ICYouth: Cleaning Up (Makenna)

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By Makenna Nahorniak

It’s the pile of papers on my desk and the mountain of socks on the floor in my room. It’s forgetting to print the essay off, arriving late and miscommunicating. It’s a mess… and I live in it.

When my mess reaches the surface after countless days of drowning the trash and mayhem with my own strength, I feel exposed, alone, cracked and irreparable.

Messiness can be paralyzing. It holds us captive. For me, life can turn into a series of “oopsies” quite easily. I often find myself wallowing in the mess I’ve made, the words I did or didn’t say and my quiet moments of struggle.

When I wake up in the morning, my messiness often clouds the joys with which the Lord supplies me. This fear of falling apart in front of the loud, seemingly perfect, stitched together sea of people surrounding me overtakes me at times. I let myself feel guilty when it’s not my fault, I keep my head down to avoid confrontation, and I fight long and hard to make sure my chaos is properly covered. I feel the need to assume the role of a burden in peoples’ lives. I go through the day just waiting for the moment I can go home and get out of everyone’s way.

So I fight to be right, to be impressive, to be knowledgeable and to be heard. It hurts to let people know that you crumble easily and you’re not all you wish to be. The hairbow is an illusion and the bold mascara hides the amount of sleep you lost last night paying the price of being imperfect. All that effort is exhausting. There is no life found in trying to reverse your untidiness on your own terms. That’ll only deflate you.

And then the Word of God speaks life. Scripture tells of God’s willingness and devotion to use those the world doesn’t always see fit. He sees the corners that aren’t often explored by other human beings, He is aware of the deep longings of each individual, and He is certainly vast enough to use the unqualified.

Our God isn’t bogged down by our insufficiencies, but rather, He is strong in place of our weakness. I would like to argue that messiness is a heavy problem for even the most organized people. You know — the ones who finish everything on time, always say the right things and never stop smiling. They’re messy, too. We are all wanderers, stragglers and misfits without Jesus Christ. But then He changes everything as usual. He remakes us into dreamers, doers, imaginers, intellectuals, speakers, artists and followers.

I’m about to turn 18 in a few short months, and God is teaching me a lot about what it looks like to enter into adulthood. A few weeks ago, I hit a roadblock and discovered one heartbreaking and annoying thing about managing your money like an adult: You can’t sign up for one month free trials online and give them your debit card number. When you do this, companies will continue to charge you for months into the future while you don’t even realize it’s happening. While revisiting my history of spending over the last three months, I discovered to my dismay that a company had been charging me money for months on end because I had signed up for one of these so-called “free trials.”

It wasn’t the end of the world, but I was disappointed in myself. I felt irresponsible, foolish and utterly broken. I wept bitterly not because I had lost a whopping $50.00 for no reason at all, but because I don’t have all the answers all the time. I’m very rarely orderly and neat. I can’t keep my locker clean for the life of m,e and I certainly can’t figure out that giving your debit card number to an online business is never a brilliant idea. I have a lot to learn about becoming an adult and living responsibly. I cried because I felt as though I’ll never get it right. I did what I usually do when I feel hopeless and discontent with myself.

I buried my face in God’s Word and let Him change my train of thought. Do you know what He says about our insufficiencies? He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power if made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:5)

He is enough when we are not. He cleans up the horrible messes we make and calls us to step into the process of becoming more like Him. You and I are not too scattered, too torn or too wrinkled to be used in His wonderful story.

May you hear the resounding noise of His all-sufficient power and grace when you become overwhelmed by your shortcomings throughout the next week. Brothers and sisters in Christ, you are precious and forgiven. Walk in freedom and let the Lord loosen the chains of messiness.

Makenna Nahorniak is a senior at Christian Life School. She enjoys leading worship, singing, reading, writing and using her words to encourage others’ hearts. 

Extra Strength: The Perfect Basket Has to Go {Hyacynth}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

First Christmas: The Inn Keeper {Sunday, December 7, 2014}

By Hyacynth Worth

So we’re four days away from welcoming our new host daughter, a young Eastern European teen with a beautiful smile, a kind heart and no family to call her own forever, into our home for a month,  and I’m putting out an S.O.S on Facebook that looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 4.13.27 PM

Let me recap that for you in case you didn’t get all of that:

We have this beautiful, never-used basket that we simply cannot get to fit beneath any of our beds. And we need it out of our house. Before Sunday. Because right now it’s sitting in the middle of our host daughter’s bedroom.

It’s beautiful. It’s definitely too nice for the trash. It’s useful. It’s sturdy and well made. I really, really like this basket. For crying out loud —  it’s everything a storage basket should be!

But it doesn’t fit. We’ve tried all kind of tricks, and we’ve tried all kinds of beds here at the Worth house. Nada. Nothing works. We just keep having to move it back into the middle of the her bedroom floor. We’ve been trying to get a new home for this basket for several weeks, and now that the days have dwindled to only four before her arrival, we’re scrambling to get rid of this big beautiful, sturdy basket that’s sitting like a roadblock in the middle of her room.  Did I mention how much I really like this basket?

Still, though, no matter how much I like it, no matter how many ways we’ve tried to get it to work, the fact of the matter is that the basket just doesn’t fit. And if we don’t get it out of the way, we’re not going to have much room for our girl.

So … the basket’s gotta go, and I’ve turned to Facebook to help make it happen.

It’s only after I’ve posted my cry for help that I realize, however, how stupidly applicable this big basket conundrum is to my life.

I can get so caught up in fitting everything into the Advent season that often times I have trouble making enough space for the most important part — the guest of honor — Christ Himself.

Sometimes even good and beautiful and useful things have to go in order to make space for Christ in our Advent season, in our very lives.

So what’s gotta go for you? We’ve still got time to clear it all out before Christmas Day. We’ve still got time to make room for the guest of honor.

This Advent season, what’s your beautiful basket?

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


Be Challenged: 

  • Identify your basket, and let it go. Make space for Christ.

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in the Conversation Starter of your Immanuel Life with a friend, spouse or small group.

Our Prayer for the Monday After: First Christmas: The Innkeeper

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

 

The Monday After Sunday, December 7, 2014: First Christmas: The Innkeeper

 prayer 12.8.14

 

ICYouth: On Living Out Our Lessons {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity Immanuel. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Trever Carter

One of my absolute favorite additions to a typical series at iMPACT is what we call a Review Preview. At the end of each sermon series, students get an opportunity to take advantage of an open mic to share about how God has changed them through the previous series, and at the end, we take a quick look at what’s coming up in the next few weeks.

Since I didn’t have the courage to stand in front of the group on Sunday night, I might as well show how the past two series, Love Does and Silver Linings, have affected my life.

For Love Does, I just want to share a couple of stories. I took a lot away from all of the bottom lines, like the fact that I didn’t have to be defined by my failures, but I think that the series really shown through in a few moments over the past month. Last month, I was able to work at our church helping run the election. I was there from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., so believe me when I say that it was a long, monotonous day. And also hear me when I say that teenagers don’t typically work these things (I did it for social studies class in school). The people that work these things are often older, and deeply impassioned by the United States government system. The man who worked next to me was named Harold, and he was a single man in his mid-seventies with A LOT to say about his life experiences … about 15 hours worth of things to say. Sometimes, he even got so caught up in what he was saying that he didn’t hand the ballots out the right way which resulted in some angry voters. Although there were times where I just wanted to get up and walk away because I couldn’t get a word in, the Love Does series started to speak to me. I thought that this man probably didn’t have many people in his life that he could share his experiences with, or many people at all that could really talk to him. So, I thought that Love would sit and talk to him and engage in conversation with him, just listen to him and be present for him. And what he had to say was actually very interesting: a long life full of a lot of crazy experiences. Love is patient, kind, gentle … And a lot of those things I also got to implement in my family. Just being present and loving them when they frustrated me.

And this was complemented perfectly by the next series, Silver Lining, which had everything to do with changing the dynamic of your family and finding the silver lining. For me, that was big. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family, but sometimes they really just know how to push my buttons –some more than others– and it taught me so much about how I am personally responsible for the dynamic of my family, how I respond to them and how I treat them. That was a tough pill to swallow, but it was so encouraging.

The other thing I loved was just seeing the strength of the community in our youth group, how we are a family and we all love each other and are there for eachother. It became completely evident when kids started taking the mic to tell about how God has helped them through their peers, deeper, iMPACT and the leaders. It reminded me how incredibly blessed I am to have the adults and youth group I have in my life –so I know I’m a week late, but I am certainly thankful for that.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

Extra Strength: “Foremembering” Real Christmas

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

ExtraStrengthEdit

Extra Strength for: Real Christmas #icFirstChristmas

Today I foremembered something.  A little boy I used to babysit used this word for things he had known or remembered at one time but then forgot and then remembered again.  You see, I know and have known for most of my life that God is with me but like most human beings, I forget.

This past Saturday was the annual tree-lighting ceremony at the Jackson house.  In past years we had begun a tradition of bundling up and piling in the car with our three children and driving across the frozen tundra of Grand Avenue to Lowes or Home Depot and picking out the perfect tree.

This year my husband and I just didn’t feel like braving the elements, spending the money on a real tree only to throw it out in January and do it all again next year.  So in unceremonious fashion he and my 10 year old went out on the Saturday of Black Friday weekend and found a screaming deal on a fake tree.  On one hand, I am excited at the ease of taking the tree out of a box; but I will admit – a little of the magic was lost when we made this decision.

The magic lost may have been what started my funk this past Saturday, but in reality I think I just forgot.  In the past I remember feeling that warm feeling deep down after we finished decorating the tree and putting out the Advent book.  This year, I just felt … nothing.  Worse than that, as I took a walk outside after a tense discussion with my husband amidst a home-improvement project, I thought about all the stuff that needed to be done.  As I thought of it, I felt more and more stressed and annoyed, even angry.  I don’t want to spend this season thinking about gift lists and money.  I wish I could just focus on what Christmas really means.  As I made my way home down the final stretch of our street, a neighbor stopped me to chat.  We both voiced our frustration with the commercialism of Christmas and how we wish it could be different.

Then I went to church Sunday … and I foremembered. I had forgotten the whole point of the whole thing is that even when I don’t feel the feeling, even when I’m stressed, even when things aren’t the way I wish they could be, HE is with me.  Christmas with HIM is different and that changes everything.

Sometimes remembering what you forget is better than never having forgotten.   So if you’ve forgotten like I did, take heart.  You can foremember too — or remember.  When you do you can look forward to a renewed joy, excitement and peace that come with the promise that underneath the story of a baby in a manger in Bethlehem is the whole point of the whole thing.  No matter what, you are not alone when you receive the gift that was given in Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.

imageMartha has been a wife for 17 years and is the mother of three children ages 10, 9 and 5.  When she’s not folding laundry, cooking meals, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos, grocery shopping, cleaning house and running errands, she loves to hold babies at Immanuel MOPS!

 

 


Be Challenged:

  • Take five minutes right now and ponder the beautiful gift that God is with you at this very moment. In the joy, in the stress, in the chaos, in the mundane, He is always with you!