Before I met Christ I always felt the need to prove myself. I never felt like I was good enough or measured up. My sisters were always better than me, they were smarter, prettier, you name it. I felt overlooked, like I was just on the sidelines. I didn’t recognize that I had a purpose in life and if I did, I didn’t know what it was. Of course, growing up in a Christian home, I knew the answer was “to glorify God.” But how could I do that if I felt like a failure as a Christian? I was dirty with sin and felt hopeless. That’s when I knew I truly needed Jesus.
These thoughts all came after living a life for myself. I knew all the basic Bible stories, I knew God was real and was my Heavenly Father who knew what was best for me, but I did not have a real, personal relationship with Him. I prayed to Him when I was scared, when I had lost something, or when I wanted it to snow…(yes, true story. He did answer it by the way. :)) But that was about it. I didn’t desire to truly follow Him. That was exactly the case around age 9-11. During this time I had a friend who was not a good influence in my life. I therefore was encouraged to mistreat my sisters, lie to my parents, gossip behind the backs of my friends, and even steal little things here and there: a pretty necklace from a friend, a charm at the jewelry store, candy at the grocery store…I was deceitful, prideful, stubborn, impatient, and often angry when things didn’t go my way. I felt my life was about me, me, me, and I deserved the best of everything. Overall, I was extremely selfish. I was living with what I would later learn to be a “dead conscience.” My sinful heart did not bother me. I was numb to my own sin.
On June 30th, 2011 there was an accident and I burned both my feet very badly. It was serious enough to where the doctor was considering doing a skin grafting surgery on me. I remember being so scared. I hated the thought of that happening to me. I remember praying over and over for God to not let that happen. It was one of the first times in my life where I recognized that I was dependent on Him, and He had everything in control. I later got the news that I didn’t need the surgery. I was so thankful to God, and I praised Him with my whole heart.
In the summer of 2012 we moved to Arizona. For the first time I became curious about the Bible and I read a chapter every day. I think I stopped half-way through Leviticus, but that consistency really helped me grow in my personal walk with the Lord. Of course, living in a new place, I had no friends, so I prayed for one. God answered that prayer with my friend Myah. She is my best friend to this day. She showed me what a true and godly friend looked like, something I hadn’t experience before. She invited me to a girls Bible study. The first lesson was about having a dead conscience, and it was then that my sin became real to me, that I truly needed Christ. I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed to repent and turn to Him. The following Easter, I dedicated my life to Him and was baptized.
The Lord continued working on my heart over the following years. I still attended that Bible study. One of the lessons was about honesty, and I knew I needed to repent of my sin. I went home that night and confessed to my mom that I had cheated on multiple tests that year. Then there was a lesson on wisdom. I learned all you had to do was ask the Lord for it. So I did. I also asked Him for patience, peace, a selfless heart, and for the ability to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Over the years, I see how the Lord has worked on me and has answered those prayers. I am truly who I am today because of what HE did in me.
I no longer feel invisible or undervalued. I know my identity in Christ: loved, redeemed, worthy, precious, pure. Jesus sees me, and He chose me as His own. He understands me and knows me better than anyone else, even better than I do. He loves me far more than anyone else could ever love me. I am a daughter of the King. That makes me a princess! 🙂 I know my purpose in life, and it has become my greatest desire and greatest joy to serve and glorify God for the rest of my life.
Well, freshman year definitely did not end how I expected it to. Who knew Thursday the 12th would be the day that changed everything? Who knew that I would be packing my bags that night and the following morning would be the last meeting with my team?
It was a rainy day, making it all the more surreal. I got the word that all competitions in the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) had been cancelled. I went to class. Afterwards, I checked my phone as I was headed to my next class: “All CBU practice and competitions are stopping immediately.” The rest of my team that had travelled to Utah to compete were on their way back to campus. The tournament was cancelled. I then proceeded to sit through another hour-and-a-half of a lecture but I barely heard a word from the professor. Everything was changing so fast.
Fast forward two more days, and after a brunch in downtown for one last get-together with the team, I hit the road, headed back to Arizona for an extended spring break. I soon received this message from my coach: “CBU is moving to online classes the rest of the semester.”
So here I am, reunited with the very familiar concept of homeschooling and facing once again the virtual world of education that took me through high school. I’m not complaining though, doing school in pajamas? Um, yes please! The biggest blessing though is by far being all together as a family again. If one good thing came of COVID-19, it is the fact that the world has slowed down and forced people to think about and appreciate the more important things in life: faith and family.
With that said, I thought I would share a little bit about my freshman year at California Baptist University. It was a good one, and I don’t want to forget about it or all the little things that added up to making one of the most memorable years of my life. I loved seeing my teammates everyday, the grind on and off the course, passing familiar faces on campus, the Sunday routine of picking up my friends to make the 9am church service and heading to the caf afterwards for brunch. Oh, and let’s not forget my cute little cottage. Cottage 18, located on the corner of the backstreet, the cutest one on the block. 🙂
I had the best RA I could ever ask for, shoutout to CJ Miller! We had regular cottage movie nights and even created a quote board with all the random, silly comments we made that would make no sense to anyone else. 🙂
I do not take for granted what I have at CBU. I see how God placed me there with a unique purpose in mind. How He brought me to a church right down the road called Redeemer Baptist that felt like home right away and where I hope to become a member in the near future. I see how He made divine appointments with like-minded Christians who would encourage me in my faith. I see how He surrounded me with faithful friends and teammates. I see how He has challenged and grown me as both a student and an athlete.
Although I did not journal as often as I would have liked, I have a few favorites that I wanted to share that walk you through my year:
August 26th, 2019
This morning I woke up at 5am and decided to watch one last Arizona sunrise. Today is the day. I’m officially becoming a Cali girl! Actually, not true. I think I’ll always be an Arizonian at heart. So what does God have for me this next year? I have no clue…but I’m all in to the adventure He has in store. I told Him so this morning when I greeted Him overlooking the valley. I prayed, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:8)
“Holy, there is no one like you. There is none beside you. Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who you are and fill me with your heart and lead me in your love to those around me. And I will build my life upon your love, it is a firm foundation. And I will put my trust in you alone and not be shaken.” (My prayer from the song “Build My Life.”)
August 27th, 2019
Sitting poolside at the Mission Inn on move-in day. Yesterday I got to meet my roommate, Faith, and today I’ll finish the job I started and get everything organized. Everything is a little overwhelming right now, but at the moment I’m going to enjoy this quiet morning at the pool…coffee is on its way!
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:33-34
August 28th, 2019
It’s a happy morning, indeed! My first night in my cottage was pleasant. 🙂 It was only me, no idea where the other girls crashed, but it was actually very relaxing to be alone. Wow, am I in love with this place. I woke up at 5am to get ready so I could quickly get outside and explore campus. No one is up at 6am apparently, except the workers that is. I can’t believe I get to spend the next four years on this beautiful campus.
A little reminder: God is great and He is near.
“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.” –Jeremiah 23:23-24
August 29th, 2019
This morning I forced myself out of bed at 5am. Feeling exhausted but at the same time refreshed since I watched the sun come up as I walked/ran across campus. I also sat down by the campus fountain and prayed. I prayed for this year, that I would remain steadfast in the Lord, I prayed that I would not focus on or be swayed by the opinions of other people. I prayed that I would not waste these next four years but that I would use them for God’s glory and follow His will. I prayed for the girls on my team, that they would come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior and that God would use me to plant and water seeds. Lastly, I praised Him for putting me in this time and place. Thank you, Jesus!
August 30th, 2019
First team qualifier today!
Lord, please help me to relax, to try my best and to commit the rest to you. Amen.
September 1st, 2019
What I’ve learned from the last few days: nothing can replace my security in Christ. He made me, He knows me, and He is looking out for me. I might not have found “my people” yet at CBU, but I know that He is my God and I am His. I am never alone. He is always with me and always for me.
October 23rd, 2019
Who I am IN CHRIST: (Eph. 1:3-13)
blessed with every spiritual blessing, chosen, holy and blameless before God, adopted as a daughter of Christ, redeemed, forgiven, I am apart of God’s plan and have obtained a special inheritance. God will work all things out for His glory and my good.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” -Phil. 4:19-20
October 31st, 2019
I have a platform here and now; however small, I have been given the opportunity by God and the power of His Holy Spirit to influence others for His glory. Wherever I am, that is my mission field. Whoever I am with, I am called to disciple them.
Lord, give me boldness to proclaim truth, courage to live it out, joy to lift others up, and most of all love, which is the most powerful thing that always points others to you, because YOU are love.
November 7, 2019
Yesterday was the first official day where I felt at home at CBU. I think I just needed time to rest up after a busy golf season and to appreciate all that I have here. I’m here for a reason and I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m starting to make really sweet friends who can encourage me in my faith.
January 14, 2020
Notes from chapel:
We won’t be distracted by comparison when we are captivated by our purpose.God has established my foundation before I was even born. God created me with perfection in mind. We are in His image, created to love Him, to know Him, and to glorify Him. God prepared me with a ministry in mind that maybe I didn’t sign up for but that He knew I needed. Sometimes our plans need to fail in order for God’s purposes to prevail. My purpose: to have everything in my life point back to God. The world says to follow your heart, but God calls me to His own and says to follow Jesus.
February 17, 2020
I have loved this semester so far. But I’ve noticed I’m now often forgetful of my dependency on God and lack the discipline to consistently spend time with Him. Last semester, when things got hard and lonely, I would run to Him. It’s funny how when everything is going well how I forget I need Jesus just as much on my best days as I do on my worst days! But God has such an abounding grace for me. This morning I was reminded that God’s grace makes my weakness a thing to be feared no longer. The God of grace who calls me to Himself and calls me to live for Him blesses me with the strength I need to do what He’s called me to do.
From my devotional, New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp: “Grace frees me from being devastated that I can no longer trust me because grace connects me to the One who is worthy of my trust and who will always deliver what I need.”
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we stand upright.” -Psalm 20:7-8
I am slowly but surely working my way through the New Testament. Sometimes I whiz through a few chapters, other days I never get past one, as I’m busily highlighting, underlining, and journaling out my thoughts. Today was one of those days. I’m telling you, God is pretty amazing and getting to bask in His Word laid out before me is so fulfilling every time. I am always left floored at how such a great God, the Creator of the universe, could give me the privilege of knowing Him and being adopted into His family.
This morning I read Colossians 1, and just look at who God is!
“For by Himall things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers and authorities–all things were created through Him and For Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1: 16-17)
He is my Deliver (v. 13) and my Redeemer (v. 14).
My prayer (based on this chapter):
Lord, fill me with the knowledge of your will in all wisdom and understanding. I want to walk in a manner worthy of you, Lord, always pleasing you. I want to bear fruit wherever I am planted and learn more about you everyday. Allow me to be strengthened by your power in order to run with endurance, patience, and joy this race you have set before me. Let me never forget to give thanks to you who have gifted me with a share in your glorious inheritance. Let me continue in the faith, stable and steadfast. Amen.
So I’m sitting here in the library. I have a full list of the things I need to get done as finals is fast approaching, but those things might need to wait just a few minutes more. I couldn’t wait to share this! I was simply trying to get my reading done for my New Testament Survey class but there was just so much good stuff packed into the five chapters I can’t help but get excited. 🙂 2 Corinthians 2-6 is full of our identity in Christ and who He has called us to be. This is so good y’all and this is just a fraction of God’s many many promises to us!
1. We are triumphant because we have the privilege of having the Holy Spirit within us wherever we go (2:14).
2. We are commissioned by God (2:17).
3. We are sufficient in Christ and are called ministers of the new covenant (3:5-6).
4. We are bold because we have an everlasting hope (3:12).
5. We are free with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the Lord, and are assured of his promise that He is transforming us into the very image of Christ (3:17-18).
6. We never lose heart because we have a specific purpose and ministry (4:1).
7. We are servants of Christ, proclaiming Him and not ourselves (4:5).
8. We are always of good courage because we have a home with the Lord (5:6).
9. We are a new creation (5:17).
10. We are ambassadors for Christ (5:20).
11. We are a temple of the living God. He lives in us! (6:16).
As a college student, I feel like everyone around me, including myself, is longing and searching for purpose and a place to belong in this life. If we continue to look around us, we will be left empty and hopeless. But if we look up, and recognize that only Jesus is the answer, then we can never be without hope and purpose. In Christ alone, my hope is found.
I’ve always been so excited to share what I’m learning from God’s Word and what He has been doing in my life, so I wanted to create a place to document and share those things! I hope this little platform might encourage or inspire you in your own faith walk!
With that said, here’s a little bit about me:
I’m 19 years old and currently a freshman at California Baptist University. I guess you could now officially call me a Cali girl, and I’m digging it since I truly do love this Southern California weather and lifestyle. But I will forever and always consider the desert of Mesa, AZ my home. That’s where I spent most of my years growing up and it always has my heart. I’m the baby of the fam, two older sisters and we are as close as they come! Funny looking back to when we were little and would fight all the time! How things have changed. They are now my constant encouragers and have become my very best friends for life. I’m so thankful I have them to look up to! Golf is my sport, and I feel privileged to play for the college team here at CBU. As we all know, golf is a big mental game, but playing it all these years has taught me so much about life. It teaches you to celebrate the small victories, to endure and press through the challenges, and to keep going, shot by shot, day by day. You never know where your ball will land, where life will take you, but it’s your attitude that counts the most. Some more things I love doing: hiking, swimming, running, anything active and outdoorsy. Oh, and also, I’m super skilled at being a perfectly comfortable couch potato, and am down for a movie any day. I love to drink tea over a good book, journal, paint, spend time with my sisters and friends, and travel with my family.
Finally, my faith is the most important thing to me. It has shaped my life as I’ve recognized WHO my identity lies in. My life is not about me. I’m here to serve the One True King, Jesus Christ, and I owe Him everything. My real passion is studying God’s Word and living my life for Him. I became a Christian when I was little. I did not have one of those dramatic conversions or a moment where God turned my life completely around. It’s been pretty much a lifetime of His constant faithfulness and grace pursuing me, and I’m so thankful for that. I have had so many different seasons in my life, and He has been with me through it all.
So really, that’s what this blog is going to be about; how God is working in my life and what little tidbits of wisdom He has for me to share with you. 🙂
Well, it’s been a hot minute since I last posted. Don’t worry, I’m alive and well, and I couldn’t be more excited because COLLEGE is right around the corner! I leave in just one week to begin a new chapter of my life. I’m so ready. Or am I??
To wrap up the summer I wanted to quickly share a few highlights from the last three months.
First, I graduated high school! I was one of about 200 homeschool graduates, and it was honestly one of the best memories ever. I enjoyed every minute, but, as expected, could barely eat the entire day…that is until 11pm when I inhaled a stack of pancakes, eggs, and bacon at IHOP. It was all I could have hoped for: graduating with my very best friend, my family and friends there, and never once tripping in those heels. 🙂
Soon after all the graduation excitement died down my 19th birthday came up, and I spontaneously joined my dad on his trip to, guess where? NEW ZEALAND! Yeah you heard that right. Two days flew by. We spent them walking the city streets of Aukland, grabbing cappuccinos and pastries at coffee shops, and taking a ferry to the most beautiful place, Waiheke Island. It had everything from the ocean and beachside seafood restaurants, to hiking trails among jungle-like foliage and waterfalls, to sloping pastures with wineries tucked among the hillsides. It was at these places where I quickly learned I have not yet adapted a taste for fine wines. I took the slightest sip, choked down that distasteful alcohol, forced a smile toward the wine server who waited in anticipation of my approval, and once he turned his back, silently slid the glass over to my dad. Just to clarify, the drinking age there is 18, so yes, I was legal. 🙂
Another highlight occurred in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I left in mid-June for two unforgettable weeks at Summit Ministries. I heard from amazing Christian speakers who shared a biblical worldview of all today’s most relevant topics: homosexuality, world religions, abortion, marriage and singleness, pornography, and evangelism. Not only that, but I met life-long friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who were just as adventurous as I was when it came to outdoor fun: Speed volleyball games, rock climbing, zip-lining, and hiking Pikes Peak to name a few. I don’t think another two weeks of my life have been packed so full of daily exercise, so little sleep, and so many cups of coffee. I miss those times of waking up at the crack of dawn, sneaking down those creaky steps, and settling down on front porch with my Bible and journal. Often one of my friends would meet me there and we would do our quiet time together. One of my favorite mornings was when my friends and I skipped breakfast in the dining hall and went to a coffee shop in town. We had hugeee cinnamon rolls and lattes. It was the best.
Maybe those were the big things, but that’s not to say the other memories weren’t just as special too, like my Dad taking me to ice cream after I did poorly in a tournament, or my parents driving me six hours to California for another tournament the next day. They also took me dorm shopping one night at Target. So thankful for them!
Long story short, it’s been a rad summer. The temptation was often wishing college would start sooner, it couldn’t come fast enough! But I tried my best to enjoy the present, knowing I would miss this precious time with my family and friends here at home in sunny Arizona.
I’ve been thinking a lot of what I need to take with me to college. No, I’m not talking materialistic things, that dorm room checklist is already covered…phew! I’m talking biblical truths here. I don’t know what to expect going into college, but I know that it is going to be new and exciting and challenging all at the same time. I know I’m going to be tempted to put my faith on hold at times, or put Jesus on the back burner. But I would be doing myself a HUGE disservice. If there’s one thing I need to remember heading into my freshman year, it’s that I need Him, desperately. I’ve been going through a study by Jen Wilkin called None Like Him, and I love how she puts in a new light how we were created needy. Here’s something I wrote in my journal:
God created me to need Him. How often I believe I have it all together and forget the truth of my origin! We are needy by divine design and nothing can change that. I need to turn to God, the only one who is self-sufficient, and acknowledge my daily desperate need for Him.
So here’s my prayer, for my college years and forever after:
Lord, let me never forget that I need you. I can’t do life on my own. You are my everything: my light, my joy, my hope, my rock, my comforter, my amazing God. You have given me everything: salvation, eternal life with you, freedom, a new heart, and a new name–child of God. You have rescued me and adopted me as your own. I am now an heir and a part of your glorious kingdom. Now in return, you deserve my everything–all I have to give is yours. Take what little I have and make it into much. Help me to live for your glory. Yes I will fail, but in those times when I begin to live for my own glory and start to wander, take ahold of my heart and remind me who I am. Remind me of what you’ve done, and who you have called me to be. Let me return to you and once again declare you “Lord of my life.” Amen.
“May I never forget, on my best day that I still need God as desperately as I did on my worst day.”
Happy Easter 2019! He is Risen indeed! It seemed appropriate to me to share a poem I wrote five years ago around this time. It started out as simply a homework assignment for the fourteen-year-old me, but it has turned into much more than that over the years. It continually reminds me of the endless joy Jesus offers and the hopeful reality I get to experience every day because of HIM. I hope it does the same for you.
By Belle Balkan
Jesus, forever loving
Your steadfast love
abounds from above
Your deep affection
wraps me in safe protection.
Jesus, forever forgiving
You died on the cross
but it was not for a loss
Suffering, you endeavored
but now I am clean forever.
Jesus, forever living
On the third day you rose and
walked forth in white clothes
Then you smiled at me
and said, “you are forever free!”
Have a blessed Easter! Praise God for His forever reign and our victory in Him!