Today, Karen speaks to us about education, the importance of having fun in our spiritual walk, and how God shows up when we a in the “furnace” of life.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed . (2 Corinthians 4: 8-9)
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Being more open and confident about my faith. I’m working on being honest when people ask me about who God is and who He is to me.
Profession: Student- An Early Childhood Education major.
A one sentence bio of yourself: Thankful for french fries and grace.
When did you first encounter God? When I was 14, I went to a week long youth camp and had an authentic encounter with God. At the time, I wasn’t really sure of myself, and I didn’t understand my value in Him.
On the third day of camp, there was an alter call, and I went up as everyone else did and I remember asking God a ton of “why” questions. It wasn’t until a lady sat down beside me and started praying for me that I felt helpless trying to solve all my problems on my own because they were far bigger than I could handle. I realized that I had to give all my worries, fears, and insecurities to God, so I could truly be made whole and complete by Him.
It was the first time where I really felt the love of God and was overwhelmed with joy. Before the lady left, she told me to read Hebrews 13:5 which has a part that reads, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. Which has always reminded that in whatever I do, wherever I am, whatever season I am in, God is always by my side and I am never alone.
“I realized that I had to give all my worries, fears, and insecurities to God, so I could truly be made whole and complete by Him.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Constantly remembering to give God everything I am and have to God, and doing everything though His love and strength.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’m currently doing the Bible in a Year plan by Nicky Gumbel, and it has really taught me to discipline myself into studying the Word, every day. The devotionals are also a great way to learn more of who God is, and a great way to finish the Bible in a year!
Top three essentials: My Bible, my phone, a couple of good multi-colored pens.
How did God speak to you recently? I believe that God is constantly speaking to me; from little things like stopping to help someone, to big decisions I should make. But something that stood out to me recently, God was telling me to be more of a light to people who don’t know Him. He reminded me that He’s still working in people’s lives and that I should keep being the example of Jesus by showing unconditional love and grace.
“He reminded me that He’s still working in people’s lives and that I should keep being the example of Jesus by showing unconditional love and grace.”
Hobby: Probably playing my piano or sleeping.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1. Reading your Bible daily. I know it’s the obvious answer, but it really makes a difference. It is your guide and your weapon. Memorize verses that will keep you encouraged, and help you draw closer to God.
2. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Having that sense of community to keep you going when it gets hard is so important. Even if it’s a small group of people who can encourage you daily, and love you when you fall short, it really makes a difference.
3. Have fun. Serving God shouldn’t have to be a chore. Enjoy His love and His presence. Spend time with Him because you love him. Serve in areas of your church that you have a passion for and use your gifts and talents to give him glory.
Favorite person in scripture? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I love how devoted they are to God. When King Nebuchadnezzar told them to bow down to his idol, they refused multiple times; and even when they were threatened to be put in the blazing furnace, they still didn’t give in. I love that they tell the King that whether or not God saves them, that He is still good, and they won’t bow down.
I feel like sometimes, I’m put in similar situations where I’m challenged to stand firm on God’s word or to conform, and despite the consequence, regardless of whether it’s what I wanted, or not, God is still so good. I love how the story ends because God saves them while they are in the furnace. The King saw 4 people in the furnace and one was the Son of God who protected them from any kind of harm. This story shows me that if you’re faithful to God, he will never let you down and that He will always be with you. Even if you feel like you’re in a furnace, he is still saving you.
“Even if you feel like you’re in a furnace, he is still saving you.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? A mess. I want them to see the imperfections and all the times that I fall short because each time I do, it’s a testament that God is calling me back to try again. I hope people know that being a Christian doesn’t mean that I always have it together or that I know everything, but it means that my God’s love and grace covers every fall and He is the reason why I strive to be more Christ-like every day.
Favorite season? The last bit of summer– shorts and sweater season really is the best!
Favorite holiday? Christmas.
A dream you have? To teach in countries where children don’t have access to education or have been neglected from it.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I don’t even know if I’ll be able to ask any questions because I’d just be in awe of God. But I’d maybe ask like, “Why are you so good?”
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Children who have been neglected from education. Education is so important, and children who are kept from having that experienceburdens me. Each child has the right to learn and to be a part of a system that encourages children to strive for their highest goals.
“Each child has the right to learn and to be a part of a system that encourages children to strive for their highest goals.”
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.? If I don’t have work, school, or church, probably sleeping. At the most, I’d be getting out of bed.
What is on your nightstand? I don’t have a nightstand, but if I did, it would probably be covered with school papers or something.
Define Christianity in a sentence: A love that never fails, grace that never ends, and a joy that overwhelms.
For more Karen:
Until next time, keep witnessing!