free
broke are their nets, and thus escaped we.
Therefore our help is in the Lord's great Name
who heaven and earth by His great power did frame.

Look, Church. Look at the bird flying free, released from the snare and the nets and the waves. Look at your souls - see the final redemption and the imputed righteousness and the hope that lies within us. Look around you at the mighty power of God in your brothers and sisters in Christ, in their lives and hearts and tragedies and triumphs, in their mountains and valleys, mornings and evenings, lives and deaths.

Now turn, and look at your Lord.

Your help is in His great name. The name that compels every knee in heaven and earth to bow is your strong tower. The all powerful Jehovah is yours, your undefeated Conqueror. Emmanuel, God with us, is yours, your all-sufficient Savior. The Comforter is yours, your constant help and guide.

Bank of the Big Thompson River; spring 2015

This is for you, Church. This is for you, Rachael. This is for you, friend with an unexpected medical diagnosis and a frightening future. This is for you, suffering saints. This is for you, friends who intimately know the darkness, hopelessness, emptiness, and loneliness of mental health struggles. This is for you, brothers and sisters with debilitating, undiagnosed pain. This is for you, broken families and marriages and friendships and congregations. This is for you, betrayed friend, in your anguished anger and shock. This is for you, children of tragedy and trauma and upheaval. This is for you, exhausted mothers and fathers, in your labors of love. This is for you, my fearing friend, who struggles deeply with understanding the grace and mercy of your Father (oh, how He loves you).

This is what you may say, Church. This is what you may say - not out of coercion, or fear, but because it is truth overflowing:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side... 
Then they would have swallowed us up alive. 
Blessed be the Lord 
Who has not given us as prey for their teeth! 
Our help is in the name of the Lord, 
who made heaven and earth. 
(Psalm 124:1, 3, 6, 8)


{lyrics to Psalm 124 from this link}

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bring Us Home

[The below was inspired by "Bring Us Home (Joshua)", from the Music Inspired by The Story album. The song imagines the thoughts of Joshua, the second leader of the Israelites as they traveled home, and the man who led them around the walls of Jericho as they waited for God to work in power. Lyrics source; song video. I claim no rights to this song.]

Bring Us Home

We remember the chains we carried, 
won't forget about the day we left 
Every heart still beats with hope of a promise made, 
a promise kept. 

We are a broken and hurting world, Lord. We need a home, somewhere to rest and find the connection and hope for which our hearts cry. We need this home now - we can't survive without one. Bring us home.

No mercy in the high noon desert, 
no shadow gonna block the sun 
Still covered in dust from all our yesterdays 
and days to come

Father, You have built this need into our hearts. We are created in Your image, and therefore we instinctively know the truth of Pascal's words - "there was once in man a true happiness...this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself". (Pensees, pg 84) We try to fill the abyss with so many things - four walls, two arms. Small waistlines, large bank accounts. Desperate goals, promises of peace, dreams turned into harsh taskmasters. Golden calves & extra manna. But in the end, those are houses of cards and they collapse like the walls of that city.

Every turn is a new temptation, 
you wanna bow down to something new... 
Yahweh, oh Yahweh 
bring us a new day

Pain points us to this home, but we shrink away. We know that You have the answer, but it seems safer to cover our ears and close our hearts and take the easy way out. Because if one home won't welcome and keep us in the way we wished, another one surely will. And so we become nomads looking for the next watering hole, the next oasis, the next house built on a foundation of sand.

Bring us home 
Lead us to the highest wall 
Every single stone will fall 
We have never walked alone 
Only You can bring us home

You have a home for us, though. Praise God, You have a home for us. A home we can find safety and solidity and peace in, right now, and His name is Emmanuel. Because of Him, You tell us that we cannot fathom the depth and breadth of Your love, that You will give us all things, that You went through the ultimate rending and tearing for us, that You love us with an everlasting love, that You are our Father. Our help in ages past and our hope for years to come, and our eternal home.

Every teardrop in the sand 
Longing for a distant land 
We have never walked alone 
Only You can bring us home 

You tell us that we can find security and fulfillment and a rock - a permanent home - in Christ our Lord, now. And so we, by unimaginable grace, enter this home and are told that here, we are forgiven. Here, we are free. Here, we are loved. Here, our dead hearts and failed card houses are not held against us. Here, we are righteous.

...In seven days everything was made 
And in a week, 
It's crazy how everything can change 
Yeah, and we gonna march around this wall 
'Til we hear the Lord's call, 
hoping life will never be the same

So we unpack and learn to live with the other occupants, in love and truth and wisdom and grace. You guard us with a fierce love and You break down our sinful habits and hearts. You feed us with the richest bread of life and the sweetest water from the most bottomless of wells. When it hurts, You remind us that You work every last thing for our good and You will walk every dragging, stumbling, crawling step with us.

So when your life is all a wilderness 
And your darkest night is every one you took a breath 
All you know to do is follow hoping for a new tomorrow 
Where your sorrows don't exist and pain is put to death

We see this and we say, "Lord, we are truly grateful. But we would know - when will the painful steps end? When will we be able to leave our fear at the door? When can we shed our frail selves?"

As we stomp around a seventh time 
I anticipate a taste of what He says is mine 

You answer us and say, I go to prepare a place for you. And I will come again and take you to myself, so that you may be with me. I am leading you to your Canaan. This, my sons and daughters, is your eternal home.

Cry, cry, until you see it fall 
Until you look beyond a wall and you see it all 

This home, my children, is perfect. There is no pain. There is no fear. Every tear is wiped away and every scar is healed. Every weary soul is finally and fully refreshed. Here, anger does not build callouses over your hearts; in fact, anger does not exist here. Here, voices are not raised and barbed words are not slung. Bodies do not break and brains do not panic. Here, sirens do not light up the night, bullets do not sear the air, screams do not echo across the landscape. Wind and water do not destroy you here, and fire does not wipe out your lives. Enemies do not attack my pilgrims, men, women, and children. Here, metal does not crush against metal and vehicles do not spin off into ditches, shearing neurons and slicing skin on the way. Here, your hearts will not race in shock and fear. Families do not shatter, children are not murdered, and my Word is not defamed. Here, you have the answer to your questions and hopes and tears and prayers.

Bring us home 
Every single stone will fall

Here, you are healed.
Here, you will lay down your burden and stand straight and tall.
Here, you do not have to fight anymore.
Here, you will finally know the depths of my love.
Here, you are with me.

We have never walked alone 
Only You can bring us home

Here, you are home.

Bring us home...

Bring us home, Lord.

Only You can bring us home

Bring us home.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I haven't posted here in a long time. Just over a year, to be exact. For many months, I've wanted to come back and write more, but the thought usually came to me while I was driving and therefore unable to do anything about it. But I'm back now, and a completely different woman than I was on September 19th of last year. The Lord, in His providence, gave me both great joy and great sorrow, both very unexpectedly. Right now, the sorrow has the upper hand. I don't know how long that will last and how long He will lead me through the waters, but I know - I know - that He is here. Always.

I know that the Father is with me. When the pain leaves me shaking my head and in tears and the shock hits once again, I am reminded that He sent His only begotten Son through unfathomably worse pain to reconcile me to Him and bring me home. None of this shocks the God of heaven and earth, owner of infinite galaxies and tender of my heart. He shows me that He will restore the fortunes of His people (Psalm 53:6) and that He alone makes me to dwell in safety and sleep in peace (Psalm 4:8). He reminds me that I am His. He is mine. He is my Father, and I will not be afraid. He is my Deliverer. He does only wondrous things (Psalm 72:18). He rejoices in me, which I can't quite fathom, and He exults over me (Zephaniah 3:17). That blows me away, but even in that...


Kansas thunderstorm, I-70

I know that the Son is with me. When earthly comfort cannot ease the ache, He whispers that He is my comfort, that I can go to Him. An overheard conversation between two friends brings the reality of His perfect life, lived for me, to the forefront once again. Music, the one thing guaranteed to calm my racing heart, tells me that "He will raise [me] up on eagles' wings, bear [me] on the breath of dawn, make [me] to shine like the sun, and hold [me] in the palm of His hand". (Shane & Shane, Psalm 91) He tells me that I am clean. Safe. Loved.

He loves me.

I know the Spirit is with me. The lessons are coming fast and hard all over the place - this is what it means to have Me as your all, to turn to Me in grief and confusion, to be an adult in My strength. To be willing to give up everything, everyone, for Me. Do you trust Me to be with you even if the darkness closes in and the fear seems to win? This is what He is speaking to my heart. This is His fellowship (2 Corinthians 13:14). And yes, this is His joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

The night is dark, and I am far from home

Lead thou me on.

He answers, "I am."

Fall, Colorado prairie

I would have never wanted to learn this, this way. I would have kept my life the way it was - my relationship, my plans, my dreams. Three years ago, I would have kept my brain health, my peace, my great designs on life. I could go back to each of the major trials in my life and pinpoint exactly what I wanted to keep before it was all torn away. But I don't get to choose. I don't get to hang on. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away - and without that, there is unmoored insanity and frightening meaninglessness. So - by His grace - I grit my teeth and rise to stand with my brothers and sisters in Christ, around the world, across time, in all eras and situations and trials and sufferings and experiences and tragedies, and say...

Blessed be the name of the Lord.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Mindful Monday // 9.19.16

Above the Big Thompson River, May 2015

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so great is his steadfast love 
toward those who fear him

{Psalm 103:11 ESV}

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I Wanna Reality Show

I think I could easily hold my own with the screaming brides, precocious toddler beauty contestants, families of nineteen children, and disastrous sibling relationships.

Picture Credit
Just putting that out there.

It recently struck me that, for all their "reality", those shows are still seriously airbrushed. You're going to make serious rifts in your relationship? It will look Glamour-worthy even in the middle of the R-rated catfight. Looking for your dream dress? Even if something doesn't work out and you swear at your sister, your fiance, and a random dress designer, you look like a happy, slightly stressed bride-to-be.


However, I propose a new reality show. TLC is hereby invited to come to our house and just film. They can catch what they want - counter full of dirty dishes, piles of clothes on the closet floor, my backside sticking into the air as I dig frantically through said pile, muddy spots all over kitchen floor, living room covered with school books/blankets/people, deranged parakeet wildly zinging around the house, demented dog with a hero complex - you get the idea.

Hopefully, you also got what I was trying to say through that graphic description -

Let's be real.

I was just taking a (technically discouraged) Facebook trip and ended up on this article, It was just the encouragement I needed - and it made me think about what my life is like right now. I'm going to be honest, okay?

I am taking twelve credit hours. For the last few months, I have really, really struggled with motivation and procrastination in my schoolwork. That has turned around and "bit me" more times than I care to remember - late nights, bleary mornings, nearly falling asleep on the road, turning things in late, missing assignments. My room (as mentioned earlier) is currently a mess. When I have time, I don't want to deal with it. When I don't have time, I look at it and it really bothers me. I struggle with being annoyed, picky, mean, and selfish with/to my siblings. I get upset with my lovely momma and I get frustrated by my awesome daddy. I spend entirely too much time thinking about guys and relationships. I struggle with giving of myself to some hard situations. And, of course, I could say thirty things more that will pop into my head as soon as I hit "publish". Family situations, friendship intricacies, business problems, invasive health problems, grief, financial issues, the daily stress of watching my country disintegrate, etc.

If that was too much for you, feel free to get your kicks somewhere else. I guarantee you, though, that this is a part of your life too.

I'll be honest about the process of sharing.

It scares me. I literally felt that panicky feeling in my chest, thinking about how horrible I must sound to people out there. What responsible, oldest-child, Christian twenty-year-old leaves her room a mess, spends way too much time fooling around on Facebook, and snaps at her parents? Christian or non-Christian, I fear your judgment and your thoughts about me. I wonder what even my closest friends would think about me if I said this or that. I can see your face as you process what I am saying.

I recently read Victoria Fedden's wonderful book This Is Not My Beautiful Life. (Warning: this is not exactly storytime-with-the-kids material - but it is amazing.) The night I started it, our family had one of those nasty nights of chaos. Some were out on a late night trip for errands, Dad was late getting home from work, everyone was hungry and beyond beyond. Dinner was late - and the real late, folkses, is eating at 10 pm. Oh, it happens. (And I'm actually proud of us. We are living life as it happens, not caught up in "dinner time".) Homework was due and there was responsibility coming out of everyone's ears. As I was burying myself in the couch before family worship, one tenth of a centimeter away from blowing Mount Vesuvius, I took comfort in the fact that Victoria's crazy life was like ours. Ok, I guess my parents didn't end up in prison (and they don't pursue shady financial deals and whatever goes along with that). In my mind, I was proudly declaring "This is real. This is us."

This is real. This is us.

And that's okay.

Every day, I have to remind myself - force feed it down my throat with a spatula - that God loves me. He is in control. He knows me. He knows my life. He knows my sins. He knows that Jesus is right now interceding for me. He wraps me in the sweetest, thickest, strongest frosting of grace.

I am also learning - by His grace again - to be the friend and family member that is okay with what you tell me. It's important, people.

You cannot carry out God's commands to love the body of Christ if you cannot or will not accept people's reality.

So let's try.

Forgive us, Lord, as we have forgiven our debtors. You have shown us mercy beyond any comprehension; help us understand and mercifully love others.

Back to the reality show - I kid you not. If a TV producer shows up on our porch, I will (after rescuing him from above-mentioned demented dog) invite him in and tell him he has free range with his camera... with two conditions.

1. Real must be shown.

2. Grace, as response to the real, must be shown.

Friends, as you pack yourselves into bed tonight, with all your angers, fears, messes, and sins, remember that I am like you. You are like me. Someone else out there is like me, and they are like you.

But God gives grace.

The deranged parakeet, messy closet, screaming fights between siblings, costly software kinks, wandering attention span, and mercy-dispensing family/friends, are, I think, how He most shows His grace. 

Enjoy my reality show, friends.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mindful Monday // 07.11.2016

I'm sure you've heard the "mindful Monday" term floating around over the last few years. I've seen my share of those posts, so I finally decided to one of my own - with a twist. The MM posts I've come across seem to mostly consist of positive thoughts and encouragement - which is all well and good, but I want to focus on the One from whom all blessings flow, who gives us the ability to be positive, and who encourages us every hour. The verse that immediately popped into my head was Psalm 8:4 (NKJV):

What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

When you hear "mindful Monday", think about this: the Creator who knows the ends of the universe is mindful of you. He runs an incomprehensible network of planets, stars, and galaxies, but He sees you when you're sleeping - in fact, He never sleeps. Hang on to that, then, through all your Monday blues - when you guzzle your fifth cup of coffee and check the clock for the umpteenth time, when you fall into bed tonight, feeling so totally done.


Home, December 2013

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Million Dollar Question

Every high school junior/senior (and these days, freshman/sophomore) can tell you what the first question out of a new acquaintance's mouth is:

So, what are you going to do after you graduate?

I faithfully answered that question in detail for the first three years of high school (I want to be a nurse, probably labor/delivery, and I would really like to go to Cedarville, but I might think about UNC too...). Once I hit the promised land of senior year, though, I began to dread that question. Not because I didn't have my mind made up (and oh, it was made up, baby), but because it happened so often. I see y'all nodding your heads over there...

Now, when I talk to friends that age, I spare them of (half) the misery and preface the million dollar question with "I know you get asked this all the time, but..."

I know. Much better, right?

The thing is, I had no way of realizing that my answer to that question for all those years was wrong. Oh, not morally wrong. Just wrong because now I'm preparing to take a class called "Teaching/Learning/Technology". You see, that is definitely not part of a pre-nursing program. And what I'm getting around to is this:

It's hard to know what God wants you to do. It's hard to make that decision (for a lot of people). It's hard to change your mind after you've staked your dreams on one path for five years.

I always wondered (and sometimes still do), "How do you know?" Like, this is a big decision, people. What if I pick the wrong major and am three-and-a-half years/105 credits in and realize that this really sucks? What if I waste four years of my life (and who knows how much money) on something that "turns out to be the wrong thing"? (It is slightly amusing to look back at these thoughts and realize how huge some things seem at fifteen, right?) What decision do I make???!!!

Thankfully, I had guidance from some of the best. My parents, for twenty years now, have taught us the story of the men with their talents, the concept of serving the church, the truth that God has gifted each and every one of us with a unique talent with which to bless others. My mom told me, "Look at what you can do, what you're good at. Start there and see how you can use those gifts." She also reminded me that sometimes there are very practical and concrete signposts - if you can't stand raw meat, maybe you don't want to go to culinary school. If you don't get accepted into nursing school, maybe God wants you to look for something else. If you can't sit still for long periods of time, don't become a pilot. And, while I was at TFY, a theological "training camp" put on by our church, Dr. Jerry O'Neill gave our group a wonderful talk on knowing what God wants you to do. This talk gave me peace in the questions that were still swirling.

And then, I ran into a bit of a brick wall. Five days before I walked across the stage and took my diploma, my college and "career" plans made a sudden one hundred and eighty-degree turn. Wham.

My plan was to take CNA courses the summer in between graduation and starting college since I would need that accreditation further along in my studies, and I could gain experience while working as a CNA. Here's where I admit something about me that is a bit embarrassing - I struggle with being on time. This trait has given me grief more times than I care to remember, but this particular instance probably tops them all. On this day, right before I graduated, I had a CNA orientation session that began at 9 a.m. The registrar was very specific when I signed up a week earlier - the doors close at 9. Period. No one is allowed in after 9:00:00. You probably can guess the next step - I made it up the stairs and down the hall to the classroom at about 9:02. To be fair, I didn't know exactly where I was going, so I probably would have made it with about thirty seconds to spare if I had known my way around. Still, you don't cut it that close, and I knew that. The end result of that part of the morning? No CNA class for the whole summer.

The next nail in the coffin was driven about thirty minutes later, when I continued on to the appointment with the Allied health advisor at the same community college, and learned that their Associates in Nursing program was nothing like I had thought it would be, and would probably take longer than two years to complete due to class scheduling. Well, that was a lovely surprise, weren't it, mate?

Fast forward another half an hour, and I was sobbing to my mother on the phone. A door had just been shut - literally and figuratively. I was so upset. What was I supposed to do now? At that time, the idea of taking a year or even a semester off was unthinkable, and I couldn't see any other way around my nice, new, pretty roadblock. However, God knew what He was doing (yes, I know) and that two-hour phone conversation got me on a new path. We discussed other degree options (education, political science) and my sweet mama calmed me down (and gently told me that she didn't think nursing was where I was meant to be, anyway). Long story short, I was frantically emailing my principal that night and asking if I could change part of my yearbook entry. He kindly gave me a few more hours to fix my "plans", such as they were.

The rollercoaster of the million dollar question wasn't finished yet, however. Oh, no. Two months after I got that long-awaited Class of '14 tassel, I got extremely sick. I plan on writing more about that, so I won't describe it in detail here. The essential facts for this post are that: a) there was no way I was going to college that fall and b) I was all of a sudden reconsidering what I should do with myself again. This was another fun rollercoaster trip. Should I really study education? Should I branch out in a completely different direction and study music? As I type these memories, I am literally thinking "Argh!" to myself almost two years later - it was that confusing. Up, down, up, down, down, up, and back again. There's no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need none.

Thankfully - thankfully - God "brought me out into a spacious place" (Psalm 18:19 [NIV]) and "drew me...out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." (Psalm 40:2 [ESV]) I got better (such a superficial phrase for such a long journey) and stuck with education. "Stuck with" makes me sound really plucky and tough, but to be frank, it was a simple matter of knowing that I wanted to do this. What clinched it for me? Some of that time is a tad hazy in my memory, but I do know that I was excited (and still am). I wanted to teach. I loved working with kids. I knew I could do it. When I looked back, I could see how I was a "teacher" already - working with my siblings, working with friends, teacher's aiding for multiple instructors at our school. My family agreed that it would be a good fit for me. My aunt, who is like a second mother to me, told me that she had me pegged as a teacher from the age of two. Whoa. (That makes for a nice pithy statement in interviews, doesn't it?)

I still love it. I had the experience of teaching a crew of kindergarteners and first-graders for a few weeks, and had the time of my life. I have random ideas for lesson plans pop into my head and I freak out about how cool it would be to do that!! I have a dedicated board for teaching on Pinterest (and one for teaching jokes - I know, I'm way too organized). I love interacting with kids as they figure out what's in front of them. I love watching other teachers in action and talking with them and my fellow education students. I have occasional moments of wanting to skip the next three years and just get my own classroom right now!

So, all that to say, I guess I have figured it out. So far. Right now, I am getting my degree in Elementary Education, so we'll see where God takes that. There is a very good chance that I will be posting in about 4 years - "Hey everyone, I am now getting my masters in ceramic engineering!" Okay, I'm kidding. It is interesting, though - at the moment, when I think of my plans, I sometimes feel this jolt of "maybe I don't want to do this." To be honest - I don't know why I feel that. I hope it goes away and leaves me alone, to quote any toddler you may know. But, I am going to continue on and trust the Lord. And, of course, remember what I've learned...

  1. You don't have to know the answer to that million dollar question when you're a junior. Or a senior. Or a graduate. With SAT deadlines and scholarship applications and advisor appointments, it feels like you need to have a gorgeous, true-to-you, perfect game plan hammered out to the nth degree by the time you're buying notepaper for your junior year spring semester. Or, preferably, the summer in between your sophomore and junior year. You will figure it out. I promise. Don't take this and say, "Ok, I guess I'm going to play Xbox for the next 9 months" - but do remember that there is no eleventh commandment that says, "thou shalt have thy college and career figured out while in high school." 
  2. There is nothing wrong with taking a little time off to really consider what you want to do. I tell people that my year away from school did two things: it gave me a chance to really solidify what I wanted and it gave me a chance to earn some money (always a good thing!). If that still worries you, think about British high schoolers - everyone over there takes a "gap year" before they start their freshman year of college. They travel, work, and whatever else. It can also be a great time for you to delve into the Bible - you're not desperately finishing assignment after assignment and surviving on Starbucks.
  3. Remember what I said about missing my CNA orientation because of my habitual lateness? That is one of the brightest examples in my life of God working all things together for good and bringing beauty out of ashes. If I hadn't been late and participated in that orientation and program, I would've started down a path that probably wouldn't have ended that well, especially when I got sick. He is sovereign and He knew that I needed redirected. When you hit one of those "dead ends", know that He is doing this so you can find what is best for you.
  4. If nothing else, remember this - God knows. He knows what is the best outlet for your talents (remember, He gave them to you in the first place). He knows where you'll end up (He is going there with you). He will use you to the praise of His glory (He doesn't break His promises). You don't know what you want to do? Where you want to go? He does.
I will be the camp counselor for eight fourteen and fifteen-year-old girls in a couple of weeks. I wonder if they will bring up the million dollar question ("people always ask me if I know what I'm doing once I graduate), if they will want to know an answer to the question that is really behind it ("what am I doing once I graduate?"). I don't have hard-and-fast answers. All I can say is what I've been told by the ones I trust - my parents, other family members, and the ministers who take Biblical advice seriously, as mentioned above.

Look at your gifts.

Look at how you can serve the body of Christ.

Remember that you won't see writing on the wall - oh, how I wished for that.

Remember that instead, it may be a zig-zag route, but you will get there.

Remember that God knows.

Trust God.

Because that's worth a million dollars right there.