Big News: Like An Introvert is MOVING!

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I’m actually really excited for this. I’m finally moving Like An Introvert to its very own domain name–no more “wordpress.com”! HOORAY!

This is a much-needed change, and one that I’ve put off for too long, for three reasons:

  1. It costs money to move to a self-hosted domain.
  2. I was spending money on Study Break, the site I started for Christian college students.
  3. I was putting all of my focus into Study Break.

But, after a lot of thought and prayer, I’ve decided to shut down Study Break and restore my focus to Like An Introvert, where I first felt my calling to writing. If you’d like to read more about why I’m shutting down Study Break, and read some pretty raw confessions by yours truly, click here.

So, here’s a few of the awesome benefits and changes I’m going to be making for the new site…

  • A New Look. Soft blue and neutrals…ah, nowhere near as busy as the theme on this website. It’ll make the site easier for you to look at and navigate. Including a new logo and graphics by my brother…he needed volunteer hours for a scholarship so I decided to make him work for me for free. 😉
  • New Commenting System. A self-hosted domain running WordPress allows me to improve the website in ways that a wordpress.com website won’t. The first way I’m taking advantage of this is by getting a new commenting system, allowing you sign in to comment with Facebook, Twitter, or OpenID. NO MORE shall you have to look at that intimidating and impersonal comment box at the bottom. And don’t worry, this system is legit–it won’t spam up your email or your Facebook. I hate that as much as you do.
  • Post Migration. What this means is that all of the posts from the current Like An Introvert site will be moved over to the new site. I don’t know if I’ll be able to migrate the comments as well (the new comment system might plop itself right on top of them), but I’ll do my best.
  • Other little surprises. Like I said, a self-hosted wordpress site allows me a lot more freedom for personalization. I’ll be adding and changing a bunch more little things to the site to make it easier for you to navigate and find what you need. And besides…I have to keep SOME secrets…;)

And, my favorite announcement yet:

The Email Club!!!

When the new site launches, there will be some fun stuff going on that will bring in new readers and commenters. But to show you all just how much I appreciate you for supporting me and my writing since the very beginning, I’d like to invite you to be one of the first to see the brand new site.

Click here to get early access to the new site!

Joining this email club means that I’ll send you out an email notification with access to the new site a week or more before it’s available to the public. Only the ones on the email list will be able to view the new website before its “official” opening–I won’t announce the link on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else until later. And of course, I’ll have a new post or two rolling out during that time, and you don’t want to miss that…right?

Plus…I have a little thank-you gift tucked into the welcome email, and I’d love for you all to have it. 🙂

And another thing…the early access (and all of the new posts) will start within a week, so you’d better hop on it!

NEW! Affirmation Cards: Encouragement for the Heart

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Hey everyone!

I’m so excited about this. My mom is a fantastic artist over at Sparrow’s Journey by Heather Santos (first link is her blog, second link is her Facebook). She’s a self-taught artist, which is even cooler. She uses her art as an outlet for her thoughts and emotions…and it shows through powerfully in each piece she does.

She recently (January) made Truth Cards for the Brave Girls Club, which were sent to the Philippines as little notes of encouragement to women who were rebuilding their lives after being trapped by poverty (or force) into human trafficking. (They teamed up with Full Circle Exchange to help these women get into lifestyles and careers that would support their families and take them out of the sex trafficking industry for good.)

But as more and more of her customers in the U.S. started asking for these cards, she realized something…

Women and men EVERYWHERE need words of encouragement, just like these.

And that’s where I come in to the story…

She asked me to create some encouraging words to put on cards that she would paint the backgrounds for.

So I wrote down things that I need to hear, things that I’ve been told in the past, things that I tell myself every day to keep me going, whispers from my Creator that comfort me…and this is the product.

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There are several more designs (and sayings) available in her etsy shop (including some more suited for men). They are only $5.50 (free shipping!) and they make a great gift. My mom and her coworkers even handed these out to girls on campus on Valentine’s Day. She said they seemed happy and touched–and I’m convinced that they are keeping these cards close by, for reference. 😉

So if you know anyone who needs encouragement, or if you know that you need one of these around to encourage you (like I do), then consider stopping by.

Because everyone deserves to know that they are loved. That’s what we humans were made for, anyways!

 

God and Depression: What Does the Journey Really Look Like?

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Recently, I’ve been going through something I’ve been graciously calling a “funk”. You know, it can’t possibly be depression; I have no reason to be depressed because life is going pretty well; it hasn’t gone on for long enough to really be considered depression; it is not as bad as other people’s so I don’t really have the right to call it depression. Maybe these were little lies to get me by. But now, I’m ready to look at it for what it really is.

I stopped writing. I stopped prioritizing my spending and my daily tasks, stopped thinking of my to-do lists. I stopped wanting to hang out with my friends, but they wouldn’t know; I was happy to see them all the same. I stopped enjoying my practice times, and didn’t really get much done. The house is a mess, the dishes are dirty. The bathroom needs cleaned and the laundry needs put away. I haven’t done my Stats homework in over two weeks.

There is no motivation. It’s not that I’m motivated to not do things, like those times when I push myself way too hard and I desperately need a break–when I’m burning out. There is simply…nothing.

I’m having a tough time explaining myself well, so here is an excerpt from a journal-like post I started to write the other day…(dont’ speed read over this. You’ll miss it.) Read the rest of this entry

Life is a Trade-Off.

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I knew it was coming.

It had to.

That special wistfulness of times past, the knowledge that this was really the last time, and there would be no more after this.

The romanticized versions in my head that ignored all of the frustrations, discouragements, and feelings of helplessness of the past two years.

I never thought I’d be here. I’d already thought that I’d never miss it; that when I hear of a game this weekend, I’d chuckle at how much I hated sacrificing my entire Saturday to do something I didn’t even like: watching football. And that I’d remember how much I loathed getting up early and ending up sick and voiceless the next day.

But it’s the school songs that get me. The ones I know with my heart and not my hands or lips. The ones that simply tumble out with the ictus of the drum major’s hands, through me.

Was it a family, but I just didn’t notice or partake? Could I have made a difference if only I didn’t believe that I was powerless? If only I didn’t listen to the wrong voices? If only I’d opened my eyes to the people who actually cared and wanted to see a change?

Did I waste my time and my potential by giving up and going through the motions–by acting sullen when I could have done much better by offering a cheerful spirit?

Oh, how I wish I could return. I feel a terrible debt to them, because I could have given so much more if only I had remained hopeful and persistent.

But regardless of my regret, my pride that makes me want to prove myself, or the what-ifs that swirl in my head, I’ve already made the choice. And now I must live with it. I must justify it…make myself certain that I chose rightly. For that is the human way.

Life is a trade-off. Time is a commodity, a scarce resource. In order for me to choose to capture one opportunity, I must give up another opportunity that I have never experienced, or one that I’ve had previously. I’m still not sure which is worse: the torture of not knowing what could have been, or giving up that which you already know. Perhaps it is both intertwined that torment me so.

When the mind and the heart are at odds, who is to say who should win? But the heart shouldn’t always win, and neither should the mind. One who only follows his heart may find himself in a sea of aloof impracticality, and one who only follows his mind builds walls that forget about feeling.

In this, I have chosen the mind: I must do what I must. For my education, for my marriage, for my health. And I must have faith that there are greater things waiting for me. I must trust God to “make all things work together for the good of those who love him.” And above all, I must make peace with myself.

I’ll  allow myself the luxury of sadness now, so it won’t tear me down in the months to come.

Perhaps I’ll entertain the bitter memories to prevent the nostalgia. Or perhaps I’ll preserve only the good ones, that I may have lovely thoughts to look back upon.

Either way, I know this:

I will continue.

Au Contraire, Rose

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Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?
Is it your too fragile joy
That caused you to become
This armed thing?

But from whom does it protect you,
This exaggerated defense?
How many enemies have I
Lifted from you that did not fear it at all?
On the contrary, from summer to autumn
You wound the affection that is given you.

Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?

I’m supposed to be writing a paper about this piece. Instead, I’m writing this.

If tears didn’t accompany you to the end of this piece, go back and listen again. And this time, let yourself feel.

 

Au contraire!

 

You see, I cannot write at this moment, because I cannot stop listening. Cannot stop feeling.

Not just because the music is beautiful. No, if it were just that, I wouldn’t have been so terrified to play it back in November. (My stage fright only comes when I don’t have adequate emotions to express.)

No, not that–but because I have finally understood what it means.

 

Au contraire!

 

Of all the moments in my life, these are perhaps the most beautiful.

 

Au contraire, Rose! No longer must you hold up your thorns to the outside world! I hold you now. Your thorns do nothing but hurt me…and hurt yourself.

No, my own defenses never protect me from that which I defend myself.

They only defend me from that which can protect me the most.

 

Au contraire! You are so wrong, my dear Rose…you are worth everything to me, please wound me no longer!

I am yours. And you are mine.

I am yours, and you are Mine.

 

What a Saviour I have, indeed–One who makes everything beautiful when I am so wrong.

And what a husband I have, indeed–one who reminds me of my beauty as I heal.

The Search for Identity

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Since I can really consciously remember (since middle school or so), I feel that I’ve been on this quest to understand who I am and how I fit in with the world. I know, that’s not at all unusual for such an age–but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Throughout high school, I wore the clothes my youth group wore. (I tried to make my boyfriends wear them, too. That was weird.) I dyed some of my hair purple. And later, I started dying it more natural colors, and I tried all kinds of lengths and styles. I hiked through some trails and tried taking pictures, thinking I could be a photographer if only I tried. I ate vegetarian because I wanted to be a health nut, like my dad. I played in the marching band, jazz band, concert band, church worship band…I played saxophone, and trombone, and guitar, keys, bass, and even tried drums. I was in honor societies and other clubs that I can’t even remember. All I remember is that I was busy, doing everything.

Some of that stayed. Some of it didn’t. That is normal–in fact, it’s what Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, calls that age from 12-18 years old the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage. This is the part of our lives where we form our identities, decide who we’re gonna be.

And yet…I had forgotten all of that stuff I did when we had started talking about the stages of Identity in one of my Psychology classes in college. I feared that I had been a case of Identity Foreclosure–where no exploration happens, a person simply accepts the beliefs of his/her parents without questioning, altering, or choosing. I mean, the people who do engage in identity foreclosure do tend to be very successful, happy, and have good self-esteem. But that is so frowned upon by our society–and I tried not to think about how “bad” I would be if that were true of me.

But, after more examination, it’s not–all of those things are typical of the stage of Identity Moratorium, the precursor to Identity Achievement. Moratorium is the period of searching and exploration before one decides on an identity; Achievement is the decision for that particular identity.

I do think that this stage extends into the college age–why else would people be hard partiers, experiment with substances, and try on different religions in college, only to turn out to be someone completely different after five or ten years? I mean, those are drastic examples–but this period is the time when we’re learning about what the world really is and how we’re gonna fit into it. Who we are, in terms of the rest of the world. The factors of finances, being away from family, doing stuff for yourself, and generally being alone weren’t previously there. And now they are, and you’re navigating them and trying to figure out who you are with them.

Maybe I’ve foreclosed on some things. I’ve certainly achieved some things. And…I think I’m still doing some searching on some things, too. I don’t think those stages are an all-or-nothing deal–one can only be “mostly true” for a given person…some are closer to those extremes than others.

So I’m not so sure that the quest for identity ever truly ends. Or maybe, I’m not ready for it to end right now. I’ve chosen some things and am dedicated to them, but I haven’t chosen on some other things. And that’s okay.

I don’t think it’s ever to late to discover.

Being Who I Am, Where I Am: A New Direction

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I feel that the summer months have watched me slowly slip back into my all-too-familiar social silence.

I went to a surprise birthday party last night. It was all people I’m acquainted with, but haven’t actually had a conversation with. A few months ago, I would have viewed it as a perfect situation–it’s weird to talk to someone you’ve never seen, and only sticking with people you know well can become monotonous. Acquaintance is opportunity.

But no…last night, social anxiety reigned and I could barely find my voice. (Except when a couple of young moms started talking about their birth stories. Those were the most interesting things I’d heard all summer–did you know that delivering a baby on your back is one of the worst ways to give birth?–and I forgot about my anxiety. But then, a new anxiety came…ha!)

It’s a really terrible feeling when all you want to do is interact with someone, but all you can think about is that you don’t want to bother them. Or that you’re too young, or not at the same stage of life, and so you are simply naive and don’t have much to offer–after all, they’ve already been where you are; they’re probably “over it”.

Reading back over that, it’s the most sickening sack of lies I’ve ever heard. Yet when they swirl inside your head with no outlet except for a couple of nervous giggles, it’s all you’ve got.

You see…there is a reason that all of those things take hold over me. Not only am I introverted, which makes me prefer to be by myself…I am also a recovering co-dependent. That means that I let people’s thoughts, actions, words, and attitudes determine if I am inherently good or inherently bad at any moment. A day where I am wanted and appreciated is much different than a day where I am unwanted or unappreciated…it determines my motivation, my mood, my view of my work, my self-esteem,…

And my coping mechanism has always been, as long as I can remember, to shut down and stuff my emotions way deep down, in the name of duty…and they always explode later. I’ve gotten better about that, but I still don’t really understand what I should do with them if I shouldn’t bottle them up.

While we’re on the topic of my problems, I struggle with not viewing myself as “good enough” to be a part of certain groups. I spent my entire freshman year of college wholeheartedly believing I wasn’t as good a trombonist as my same-age counterparts. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to perform and learn. Now…I don’t feel like I am good enough to “fit in” with other married people…especially those with kids. I know, it’s ridiculous, but it plagues me. I find these categories that I could fit into, and then I find ways that I’m not really good enough for them.

I wanted to start a blog that has encouraging, heartfelt, life-changing stories. The ones that you walk away from and you feel that life isn’t so bad after all; and now I have strength to face tomorrow.

But now…I’m thinking that I just want to go on a journey. Life is a journey…and it was silly of me ever to think that I should only tell stories after they are over. But if life is not over, my stories are not over.

This is a new direction. This is for accepting life as it is…whether I am where I want to be, or not. Whether I have something encouraging to say or not. Whether I have a point or not. I don’t care about getting traffic anymore. I don’t care about pleasing people; I just want to write.

And so dang it, I’m going to.

Here’s to the journey of life. Through my co-dependency, through my bottled-up emotions, through my skewed view of myself, through my successes, through my rule-following, my character, my introversion, my relationships, joy, anxiety, wisdom, foolishness.

This is everything. Spilling out. Whether it’s good enough or not.

And it’s gonna be awesome.

My Love Story, Part 6: The Engagement

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

Part 5: Long Distance

 

I’ve been putting off writing this particular post because I felt that I “wasn’t far enough along in the engagement” to adequately describe it, to sum it up.

And, well, plans changed, and all of a sudden, my engagement is nearly over. But certainly not over in a bad way.

I wish I could live in that moment, where he got up from the other side of the table and came over to my seat to get down on one knee. It was thrilling. Not even the knowledge of its coming when he picked me up in a new dress shirt and sport coat brought that moment down.

People always ask me: “Why are you getting married? How do you know that he’s ‘the one’?”

Married people always tell you, “When you know, you know.” I always thought they were kinda crazy…especially when I thought I knew with the last guy I had. But when that phrase “I want to marry you” is followed by its proof–a period of drastic growth in both individuals and in the relationship–that’s when you really know. And I could sit around for years telling you what I now know to be important before choosing a husband, but I’ll save that for another time.

It was around the six month mark that it actually came out of our mouths. Now, that was about a year ago. And of course, looking at that point in our relationship from the perspective I have now, it’s crazy to think that I could have believed that I was ready to be married. But that’s a good thing. If I could say that we were the same people as we were a year ago, and that we had the same relationship, there would be a problem.

The most honorable thing I can say about our engagement is this: it has been a period of more growth than I could have imagined was possible in such a short amount of time.

It’s awesome to watch Matt step into the “husband” shoes…to take responsibility for me in a healthy way and to learn to love me in the way God desires for us. And likewise, I am slowly learning to respect him and his decisions, and to not try to take control of everything, the way I always do.

But still, one of the greatest things I have battled throughout our engagement is fear.

Not fear of him or myself. Not fear of our failure or fear that it won’t work out or fear that I am marrying the wrong person or at the wrong time. Fear of what others might think of me.

It often seems to me that a canyon lies between what I expect others to think of me, and what others do indeed think of me. But other times, the two are identical. The bad thing is, I always expect the worse: people will lose faith in me, they will think me foolish, they will misunderstand, they will be angry, they will look down upon me,…

It’s such a shame that marriage at a young age is so looked down upon. One author on Boundless said this:

Some people should marry when young; others should marry when older; still others, who have the gift of celibacy, should not marry at all. What I criticized was the trend toward later and later marriages. The problem isn’t that people are marrying late — the problem is that too many people are marrying later than they should. Those who should marry when young are marrying when old, and those who should marry when old are marrying older still. Some who should marry never do at all.

Of course, it comforted me that someone backed me up on my opinion. But what I really needed was for someone to put words to what exactly I was experiencing. And to know that I’m okay.

Another thing my mom told me, before we got engaged, was this: “College doesn’t have to have a white picket fence around it.”

That image of the “strong, independent woman” that gets a degree, establishes a career, and then starts considering marriage–which my dad had painted in my head–was not to be mine. In fact, that sounded pretty boring to me.

In the end…God’s plans are bigger and more exciting than a four year curriculum. And He doesn’t expect me or want me to neglect all other parts of my life while I’m in the land of Academia. I’m so grateful for that. Who knows! He might even whisk us away to some new adventure that totally exceeds our expectations for the future. Knowing Him, that’s probably what He’ll do.

And now…we have come to the end of the Love Story series. I’m kind of sad to see it go, since it has been the biggest part of my blog for the few months of its existence. From here on out, my blog will probably be peppered with various lessons God teaches me through our marriage. For Matthew will no longer be just a person in my life…but my own flesh:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “[…] From the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:5-8, NKJV)

August 10th, here we come!

Nehemiah Bible Study: Kick-Off

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Hey there!

I’m doing an online Bible study through Eisy Morgan, a blog that I found through my mom. She and I are meeting over Skype to discuss as we go. More info on the study here. For now, I’m going to get started answering this week’s questions for small group discussion!

If you’re not doing the Bible study, don’t be scared off! With each of these questions, I’m sharing some stories and thoughts that transcend the study itself.

This first set of questions is based upon Psalm 119:129-135 (NKJV). Read it in The Message translation here.

1.  List every term the psalmist uses for God’s communication/revelation to man. (Example: V.129 ESV – “testimonies”)


Entrance of God’s words. Commandments. Custom. His word. Precepts. Statutes.

I won’t exhaust you with dictionary definitions; rather, I’d like to highlight one of them. I find it interesting that “look upon me and be merciful to me” is described as a custom. The psalmist recognizes that God is always looking upon him and showing him mercy…yet he asks for it anyways. To acknowledge his desire. His need. It’s quite comforting to just admit to yourself that God regularly looks upon us and shows us mercy–and nothing will keep Him from doing that. And of course…we all have to admit, sometime or another, that we really need His mercy. Constantly.

2.  Psalm 119:129 says, “Your testimonies are wonderful: therefore my soul keeps them.” Each of you (as time allows) share a specific way that you’ve come to know personally that God’s testimonies are “wonderful.” If you don’t have a newcomer to the Bible in your group, imagine that you do. Let your answer help explain to her why YOUR soul desires to keep God’s testimonies and why she should even consider it.

I’ve always told people, especially those atheists who come to me with guns blazing, that a relationship with God is an experience. One that you choose to have. After all, winning an argument never won anyone over for Christ. And so, I’m going to share a short story of a cool God moment I had a couple of years ago.

I’ve always loved the rain; sometimes I would go out and just spin in circles, and skip, and run, and then sit down and let it fall on me when I’m all tired. Childlike? Perhaps. But I think that’s the best way to enjoy God’s creation.

One day, it was raining, and so I went outside. But this time, instead of running around and splashing in puddles, I simply sat, and I started singing. You Won’t Relent by Jesus Culture. The rain swelled and slowed with my volume and energy. And I stopped. The rain stopped. I held my breath…

And then belted it all over again. The rain poured back down. And from that moment forward, the rain served as a reminder that God’s with me. He’s here, and He loves my praise. I’m important enough to stop and start the world for. What. I’m just one tiny person in a whole world of seven billion…but touching my heart uniquely is that important to Him. I mean, I knew I was important enough to die for, but this added a whole new dynamic.

And I have full faith that He feels that way toward every person on earth. You.

And the most exciting part is, we have a whole lifetime to discover His endless love for us.

3.  Psalm 119:132 says “Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is Your way with those who love Your name.” If you have placed your faith in God through Jesus Christ, you have demonstrated one titanic way of “loving His name.” Discuss the importance of trusting that God’s “way” is to deal with His children graciously. Talk about whether you tend to expect God to be gracious to you or indifferent or harsh and condemning. If you tend toward the latter, would you be willing this summer to seek God with the grateful expectation of His graciousness toward you.

As much as I talk about God’s love and mercy and forgiveness…I must admit to you that I mainly talk about them to remind myself of those things. Most of the time, I tend to think that God is sitting up there, watching my every move, waiting to chastise me when I do something wrong. I tend to think that He’s angry and upset with me when I do something wrong, and that I should keep away from Him for an amount of time (almost as if I’m waiting on him to “cool off”) before I’m worthy of going back to Him.

But God says I am worthy. Worthy of His love. Always. Why else would He give up His life to be with us?

4.  Psalm 119:133a says, “Keep steady my steps according to Your promise.” What specific challenges are before you this summer that could cause you to really need God to “steady your steps”?

I’m working as a summer camp counselor at a local church this summer. These kids are the ones who come to the summer camp for 10 hours a day, and many come from broken homes that have no choice but to send their kids to a camp while they work to provide for their family. Some of them don’t come from Christian homes, and I (along with the other counselors and the camp itself) might be the only taste of Jesus they might have. Needless to say, I feel a great load of responsibility for keeping my eyes on Jesus. He’s already given me a love for them that in turn causes me to pursue Him more so that I may lead them better. And I’ve seen Him work in me and in many of the kids there already. But I really need Him in that area–I need steady steps so that I can teach those kids how to walk.

5.  Psalm 119:133b says, “Let no iniquity get dominion over me.” THAT, Beloved, is a prayer that could have huge impact in our lives. If you are willing, share a particular tendency of your flesh that you’re really praying will not get the best of you this summer. (By all means, get personal as the Spirit leads but stop short of really graphic specifics. Give people the idea without the mental images.)

A tendency of my flesh is to let people walk all over me. Take advantage of me. Manipulate me. At first, it didn’t really seem to me that it was really “wrong” to let that happen–after all, my motives were based in “loving and serving others with self-sacrifice”–but there is an unhealthy degree to it. I’m constantly praying for healing and guidance through this particular issue, and I have a feeling that many a blog post will spur from it.

6.  Psalm 119:134 says, “Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep Your precepts.” Look up several definitions of “oppression” and discuss the vital differences between oppression and authority. How can they be confused? Once we know for certain we’re not just resisting authority but we are genuinely experiencing oppression, realize that God’s will is to REDEEM us from it. Pray fervently for Him to do so. He is perfectly capable of redeeming us from oppression while redeeming the relationship.

I know that God has placed certain people in authority over me–they have the right to make decisions and ask me to do certain things. However, the main difference that I found between authority and oppression is that authority is used to make a decision so that any issue or dispute may be settled. On the other hand, oppression creates issues and disputes. It harms and is not of good will.

Anyone can oppress us…friends, parents, significant others…not just people placed in authority over us. That’s a tricky thing I’m learning about through my answer in number 6.

7.  According to Psalm 119:135, conclude by asking God with a full heart of faith to make His face shine upon you, His servant, this summer and to TEACH you vividly through the Book of Nehemiah.

You know, my pastor at Calvary Chapel Tallahassee, at the end of each service, says, “May His face shine upon you.” What a beautiful thing that is.

And so finally, we are finished! I’m excited to discuss with my small group!