You Will Not Abandon Me

A good friend of mine recently encouraged me to start memorizing verses again. I’ve been slacking because… well, I can always remember parts of verses and the general ideas, and well… google, am I right? Nope, no, I’m pretty wrong.

If I’m going to base my life on what this book says, I need more than just google or my Crossway Bible app to hold its words for me. Also, while memorization is huge, so is the study of scripture, because it’s really easy to twist words to mean what we want them to mean.

Today, I was reflecting on the passage, Psalm 16:8-10, and thinking about what it meant.

“I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.” (Psalm 16:8-10, ESV)

I was thinking about this verse in regards to sin. I was thinking how great it is that I am God’s “holy one” (set apart one) and won’t see corruption. But see, that’s where the whole studying the scripture thing comes into play. As much as I wanted the verse to say, “Hey Rebekah, don’t worry about it. You’re not gonna sin. I’ll make sure of that.” It really doesn’t say that.

If we look later in Acts 2, Paul references this verse in regards to Jesus. He says that Jesus is the Holy One who will not see corruption. I am not the Holy One; Jesus is. But really, who were we kidding? I’m already corrupt. I, Jesus, and everyone else knows it. However, I was still wanting to cling to that incorrect interpretation. I so desperately want God to deliver me from my sin. However, then I realized how glad I am that I was wrong.

I am so glad Jesus is the Holy One and not me, because that is where the hope lies. That is why God will not “abandon my soul,” because his Holy One has not seen corruption. My salvation does not hinge on what I do or don’t do–who I am or who I am not. I am secure in my salvation because of what He did and who He is–because He is the Holy One and He has not seen corruption.

Therefore, “my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices.”

Tagged , , , ,

We Are All Broken

Hey, can I tell you a secret? … I’m not perfect.

Well, I guess that’s obvious. But you would think it was a secret by the way I try to hide it–the way we all try to hide it from time to time, “Instagramming our perfect life.” What you see on my instagram is smiling pictures and exciting adventures in Europe. What you don’t see is “Hey I know I’m studying abroad in Spain but I accidentally woke up at 2pm and won’t leave my room for the rest of the day.”

What you see on my blog is lessons that God has been teaching me and conclusions tied up in a pretty bow. What you don’t see is me ignoring those lessons and falling flat on my face over and over and over again.

I’ve had people come up to me and compliment me before, telling me I’m perfect. They tell me they’ve had discussions with other people about how perfect my life is. Now, I am blessed. I can’t deny that. But I, as a person, am so incredibly far from perfect.

There’s a quote that says “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

And this is my fear:

My fear is that I will succeed at appearing perfect because If I do, I have failed at displaying the gospel in my life–that Christ would give his life for an imperfect person like me–for a broken girl who has done absolutely nothing deserving of his love.

If I appear perfect, people will think that that’s what it takes to earn God’s love–that they need to get their lives together BEFORE they come to Christ. NOTHING is further from the truth. 

It’s so easy to only show the strong parts of my life, to only show the little revelations instead of the gaping questions.

It’s a pride struggle sometimes. I don’t want to cry in front of people or let them into certain parts of my life. I don’t want them to see me curled up, crying on my bed over heartache. I don’t want to keep telling people the same prayer request, because I think, “Well, by now, I certainly should be over that struggle.”

I want to help you with your pain, but I don’t want to let you see mine.

And through every tiny success at appearing perfect, I’m failing in a big way. I’m failing to tell you that Jesus Christ changed, and is changing, my life in a radical way. I’m failing to tell you that I did nothing to earn it. I’m failing to tell you that, on my own, I’m broken and I can’t do this on my own.

This isn’t meant to be depressing. It’s meant to be realistic. The joy I have is real. The forgiveness I have is real. However, if I’m not honest with people about my heartbreak, my joy seems trivial. If I’m not honest with people about my failures, no one will know from what I’ve been forgiven.

And, if we’re all honest with ourselves, we know there are things that bring us to our knees. We all have questions we can’t answer and heartbreak we can’t heal.

But, in the midst of all the questions, I know this: I know that “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” I know that he rose again so that we could have “life and life more abundantly.” And I know that he’s the only one who can pick up these broken pieces and make us whole.

And I know He loves you–all of you, not just the parts you wrap up in a pretty bow.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

I Can’t Deny the Beauty

What are you looking for? Right now. In your quiet thoughts, when you’re riding your bike to school, when you’re working… What are you dreaming about? As you’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, what are you wishing you had? What are those moments you wish you could visit again–the ones you relive every night when your head hits the pillow?

The other day, when I was feeling homesick for the first time since being in Madrid, I started thinking about moments–mostly past moments. I was in one of those terribly nostalgic moments fit for a tumblr post, so I turned on some Tay Swift and started journaling (No shame). And I was thinking about how moments are so precious because they are fleeting–how I can never again experience those happy sepia toned moments I treasure in my mind.

However, the irony of it all is that as I was writing about those moments, I was in a moment. I was looking out the window of a bus at the beautiful city of Madrid.

The irony is that while I’m stuck in nostalgia or fixed on the future, I’m missing the beauty all around me. We are constantly living an adventure. Life is a beautiful romance and life is made up of moments–not only moments in the past and in the future, but moments in the present. The now is full of beauty and you don’t have to leave the country to experience it.

I used to feel a bit guilty being joyful. I would be loving life, smiling at the sun, and spinning while I walked; then suddenly I would wonder if that’s okay. There is so much suffering in the world and I have friends who are going through so much pain. Suddenly I would feel guilty.

However, God did not create us to be sad people. When God created the world, he declared that it was good. He made sunsets, waterfalls, laughter, flowers, giraffes and elephants. How could such a creative God be upset when we enjoy his beauty? And He didn’t stop there. After, he made us. We, human beings, are the pinnacle of his creation. He created all of us to be unique–with our own sense of adventure, with love in our hearts, and with an appreciation for the beauty around us.

I can’t deny the suffering around me, but likewise, I can’t deny the beauty. This quote by John Ortberg helped me finally reconcile the joy and sorrow that simultaneously exist in my heart:

“‘God is the happiest being in the universe.’ God also knows sorrow. Jesus is remembered, among other things, as ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ But the sorry of God, like the anger of God is his temporary response to a fallen world… Joy is God’s basic character. Joy is his eternal destiny… And God’s intent was that his creation would mirror his joy.”

There is a time to weep and mourn, but there is also a time to laugh and dance. The problem comes when I’m weeping and mourning for a time that has passed or a time that is yet to come. In the midst of my tears, I’m missing the time that God has given me.

When I live in the moment, in the now–when I step outside of my weary and worried mind, I notice that every part of creation is shouting with His joy.

Image

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 7.27.34 PM

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 7.27.44 PM

181455_3535407058824_93835885_n

486385_4243087790400_811138928_n

534397_3436468065411_648338583_n

Our lives always feel like we’re in a transition. We’re waiting for high school, college, marriage, a job, kids, enough money to travel. We are waiting for our adventure to start, but this life is our adventure. Maybe you don’t have everything figured out and it’s driving you crazy, but that’s what makes life an adventure. Entrust it to God and live in the now.

Lives are made up of moments, and right now, you’re in one.

So stop waiting for an adventure. You’re living it. Stop waiting for romance. You’re in the middle of one. Look at the beauty around you. Notice the trees, the sun, the wind. Listen to the music that stirs your soul. Go for a run, a walk, play some tennis. Create something.

Step outside of your routine and notice the people around you–the people on your morning bus or the homeless man that’s always sleeping on your street. Love generously. Rejoice in the beauty of the people God has created. Spend time with friends. Close your Facebook and go for a drive. Send someone a note, telling them what you appreciate about them.

Smile while you walk and laugh out loud. Maybe do a little spin.

Don’t be afraid to rejoice in beauty. We were made for this.

_____________________________

Tagged , , , , ,

Be With Me

When I sit down to read the Bible or spend time with God, I usually start by asking Him to speak to me. I want to grown and learn, and He’s faithful; He’s constantly encouraging me, teaching me and reminding me of His promises. 

Today when I prayed, I asked for guidance and asked for Jesus to speak to me; but then I paused and added, “and even more than that, just be with me.” Sometimes when I open my Bible, I’m so eager to gain new insight, to come away with a new piece of wisdom that I forget what this is truly about. I forget that my time spent with Jesus is part of a relationship with someone who loves me more deeply than I could ever imagine. It’s part of a daily routine and I forget that I am part of the most beautiful love story ever written, that I’m part of a wild romance with someone who will always pursue me and never desert me. 

I’ve had some great Valentine’s Days in the past. I’ve had Valentine’s Days with jewelry and shooting stars, I’ve celebrated February 14th birthdays, and played paintball. And one Valentine’s day even when I was home sick, I was surprised with Panera soup and homemade flowers from a dear friend. 

However, as I think of all past Valentine’s days and even all those in my future, I can honestly say that there is no love more real, more ravishing, more breathtaking than the love of He who loved me first. And on this Valentine’s Day, I’m rejoicing in this truth–that my Maker wants to be with me

And I want to be with Him–not to come away with a mind-blowing revelation or small nugget of truth, not to find answers to all my problems or to know what my unknown future holds. I want to be with Him because I love him–because my relationship with Him is more mind-blowing than any revelation, because He IS the truth, because my problems pale in comparison to his love for me, and because I don’t care what the future holds as long as He’s in it. 

For many people, today is Singles Awareness Day, and I’m aware that I’m single. But today, I’m aware of a truth so much greater. I’m aware that I’ll never ever have to be alone. 

Tagged , , , ,

“But I still feel yucky inside.”

When I was a little girl, I remember doing something wrong. Well, I remember doing lots of things wrong but I remember this time in particular. I don’t remember what I did, but I remember being racked with guilt. I mustered up all my courage and went to my dad and told him I was sorry, and he forgave me and hugged me. I got what I came there for, but it didn’t feel complete. A few moments later, I told him, “but I still feel yucky inside.”

To this day, it’s a funny story, but there are so many times I feel like that. I’m racked with sin and guilt and I cry out to Jesus. I look at the cross, I read his word; and I know he has forgiven me. He picks me up and hugs me and I know he loves me… but… I still feel yucky inside.

I’m confused. Shouldn’t I be happy? He told me he forgave me. “Maybe I’m not forgiven,” I think to myself. “This sin… this time. It was too much. I used up all my grace.” But that’s not how grace works. Grace knows no bounds. It has no limits. I’m forgiven. I feel bad, because I hurt someone I love dearly. I feel bad because I’m finally seeing how unfair grace really is. I’m hurting because the very one I hurt is holding me in his arms as I weep bitterly. And my heart screams, “This is not okay! I don’t deserve you!” I want to run. I want to run far away. I don’t want to accept his love, because I don’t deserve it. I know a life without him is purposeless, hopeless; but it’s what I deserve. I feel like David in Psalm 31, not wanting to ask for forgiveness.

“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” (Ps. 31:3-4)

Today, I felt yucky inside. I knew I was forgiven, but I couldn’t shake that awful feeling in my gut. And I realize feeling bad is okay. I hurt because I still love him. That small quiet voice is still speaking to my heart and I know I need to cry out to him–to humble myself enough to accept what I don’t deserve and he will forgive me.  I need to offer prayer to him while he may be found (Ps. 31:6).

I need to accept his embrace even though it hurts–even though everything in me screams that I don’t deserve this kind of love–and I need to let his grace make me more like him as I fall deeper and deeper in love with my Abba father.

“It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart, but the welcome I receive at the restart.”

-‘Roll Away Your Stone’ by Mumford & Sons

“And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup.”

Tagged , , , ,

The Final Word

I walked through the monastery. Rooms and rooms full of original art. Picture after picture of Jesus’s crucifixion. Sculpture after sculpture. Reminder after reminder of my beloved hanging on a cross and my sin that kept him there. The last supper. The descent from the cross. Every picture as somber as the ice cold, stone walls of the royal monastery.

El Monasterio Real (El Escorial)

Then suddenly we entered into a new part of the monastery. Gorgeous marble walls and steps. Gold chandeliers guiding us down into the pantheon of the kings–the final resting place of some of Spain’s royalty. It was gorgeous, beautiful, yet full of death–full of finality. Ornate and luxurious lives with only this room to show for it–this room now full of American tourists with little to no knowledge of what these lives were like before they ended up here.

We exited back into the stone chambers into a huge hallway with murals and fresh wind that swept through the passageway. Jessyka started dancing and me and my other friend did too. Then I walked up the long set of stairs to get a better view of the murals. They were the long sets of stairs fit for royalty–the royalty in the tombs we had just left. The mural showed the resurrection. They showed Jesus appearing to Mary in the garden and to the disciples on the road. They showed the paintings of a Savior who is living, and though the rooms dedicated to his crucifixion were somber and less than ornate, they were not final. Just like this place is not final–this earth is just a passageway, a temporary place until we see our Savior face to face. At times it is somber, at times it is full of joy and dancing; but it is not final.

The last picture I saw summed up what I was feeling. It was a picture of Peter jumping out of the boat and swimming to shore when he saw Jesus. He left his friends, his boat, their catch of fish; because he saw something so much greater and couldn’t hold in his joy, his love for his Lord. It’s such an amazing picture of God’s love and mercy. Here Peter was, who had just denied Jesus, who had sinned against him; yet when he saw Jesus alive, none of that mattered. He was forgiven, he was loved; he was alive in Christ and there was no condemnation. This was how I felt that day–weighed down by my sin, by my sin that had led to Jesus’s crucifixion. I felt the somberness behind all those paintings we had seen. But when I see Jesus, when I realize my Savior is alive and standing on that shore, I forget it all. I leave behind my guilt and shame and swim to the shore, because…

…my sin does not have the final word. He does.

Godspeed

Hello! For those who didn’t know, I am studying in Madrid, Spain for the next four months. This is a little break off from my usual blogging to let you all know. If you want to check out the musings of a wannabe madrileña, feel free to follow my travel blog!
_______________________

Godspeed: n. [From Middle English God spede (you), may God prosper (you); an expression of one’s good wishes for a person’s success and safety.

We are always going. We may be going fast, we may be going slow, but we are always going. Life doesn’t stop for anyone. For all of my life, I feel like I’ve been going at breakneck speed. Always moving, always doing. I go at America speed; at overachieving Rebekah speed. However, sometimes it feels like I’m going just to go, because it’s what I’m supposed to do.

This semester I’m studying abroad in beautiful Madrid, Spain. And even though there is a lot to adjust to being in another country and constantly speaking another language, I have so much less responsibility and obligations than I have ever had. I only have classes and travel.

And for the next four months, I’m looking forward to traveling at Godspeed. I’m not exactly sure what that means yet. Maybe it means “being still” and resting in my identity in Christ, maybe it means slowing down my own agenda and learning to love and care for those around me, maybe it means enjoying the abundant life God has given me through Christ Jesus.

I’m not sure what this semester holds for me, but I do know that as I abide in Him, I can travel at His speed and enjoy the ‘vida abundante’ that he has planned for me.

If you want to join me in my travels you can find me at realrebekita.wordpress.com. I hope to keep blogging on here, but all travel details can be found over there.

¡Vaya con Dios!

Image

Tagged , , , ,

Dust Off Your Highest Hopes

lakers barbieWhen you’re little, no one has to tell you to dream big. You’re born with big dreams and high hopes. I wanted to be a WNBA star like my special Lakers Barbie who could shoot baskets. It seemed quite realistic to me.

However, as we grow older, the realities of life start to hit us (I’m 5’2” and pretty uncoordinated. I don’t think I’ll be joining the ranks of Lisa Leslie any time soon). Pretty soon, our dreams get a little smaller. And as they start shrinking, they don’t stop. We’re no longer hindered by the realities of life but by our own mentality. We start shrinking our own dreams.

My little sister always sets herself up for disappointment when she asks a question. “Dad, well, I already know you’re going to say no… but could we… maybe… have a story before bed?” It’s funny when she does it so obviously, but don’t we all do this?

I really want to be ____ some day, but I don’t know… I’m not very smart and well, that seems really hard, so it probably won’t happen. I want to be friends with that girl, but she wouldn’t like me. That guy or girl is really great, but it probably wouldn’t work out and I’ll probably just get hurt.

We set ourselves up for the worst possible outcome, because we don’t want to get hurt. We say we’re “guarding our hearts” like everyone keeps telling us to do. But if we never hope, where’s the excitement in that? Where’s the joy?

I’m a big USC football fan, and well, if you follow college football, you know this was a pretty disappointing season for us. We all started losing morale. However, I have one friend who is always hopeful. When we’re losing terribly at half time, he says, “We’ve got this. We’re gonna’ win.” Now it’s fourth quarter and the score is worse. “We’ve still got it,” he says as he starts crafting out different scenarios where we could turn the tide of the game.  “Just an onside kick, a touchdown, and then an interception and another touchdown and we can tie it and win in overtime.”

We lost the majority of those games despite his hopeful commentary. But you know what? It was so much more fun when I gave in to those glimmers of hope. When our quarterback was injured in an awful loss to our rival school, the outcome of the Notre Dame game looked bleak. I was a total defeatist leading up to the game, but right before I started to hope. Maybe… maybe we’ll upset their season, maybe we’ll win, maybe this will be one of those legendary games that makes us forget a disappointing season.

Well, we didn’t win and Notre Dame will be playing in the national championship on Jan. 7… But watching that game was so much fun! And yes, the loss hurt; but if I had gone into it resigning to a loss, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the game at all. And if we had won, I would’ve wasted half of the game being depressed. The enjoyment came from the hoping.

I know there are bigger dreams and higher hopes in life than a college football game, and the losses in those are going to hurt a lot more than losing to a cross-town rival. So, how can we guard our hearts and still enjoy our high hopes?

Guard my heart from what?

Christians use this term a lot, especially when it comes to relationships. It comes from Proverbs 4:23 that says, “Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.” We throw the term around loosely. When someone is involved in a new relationship, “Make sure to guard your heart,” people say. And that’s where the advice usually ends. Guard your heart… ok, but what does that mean???

I think we often are guarding our hearts from the wrong things. W\hen we think of guarding our hearts, we think of guarding ourselves from getting hurt. But let me tell you right now, at some point in your life, you are going to get hurt. Every relationship is a risk.

We risk something every time we tell a friend how much they mean to us. Maybe they don’t feel the same way. We put time and effort into friendships and relationships, and I think all of us can attest to the fact that sometimes you get burned. Every job interview is a risk. A lot of us know the feeling—you get excited about a new possibility and think the interview went great! Then, you get a rejection letter or just never get a call.

Moving forward in life requires risk, and risk means we’re going to end up hurt sometimes.

What we need to guard our hearts from is what we put in them. Hope is good, but we need to make sure we’re hoping for the right things. Proverbs 4 is all about following God’s wisdom and “guarding” his instructions (Prov. 4:13). It says “Listen carefully to my words… let them penetrate deep into your heart.” If we’re filling our lives with wisdom and the word of God, then he’s going to give us our hopes and dreams—our desires will be the things he desires.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” –Psalm 37:4

How to guard your heart

You can guard your heart from unhealthy influences and wrong thinking, which is what it’s talking about in Proverbs 4. However, when it comes to guarding your heart from hurt and disappointment, here’s the secret: you can’t.

Only God can guard your heart, and this is how. Philippians 4:6-8 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” Guarding your heart means, you know where your true happiness lies. It means that no outcome in this life, no high or low, will destroy you.

We guard our hearts by submitting our desires to him and delighting in Him. Every dream that we are anxious about, we can bring to God. And we can do it with thanksgiving, knowing that he wants the best for us. We can thank him for what he’s done already and what he’s going to do.

And we can hope, because we know our happiness doesn’t depend on it. We know we already have all we ever need in Jesus Christ.

So dream big. Take a risk. Tell your friends what they mean to you. Love with everything you have. Let yourself be happy. Let yourself be hopeful!

Let’s start 2013 off right—with hearts full of hope.

What do you think? Do you have any more advice on how to guard your heart? Anything you’re hoping for in the new year?

Tagged , , , , ,

Why Be Thankful?

Why are you thankful? I’m not asking what you’re thankful for, but for what purpose are you thankful? To what end?

Every year around this time, I get together with all the people I love the most, enter some sort of food coma induced narcoleptic state, and think of how amazingly blessed I am. Sometimes we will go around the Thanksgiving table and share things we’re thankful for. Sometimes, it’s just me writing out lists in journals or putting papers in a praise box. And all of this is amazing. Family, joy, celebration–they’re all gifts from God. And that’s why we give Him thanks.

Thankful for my crazy cousins and my grandma

However, what happens after we give thanks? What happens we wake from our food comas and go back to the daily grind? What was the purpose of those lists and those days off for the giving of thanks?

I think this is the purpose of giving thanks:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:1-4

I am so thankful to Christ for his love and his comfort. I am thankful that He pursues me with his love and stays with me when I’m hard to love. I’m overwhelmed by the strength He gives me in temptation and the freedom that comes from his grace. I’m amazed at how he has carried me through heartache and so grateful for the ways he used it to help me grow. However, if I stop at giving thanks, I’ve only gone halfway. God blessed me so I can bless others. I love that line in Hillsong’s “Desert Song” that says, “I know I’m filled to be emptied again, the seed I’ve received I will sow.”

We are filled to be emptied again. Giving thanks is realizing what God has filled us with. We acknowledge the gifts, not only because it is amazing that God chooses to bless us, but also to acknowledge the ways we can use these gifts to bless others. In James, James says that faith without works is dead. I believe this is the same with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving without works is dead. 

This is why we have this command in Colossians:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

We give thanks AS we take action. While we are doing things in word or deed, we are giving thanks. Thanksgiving is the fuel that allows us to do things in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s give thanks around tables full of friends, food, and family; but let’s also give thanks by words and deeds to the people in our lives who need them most.

_____________________

You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

Tagged , , ,

“Tell That One About Heaven”

Every year, I live in a different place–a new apartment, a new address. This summer I lived in a hotel in Central Asia for a month and a half. So when I heard my family and I were moving to Santa Cruz, I thought it wouldn’t affect me much. I’m hardly ever home anyways. I don’t even go to Calvary Chapel Gilroy for the majority of the year, because I’m here at school. “It will really affect my family more than it will affect me,” I kept telling people. “How are you doing with it all?” people kept asking. I would always respond, “It’s really crazy, but I know God’s in it. It will be good.”

All of that is true. God is in this move, and it will be good. I believe that with all my heart. But that answer did not prepare me for the tears that came last Sunday at church. It was my family’s last Sunday at the church we started 12 years ago. Old friends flew out, we had a huge reunited worship band up on stage… and I could not take it. I could not get the words out, I was so choked up. I left the sanctuary during worship to calm down and get some water; and when I came back in and saw my church family worshipping together, I lost it. I was sobbing. And that was not going to be the last time I cried.

We watched a slide show of the last twelve years of Calvary Chapel Gilroy and I was undone. I cried watching all the pictures of people whom I never realized I loved so much. There were baptisms, church camps, barbecues. I remembered that crazy move in the middle of the night, when our church came together to move all our stuff until three in the morning. I remembered that Sunday school class. I remembered helping my mom paint those palm leaves. And more than that, I remembered the hearts behind all that. I’ve seen people truly find life and life more abundantly in Jesus Christ. I’ve seen strong friendships formed, and I found a family bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.

When I moved to college, I missed my family so much. It wasn’t until I left them that I realized how much I loved them and how hard it was to be away from them. And now, I’m realizing the same hard and beautiful truth. I didn’t realize how much I loved everyone at Calvary Chapel Gilroy until I had to leave. I can’t tell you how closely my heart is knit to every person at CCG. I’m going to miss the hugs on Sunday mornings and all the people I’ve known for so long. I’m going to miss hearing people say a million times, “How is school?,” “When are you going back?”, or “We’re praying for you.” And knowing they meant it. And these people care about me. I’ve never doubted that. What a blessing it is to have a huge family who loves you, who prays for you, and who is bonded together with a common love for the same Savior.

Even though I’m here at USC right now and I’m busy with school and ministry on campus, I’m still thinking about this move and about the home and family I am leaving at Calvary Chapel Gilroy. And you know what I realized? I think God gives us family and homes and churches to give us a flicker of what life will be like someday. This feeling of home is just a snapshot of what we have to look forward to. All of us who know Jesus are living for eternity, waiting for heaven. And because of this, we have purpose. We have hope.

I am reminded of Lenny and George in Of Mice and Men. They work and work, because they have a dream of having a home someday- of living in peace and companionship with each other. As they work long hours, day after day, they are sustained by this hope.

An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that George.”

Don’t we all want to feel like we have a home? Like there is a place where we belong?

In Revelation, John has a vision where he says,

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:9-10, ESV)

This is home. This is where we belong. This is where my whole family in Christ, those at Calvary Chapel Gilroy, those at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz, and those from around the world whom I never met; will come together and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Leaving friends and family is hard, but having them in the first place is a blessing I could never measure. It’s a glimpse of my true home. And when life gets tough, when moving is hard; I can look upwards and say, “Tell that one about heaven again.”

Video for My Family
(My dad my made this video for my family. It’s to the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips. I started crying during the first three notes..)

_____________________

You can follow me on twitter @bekahvalencia. Thanks for reading!

Tagged , , , , , ,