Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conquering Homesickness in College

I recently received a comment from an anonymous reader who happens to be a freshman in college.  Reading her thoughts and struggles from her first month of college spoke to me so much.  I can relate, as I dealt with severe homesickness for quite a while when I was a college freshman.  Perhaps you can relate to her words as well.

I am a freshman in college, and I am about 6 hours away from home. I came here thinking that I would have no problem adjusting, I was more than excited to be independent! I was actually completely fine my first couple of weeks, but when I got an unexpected chance to go home for labor day weekend, everything changed. I wasted that entire weekend laying on my couch, literally sobbing at the thought of having to go back to school on Monday. Ever since then, I have been miserably homesick. I am in a sorority so I have made several friends from that, but everyone seems to know so many more people than I do. No one seems to understand that when I say "I know like ten people on this campus" I mean that i really do only know like ten people on this campus. I am counting the days until I get to go home next, and I always think of home, especially my senior year, as the time that my life was "perfect" and the thought that living at home and going to high school is over is making me so homesick. I just don't know what to do because everyone's homesickness seems to be much better and mine has just begun. I feel like I'm taking all the right steps throughout the day to get adjusted to college life, but when I get back to my dorm every night and crawl into bed, all I want to do is bawl!

My senior year was also wonderful.  I had amazing friends, we adopted my sister into my family, and I was finally enjoying my half-days of school.  My family and I are close, so I actually dreaded starting college because I didn't want to be away from them.  I loved the friends I had, I loved my high school life, and I loved being near my family.  When I started college, I tried so hard to make friends... and I did make friends, but it takes a long time to reach anywhere near the level of closeness you've had with your friends in high school.  Everyone you meet in college is brand new and a little intimidating.

Sometimes what frustrated me was the fact that I couldn't fully relate to anyone yet.  I couldn't talk to one of my new friends about something my sister said; they wouldn't understand why it was funny because they didn't know my sister.  If I wanted to share a memory from high school, I was afraid of annoying my new friends... because I often didn't quite understand their high school stories either, but we didn't have any memories to share between us.  There were no inside jokes yet.  No truly close friends.  Only hopeful pretending until closeness eventually happened. 

But closeness does happen.  

Don't rely on a single organization, like a sorority, to be your excuse to stop reaching out to new people.  It's fantastic that you plugged in from the very beginning, but there is never an excuse to stop meeting new people.  Don't stop making friends because you're in a group.  If you don't know many people on campus yet, then leap out of that comfort zone, go out and meet new people! 

Another piece of advice I'd like to give you is to begin to call your college town your home.  It doesn't mean your hometown can't be your home anymore; now you have two homes.  It may sting a little at first, but when you truly begin to view your college town as "home," your perspective will radically change.  You invest in your home differently than you invest in a place you're staying temporarily.  You have a deeper kind of love for your home.  Even if you're in a tiny dorm, begin to call where you live right now home.  Invest in where you are, wherever you are.

Plug into a church.  Don't just attend on Sundays.  It's been at least a month since school started up, so if you're still church-hopping, go ahead and settle on one you like.  It can be difficult to find the "right" church when you start college, because you'll naturally want to compare everything to your home-church and nothing will be the same.  So find a church that works for you, that has similar doctrine and where you feel embraced, and go ahead and get plugged in.  Join a small group or life group or Bible study, or whatever they have to offer.  Volunteer.  Service is a huge way to reach out to your community.  Tithe.  If someone asks you to lunch, go with them.  Sit with new people.  Allow your church community to be a big part of your college family.

Don't be afraid to open up to new friends about your struggles, even your homesickness.  Be honest about how you're struggling.  Even if they seem to be fine, they may be more homesick than you realize.  The more vulnerable and open you are to your friends, the deeper your friendship will grow in a short amount of time, which is what needs to happen.

Try to establish accountability partners and Christian friends who will encourage you and lift you up in the darkest of times.

Keep in touch with your family, every day if you have to, but try not to allow yourself to dwell on how much you miss them.  If you miss your mom, send her a text, and then busy yourself with studying or go out to a coffee shop and talk to someone new.

Talk to God about your struggles.  He longs to hold you and take away your burdens.  If you ask Jesus to ease your homesickness, He will.  His desire is for you to overflow with joy and peace in Him.  He'll bring good friends into your life.  Don't be afraid to share your fears and frustrations with Christ.  Freshman year is an emotional roller coaster, but it can ultimately be an experience that brings you so much closer to the Lord. 

Please know that your homesickness isn't going to last for the rest of your college career.  In fact, it will probably be gone by the end of Christmas break.  I entered the holidays eager to be back in my hometown and by January, I was even more eager to return to my college life.  Things are different now.  It's a little sad at first, but it's ultimately a wonderful blessing.

Making so many new friends all at once can be a difficult adventure, but it's a beautiful one.  These will be some of the closest friends you'll ever have in your life.  Enjoy these four years, and remember that homesickness is only a season.  You'll get through it and learn so much from the experiences you're facing now.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012



I cling to You like a child,
So hold me in Your arms.
Shelter me from flood and rain.
Keep me safe from harm.

Cup my cheek in Your hand.
Let me feel Your smile.
I long to hear Your whispers.
I yearn to be Your child.

Give me a brand new name
And speak it to me daily.
I will rest within Your arms
Because You loved and saved me.


Thursday, September 20, 2012



I am fragile. I am small.
Your glory brings me wonder.
You made the earth and formed the stars,
The sky I'm standing under.

What I know is but a drop
Of the ocean that You are.
Yet Your love is greater still
Than the stumblings of my heart.

It pleases You to see my joy.
You've claimed me as Your own,
So I will rest within Your peace
Until You call me home.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is your purpose.

I used to be shy.

This isn't a word I would use to describe myself anymore, as the past few years have changed me to the extent that I am possibly even an extrovert now.  But for most of my life, I have been devastatingly, painfully shy.

Talking in groups of more than one or two people froze my heart.  As a matter of fact, even the prospect of a one-on-one conversation would terrify me.  Making new friends was nearly impossible.  Some days, the mere thought of going out into a group of people stressed me out so badly that all I wanted was to stay in bed, wonderfully and comfortably alone. 

Today I love being around people.  In fact, I'm sometimes happier when I'm out making new friends than when I've sat all day in my little house by myself.  There are certainly days when I enjoy some solitude, but the timid part of me has faded significantly in recent years.

I've been given the opportunity to share my heart and my journey from timidity with several girls who also struggle with shyness.  (If this is a highly requested topic, I may blog about it more in the future.)  One thing I hear quite often is, "I'm too shy to share the Gospel."

There are many effective ways to share the Gospel.  At times, it is best to form a friendship or at least a fairly comfortable relationship with someone before you sit down and share the entire Gospel with them.  At other times, you will feel a tug at your heart to share with a total stranger (read Acts 8 for an example) and this is what intimidates most shy people... most people, actually.

Approaching strangers can still be a source of stress for me, but recently, approaching a stranger in order to share the Gospel has been a source of great joy rather than fear.  It's different.  Timidity doesn't need to exist when the Gospel is being shared.  Let me encourage you in that.

You were made for the specific, beautiful purpose of bringing glory to your Creator and sharing His love with those around you.  This is why you were made.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline."  Moses was naturally shyPaul was naturally shy.  You can have a quiet, shy personality, but in sharing the Gospel, you were created to be bold.  It will come naturally to you.  You were given a spirit of power and love and self-discipline!

Don't allow your fears to hinder your identity and purpose in Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah was concerned about his ability to share the Word of God.  He was young and timid.  But the Lord had bigger plans for him.  Read Jeremiah 1:6-9.  "'Alas, Sovereign Lord,' I said, 'I do not know how to speak; I am too young.'  But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, "I am too young."  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord." 

God will not always call you to approach someone off the streets, but sometimes He will.  When people begin to yearn for the Lord, He makes Himself known to them, and it is often through those of us who already know HIm.

Timidity may be a hindrance in your life, but when you share the Gospel, you are fulfilling your purpose.  You are living the way God made you. 

When the Holy Spirit asks you to share the Gospel with someone, do not give into timidity.  God will bring the Gospel to that person, whether you obey His urging or not, but the joy and blessings that come from offering yourself as a sacrifice for His will are indescribably beautiful and worth it.  It is a joyful, overwhelming experience to be used by the Lord and for His glory.  When the opportunity arises, don't let it pass by.  Don't let timidity win.

Be bold.

Saturday, September 15, 2012



My understanding is so small.
My sight does not reach far.
Yet I pretend to grasp the depth
Of all of who You are.

You gaze into my child eyes.
You burn right through my heart.
My every breath You plan, You know,
Each broken piece, each part.

Illuminate my footsteps, Lord.
Guide me. Let me see 
The beauty that is in You, God,
The love You have for me.

Longing overwhelms my being.
Please help me understand.
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
And make me whole again.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Revival: Yearning

One of the biggest causes of revival is spiritual hunger.  When there is yearning for Christ, He makes Himself evident.  Jeremiah 29:13-14 says, "'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord."

A question that often pops up in conversations with unbelievers is, "How could God let people who do not know Him and have never heard His Name go to hell?"  While this is a big question that cannot be answered in a single blog post, one thing I must say is this: I have never heard a story of someone who sought out God with all their hearts and did not find Him.

The problem is that not many actually do seek the Lord.  Romans 3:10-11 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God."  As humans, we are so often consumed with the problems in our lives: with materialism, trials, death, wealth, food, worry, work, relationships.

But when we realize how sinful and dark we are without Christ, that nothing we ever do on our own is enough, that we have a purpose beyond what we could ever dream for ourselves, when we seek the Lord, He reveals Himself.  Psalm 14:2 says, "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."  He is eager to have a relationship with every person on this earth.  His love is relentless and unfailing. 

Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."  The Lord desires to show Himself to us.  In Hosea 7:13, the Lord says, "I long to redeem them."  Our purpose on this earth is to glorify God and share His love with all creation.  He wants us to know Him. 

Look at Acts 8:26-40.  An Ethiopian man began to truly yearn to know who the Lord was and what His Word meant, perhaps for the first time in his life.  The Spirit led Philip to approach the Ethiopian man and share the Gospel with him.  The Lord quickly and beautifully made Himself known. 

When there are hearts truly yearning to know Christ, revival happens.

I encourage you to spend time asking the Lord to make His presence known on your campus.  Daily seek His presence at your school.  In your quiet time, ask the Lord to bring conversations into your day where you can share His Word with someone who is seeking Him.  Ask for hearts to be opened to the Gospel.  Ask for a yearning and a hunger to arise on your campus. 

Also, listen to the Spirit moving in your heart.  There will be moments when the Lord will use you to share the truth of the Gospel with another, just like He used Philip; be willing to be used.

The Gospel carries so much power.  When it is spoken, hearts are changed.  The more the Gospel is shared on your campus, the more revival will happen.  Follow the pressings of the Spirit upon your heart.  Share the Gospel with those around you.  Speak the truth of Christ aloud.  Even if those who already know the Lord hear the Gospel, it still carries power, truth, and encouragement.  The Gospel is beautiful!  

In my university, an apparent hunger is beginning to grow.  Small Bible studies have erupted, filled with curious, hungry students.  Breakaway, the largest college Bible study in the nation, is packed out every week.  Impact, a freshman ministry, is successful and growing.  Prayer and worship movements are exploding throughout our city, beginning with three or four students and growing to hundreds.  The Lord is evidently working and moving on my campus.  His hand is beautiful.  And students are finally seeking Him and asking Him to move.

Matthew 7:11 says, "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!"  The Lord is merciful.  He forgives sins and offers a powerful, astonishing grace to us.  However, He is not frustrated or ashamed to offer us His love.  He desires to bless us.  He desires for us to seek Him.  He desires to love on us and give us good gifts that glorify Him.  

Let me encourage you in your journey towards revival.  Spend time daily in worship and prayer, asking the Lord to move in your campus, in your city, and in your personal life.  He hears our cries.  He answers our prayers.  He desires for us to seek Him.  Luke 12:31-32 says, "But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."  It pleases the Lord to respond to our prayers.  He loves us so much.  The students on your campus are precious to Him.

God is worthy to be praised, so let's give glory to Him daily.

Seek Him with all your heart today. 

Luke 11:9-10
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012



You are faithful
When the fears weigh upon my heart,
When the darkness shadows my eyes,
When my feet falter in the sand.

You are faithful,
Though I've failed You from the start.
You hear my longings and my cries.
You hold my trembling, muddy hand.

You are faithful.
You bring me home, where You are.
You whisper, "Child, You are mine,"
And You make me whole again.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


At Texas A&M University, in recent weeks, there have been whisperings of change.  Of revival.  I have been back in Aggieland for a month now.  There is something new in the air this semester.  A searching, a yearning, a hunger.  A match has been struck.

The Name of Jesus is beginning to spread like a wildfire through my campus, burning the hearts of the students who hear.

Certain things are noticeably visible, like the attendance of more than 10,000 at Breakaway, which is a weekly Bible study at Texas A&M.  Or a student-led worship night beginning with twenty or thirty students who gather together on Thursday nights to give praise to the Lord growing to nearly 300 in a week.  Small Bible studies and movements of prayer and worship are springing up throughout our town, bursting at the seams with students who are actively seeking the Lord.

For those of you who are college and high school students, it can be such a discouragement to look around you and see little more than apathy, a dimming of fire in the Lord, a carelessness.

When I was in high school, a term we used constantly was 'revival.'  "Let's start a revival here.  We need to awaken a spiritual revival."  And I attended a Christian school.  We so craved a renewing of spiritual growth on our campus, but it never seemed to come.  During our lunch-time Bible studies, we would talk and talk and talk about how much our school needed change, but our words sifted like sand through our fingers as soon as we left the room.

Apathy is a catching disease.  When students stop caring, involved and Christ-centered community fades quickly.  Without Christian community, it's so difficult to maintain a unified fire for the Lord. 

God is certainly moving on the campus of Texas A&M and I'm excited to see how He changes hearts here.  Whispers of revival are rippling through the campus, in individuals, in small groups, and now in growing explosions of eager college students who passionately want to learn about Jesus Christ. 

Are you thirsting to see hearts change on your campus?  Whether your school is at its darkest stages of darkness and it seems like it will take a miracle for prayer movements to arise at your university or if you attend a Christian school where there is definitely a love of Christ, but not a passion, revival is possible.

We are here to bring Him glory, to seek His face, to share the Gospel.  Let's make Him known throughout the nations, beginning right where we are. 

I've been learning more and more about what it means to awaken a revival, however small, in my community.  Over the next week or two, I'll expand on some of these things with you.  If you have ideas and verses to add or questions to ask, please share your heart in the comments below!  I would love to hear what you have to say.  

We are a community, you and I.  As we gather in prayer, whether we are across the world from one another or in the same town, the Lord hears our cries.  He sees our hearts.  Let's glorify Him together.

Five things I've seen that bring about revival are:

1.) Prayer
2.) Community
3.) Gospel
4.) Worship
5.) Hunger

I will share more soon.

Psalm 63:1
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.