quote from Jesus the King

  
“Jesus says, ‘Follow me. I’m going to take you on a journey, and I don’t want you to turn to the left or to the right. I want you to put me first; I want you to keep trusting me; to stick with me, not turn back, not give up, turn to me in all the disappointments and injustices that will happen to you. I’m going to take you places that will make you say, ‘Why in the world are you taking me there?’ Even then, I want you to trust me.’

“The path Jesus takes you on may look like it’s taking you to one dead end after another. Nevertheless, the thread does not work in reverse. If you just obey Jesus and follow it forward, it will do its work.

“MacDonald, author of The Princess and the Goblin, put it like this in another story: ‘The one secret of life and development, is not to devise and plan…but to do every moment’s duty aright…and let come- not what will, for there is no such thing- but what the eternal Thought wills for each of us from the first.’ And yet in another: ‘You will be dead, so long as you refuse to die.’ That is, you will be dead so long as you refuse to die to yourself. Follow the thread.”

-Tim Keller, Jesus the King

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Trusting yourself 

Sometimes it’s even harder to trust yourself than to trust others.

I think we start off trusting our gut instincts more as kids, and somewhere along the line, we are made to believe we can’t trust our guts.

Usually something makes you this way, some events in life try to teach you to doubt yourself, or some people in your life speak that over you. You’ve been fed lies about who you are. Or you just get frustrated because to try to explain why you make certain choices or feel a certain way without a real reason besides “I just knew,” or “I just don’t think it’s right” isn’t satisfying enough for some people. They want explanations. They want reasons. They want evidence.

Years ago when I first went on staff with Young Life, I had to take a type of personality test, the kind that tells you what kind of environment you work best in, etc., and it’s part of how they ended up placing me overseas with Club Beyond in the military world. After you take it, the designer of the test calls you personally and you go over your results and get more feedback or action steps for about an hour. I don’t remember the whole conversation, but one thing stuck out and has stayed with me for the entire past six years:

“You need to trust your intuition more.”

He told me that I had very strong intuition, and not only that, but that most of the time, it was right. Trust it. Even if you can’t explain it to most people.

This is hard for me, especially as a recovering people-pleaser. I fight all kinds of lies when it comes to this.

For example, someone once told me that I could “choose” to trust them. At first, I thought they were right. But I quickly realized that they were dead wrong, and this type of thinking was actually quite dangerous. You should always, always, let trust be earned. Otherwise, you can get yourself into some pretty scary situations. Not everyone should be trusted. 

Of course, doesn’t mean you should walk around paranoid all the time. For the most part there are some trustworthy people in the world, and not everyone is out to get you. However, trust has to be proved over time for someone to be a safe person, physically and emotionally. 

If you struggle with trusting others at all because of deep betrayal, like I have in my life, a good friend recently told me: You can trust others again because you can trust Jesus. He is your safety. Remember that.

Additionally, people will tell you that your reasons for things you do or say or decide are invalid; that a “feeling” is not enough. That’s a lie. God gave you a gut instinct and His spirit for a reason, and just because you don’t understand the why behind it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust it. To be honest, I don’t understand what God is doing half the time. But I trust Him. Do the same with your intuition because it has proved itself over time. Think about situations where you “just had a bad feeling” about something, and it turned out that you were right. Or when you met a friend’s boyfriend and thought, “He seems like bad news.” Or a time when you thought, “I feel like I should go say hi to this person.” Think about how following your intuition ended up being the right call. Maybe you ended up seeing that friend get hurt by that guy, or you ended up finding out that person you started a conversation with needed to share something significant and life-changing and needed your help.

You don’t always have an explanation for these feelings. You can’t always tell your friend the reasons why you think their new boyfriend isn’t a good guy, or why you felt like you should go talk to that person, or why you made a decision, but think about how often you’ve been right. Your intuition has most likely earned that trust. So you can trust it, even with big decisions, as long as it’s not leading you against a Biblical idea or teaching. You have no idea how many cool God-things might come out of it, or how much pain and harm your God-given intuition will save you from. It really comes down to trusting God and the wisdom and discernment He’s given you.

Oh, how He protects and guides and provides for His children!

A new kind of prayer for 2016

Today I wanted to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next year, through something I’ve only realized in the past week or so.

For the past year, I’ve been praying “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That was Jesus’ prayer on the cross.

When He prayed it, in that situation, it was incredible and selfless and beautiful. Unfortunately, like all things, we can take a beautiful thing and twist it selfishly. I’ve never struggled much with being a Prodigal Gone Wild, but boy am I good at being a Pharisee. I think my prayers in the past year have been mostly these:

Father, forgive them because they don’t know how much they hurt me.

Father, forgive them because they can’t see how selfish they are.

Father, forgive them because they act so entitled.

Father, forgive them because they’re blind to how manipulative they are. 

Father, forgive them because they don’t trust anyone.

Father, forgive them because they’re such a gossip.

Father, forgive them for being so jealous and controlling.

Father, forgive them because they have so much pride and don’t even know.

Ironically, the more I prayed those seemingly selfless prayers, the more a sneaky kind of self-righteous pride crept up in my heart. Sure, I was being super-spiritual praying for these people. But just like everything else Jesus was concerned with, my behavior didn’t mean anything. It was my heart that mattered. I am so convicted by this story Jesus told about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18, when he addressed this exact situation:

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I’ve been praying the wrong prayers for a year. Instead, here’s what I really should have been praying:

Father, forgive me for hurting people.

Father, forgive me for how selfish I am.

Father, forgive me for acting so entitled.

Father, forgive me for manipulating others.

Father, forgive me for not trusting You and thus not trusting others who have earned it.

Father, forgive me for slandering all these people no matter what my reasoning.

Father, forgive me for being so jealous of others and their lives and for trying to control things and people.

Father, forgive me for the immense pride in my heart that allowed me to wound others without even realizing it.

I have been praying the wrong prayers. As I go into 2016, I am aware I can’t fix all the relationships I’ve broken by praying the wrong prayers. I can’t force people to accept apologies or to make them like me again. But I can humble myself enough to pray in repentance, “Father, forgive me. I had no idea what I was doing in 2015. But now I have no excuse, because my eyes have been opened. Help me in 2016 to turn away from pride and to humility, and to walk in integrity, and will you heal those I’ve left bruised and broken in 2015?”

It is the meek who will inherit the earth. It is the ordinary people, the poor, the lowly, the underdog, the beaten down, the hurting, the wounded, the ones you won’t expect who will be in heaven. Who the Lord chose to walk among and heal when He was on earth. 

This year, join me and pray for help to stop praying with pride. Instead of re-living the past and how you’ve been hurt, look at how you’ve sinned against others and learn from it. We are often way too focused on what’s been done to us, that we forget we have a billion sins that we need to ask for forgiveness for before we ever go near the other person’s. 

And then comes the long journey of forgiving yourself, which, truthfully, I am still figuring out…all I know is, the past is the past, and you can’t live in it, and you can’t heal people from the damage caused, or force them to do anything. He is in control of that. We are responsible for ourselves, for leaning into Jesus, for repentance, and for making peace as far as it depends on us. Then it depends on Him.

Easier said than done.

Thankful

There have been many ups and downs this year, suffice it to say I am not about to participate in Facebook’s “highlights of 2015”, and I am very much ready for it to be 2016. 

But God, as I am always learning, gives good gifts to His children, and this Christmas season isn’t any different. I am not in any way diminishing or shelving the hard things, but I am feeling a little bit like I did in Germany when I started seeing the buds on the trees at the very end of a long winter…little glimmers of hope that brighter days are ahead. I am so thankful for these glimmers from the past couple months and just wanted to highlight some as an update on my last couple months:

 My new Delaware Young Life family…

 
  
Many of these moments in my parents’ cozy living room…not to mention these fab slippers from my old roomie :)…

 

Loyal friends that come all the way to Delaware to visit and bring laughter and many hours of Grey’s anatomy :)…

 A new Young Life regional family that has welcomed me with open arms and colonial garb…


Many fun Christmas parties including this one with committee and campaigners and leaders…  

Skyping and reconnecting with this good friend from college I hadn’t seen or talked to since circa 2009…this is the picture where she looks the least drunk (she actually wasn’t drunk at all)…
 
  

Midnight phone conversations and hilarious snapchats with this one who is leading Wyldlife like a boss…  

Good phone and text conversations and snail mail with this kid who sometimes freakishly finishes my sentences and who I am thankful to see God’s work in her life…

Getting real mail and a thoughtful gift from this really cool person named Mari…  

Reisinger Family Reunion and my crazy fun cousins…
 

Did I mention I have a lot of cousins? 😂 

Lots of reading (light and deep reading, obviously)…and getting my library fees waived because I hadn’t paid them since 2008…  
Being asked by my youth pastor to be a secret assassin elf for the youth group Christmas event… 
Weekly adventures with this guy…

 
And cute puppies…  

Training to be a D-Group leader (contact me if interested) …

Getting organized and doing work that I love..  

Randomly getting really into what I like to call painting therapy…

 
Coffeeeee (plus a new French press, thanks Steve) 
Getting to hang out with my siblings and my niece and nephew pups…

  
Oh and waking up to this every morning…nbd…living with your parents has its perks, everyone…

   
Not to mention praying about some exciting future next steps, the huge upcoming Young Life conference where many reunions will happen, and many other great friends in my life who have been praying for me and checking on me and just being awesome (you know who you are).

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family, I am so thankful for each and every one of you!! God and the people He has placed in my life are no doubt what is getting me through to 2016. I can’t wait to see what God has in store.

First club in Delaware!

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I’ve been resting and hanging out with friends and family since I got to Delaware a couple weeks ago, but Monday night I walked into my first Young Life club in Dover, besides the (only) one I attended when I was in high school.

It was hosted by a girl who (far L in photo), when I came into her house, was doing homework for math class at Polytech. I asked her who her teacher was- it was my old math teacher! We also discovered by texting our brothers that my brother played soccer with her oldest brother in high school. Small world. I knew this kind of stuff might happen, but it has been really crazy to experience firsthand.

Another girl I hadn’t met already knew who I was (far R in photo). She heard from her grandmother that I was coming after I was introduced at Grace Church. I recognized her last name, Rosello, and there I was, hanging out with their granddaughter at club. I helped her a little with leading music while she played her guitar and told me she learned how to play from my youth pastor, Rick. “No way, me too!” I said, and we high fived.

A student who participated in a couple games turns out is the son of a guy I knew who did music stuff at my church back in the day. He and a friend rode with me after club to Chick-Fil-A just because I had an aux cord and his leader didn’t (typical teenage priorities…).

I stood up and introduced myself at the end of club and when I said I had graduated from Polytech, everybody cheered. They asked me what shop I was in, asked me about my time in Germany, and a couple girls asked for my phone number already.

I almost teared up multiple times that night, first because I missed my high school kids in Georgia (OF COURSE HOW COULD I NOT), but also because I was looking around at all these kids and couldn’t believe how full circle my life had come. I was called to youth ministry when I was a teenager as I watched the struggles and pain of my friends at Polytech as we dealt with so many issues around us. To have an adult Young Life leader walk into our lives then and walk beside us would have been amazing. Now, ten years later, I get to walk back into my high school and get the privilege of being used by the Lord in the lives of high schoolers in to share His love and good news. How cool is that?!

To finally meet kids here and see the faces of the ones the Lord has called me to serve has really filled my heart. Everyone has been SO welcoming, including leaders and kids and staff. Many of the Young Life leaders here are in transition right now and so God’s timing couldn’t be more perfect (as usual) and I am so grateful.

The Lord has brought me full circle, and it’s good to be home. What a story He is writing and what an adventure I’ve been on!

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
Luke 8:39

P.S. Additionally, my gratitude extends financially…I have, as expected, lost some monthly donations already in the move, but have gained $250 in new ones since moving back a week and a half ago! Not there yet, but a great start on my way to my goal of $2500/month! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! If you already give and haven’t yet moved your donations to my new area, you should have an email with instructions on how to do so. If you would like to donate for the first time, it’s easy, you sign up on http://giving.younglife.org, give to Area DE20 and put “Laura Reisinger” in the sponsoring box. You guys make this possible.

On Criticism (quote from my current read)

“It isn’t a thicker skin that I need. The words of the critic might sting, even if they are well-intended. The sting means I am alive and I am human. I wish I were stronger, tougher, more naturally resilient. But the ciritic voice is teaching me my humanity, and that is not a bad thing.

“There, in the clenched hand of the critic is a gift he may not realize he’s giving you, one you don’t recognize at first. But there it is, the gift of your own smallness, your own Yes, I am a mess. Yes, I want your approval and agreement. Yes, I want to be loved and admired. Yes, I want to be right. The critic’s words point out my insecurities- but in seeing those, he shows me myself.

“When I finally see myself, I can be laid open before God. In the opening, I see the root of this desire for approval is less about the critic and more about me. I showed up on the scene of the world crying and clenching and needing salvation. So did you. So did your critic. But it isn’t the critic’s fault I am desperate for worth and security and approval and permission.

“This is the shape I was born into, the curve of my flesh, the crookedness of my own heart, the twisted desire to be enough on my own and by myself.

“The critics don’t cause that mess. They just point it out.

“The pointing draws attention, and the attention can turn to denial and self-protection and defensiveness if I want it to. This is where most of us stop. This is where we meet a friend for coffee and they nod their head and affirm our sin– you are justified, our friends say.

“Or– it can transform into something else.

“What if my sin weighed more than my pain?

“The more I confess my frail humanity, the louder I hear the sound of another voice rising up in me, one that has some weight behind it. It is the voice of Hope, and Hope speaks with courage and a bit of a laugh. Because when those things we most fear will happen actually happen, we have a unique window of opportunity to take inventory of the battlefield and the aftermath. We look around, blink our eyes, listen to the quiet, and think to ourselves, I am not dead. That did not kill me after all. 

“How could it? If I say I’m a believer (and I am) and if I believe the Bible is true (and I do), then I have already died to that old life, the one that gropes and clings to the assurance and acceptance the world has to offer.

“Christ stretched out arms on the cross, wide open to the words and attacks of the critic, wide open to my sin-desire to be my own little god, wide open to receive the insults and the insulted, the sin of the offense and the sin of my defensiveness.

“He was stretched out so I could be free.

“Crooked is no longer my shape.

“And so if I have died with Christ and been raised to life in him, how can I die again at the hands of the critic? What have I to fear if death is no longer a risk?

“The critic carries gifts he never meant to bring, motivation he has no awareness of. The voice of the critic forces us to face our biggest fears and, in doing so, listen for the voice of God. If we dare to believe Christ’s dying and rising back up apply even in this, we can then be oddly, ironically, deliriously free.”

-Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

be still…

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One way God says you’re going to make it through trials is if you have an attitude of thankfulness. A good friend of mine came through town several days ago with some brightness to shine into my dark and I couldn’t be more grateful. Sometimes a girl just needs an old friend, someone they’ve known for a long time, to come and tell her she looks good, that she’s going to be okay, speak words of truth and healing, point her to Jesus, and be a little confidence-booster when she’s sometimes forgetting where she put hers. And also not judge her for almost eating the ENTIRE plate of giant delicious pancakes from Aretha’s. Because how do you not? They’re awesome. Anyway, Rigo and I got to talk about how much we missed Germany and it was so good to reminisce, but it truly was one of those conversations that make you take a big breath and realize 2 things: I’m gonna make it. And…

God has not left me. God loves me even when I don’t feel like He does and nothing is going the way I want it. I’m literally like one of the wandering Israelites who are yelling at Him going, YOU BROUGHT ME INTO THE DESERT TO DIE! YOU JERK! He knew right when I needed this friend’s words to combat the big, fat, evil lies eating away at me and He even knew the exact timing for it. He knew I’d been praying for some sunshine in more ways than one just days before. He knew I’d happen to be free to have lunch, and what a beautiful day it was, and that 3 hours of good soul talk including like an hour long discussion on the book of Exodus would refresh my soul in a way I didn’t even know I needed. I walked away feeling cared for and loved, but most of all cared for and loved by the God who knows me and made me. He reaaaallly knows me. Right now I can only see about as far as the next day, so every step I take I’m trusting Him in. So I say, “Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently again the righteous in pride and contempt” (Psalm 31:18). Boom. Easier said than done, truly, but needs to be done all the same.

It’s not a coincidence either that my church just finished a series on Ruth and my D Group is studying Exodus and they are both talking about God knowing our needs,  being patient with us and building our character. AAAAND, here’s the big one:

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Well, dang. We put that one on our coffee cups and Instagram it a lot, but now after reading and understanding all the ways the Israelites had to trust God over and over in His process and timing, while struggling with my own bouts of anxiety lately, it really hits home more. The Word of God is powerful. Like when I’m working myself into a psychotic frenzy of useless yet paralyzing anxiety, it has this way of calming me and reminding me of the truth: that it doesn’t matter, that God is good and I can trust Him and He’s way better at dealing with things than I am because He knows me the best and He’s kind of got the whole world in his hands.

Be silent, so God can speak. Whether it’s through a friend, through the gifts He gives, through the peace in your heart, through His Word, even through music, we have to silence the worries and lies and noise we’re listening to just for a second so we can hear the God of the universe say how much He loves us and how much He is in control. Our problem is not that He’s not speaking, it’s that we aren’t listening.

This hymn played on Pandora a couple weeks ago, and hit me right in the feels. SO instead of sitting there on my phone or distracted with something, I just laid there and listened. It’s an oldie but a goodie, folks….