Picture of a girl reading

Daily Coffee Break With God #11

(Photo: Priscilla Du Peez)

By Brook Ault

Small Things, Big Trust

We’ve all been told to trust in God when were faced with big decisions. Last month, I was having an extremely hard time figuring out what internship to pursue this summer. I was so worried about making the right decision for my future and expanding my knowledge that I failed to rely on the Lord’s guidance to get me where I needed to be. However, after turning to God for direction, I made the decision to work in Michigan as a Christian camp counselor and the peace I felt was overwhelming. Whether it be deciding what college to attend, determining whether or not I should accept that job offer, or declaring a new major, God has proved to me through my 19 years of life that he is the ultimate provider and will guide me through every tough decision I am faced with.

There’s no doubt that big decisions are hard. However, sometimes I think the things that get me the most down are the small, everyday stressors. When you’re late to class, you had no time to shower, it’s pouring rain outside, you step in a puddle in your brand new white shoes, and forget about that homework assignment in physics that was due two days ago, it’s easy to become discouraged. Many of us know that it is important to trust in God when faced with big decisions, and, many of us do turn to God during these times. However, during this stressful finals week, I’ve found that trusting God through the small things is important to. When I feel like I haven’t slept in three days, I’m stressed about that major assignment due in a week, or I haven’t done laundry and my rooms a mess, I have to constantly remind myself to trust God through these times. Just like God guides me through the huge decisions and obstacles in life, he will guide me through these small, everyday frustrations and give me the energy I need to persevere in the midst of a stressful life.

Philippians 4:12-13 says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This week, I encourage you to lean into these words of truth. Remember that, while we should trust God with our big life decisions, he is also with us through everything we face in our day to day lives.

Picture of a girl reading

Daily Coffee Break With God #10

(Photo: Priscilla Du Peez)

 

God’s Kingdom Breaking Through

By Brook Ault

I tend to be the most willing to open up to others when it’s around 1:00 O’clock in the morning and I’m stuffing my face with Mcdonalds french fries. Last night just happened to be one of those nights. I had a much needed conversation with a close friend about doubt in Christ. While pouring our hearts out to each other, crying like babies, and expressing our frustration towards the lord, I revealed that, although I want nothing more than to fully trust in God’s presence, it can often be the hardest thing for me to do. When we look at the hurt, anguish, and injustices in the world, it can be so easy to question how a God so good could allow such terrible things to happen. I want to believe God is the all knowing, all powerful, creator of this earth, and, on most days, I do. But when a loved one is lost, or I hear a story about a mass shooting or world hunger on the news, I can’t help but think, “Where are you Lord?”

This is has been something that I’ve struggled with throughout my entire faith journey. However, God spoke to me through my dear friend last night, revealing wisdom that I’ll never forget. My friend reminded me that God knows our hurt. He isn’t simply some huge authority looking down on us, watching us struggle, refusing to help even though he has the ability to. God loved us so much, he sent his only son to become us. Jesus stooped to our level. He experienced pain, he experienced betrayal from the disciples. He knows what it’s like to experience the hurt of this world. We have not experienced anything that Christ does not understand. He experienced even more turmoil, simply to give us life.

This is an unimaginable amount of love that my worldly brain cannot even fathom. Sometimes, this world just sucks. People die, people betray other people, people murder, and steal, and put their selfish needs above the needs of others. However, God is still present and his kingdom is breaking through. When a congregation of broken people lift their hands in worship to the lord or a new follower gives their life to Christ, this is bigger than the hurt, than the turmoil happening in our world. When a former atheist gives their heart to the lord or a group of ministers fellowship with children in a third world country who have never heard the name Jesus, these are kingdom moments. God is breaking through. I encourage you, when things around you seem like their crashing down, to look for the little kingdom moments, look for the little times in our life when God breaks through, the God winks. God is the almighty, all powerful, all loving savoir, but he is also an amazing best friend. He won’t leave us, he won’t forsake us, and he understands our pain. I encourage you to really consider this, to really lean on it. Don’t give us on the kingdom of God because of the evil in this world, instead, work to break through it.

Picture of a girl reading

Daily Coffee Break With God #9

(Photo: Priscilla Du Peez)

 

By Brook Ault

Real Relationships

Due to our excessive exposure to social media and the increased use of it in our everyday lives, we are constantly comparing ourselves to those around us. We compare our appearance, our life styles, our experiences, and, quite often, our relationships. Whether that be relationships with friends or significant others, we convince ourselves that we have to have these relationships in order to feel significant and valued. Many of us throw ourselves into romantic relationships simply because everyone around us are pursuing them.

From personal experience, I understand the hurt and spiritual distant that can sometimes occur when we force ourselves to invest in relationships that God did not intend for us. God has a well thought out, incredible plan for each us of and he puts individuals in our lives for a reason. If we have suffered from a negative relationship in the past, whether that be romantically or with a former best friend, it is important to remember that, although sometimes painful, we can only grow and learn from these relationship. Sometimes, when someone new enters in our lives, it can be difficult to determine if they are someone worth investing time to. Scripture says to forgive our enemies and love our trespassers, however, God also calls us to live a life in service and obedience to. If were engage in unhealthy, manipulative, or unfulfilling relationships, we may struggle to glorify Christ.

Many times in some of past friendships or high school relationships, I often felt pressure to impress or please the other individual. A healthy desire to is please someone you care about is appropriate and necessary however, I learned from years of personal experience, that basing your entire worth around what those people think of you is not and can pull you father away from God than ever. However, the good news is that God will not leave us. He is always just step away, standing with his arms wide open, ready to welcome us back into his presence.

We can’t see God but we sure can see the exceptionally perfect couple photos that Susy and Jim posted on instagram the other day or the best friend post Darla and Amber keep blasting on twitter. This makes it easier to focus our attention on materialistic, worldly relationships. However, we can only find true fulfillment in a strong relationship with Christ. Now, I’m definitely not saying that relationships are bad, and don’t get me wrong, I pray that one day God will bring a compatible husband to my life, but when pursuing relationships it is extremely important to ask the question “Our we only moving closer to each other or Christ as well?”

Making Christ the center of our relationships and ensuring that our romantic interest bring us closer to Christ rather than pulling us away from him or distracting us from our morals and values, is essentially important to our relationships and spiritual development.

This summer, if you meet someone new that has completely different beliefs than you or return home to a former group of unhealthy friends, remember that the people you surround yourself with effect your relationship with Christ. When you are faced with certain decisions such as which relationships to pursue, which to turn down, or what boundaries to set, I encourage you to turn to God in prayer and ask him to give you the guidance and mindset to pursue healthy, christ-like relationships.

This is a picture of a downtown area.

Welcome to Weekends #7

By Sarah Breinig

1) See Endgame

There has always been hype around Marvel movies, but none like this! See the culmination of the Decimation of Infinity War, discover what happened to Thanos, and watch as characters reunite for the first time since Civil War. But remember Thanos still demands your silence so no spoilers (https://www.cbr.com/thanos-demands-your-silence-in-star-studded-infinity-war-psa/).

2) Experiment with baking… and share

It is supposed to rain this weekend so why not make the most of your time indoors by doings some baking some cookies, brownies, or cupcakes (if you’re like me a can mess up boxed mac and cheese, feel free to substitute “baking” with “go to the store and get”). Rainy days are always so dark and dreary, so why not brighten someone’s day by sharing some of those treats with others? This is a fun (and tasty) way to connect with others and is an easy way to put a smile on someone’s face. If you want to connect with friends even more, why don’t you do the baking together?

3) Visit the Oriental Institute

Hosted by the University of Chicago, the Oriental Institute is a museum focused on the Ancient World. Although history may not be your thing, this is a extremely well curated museum, and is design for everyone to enjoy. Located at 1155 East 58th Street in Chiago, the Oriental Institute is easy to get to. There is no admission fee but there is a recommended donation of $10 per person. For more information go to https://oi.uchicago.edu/.

4) Read this list

Did you know that Tug of War used to be an Olymic Sport? I bet you didn’t know that G-Mail and gmail are two different things and scientists reading original copies of Marie Curie’s notebooks have to sign a disclaimer because of their radioactivity. If you’re into other random fact like that, check this out http://mentalfloss.com/article/55443/101-amazing-facts.

5) Visit the Jelly Belly Visitor Center

If you love jelly beans, you have to check out the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. It might be a bit of a journey, but it is totally possible to make this trip in one day. Tours are free and offered daily. Learn how jelly beans are made, how the Jelly Belly company was formed, and (most importantly) get free samples. For more details go to https://www.jellybelly.com/wisconsin-warehouse.

This is a picture of a downtown area.

Welcome to Weekends #6

By Sarah Breinig

1) Have a Happy Easter!

Celebrate the miracle of our Lord’s Resurrection with your family and friends! Maybe your headed to a million church services or just one. You might be trying to visit every extended family member you know (and maybe some you don’t) or staying in for the day. Whatever you do, drive safe and remember what the holiday is really about.

2) Read a book

Since lots of places are closed for Easter Break, embrace the time at home. Try read a new best seller or classic that you’ve never got around to picking up. If you’re having trouble finding a book go to https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/g22749180/best-books-for-teens/ for a starting point.

3) Dye Easter Eggs

Think you are too old to dye those kiddie Easter Eggs? Think again! You can take the egg decorating to a whole new level this year. Try tie-dyeing your eggs using a paper towel (https://www.marthastewart.com/1141024/tie-dye-easter-eggs), go old school by boiling your eggs with veggies (http://www.atastyadventure.com/onion-dyed-easter-eggs/), or decorate your eggs using a silk tie (https://ourbestbites.com/silk-dyed-eggs-aka-tie-dyed/). For even more unique ways to dye some Easter Eggs check out https://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/eggs/quick-and-easy-easter-egg-decorations/.

4) Host a White Elephant Egg Hunt

Have all of the attendees wrap a fun gag gift. Then give each of the gifts a number. Write those numbers down a scraps of paper and put them in plastic eggs. Have all of your friends and family hide the egg with their number in it (this ensures that no one accidentally gets their number). Finally let the hunt begin. Once everyone has an egg, begin seeing what numbers they got, start distributing the gifts, and let the fun ensue!

5) Do nothing

For most, this is your last break of the school year, so take a break. Enjoy doing nothing- just hang around with friends or family, be a homebody, or do whatever you need to decompress. A healthy break will help you finish the school year strong.

This is a picture of coffee and flowers.

Daily Coffee Break With God #8

By Brook Ault

Embracing the Future

This past year has consisted of several big changes, crazy new adjustments, and exciting new beginnings. Moving away from home and starting a new life for myself at college was an incredible growing experience. Packing up all my stuff, saying goodbye to my family, and living five hours away in a dorm room with a complete stranger wasn’t exactly easy. Despite my eagerness and excitement to embrace new opportunities and invest in new friendships, saying goodbye to the familiar environment I had grown so comfortable with was rough. With freshmen year coming to an end, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my high school experiences. It’s easy to find myself thinking back to different memories I had or mistakes that I made. I often find myself grimacing at the ways I treated people or the things I’ve done in my past. It can also be incredibly easy to get the urge to crawl right back to my old friendships, relationships, and comfort zones. While I did experience some meaningful relationships and did learn from a lot of my high school experiences, confining myself in these relationships just isn’t healthy. God has been showing me what can happen when I ditch unhealthy relationships, learn from the past, and embrace the future.

Beating ourselves up or even feeling sorry for ourselves because of the things we’ve experienced in the past will only hinder our future. Don’t take me the wrong way, I’m not suggesting that you ditch your past relationships and constantly be on the look out for new friends and shallow relationships. What I am suggesting is that you not allow your past to hold you back. Ask God to reveal what relationships are beneficial to your spiritual growth and what relationships and hindering the plans he has for you. God puts us where we are and opens new doors for ourselves for many reasons. He wants us to learn from our past experiences, apply the lessons we’ve learned, and embrace the new opportunities and relationships he has in store for us.

Matthew 25:41 says, “The next time Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” This verse has given me so much peace and wisdom and I hope that it will resonate with you if your struggling with remorse from your past. This week, if you’re struggling with regret or guilt, remember the amazing future God has in store for you and find peace, knowing that Christ is preparing an amazing future for you.

This is a picture of coffee and flowers.

Daily Coffee Break With God #7

By Brook Ault

Having Patience

A lot of times, I find myself getting irritated with God. When I want something, I want it yesterday and I’m not very patient when it comes to waiting on God’s timing. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish that my prayers would be automatically answered. I mean how incredibly convenient would it be if God could just heal my sick grandfather or reveal my future career plans right when I say amen. But the fact of the matter is, our God doesn’t work that way. He isn’t some being who sits in heaven, snaps his fingers, and then bam, all our problems are gone. Rather, Christ is our father. He wants to guide us, direct us, and foster a relationship with us.

We’ve all heard it before.God’s work isn’t finished, he is still working through us and crafting us everyday. This past year has made that truth ring louder in my ears than ever before. The growth I have experienced since high school and the continual growth I see in myself everyday is a testament to the fact that God is still working on us.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling hopeless and burnt out, I doubt that God will follow through. I think maybe that issue that I’m steeling with just going to be something I’m going to have to deal with. But each time I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. He may not work in ways I expect him to or when I expect him to, but he always comes through. Sometimes, God doesn’t change my circumstances by rather works in my heart so that I can react to them in Christ like ways.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you , plans to give you a hope and a future.

If you’ve been frustrated with God lately, if your struggling with something and losing hope that God will acknowledge your hurt, I encourage you to lean into this verse today and remember that, although we sometimes cannot understand God’s timing, he is still working in our lives.

This is a picture of a downtown area.

Welcome to Weekends #5

By Sarah Breinig

1) Eat a grilled cheese sandwich

Today (Friday) is Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, so eat a grilled cheese sandwich and live it up. Why not add some licorice to you meal? Today is also National Licorice Day, so snack on some!

2) Learn 10 phrases in another language

It is always a good idea to be familiar with other languages, so why not get started and try learning a few common phrases like “where is the bathroom?” or “my name is… what is your name?” Try discovering what your favorite color is or how to order your favorite meal. Pick a language and go for it!

3) Classic Movie Night

Grab some friends and stay inside this weekend and watch some old school movies. Check out these movies streaming on Netflix right now.
• West Side Story
• Jaws
• Raiders of the Lost Ark
• Pretty in Pink
• Heathers
• Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail
For more classics on Netflix go to https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/g25646011/best-classic-movies-on-netflix/.

4) U-Pull-It

Do you like fixing cars, but never know where to go for parts? Why not go to U-Pull-It? After paying a $2 admittance fee, you can walk through aisle after aisle of cars and pull and purchase the parts you want from them. Even if you are not into cars, this can be an interesting place to spend so time. Go to http://www.auroraupullit.com/ for more information.

5) Visit the Skydeck

Want to experience Chicago in a fun new way? Want to face fear right in the eye? If your answer was yes to either of these questions, visit the Chicago Skydeck on the Willis Tower (it is spelled “Willis,” but any Chicago native will tell you it is pronounced “Sears”). Located on the 103rd floor, the Skydecks are enclosed balconies with glass floors hanging off one of the world’s tallest buildings, giving visitors a view unlike any other. Although tickets cost $25, this is a unique way to experience Chicago. To order your tickets go to https://tickets.theskydeck.com/e-commerce/ItemList.aspx

This is a picture of coffee and flowers.

Daily Coffee Break With God #5

By Brook Ault

Speak Life

Lets just be super honest with ourselves for a second, we’ve all slipped and said a thing or two we shouldn’t have. Whether we stubbed on our toe on a piece of furniture and accidently let a very colorful word slip out or found ourselves talking negatively about someone behind their backs, the truth of it is, were human and humans mess up.

God does call us to speak purely and represent him with the words that we say. His hope is that when we speak, people will recognize the love of Christ through our words and feel closer to him. This puts a huge amount of pressure on us, and, when we live in a world where it’s becoming increasingly common to speak negatively, it can be a very daunting task.

I am probably the poster child for letting my mouth get the best of me when I’m angry, and, frankly, this happens more often than I’d like to admit. When I get really upset, and I’m talking knees shaking, muscles tightening, heart pounding angry, it takes everything I have and then some to keep myself from chewing out the poor victim who set me off. But afterwards, when the harsh words have spilled out of mouth too quick for me to even acknowledge what they were, I don’t feel any better. In fact, I feel even worse.

We’re not perfect. We’re going to slip up and, yes, God will love us unconditionally through our mistakes. However, when we speak negatively about someone who God created, we are failing to glorifying him and represent Christ to those who do not know him.

I am just as guilty as anyone else when it comes to this and It’s something I’d really like to change about myself. Running off and talking bad about a friend when I’m upset doesn’t make me feel any better and it doesn’t fix that relationship. Lately, I’ve been trying a new thing where, when I feel like bashing someone or speaking negatively, I mentally remind myself that negative thoughts and actions only distance myself from the one thing that brings me real, sincere joy, my relationship with Christ. I then try to combat my negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones.

We’re human. We make mistakes and sometimes were going to slip up. However, I encourage you today to ask God to purify your heart and give you the strength and guidance to positively represent him with the words you say.

This is a picture of coffee and flowers.

Daily Coffee Break With God #4

By Brook Ault

Rejoice Always

Sometimes, when life has us down, joy seems pretty far away and rejoicing in the Lord, although we know he is worthy of our praise, can be pretty exhausting. However, when it comes to our relationship with Christ, rejoicing can impact the vibe of our entire day. Reserving time to praise God in the morning reminds us of his unexplainable love for us. When we take the time to stop, reminisce, and bask in the presence of the lord, we are reminded of the amazing things he has done in our lives. In times of struggle, turmoil, confusion, or just plain exhaustion, rejoicing in the Lord reminds us that, even in these exasperating times, we stand in victory when we have Christ by our side.

With second semester coming to an end, this has been a huge struggle for me. Call me crazy but, when I’m knee deep in research papers, running on 3 hours of sleep, and cram studying for a huge test I have in just an hour, my first thought in the morning isn’t always to rejoice. However, being so consumed with worry and waking up every morning with no objective other than to check off a never ending to-do list isn’t honoring the father and it definitely isn’t benefitting me.

Colossians 1:11-14 says, “And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light.”

Like me, maybe you’re struggling to find the motivation to rejoice in God’s glory. This week, I encourage you to take little steps to make this a priority in your day. Whether it’s waking up in the morning and saying a prayer of thanks or just simply basking in the glory of the Lord, I encourage you to rejoice in him, remembering that he is worthy. Start each day reminding yourself that you are a child of the one true king, and see how this effects your mentality and intimacy with Christ!