Saturday, January 30, 2010

Only Seventeen

Have you ever been discredited because of your age?  "You're too young."  "Maybe when you're older."  Honestly, every time somebody puts me down because of my age, I want to take my Bible and beat them over the head with it.  ...And then I ponder this thought and realize that it might go against the whole, "I'm mature," idea, and probably against the Christ-follower persona as well.

I like to quote the verse Jeremiah 1:7, where the Lord says, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.'  You must go to everyone I send you to and IMG_2867-2.JPGsay whatever I command you."

You can be eight years old and have a specific purpose for your life that is meant to happen right now.  Think about children who have made a difference.  Did you know that Mozart was composing music at five years old?  Fifteen year old Tara Lipinksi became the youngest person to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.  And who could forget Mattie Stepanek who raised awareness for muscular dystrophy and published six books of poetry before his death at age thirteen?  There are so many young people who have made a difference in the world.  You do not have to be thirty, forty, fifty years old to do something worthwhile with your life.  You can start right now, at whatever age you are.

I have always had big hopes and dreams.  Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to do things that most people wouldn't even consider.  I have memories of when I was eight or nine years old.  "What do you want to be when you grow up?" a beaming adult would ask me.  I would grin right back at them and reply, "An international journalist."  How's that for a startling answer from an elementary-aged child? 

Could you believe that somebody has said to me before, "I know you want to do all of these things, Emily, but wait until you get a good skill... wait until after you graduate college, and then you can do what God wants you to do."  People have told me that as a seventeen year old girl, my brain hasn't developed enough for me to realize what God's plan is for me.  People have told me that I can't actually know God's purpose for me until I'm out of my twenties.  This is what the enemy is putting into our minds. 

I don't want to be put in a box labeled, "Useless until college graduation."  I want to be considered a child of Christ with a purpose already set in motion for my life, starting now, even if it means for me to do something almost incomprehensible if you aren't looking through God's eyes.

1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."

Jesus has a plan for me.  I can already taste it.  I can already feel Him touching my heart.  However, I feel hindered by false assumptions.  When people look at me, I fear that all they see is a seventeen year old junior in high school instead of the potential that I have as an instrument of the Lord.  "Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." (Philippians 4:13, The Message)

I encourage you to erase all judgment from your mind and focus instead on having blind faith.  Nowhere in the Bible does God encourage you to wait until you are "old enough" to change the world.  No, in many instances, He purposely used young people to fulfill His plan, people like Samuel and King David and Esther and Timothy. 

The Lord uses the young to change the hearts of the old.

If you're young and eager like I am, then keep up the good faith.  Let no one's false prejudice keep you from following God's plan.  He does have a purpose for you, and it's never too early to begin fulfilling His call.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Too Busy for God?

Wednesdays are chapel days at my school.  Last Wednesday, my friends and I walked into the auditorium to find the floor littered with newspapers and magazines.  Loud music blared from the speakers as the praise team played hectic guitar and drum solos.  Phones were ringing.  A strobe light flashed by the doorway.  And on top of it all, our Bible teacher was sitting up front and giving the lesson like nothing was wrong. 

You might have been able to predict this already, but the lesson was about how to recognize distractions in your life that can take your focus away from God. 

I think that this is a very important topic to discuss and remember when you are trying to improve your walk with the Lord.  It can be so easy to become distracted while living your life that you don't remember to sit down and worship Him in peace.

We live in a world that is full of distractions: cell phones, movies, Facebook, Twitter, homework, stress, music, friends, heartache... 

How many times have you thought to yourself, "I should pray more often than I do... but I'm just so busy."?  Surely I'm not the only one who has done this.

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God."  I think He made Himself pretty clear here.

We were not meant to rush, rush, rush through our entire lives without continually stopping to take a break and focus on the Lord.  He is our Creator.  He made us to glorify Him.  In the beginning of time, when the Lord gave us a Sabbath day, His purpose was to give us a day where we could rest and worship Him for more than a few spare minutes before bed.

I heard somewhere that Martin Luther said that he usually prayed for an hour a day, but if he knew ahead of time that he was going to have a busy or stressful day, he started off his morning with three solid hours of prayer.  What an inspiration that is.  I feel proud of myself if I can fit in twenty minutes of solid, uninterrupted prayer in a single day... and you know, I even feel proud if I can squeeze in ten minutes.

When you sit in silence, God reveals so many things to you that you do not hear when your mind is full of worries and stress and chaos.  When you are still, your relationship expands to new heights that you could not comprehend unless you fully experience for it yourself. 

Even when you are rushing around, lost in the craziness of your life, you can be still.  Turn off the radio in your car.  Sit in the silence and listen to God and hear what He has to say.  Let Him speak to your heart, and you speak to Him as well.

I encourage you to set aside some God-time each day.  Make this a time where you turn off your computer, silence your cell phone, and go into a quiet room and shut the door.  Erase every distraction from your life and focus entirely on God.  Praise Him with every stitch of your heart, every ounce of your being.  He is worth every moment of your existence... not a meager few minutes each day.

Zechariah 2:13
"Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling."

Psalm 37:7
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."

Exodus 14:14
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." 

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Something I wrote when I was about eleven years old.  I think it was a joke.


I'm sick, Mother.
I don't know why.
I feel real bad.
It's not a lie!

I might have a stomach bug,
Or maybe the flu.
I'm coughing so badly,
It could be the croup.

My tongue feels real dry,
And my throat is so sore!
But I liked that cough drop.
Could I have some more?

I vomited two weeks ago...
That counts, right?
And I think I turned bright green,
Sometime late last night.

My bones have all been broken,
And my poor ears ache.
I'm hot... no, wait! I'm cold! That's it!
I shiver and I shake.

My nose is runny.  I feel funny.
Can I stay home today?
Yes, that's great! No, I don't want tea.
I'm going outside to play.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a little world weary...

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty weary today...  It's the middle of January.  It's cold.  It's windy.  I'm going to school for eight hours at a time, working out at the gym after that, and then filling up the remainder of my day with various activities after that.  I'm tired!  My schedule is packed.  I've had some troubles recently that I didn't expect or want.  At the end of the day, all I want is to lie down and say, "I give up." 

I need to keep telling myself, "That's not His plan." 

Even when I am feeling apathetic and tired and worn out and frustrated, I need to remember that Jesus went through the same thing.  Think about when He was walking the earth, trying to express what He wanted to say to the disciples who never seemed to understand.  Think about when He stepped into the temple, only to find that it had been turned into a business instead of a place of worship.  Think about how weary and frustrated Jesus must have gotten while He lived on the earth. 

You may be feeling the same way that I am feeling today.  You may have something difficult going on in your life right now.  You may just be exhausted from a busy schedule or a stressful week.  Whatever is going on, you may feel like collapsing in a chair and closing your eyes for the next two months.

Believe it or not, that isn't His plan for us.  Jesus understands that we get tired.  He understands our daily frustrations.  He knows how it feels to live in a world that isn't easy.  He understands.

Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

When you are feeling tired of life, allow Jesus to envelop you into His arms and give you the rest that you need.  He will be our strength if we let Him.  He is our hiding place.  He is our green pastures and still waters, the place where we can flee when we can't go any further.

I don't think we realize this enough, but Jesus is there for us even on the days when we're just feeling apathetic and tired of life.  He wants to help us in everything, and all we have to do is come to Him.  He will give us the rest we need.  He does not fail His children.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Dirty Sink

This was the first official week of the new City Church after-school program.  Everything is much more organized and polished, and I am very excited about what God is going to do with this program.  I am going to be teaching the nine and ten year old group of the Green team (aka the cool team).  We start out with a meal and then praise and worship time, and during this part of the evening, the leaders are basically in charge of everybody. 

There was one little girl named "Sarah" who was around four or five years old.  She wore a shirt that hung loosely on her short frame... clothes that were obviously too big for her.  She later told me that they were her sister's.  Her blond hair was tangled and greasy.  Pretty blue eyes shone beneath dirt that caked her rosy cheeks.  Sarah was covered in grime.  I don't even know what else to call it.  Every square inch of visible skin on that little girl's body was brown with grime.  I doubt that she has had a bath since the new year began.  

Sarah was an undeniably beautiful little girl... but she did not look like I did when I was her age.

Time to walk down memory lane.

See that picture?  I think I was around four or five years old there.  I was playing in a laundry basket with my younger sister.  Notice how my clothes fit... how I'm clean... how I'm smiling openly.  These are all ways that I was different from little Sarah.

Sarah used her brown fingers quite often when she ate her dinner, and I watched her with hidden dismay.  This child was so dirty... one of the dirtiest children I've seen in a long time, and so right before she went to the big sanctuary to have worship and orientation, I asked her to come into the bathroom with me.  She watched my every move with big eyes, obviously hesitant about whatever we were going to do.

"I'm a pretty messy eater," I said with a sheepish grin.  "Would you like to help me wash my hands?  We could do it together."

The uncomfortable look faded from Sarah's face and she nodded eagerly, obviously feeling important now that she had been given a mission.  I set the small girl on the bathroom counter so that she could reach the faucet, and then poured the foam soap into her hands.  They were so dirty.  We scrubbed and scrubbed each others' hands until they were both hidden from the soap suds, and then we rinsed them off in the sink until they were clean.  When we were finished, the white porcelain was stained brown.  Brown.  From a little girl's tiny fingers. 

After this, we washed our faces.  Even Sarah's little nose was smudged with the grime.  I wanted to turn away and cry by the time I was finished.  Actually, more than anything in the world, I wanted to give this little girl a bath and wash the rest of her until she was completely clean. 

While we were cleaning up, Sarah began to tell me in her babyish voice about how her sister didn't like her.  "That's crazy," I told her, "because I like you a lot."

"You do?"  She looked astonished.

I let an equally astonished expression spread over my face.  "Why, of course I do!  You're my friend!"

"I'm your friend?"  A small, nervous smile began to twitch at the corners of Sarah's mouth.

I pretended to be shocked.  "Of course you are.  I'm yours, aren't I?" 

"Yes.  You're my friend.  You're my friend," Sarah repeated over and over, as if she couldn't believe the possibility that someone like me would be friends with her. 

"And you're my friend.  You're my beautiful, beautiful friend," I declared.

"Your friend," Sarah whispered.  Awe shone in her blue eyes.  And then, without an ounce of hesitation, she gave me a huge smile and leaped into my arms, wrapping her own skinny arms around my neck and burying her face in my shoulder.  She was dirty, she was small, she didn't smell great, she probably had lice... she had a life harder than I could imagine.  Many people would have seen her walking down the sidewalk and felt repulsed...  They may have crossed to the other side of the street to avoid contact with this filthy little girl.

I could have done the same thing.  But Jesus opened my eyes, and I was able to look past the dirt and the grime and the neglect.  I saw a little girl who was beautiful from the inside-out.  I saw a child that God had made... I saw a child with a special purpose for her life.  I saw a child that Jesus cried over, that He cared about, that He died for...  I saw my friend. 

I knew that Jesus would have cradled this little girl in his lap and whispered words of love into her ear until she couldn't ever stop smiling. 

So I held her.   

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

God's Greatness

Something I wrote two years ago.

God's Greatness

Tears are quickly falling against the rose in child's hand.
Too young to know true heart ache, she shouldn't understand.
What do you tell a girl when a drunkard took her mom?
Can you tell her just to smile and be happy and move on?

Crying can't be useful, so he ducks his aching head.
Every day this boy is punished in his younger sister's stead.
Bruises fade, but pain does not, and what's the point to hide?
Three long years from today, he'll commit suicide.

We break, we cry, and we feel pain as our loved ones fly away.
What is the point of living here if we're to die anyways?
Trust in Christ, the Mighty God, because His love never fails.
The price for pain was covered up with a wooden cross and nails.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Dark-Haired Princess

The Dark-Haired Princess

She read storybooks before bed time,
About dragons and great knights.
She dreamed about their grand heroics,
And about their daring fights.

But one thing kept this girl awake,
One thing the stories lacked.
Each princess had hair like fair gold,
And this girl's hair was black!

"Is there no princess with dark eyes?
Without locks that look like gold?
If no such princess can be found,
I'll have to make my own."

So she took out a pen and paper,
And she tried her best to write,
But her rhymes were poor and simple,
And nothing came out right.

She shared her problem with her mom,
And said, "I really tried my best!
I guess I was wrong. I cannot write,
Of a dark-haired princess."

Her mother thought with loving eyes,
Then said, "Those tales aren't true.
There are princesses without gold hair,
And one of them is you."


I wrote this poem after my friend, Ali, who is Hispanic, told me that it always used to bother her as a little girl that the storybook princesses would only have blonde hair and blue eyes, and never black hair and brown eyes.  So I changed things up a little.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ocean

I stand on the beach, my toes in the sand,
Looking out to the depths of the sea,
Of the ocean that's You, the wonder of You,
And the nothing at all that is me.

The wind and the waves foam with Your rage,
But the birds are still fed by your love.
And I stand under the weight of Your glorious strength,
Drowning, but not getting enough.

I look up to the sky; You are in the clouds,
The sun and the moon and the stars.
And I let myself sink in the ocean of You,
Seeking the wonder You are.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Blue Flowers

Just something that I wrote today to show my friend, Ali, that all it takes to write a poem is a recurring theme (in this case, blue flowers), and a simple story.

Blue Flowers

She walked through the field of blue flowers,
Barefoot, with her eyes all aglow.
Her pretty black hair shone in the sun,
As she sat and watched the flowers grow.

He sat by the gurgling creek bed,
All tousled hair and freckled cheeks.
Eleven years old; a long, lazy day,
By those flowers, he fell fast asleep.

They met when he was but eighteen,
And she a mere sixteen years old.
They wandered the fields with a rod and a reel,
And they watched all the blue flowers grow.

Three years passed, and they wed in a chapel.
She wore pretty blue flowers in her hair.
They were young, with no cares about them,
And love lingered in the sweet summer air.

He built a snug cabin soon after,
Nestled right in the midst of the flowers,
With a porch out in front, so when babies came,
They could sit out and rock through the hours.

Many years and the children had all gone,
From the cabin and peaceful, old land,
But the two stayed in the field of blue flowers,
Telling stories and holding hands.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dance the Night Away

A song about hope.

Dance the Night Away

She lies awake; she cannot sleep.
Her life is hard; she feels so weak.
The night is cold; she wants to cry.
She puts a knife against her wrist,
Clenches her hands into a fist.
She cries inside.

She's wishing, she's wanting,
She dances the night away.
Her world is so shaky.
She fights through the pain.
She's hoping, she's dreaming,
That she will find a way through the night
And she cries

Some days she can only crawl.
She feels so helpless and so small.
If you could see behind her eyes...
Hiding her arms when she's at school,
All of her friends can be so cruel.
She wonders why.
She's wishing, she's wanting,
She dances the night away.
Her world is so shaky.
She fights through the pain.
She's hoping, she's dreaming,
That she will find a way through the night
And she cries

Don't leave her here, please hold her hand.
All she wants is someone to understand.

She's wishing, she's wanting,
She dances the night away.
Her world is so shaky.
She fights through the pain.
She's hoping, she's dreaming,
That she will find a way through the night
And she cries

Find hope again, find hope again, find hope again, yeah, yeah
Find hope again, find hope again, find hope again, yeah, yeah, yeah
And she smiles...

The Foggy Day

This is something I wrote for my Creative Writing class when I was a freshman in high school.

The Foggy Day

On cold, foggy days, my mind opens wide.
The window blinds open and I stare at the sky.
Rain hits the wet ground in the face of the cold.
Books sit at my feet in good stories untold.
A mug of hot chocolate rests by my bed.
Memories of my childhood drift through my head.
I take in the view, or what's left I can see.
The air is so foggy; you can tell where I breathe
On the window glass where my cloudy breath lies,
As I spend my day reading and watching the skies.

Emily Whelchel
February 27, 2008

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Prayer

I declare my awe for You, Lord. 

You created the mountains, the ocean... You created life itself.

It was You who gave me my passions and my personality. 

Without You, I would not have the quirks and talents that make me, me. 

These are things that You gave me... things that make You love me even more.

You were there when I took my first breath, and You will be there when I take my last breath.

I have messed up so many times in my life. 

I have stumbled, and I have fallen hard... yet You have never left me.

You have always remained by my side, just like You promised.

I am in awe of Your love... there is no other God like You.

I devote my life to You.

I devote my all to You.

Continue to strengthen me as I strive to follow Your plan.

Keep me on Your path.

I am young, and I know I need the wisdom that only You can give me.

Thank You for allowing me to be Your child.

Thank You for saving me, God.

I am Yours completely.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Remember, you promised...

On this particular day, when I was driving to go work out at the gym and feeling a little bummed out about that fact, a terrible cold front was coming in, and the sky was a dark gray.  The wind was blowing like no other, and the temperature dropped fifteen degrees in half an hour.  A dusky fog was beginning to settle, and the entire town seemed restless and anxious as the upcoming arctic blast headed our way. 

At a certain stop sign, I glanced around, still feeling kinda down in the dumps, when I saw an old, rusty sign standing several houses down from where my car was. In clear letters, it read, "Today is going to be a good day."

I can't believe that I have passed this sign every day on the way back from school, and I have never noticed it before.  I squinted to read the sign, and when I saw what it said, my thoughts just brightened with realization and a sudden hope.  "That's true," I said to myself.  "I did say that today was going to be a good day." 

And I really did.  But as the day went on, I found it easy to forget about some promise I made to myself when I was half asleep, and focused on other things.

Have you ever done this?  You start out the day with bright hopes and a light heart, but then troubles and worries start to arise, and weigh everything down until you completely forget about your former plans to have a good day until you're lying in bed, wondering what on earth happened to make you feel so stressed out and tense. 

There are so many things that can mess up your day: school work, work-work, bad traffic, mean people, a hectic morning, an angry family member, tragedies, frustrations, illnesses... (the list could go on for pages and pages, but I think I'll stop with general topics.)  I want to encourage you to try to remember to stay positive, even when there seems to be no point to positivity. 

This reminds me of something that happened to me yesterday afternoon.  I was eating lunch with a few of my good friends.  I was feeling down in the dumps.  It was the first day of school after Christmas Break.  We already had homework.  I was tired.  Blah, blah, blah...  I was silently thinking of all of this when one of my friends looked around, beamed widely, and said, "This is such a great day!  This is one of my favorite days!"  She then proceeded to list several good things that had happened to us that day, things that I had not credited into my thought process until just then.  She was being optimistic, and her words truly did brighten up the rest of my day.

When you are having a stressful day... when you are feeling tense and frustrated, I encourage you to stop for a moment and list to yourself a few good things that happened throughout the day.  And if you can't think of anything, think about the good things that Jesus has given you in your life in general... and if you still can't think of anything, then you can remember the salvation and the love and the grace that He has given to you!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Give Me Hands

Give Me Hands

Give me hands to feed the children, Lord.
Give me hands to lift them up.
Give me a heart to feel their suffering.
Give me a heart to fill their cups.

Give me feet to find Your path for them.
Give me feet to travel across.
Give me ears to hear the cry of the hopeless.
Give me ears to hear the lost.

Give me eyes to see all the blindness.
Give me eyes to find what is true.
Give me tears to cry for the hurting.
Give me tears for those clueless of You.

Give me a song to sing to the broken.
Give me a song to share with the earth.
Give me breath to speak to Your children.
Give me breath to spread Your Word.

April 8, 2009

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Was There

I Was There

The rain is falling as I trudge down the street.
I'm looking for a place where I can get off my feet.
The shops are all closed and the crowds gone away,
But I see an old bench, so I sit there and wait.

My jacket is thin and my shoes all have holes.
I shiver and tremble in the night's freezing cold.
As I sit, memories start to flash into my thoughts,
Of the life that I've lived and the friends I have lost.

The wind blows around me, an upcoming storm.
I look up when I feel a soft touch on my arm.
It's a man dressed in white despite of the rain.
He has scars on His hands and His eyes have seen pain,

But He smiles at me with a joy that is true,
And He says, "I've been waiting a long time for you.
I have always wanted to call you My own,
When you hid from Me and thought you were alone,

But I was there when the rain made it hard to see.
I was there when you scoffed at the mention of Me.
I was there when you cried with nowhere to turn.
I was there when you faltered and suffered and learned,

And I am here at this moment; you never could hide,
But you can't be My child until you decide."
I looked at this man and His kind, loving smile,
And I thought it'd be nice to rest there awhile,

So I moved a bit closer and He held out His arms,
And I found that the rain had slowly transformed.
The sun started shining; there was warmth in the air,
And I realized that Jesus had always been there.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Child of Mine

This is a poem/song that I wrote right before I started the ninth grade.

Child of Mine

I am sitting there on that dusty road of sins I made,
Afraid to let the memories slowly fade away.
The second I forget exactly what He said to me,
I am terrified that I'll begin to stray.

I'm tired of being that lost and forlorn lamb.
I want to be the girl that He believes in,
But as I try to keep His words focused in my heart,
I am struggling not to fall back down again.

Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in this world.
I'm expected to be someone who I'm really not.
Sometimes I walk away from the One who made me, me,
And I keep walking without remembering who I forgot.

I've been lost, an outcast in all this dirt I've gained.
I feel like I'm too filthy for anyone to love me,
And yet when I'm wallowing in all my sins and pain,
It's always He who takes me and He claims me.

And I will never forget, and yet I can't remember,
As I hold onto what He said to me.
As He whispered in my ear, He said,

"Child of Mine, My beloved baby girl,
I love you; forever I will hold your hand.
I made you to be who you really are.
I want you; in the future, you will understand.
I cherish you like the princess you are becoming.
Let Me hold you.  Let Me be your Dad."

Friday, January 1, 2010

All I'm asking is for you to change the world.

School starts back on Tuesday the fifth after a too-short Christmas break.  I already am dreading the thought of returning to the class room.  Getting up early, studying for tests in every class, stressing out about my future, keeping a tight schedule with no free time... that just isn't my cup of tea, figuratively speaking. 

Guilty for my bitter thoughts, I keep telling myself that there are children all over the world who long to go to school.  And there are children all over the world who get up at three or four in the morning to walk hours in the darkness, through the dangerous streets, to go to a school with no electricity, dirt floors, and a low-standard education.  And yet they are thankful that they have the privilege of going to school. 

When I think of this, I feel guilty that I dislike school.  I try to enjoy it for the sake of the children who don't have the same opportunities that I do.  In a way, I feel like if I make the most of my education, and strive in the best way that I can to make the best of my life, then maybe I can pay it forward and provide a better world for those who never got the same chances as I did.  That's why I started sponsoring a child in Africa with my allowance when I was in my freshman year of high school.  The thought that I could provide another human being, another child, with everything I have that I take for granted (and shouldn't take for granted), was something that I couldn't pass up.  It brought me down to earth just a little bit, and gave me a reality check about how blessed I truly am.  Children are starving to death all over the world, dying of treatable diseases, and not getting even the most meager of educations that could bring them out of their poverty.    

I read somewhere that the United States has the 19th highest literacy rate in the world (which is ridiculous in its own way, because with our resources, we should be at the top of the list) at 99.0 percent, which means that our youth today should not have an issue going to college, furthering our education, and then using our gained skills and knowledge to change our world for the better.  Burkina Faso has a literacy rate of 23.6%.  Mali has a literacy rate of 24.0%.  What are we doing about this? 

As the year of 2010 dawns today on January first, I challenge you to make a difference.  Erase all signs of apathy from your life.  Be that person you thought you could never be. 

Stand up with me and do your best this year and from now on to make the world a better place.