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  • acleveland 10:37 pm on April 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    live out loud. 

    I thought this only happens in movies.
    You know, the typical story. Misunderstood girl ends up being incredible, but nobody has taken the time to see it. Then, something changes, friends are made, and nothing is the same. I’m in the beginnings of this movie becoming my life. I can’t really explain just how significant this is in my life right now. It’s not just something that happens for the first hour and a half of the day and then it’s over. I’m sharing this with you all because I want to show you how good God really is, the power of prayer, and what YOU can do..TODAY and EVERYDAY.. and what you can STOP doing.
    I’ve known Suzie for a long time, and I’ve never been friends with her before. I was never blatantly rude and harsh to her, but I didn’t reach out to befriend her, either. She was just that girl that you either ignored, avoided, or criticized. I’m starting to wonder if ignoring people is just as bad as criticizing them to their face. I mean, it hurts just as much, doesn’t it?
    This morning in Wellness was the most dramatic and moving morning I’ve experienced in a long, long time. Lately, a lot of my prayers and thoughts have gone towards Suzie and all that she has shared with me. But today, I was playing on one basketball court and she was on another. All of a sudden, I saw her running out of the room crying. I started to go after her , and this girl said, “You sure have a lot of patience, dealing with her everyday.” I got so mad that my face burned and I wanted to scream. It doesn’t take PATIENCE to “deal” with Suzie. I just LOVE her, because God loves her. That’s her identity – loved by God. Child of God.
    I caught up to her and was trying to get her to talk to me, and at first, she hesitated. I didn’t relent, and we got into the lobby where it was just Suzie and me. She talked for about fifteen minutes, and my eyes filled with tears. After year after year of being bashed by kids at school, her self-esteem is lower than anyone I’ve ever met. I told her she’s beautiful. I told her she is loved. I told her she’s perfect. After her home life has fallen to shambles, she feels alone. I told her she’s never alone. The only reason I was able to tell her that is because it’s been drilled into my head so many times.

    I know that God wants me to tell her how amazing she really is and how deserving she is of love and people that will treat her right. She’s built up some durable walls, and I know that Christ is the only thing that will crack the mortar and send her guard tumbling down. I can’t believe this is happening. Don’t judge, people. Don’t ignore. It has some insane effects that I’m seeing firsthand, and it hurts. I wish I could tell you everything that Suzie has said and experienced. It’d blow your mind. I don’t know how to explain this in a little box on a website.

    New favorite song: Break Every Chain – United Pursuit Band

     
  • acleveland 10:08 pm on April 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    n0 w0rrI3z. 

    Just got home from an amazing night of worship at the square room with my best friend. Anthony Skinner (not Aaron, even though that’s what I’ve been calling him for the past two days) and the United Pursuit Band were playing. It was a great night of praising God. Worship brings a rare and specific type of rejuvenation. Worship lights a match and then fans the flame, causing passion and love to burn like wildfire, immune to water and destined to consume.

    Today at mochas with Mark we were playing high-low, where you say the high point and the low point of your week. I’ve been trying especially hard to focus on the positives lately. I didn’t even have low point to share today. I know I could have come up with plenty of depressing examples of what makes the school day suck, but that’s not what I’m going to dwell on. Maybe I’m just in a really carefree mood right now, but hey, it works.
    Tonight, there was a song where we shook away shame. After shame, Anthony Skinner asked the crowd to say things that we needed to get rid of. The things that people said were doubt, fear, lies, and lust. The one that I related most with is shame. In that same song, it explained how the past is gone, and we just have to surrender.
    Surrendering is hard because we are programmed to crave control. But by surrendering all our hardships, temptations, and guilt to God, we are really just letting him break the chains. In a war, if you surrender, then the other side wins. But in life, if you surrender to God, then you and God are guaranteed to win everytime – no matter what the outcome is. That’s what I’m keeping in mind as I attempt to remain optimistic. Sure, school is just the same. Sure, the social aspect of my school life is debatably pathetic. Beyond pathetic, in all honesty. Sure, even home life is becoming increasingly difficult.  But you know what? He’s all I need, and I’m going to focus on the high points. Everything will untangle eventually.

    New favorite song: You Won’t Relent – Misty Edwards

     
  • acleveland 9:36 pm on April 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Enter title here. 

    I’m a dead man now with a ghost who lives
    Within the confines of these carbon ribs
    And one day when I’m free I will stand 
    A cripple at your table, a cripple by your side
    Yeahyeah, there’s a ghost within these carbon ribs. Questions echoing around in the spacious cage. Are these thoughts the lies of Satan or the truth of God? It’s hard to discern between the two.
    Is God’s truth hard and cold? Or is God’s truth warm and soft? Could Satan even tell the truth of God – wouldn’t it be warped and distorted through the smoke screen of evil? The harder we run to God, the harder Satan tugs. The harder Satan tugs, the more often I collapse to my knees. The more often I collapse to my knees, the more desperate my prayers become. The more desperate my prayers become, the more God shows His power.
                                               Transitive property, kids.
    All that = The harder I run to God, the more God shows His power. Keep at it. Stay strong by staying hot.

    I can resist the temptation that will shred me to pieces
    There’s only one cure for the fight within
    I’ve got a secret locked up that I don’t want to keep
    But if I let it out, it’s just a rampant killer on the loose
    So I’ll keep it close and squish it down to nothing, let it stir
    The foggy, dragon’s breath remedy is flowing through my veins
    My watermelon rain in between the music of a sticky summer day
    That remedy of the cross, my sweet sugar reminder.
    It can’t be contaminated or made bitter
    By mistakes, guilt, or crimson stains of sin
    He is the reason to continuously resist the soiled rope’s nagging tug.

    Hectic week, man! Finished my 8 page research paper tonight, had my band concert, fittin’ in some time to journal, unwind, and dig into the Word. Studying some ISAIAH. Good book.
    So, yesterday I was walking to Algebra and all these people were huddled around eachother, asking about their days and chatting about teachers and complimenting eachother. I saw hugs and smiles and laughing and I just wanted a hug. Sounds weird, maybe, but whatever.
    It’s times like that when I’m most grateful for the hand I’m holding all the time, the arms where I’m always resting. This hand reaches down from Heaven and anchors me down to this crazy world.

    New favorite song: Such Great Heights – The Postal Service

     
  • acleveland 10:43 pm on April 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    more to living than being alive 

    I have a new hero – John Mark McMillan. I got sidetracked for too long listening to his music, reading his blog, pouring over his website, and reading his inspiring lyrics while I was supposed to be writing a literary analysis. His lyrics are meaningful, powerful, brilliant, and poetic. He is creative, deep, and he seems comfortable in his own skin. Listen to his music. I especially like “Skeleton Bones” and “Carbon Ribs”. He’s inspirational. Here’s what he wrote about his song “Carbon Ribs”:
                       “Carbon Ribs” is a fairly introspective song about the conflict between self-doubt and faith from the perspective of someone who is fully aware of his/her inadequacy but has chosen to stack their chips in favor of grace rather than karma.

    Man. I could ramble on and on, but I’ll move on. Lately, I’ve realized the importance of having people hold you accountable. I’ve been fighting my way back to God after running from Him for an overwhelmingly extended amount of time. I need my back-up, my support group, making sure that I’m not running from Him again. The harder I run back to God, the more intensely I feel Satan attacking. I want to be a threat to Satan, because He sure can’t have me. Let’s challenge ourselves to make Satan wince as we wake up. Let’s make Satan fear the glory that we’ll bring to God. He’s trying to pull me back into mistakes that have left me feeling stained, mangled, boxed in by secrets, and exempt from grace. I’m taking the initiative and saying “No.” Are you?
    Isaiah 64:6 says – “We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are like grease-stained rags. We dry up like autumn leaves- sin-dried, we’re blown off by the wind.”
    Do you ever feel like this? How crazy is it that God still YEARNS for your heart, even if it feels like you’re out of the boundary of grace and forgiveness? Your heart can’t be too wrong for God. You don’t have to try to get “right” enough for God. Crazy.
    The topic at youth resonated with me tonight. I’ve been counting down the school days since day one (or so it seems). For a long time, I thought of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as the only days of the week. I was literally living for the weekends. But there’s so much time in between Sunday to the next Friday that we should seize and cherish, for they are the days that God has given us. Let’s not pass up opportunites. There’s more to living than being alive. Life to the fullest means every single day.

    New favorite song: John Mark McMillan. All of it.

     
  • acleveland 10:16 pm on April 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    llover. por favor. 

    Shane & Shane/Carlos W./John Mark McMillan – FFUMC tomorrow. Starts at 7:00, doors open at 6:00. Yes!
    Mariners vs. Reds – loss, 0-2
    Mariners vs. Rays – win, 6-2 🙂
    Have you ever had one of those times when you remember something, and everything else drifts away, suddenly unimportant? Well, that’s been happening to me a lot lately. Yesterday I was sitting in my room, and out of nowhere, it just hit me like a truck that GOD LOVES US. A wave of awe and humbled gratitude washed over me as I let it hit me in an entirely new and surprising way. He has been helping me avoid temptation to handle pressure and emotions in an irresponsible and bad way. He has been reminding me in the darkest times of His love, and hope breaks through like sunshine through the clouds. That’s when and why I’m able to walk away, leaving guilt, shame, and secrets behind, rolling in the dust.
    When God made the Earth, he saw that it was good. It was perfect, actually. Take a look at pictures of Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, or even a sunset. Imagine the most beautiful, breath-taking place you’ve ever been.
    Now, think about this: YOU – yes, YOU, (insert your name here), were God’s best creation of all.
    These aren’t just words without meaning. This is truth. He made you because something was missing. You, (insert your name here) complete God’s creation. The world would not be complete without you.
    It sounds too good to be true. But the thing is, it IS true. It’s just too good. It’s great. It’s amazing. It’s a reason, a purpose, to keep doing this. I’m catching on fire. I’m running, but not so that the flames will die down – I’m running into the fire, allowing myself to be consumed and filled up. This love is too much to resist. Know today that YOU ARE GOD’S BEST CREATION.

    New favorite song: The Way She Feels – Between The Trees

     
  • acleveland 9:28 pm on April 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    crazy. 

    Today was a really, really, really weird day. A lot happened that was really unsettling and just.. weird.
    About a week ago I wrote about the girl I’ve been walking and talking with in wellness. Well, I can’t explain how she has started impacting my daily walk with Christ and my views about people at school. We’ll call the girl Suzie. The family problems and other heart-wrenching issues that Suzie has to deal with every single day make my problems and concerns seem trivial. Talking to her puts everything into perspective.
    Lately, I’ve been sensing that I’m in Suzie’s life for a significant reason. From what she’s told me, I know that she’s coming into a place where Christ is a more important part of her life. A couple weeks ago, I began to feel led to be available for her and to guide her, especially in a Christian direction. However, these past few weeks, I haven’t even been connecting with God for myself. Then, I realized that before I can pour God’s love onto Suzie, I have to let God fill me up to the brim. She brought me back to the cross, and she doesn’t even realize it.
    After Wellness today, she came in from playing fistball with a tear-streaked face and trembling hands. When everyone else went to go change, I pulled her aside, put my arm around her, and asked what was wrong. She started sobbing as she explained the bullying and teasing that affects her every single day. During the fist ball game, she had been berated and humiliated multiple times. I was speechless and gave her a hug. And you know what makes me want to scream?? After Suzie didn’t need my help anymore, I went down to the locker room. A girl came up and said, “Isn’t Suzie just so annoying? What the heck was she crying about?” I got so, SO, mad.
    Why is she not even thought of as a PERSON with feelings and thoughts that MATTER?! GAH! If they even took the time to get to know her, they would see how awesome and cool she is. I told Suzie that, too. It made her cry even harder.
    I was walking through the halls looking at all the people streaming by, just trying to get past the people in time for the next class. I started thinking about how many kids there are like Suzie, and I just want to HELP THEM.All of them. I want to meet and know and encourage and love EVERY SINGLE ONE. I want to band together and let them know that THEY ARE VALUED, they are AMAZING, and they are LOVED, even if the entire school, their families, and their own thoughts tell them differently.
    After an entire year of wondering why I have zero friends at school, I think I know why. If I was still hanging out with the same kids, I wouldn’t be available to reach out to people like Suzie. If I was still with those kids, I would be surrounded by them in wellness instead of trying to show Suzie how great she really is. Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe this is the reason. It’s worth it.

    New favorite song: Stars – Switchfoot

     
    • liza 9:40 pm on April 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      God had a plan for you all along, you just didn’t know what it was yet. I think that it’s super great that you and Suzie have found a friend in each other and I know this will only lead to bigger and better things in things world of Amanda Cleveland. I love you pumpkin!

  • acleveland 8:57 pm on April 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    what if we’re underrated? 

    Switchfoot asks two relevant questions to today’s post:  “But do we know what life is outside of our convenient lexus cages?” and “We were meant to live for so much more.. Have we lost ourselves?”
    I just finished reading the book Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. It was a true story about a guy named Chris McCandless who abandoned his normal life and ventured out into Middle-of-Nowhere, Alaska. He gave his $25,000 of life savings to charity, left his car and most possessions, burned the remaining cash in his wallet, and left to go “into the wild”. Well, four months later, he was found dead, but that’s not the point. The point is that although this guy was, in my opinion, way too extreme for his own good, at least he wasn’t materialistic. At least he didn’t allow himself to be bogged down and stuck inside a world that didn’t suit him. He felt, somewhere inside, that he was meant for more than the average city life. He longed for an adventure. He yearned for something more, and he chased it. Yeah, he was ill-equipped and unprepared. That’s just something YOU can improve on when you act on what you feel called to do.
    Yesterday morning, I was driving to school, stuck in traffic. I looked out the window and saw people driving and talking on their cell phones, leaning against the window, singing obnoxiously, and looking altogether bored of the monotony and dullness of..well, being stuck in traffic. Understandable. But, yesterday it struck me just how WRONG that is. I don’t think that God put us here on Earth to live a boring life. I had never understood Switchfoot’s quote before, but now I see that we are meant for so much more than being stuck in our nice little boxes. It looked like these people were trapped in the comfort of their air-conditioned cars, their expensive cell phones. Their bored expressions showed their deeper desire for something MORE.. Life to the FULLEST. Life PAST “convenient Lexus cages” and an ordinary, pointless routine.
    I feel like we all have incredible potential, and we need to grab hold of it. We are capable of more than we are aware of; we were meant for more than this. If we set our minds to it and reach beyond the nice, easy, safe way of life, we can surprise ourselves and fulfill the plan God has for us. His plans for us exceed our own plans by leaps and bounds.

    “…but you are wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from the joy of human relationships. God’s place is all around us, it is in everything and in anything we can experience. People just need to change the way they look at things.” – Chris McCandless, Into The Wild

    New favorite song: Fork and Knife – Brand New

     
  • acleveland 8:25 pm on April 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    story time 

         “A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing that his father could easily afford it, he told his dad that was all he wanted.
         As graduation day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.
         Curious and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily, he rose and said to his father, “With all your money, you give me a Bible?” And he stormed out of the house.
        Many years passed, and the young man became very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but he knew his father was very old and thought perhaps he should go visit him. He had not seen him since that graduation day years earlier.
        Before he could make arrangements, he received a telephone call telling him his father had passed away and had willed all his possessions to his son. The son needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
         When the man arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s  papers and saw the still gift-wrapped Bible just as he had left it years ago. With tears running down his face, he opened the Bible and turned the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse of Scripture: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
         As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name – the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation and the words “Paid in Full.”
                                                                – author unknown

    How many times do we miss God’s blessings because we can’t see past our own desires?

    New favorite song: My Beautiful Rescue – This Providence

     
  • acleveland 9:22 pm on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    start again 

    School tomorrow. My reply to that: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
    This time last week I was crying due to intense feelings of shame  that kept me from finishing strong. Shame has caused me to run away and feel TOO unworthy of forgiveness and TOO scared to reflect and TOO guilty to repent. Tonight at youth, we talked again about finishing strong. We looked at Revelations 3 and how we should be on fire, exuberant, passionate, and excited about our relationship with Christ. We need to pursue and chase what brings us joy.
    Tonight, I challenged myself to go back to the basics and restart. Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes are threaded into our DNA, wire through our heart, up to our brain, and are then released in our actions. The minute we stop making mistakes is the minute we stop learning – so let’s embrace NOT ONLY the fact that WE WILL MESS UP, but that..
    1. Mistakes are learning experiences
    2. His grace is big enough to cover our biggest sins.
    Running away from God  is a waste of the gift of MERCY that he has given!When we spread out love and encouragement to others, it gets bounced back to us ten-fold. I am going to try my hardest to let myself be filled up by God and then share it with whoever I come in contact with, even if no words are spoken. I’m going to start thinking more about the people in my life that I can uplift, encourage, and remind of their value and worth. It’s all about others. I’ll find true happiness when I live for others, like Christ.
    Although I have felt rocky in my faith recently, a hook has remained in my heart that has pulled me back to Him, and tonight, I felt it more than ever. No matter how far I try to run, He doesn’t fall behind. I’m caught inside the memories, the promises, our yesterdays, and I belong to God. I just can’t walk away. Because after loving Him, I can never be the same.
    Tonight I’m starting again, and then I’m going to finish strong. Certain things are going to have to be taken back out of my life, and it’s going to be hard. Certain things are going to have to be added to my life, and it’s going to be hard. But I know it’s worth it. I’ve missed being in tight-knit relationship with my creator, and I’m not letting anything get in the way.
    Today, challenge yourself. What is it that’s keeping you from God? Judgement? Doubt? Bad habits? Shame? Worry? Fear? Sadness?
    Challenge yourself to get a little uncomfortable, accept the mistakes, break out of what’s become normal. Begin strong, run the race to glorify Him, and finish knowing that it was a “job well done, good and faithful servant”.

    New favorite song: Suspension – Mae

     
    • Carly 9:48 pm on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m so proud of you and I’m so glad to have you in my life to inspire me. Be joyous, and dance with your Father God in fields of never-ending grace.
      Love, Carloo B) (shades on)
      P.S. I like the song 😉

  • acleveland 2:41 pm on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    what was that. 

    A tangible desire, a consuming fire.
    Yearning for the taste of a downfall,
    My worst foe awaits for the prime moment to abandon previous vows and set the ships asail.
    As the billowing, angry clouds of black race in,
    The Enemy breaks promises and releases reserved fleets.
    The boats flee, chasing the wind.
    There go Motivation, Determination, Fight, and Desire.
    There go Reason, Purpose, Victory, and Triumph, trailing close behind.
    Furiously they race, attempting to beat doom,
    Yet the electric walking stick of storms flashes down,
    Burning and reducing the collosal ships of beauty to mere ashes in the water, dissolving possibilites.
    The thunder and lightning continue their festivities,
    Cracking glasses in Heaven and beating celebratory drums down below.
    Warriors are in the past, now embedded underneath the surface of riled, swirling waves.
    Coal skies rule now, adorned with powerful clouds:
    Apathy, Carelessness, Surrender, and Indifference,
    Questions, Pointless, Defeat, and Conquered.
    Who, now, set these unworthy clouds as rulers on hollow thrones?
    Where are the deserving, righteous ships?
    I spin around, look for the culprit, my nightmare, the source of this destruction.
    I look down and study my calloused hands, worn from setting ships free to strive for disaster.
    I see the cause of all this chaos.
    Is my own worst enemy simply me?

    New favorite song: How He Loves – John Mark McMillan

     
    • Mrs. Sharon 4:30 pm on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Amanda,
      I’m so very happy you have come into our lives! You make me smile. And yes, Oh How He Loves US!

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