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You Don't Have to be Perfect

Anastasis Faith
I stepped onto the stage. My heels clicked on the wooden platform. The lights were bright, and focused on one thing.
The beautiful, shiny black Steinway & Sons piano.
The room was full of high school students like me, their families, Baylor University professors and students.
It was the Baylor Summer Piano Institute student recital and I was performing next.
I hadn’t been nervous much before I sat down at the piano. I kept thinking about how, after I played, I could go home and sleep in my own bed after an intense week of piano.
It was a week long camp. People always gave me a funny look when I told them I was going to Piano Camp. They often said, “Piano Camp? How is that a thing?”
Each day was full of piano lessons, piano electives, piano practicing, piano theory, piano concerts—piano. We practiced four hours a day.
And here I was, at the end of this intense week, about to perform the piece I’d spent so much time on.
I smiled as I bowed to the audience, and sat at the bench. I scooted it forward a bit and adjusted the height. My heart pounded.
My fingers trembled over the keys. What if I made a mistake? What if I forgot a passage? What if I embarrass myself? I caught myself. Don’t think like that. You know the piece and if you have a memory lapse, you know you can jump to the next section.
I took a deep breath.
My fingers took their position.
Another deep breath.
I played.

My piece was fine. It was definitely better than my spring recital. But it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t perfect, unlike many of the other students’ pieces.
I felt good about my performance—I could go home now and it hadn’t been a disaster. However, I would never be one of the best pianists.
 The mistakes I made in my piece made me laugh. Earlier I’d feared “defeat”—not being good enough. Not playing well enough. Embarrassing myself.
But at the end of it all, I laughed. Performing well in a recital seemed so trivial compared to what life was really about.
I learned that there is a beauty in imperfection. There is a freedom. I’m not bound to be “the best” pianist because I’m not even in the running. Many of my peers at camp practiced four hours a day back at home. I was glad if I could touch the piano every day.
There’s beauty in someone who doesn’t have a perfect outfit—but laughs. There’s beauty in someone who always winds up in super awkward circumstances—but laughs.
There’s beauty in contentment. Joy. Grace.
True, there’s beauty in being “perfect,” but who would you rather hang out with? The girl who comes in five minutes early, with perfect hair, perfect makeup, and perfect clothes—or the girl who rushes in right on time, putting on her makeup as she runs in, and laughing as she smears it?
Imperfection is more relatable. More relational.
It’s okay to not be perfect at something like piano when you feel God has placed more important things in your life.

I’m not saying to not put effort into looking good or doing your best. What I’m saying is that once you’ve worked hard, go with what you’ve got and don’t be afraid to not be completely put together. 
You cannot control your life—but you can control how you react to it.
My mom once said, “You want to be the kind of person who can laugh your way through anything.”
I think that is a very wise goal. On those days when nothing is going right—you slept through your alarm, couldn’t find your shoes, burned yourself and ruined your outfit with your $5 cup of Starbucks coffee when you spilled, locked the keys in the car—you can laugh at how ridiculous it all was.
And it all comes back to having our joy secured in Christ, being content in Him, and having our priorities in line with His will.

When was a time you were NOT perfect? When was a time you laughed at yourself? Any awkward stories? Thoughts? Share in the comments!

What I Learned When My Phone Was Stolen

Anastasis Faith
          Last year I went to Africa. Johannesburg, South Africa, is known for its high crime rate. We also had a two day layover in Washington DC, another high crime area.
          I always made sure I had a firm grip on my clutch purse that held typical wallet contents as well as my brand new nice phone. And I made it around the world safely with my belongings. Nothing was stolen.
          Until I got home.
          We got back to the States at about 10 am on a Friday morning. After we drove back and had lunch with our family, it was about 1 or 2 pm and we didn’t want to make jet lag worse by sleeping the afternoon away and being awake all night. So my sister and I decided to take a nap for a couple hours and then go up to our church for our inner city children’s ministry which would be exhausting and go late into the night. That way, we would be awake until night.
          I left my clutch purse in a not-very-smart place, but I’d left it there for the past like two years and nothing ever happened.
          At the end of the night, I went back to get it and it was gone. I searched and searched for hours, but it didn’t turn up.
          It turned into a huge fiasco, and you could imagine how exhausted I was by that time. 
          Let me tell you, it is a strange feeling to not have a phone, wallet, purse, or money anywhere. Plus, I couldn’t drive now because my license was in my purse.
          Long story short, we miraculously were able to recover the phone, but nothing else was ever found. The 6th grader who stole my phone claimed she never saw the purse.
          However, I went about two days without my phone.
          Okay, pause. Read that again.
          I went two days without my phone.
          And I’m not dead.
          Like, seriously.
         I survived.
          Yes, I’m being facetious. But when your phone is gone, the thoughts are flying through your head, “It’s gone. I’m dead. How will I text my friends?? How will I be able to keep track of how many steps I walk every day?? What about my Bible memory app? What about my Africa pictures??? What about Instagram??? Life isn’t possible without my phone!”
          I believe that we should not cling to our phones, but it happened to me when I wasn’t paying attention. Then my phone was gone, and with it a sense of security.
          Which is very, very silly.
          The other day I was gone all afternoon and forgot my phone at home. It was a weird feeling, but I kept having to remind myself, “I don’t NEED my phone. I can live without my phone for a few hours.”
          Throughout the mess with my stolen phone, I learned several things.

1. It’s just a thing. 

I can’t take my phone to heaven. Which means it’s probably not the most important thing ever. It’s just an item. Like a shoe. Or a pillow. Or a chair. You can get another one. Then again, you may not even need one.

2. There was a time that people lived without phones.

It is possible. You can live without your phone. People did it for thousands of years.

3. It could be a lot worse.

During that hectic weekend, the truths in the book The Insanity of God kept coming to mind. I had to be constantly reminding myself, “You know what? If a stolen phone and wallet is my worst problem, I am very blessed!” I want that to constantly be my perspective. People are being killed around the world for their faith. I can live without my phone.

4. It’s not about what happens to you, but how you respond to it.

Big and little things will come up in your day to day life. It’s not about what happens, it’s about your response. God is molding you and shaping you to be more like Him. He will use big and little trials. Pain and suffering will come. So don’t be surprised. Be prepared. It’s not about what happens, but how you handle it.

Do you feel like you are too attached to your phone? What are some indicators that you might cling to it too much? What are some possible remedies for that?

3 Things I Learned From the Prophet Jeremiah

Anastasis Faith

          I have been studying the book of Jeremiah recently, and today I wanted to share with you three things that I’ve learned from the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet of God who prophesied during the reign of king Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. He prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel and to the southern kingdom of Judah.

1. God is faithful
First, I learned so much about the faithfulness of God! Jeremiah was commanded to prophesy to the people of Israel and Judah. Both nations were rebellious and sinful. They worshiped the false gods of other nations. They rejected the Word of the Lord and did not obey God’s commandments. 
          God had made a covenant with the people of Israel and Judah: “And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly”(Genesis 17:2). The Lord was faithful in His covenant with His people, but His people broke their side of the covenant which was a serious offense. 
          God continually pleaded with His people to obey His Word. After the Lord punished His people through captivity and slavery, the Lord gathered them back to Himself, so that they would be His people and He would be their God. 
          I love how the Lord is continually faithful with His people even when they sin. We are just as faithless as Israel. But when we repent, the Lord faithfully leads us in the way of His righteousness.

2.  I must be obedient

          Secondly, I learned from Jeremiah to be obedient to God and confident in Christ. God commanded Jeremiah to be a prophet to the rebellious people. He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations…But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:5-8 
          Jeremiah did not believe what the Lord told him would be the best for him, and he did not think he was equipped to do it. The Lord responded by saying He knew before Jeremiah was born that he would be a prophet. 
          Whatever the Lord tells us to do, we must do! We do not have to be afraid, because the Lord is with us and He knows us. He created us to serve and glorify Him in the way He ordains for us, and because of this, we can have confidence in Him.

3. I must be satisfied in Christ        
          The third thing I learned from the prophet Jeremiah is satisfaction in Christ. When the Lord brought His people back to Himself there was much rejoicing and thankfulness. They rejoiced with thankful hearts because they were in the Lord and did not need anything else! Jeremiah 30:17 says, “I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.” 
          The Lord is good to His people, and the Lord says we can be satisfied in Him. When I think about how good the Lord is to me, I become even more grateful for what I have and for what He has done for me. When we know the Lord and have the gift of salvation, we have the best thing on this earth and for all eternity.

          When I first started reading and studying Jeremiah, I did not expect to learn as much as I did. I love how I can see the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord through Jeremiah’s life. The Lord is always faithful to His people. 
          I close with this verse from Psalm 13: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” This verse sums up the book of Jeremiah very well. 
          Being a prophet was not easy, but Jeremiah had to trust in the steadfast love of God, and when he did, he was able to rejoice in the salvation of the Lord. This is how I want to live, and I encourage you to trust in God’s steadfast love and rejoice in the gift of salvation He has given to you if you are in Christ.  

Have you read Jeremiah? What are your thoughts? Which of these points convicted you the most?

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