For Such A Time As This

For the past few months the six word phrase “for such a time as this” has been rattling around in my brain. It is a phrase that is originally found in the book of Esther. Esther 4:14 says,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

In the story of Esther, an edict is issued in Persia stating that all the Jews are to be killed. Esther is a Jew who is married to the king of Persia. This particular verse refers to the fact that Esther has potentially been placed in a position of power for the purpose of saving her people, but she has to choose if she will step up and live into the reality of being the queen for such a time as this.


On April 25th, a meager six weeks before I was scheduled to fly to Nepal, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the nation.

nepal_mapFor an agonizing week and a half, I had no way of knowing if I my trip to Nepal would still happen. Leading up to the trip I felt incredibly confident that Nepal was where God was leading me to spend my summer, but finding out I would still be able to go in spite of the earthquake further heightened my awareness of God’s timing in sending me there. I was going to Nepal for such a time as this.

Within a few hours of meeting my teammates in the Chicago airport, we had discussed our suspicion that God was doing something extraordinary in and through our team, and a few of my teammates had already spoken the exact phrase “for such a time as this.”

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We all had a sense of God’s divine purpose in bringing us to Nepal, and for six beautiful weeks we got to live into that purpose. We had SO many moments, both individually and collectively when we could see exactly why God had us in Nepal. Eventually, however, as all things do, our time in Nepal ended.

Upon returning to the US, my sense of purpose changed dramatically. After six weeks on top of the world (literally) my regular life felt discouragingly aimless. I joked that after such a crazy summer I was ready for a few months of boring, but deep down I wasn’t so sure that was true.

Part of what helped me through the messy season of reentry was obsessively listening to music that had shaped me during our time in Nepal. One song I played on repeat was The Anthem by Jesus Culture. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIoZNqUQAGE) The chorus says “wake up child/it’s your time to shine/you were born for such a time as this.” The more I listened to the song, the more I got this nagging thought in the back of my mind – what if every day of my life is meant to be lived for such a time as this?

There are seasons of my life when I can clearly see why God has brought me to where I am. But there are other seasons of life where my purpose is far muddier. However, my inability to see the why of where I am does not change the fact that God has brought me here.

As I continue to reflect on what it would look like to continually live for such a time as this, I have found that seeing purpose in the ordinary changes everything. Suddenly I am motivated to be faithful in the small things, encouraged to look for places where God is already at work in my life, and inspired to be obedient to His promptings. I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds like a much better way to live!

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Feeding Myself

As an American woman, I have my fair share of self-image issues (which is another topic for another day) however, in spite of my insecurities, I have come to realize that I love food! Silly as it may sound, good food legitimately brings me joy! Sometimes something as simple as a well-made latte, a savory Asian stir fry, or a square of intensely dark chocolate can make my day.

The realization that food plays a larger role in my life than simply nourishing my body has only hit me in the past few years. I think this is in part because I definitely think about food far more at college than I did when I was living at home. I’ve always known that my Mom is a phenomenal cook, but until I moved out, I took her culinary creations for granted. I never truly appreciated the time and effort it takes to cook well.

This year I’ve started to cook for myself. Before the semester started, the prospect of being in charge of feeding myself daunted me. Now that I’m one month into this new adventure, however, I can honestly say I love it! Is it a hassle? Sometimes. Do I get lazy? Absolutely. But in spite of the difficulties, I’ve truly been enjoying the process of learning how to cook.

I think this transition into feeding myself has been easier than I anticipated because cooking is less of a foreign world than I thought it would be. As my Dad frequently reminds me, all I need to do is “trust my training.” I’ve spent years watching my Mom in the kitchen, and gleaning tidbits from her vast culinary wisdom (thanks Mom!)

In addition, I’ve spent years listening to my body and discovering how to nourish it well. I deeply value my health. As I go through my day, I frequently inventory how I feel, and most of my decisions are made with some element my health in mind. Over the years I’ve discovered many little quirks about my body (I need protein for breakfast to prevent headaches, when I eat minimal sugar I have more energy, etc.) that inform my choices, especially when it comes to food. Being aware of my body’s nutritional needs has given me confidence in my ability to feed myself.

I’ll leave you a with a dinner recipe I made the other night that I’m particularly fond of. It’s simple, and it uses leftovers, which is a college student’s dream.

Autumn Fruit and Nut Rice Bowl

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Put leftover rice into a bowl and pour milk over the top. Chop up an apple. Add the chopped apple and raisins to the bowl. Heat the rice and fruit in the microwave. Add pumpkin seeds and almonds. (You can substitute different fruits and nuts if you so desire.) Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Enjoy!

Looking Up for Affirmation

It’s dusk when we walk into the garden of the Gethsemane House of Prayer in Kathmandu. We are greeted by several barking dogs and two rambunctious Nepali children. As we go inside the house, the children eagerly follow, running circles around our legs. We settle into the prayer room for the worship night, and one of the missionaries tells us that the young boy’s name is Arun and his sister’s name is Nisa.

The worship night begins, and Arun asks to color in Courtney’s journal. She obliges, handing him her blue highlighter, and watching as he proceeds to draw simple pictures on the lined pages. As those around me began to sing, I start to write in my own journal. I write in deliberate, looping cursive, not writing to get my thoughts on paper as I normally would, but taking time to truly listen to God.

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After running around the room for a while, Nisa comes over to me and crawls in my lap. She watches me write for a minute or two, and then she motions for my pen. With incredibly deliberate strokes, Nisa draws circles and squiggly lines on a page of my journal, and I sit and observe her attentiveness. As I watch her, I feel my heart swell with appreciation for this tiny human being, this beautiful daughter of God who has crossed my path. Every once and a while, Nisa looks up at me for affirmation, and I smile at her. And as I sit there, feeling her warmth on my lap, God reveals a piece of His heart to me.

Once Nisa finishes writing, I turn the page and write this reflection:

Dear God,
Thank you for revealing your heart to me. Those scribbles on the preceding page have helped me see your character. They’re from Nisa at the Prayer House, and as I watched her draw, I saw your heart for me. I am the little girl who takes the pen and meticulously draws on the pages of my life. But no matter how hard I focus, or try to imitate you, my scribbles will never be as beautiful as yours, And yet, as I scribble, you look on with love. When I look to you for affirmation, you smile. And then you gently take the pen from my hand, turn the page, and continue to write a beautiful story. Sometimes I say you laugh when I plan, but tonight I see that when I plan, you smile the most genuine and loving smile. You don’t condemn my plans, you just ask me to surrender them. In the image of the Creator, I create. And then I submit. So Father, take my scribbles and do what you will with them. I know I can trust you because you love me more than I can fathom. I love you!
Kelly 

Becoming a Junior

I am a college junior. And while I do feel the cliché response of, oh my goodness, how did I get here, time is flying, it also feels like the most ridiculously natural thing in the world. Not only am I a junior, I feel like a junior. Here’s a few reasons why:

1. For the first time I’m living off campus in the most darling house! This means that while I have the extra responsibilities of providing my own furniture, and remembering to take the trash to the curb on garbage day, I also have the extra freedoms of using nails to hang paintings on the walls, and lighting candles, or for that matter, possessing a lighter! I’m on a minimal meal plan, so I’m beginning to cook for myself. While most of my meals have been simple quesadillas or chef salad, I have managed to make homemade refried beans, and tried a new recipe for roasted chickpeas. I’m also dealing with adult situations such as paying rent and setting up Internet service. Sometimes it feels like my life is an endless cycle of calling customer service and going to the bank. Lately, my housemates and I have frequently exclaimed, “Too much adulting!” But as much as being an adult can be a hassle, it feels natural and right to be in this new place of independence.

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2. The first day of school felt remarkably undramatic. Even after four months away, going to class didn’t feel out of the ordinary. Maybe that’s because, as my friend Kaylee reminded me, it was my fifteenth first day of school, but regardless of why I felt so comfortable, I think it truly shows just how at home I feel on my campus. I know how to get where I need to be, I understand the many systems that are in place, I constantly run into people I know, and for the first time, I get to be the one to authoritatively answer the endless questions of freshmen. Being an upperclassman is a wonderful thing.

Home Sweet Home3. In this moment I feel rooted, yet scattered. The roots come from knowing I am where I belong and being willing to pour into this place, even though I suspect I won’t be here for much longer. I am invested in my university, plugged into my church, and in love with the place I live and the people I encounter on a daily basis. The scattering comes from traveling, and leaving pieces of my heart in faraway lands. Not to mention that half of the people I love most in the world don’t live in Oregon. This juxtaposition of being rooted yet scattered leaves me in a place of tension to be sure, and yet, I also feel a peace. While this time of life is transient, it’s also incredibly beautiful!

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So this semester I’m going to live into the reality that, no matter how short this season of life will be, today I am a college junior.