Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

It's the friday before Father's day and I THINK I might actually have this post completed before or on the actual day....unbelievable.
After bragging on my mom in my last post (leading to many, many happy tears...success!), I couldn't think of a better way to show my dad some appreciation by doing the same thing.

Dad- You've been a father for a long, long time. I say that not to make you feel old, but to bring attention to God's faithfulness and goodness. He has done much work in you to mold you into the man He wants you to be. It's been a blessing and a privilege to be on the sidelines watching for the past 21 years. While there are many more things I can list that I'm thankful for about you, here are for each year you have fathered and guided me towards where I am today.

1. Your strong desire to provide for your family and give them not only things we need, but want.
2. Your rare, but completely awesome laugh when you see something that is really funny. It takes a lot to give you a good belly laugh; but when it happens, it is such a joy to watch and listen to.
3. Your patience. Never have I met anyone more patient than you. Mom and I try it many times, every day, yet you continually stay calm and collected.
4. How diligent you are in your work. You wouldn't call yourself smart, and many times you beat yourself up, but I look up to the perseverance and determination you had to get you to where you are today.
5. Your desire to keep peace. You hate conflict, especially within your own house. I can always count on you for staying levelheaded.
6. How protective you are. Ok, at times I'm frustrated by this....but, I've learned to appreciate it. What a beautiful reflection of how much Mom and I mean to you. You have come a long way since I was younger.
7. This song
8. How you are such a homebody, yet you attend parties, socials, etc. with Mom because she wants you to. Not only that, but once you are there, you engage and socialize with others, not pout like me. This not only shows your ability to put others above yourself, but also your willingness to be out of your comfort zone.
9. Your delight in taking the international students under your wing. Your desire to include them and make them feel comfortable here is encouraging to me.
10. Your confidence. While you are insecure about some things, you find your confidence in God and let that guide you...something not a whole lot of us can do.
11. Your humility.
12. How you sacrifice for mom and I...I have not met another person more selfless and willing to give up anything for the sake of his family.
13. Your wise council. Not only to me, but through Crown and pre-marital counseling. It's so cool to see how transparent you are about your past sins and struggles and then use that to minister to others.
14. Your leadership. Not just in our home, but in the church. You are admired and looked up to.
15. Making sure to always say, "I love you." I have the wonderful blessing of saying I have genuinely been told that phrase my whole life, something I'm unfortunately just now appreciating.
16. How you support me and my dreams. Even when they change every semester.
17. Your authority. I haven't always done a good job at submitting to it, but thank you for setting boundaries with me as I grew up in your home. College has made me appreciate your authority so much more.
18. How frequently and easily you extend me mercy. I have put you through a lot, yet you have always been "slow to anger and abounding in love."
19. Your dancing. Used to be embarrassing, now I embrace it. You give mom and I a good laugh with your moves.
20. Your faithfulness to your marriage. I have never once feared you being unfaithful to mom. Never. While it wasn't always an easy road, you remembered your vows and pushed through.
21. Lastly, your heart. Your motives behind everything you do, whether it be worry or act of service, reflect the love you have for others. While it's sinful at times, you desire to glorify God in everything you do.

Daddy, thank you for being an example for me and for other men and women. You have taught me what to expect from my future husband. I am forever grateful for you and I will always be your little girl.

Proverbs 17:27
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A belated bragging

Life has been nuts lately...and I've been out of my element with finals, birthday celebration (post on that coming soon), and a trip home. So needless to say this Mother's Day post is a tad late. Sorry, Mom.
But I couldn't let that special day slip by without jumping at the opportunity to brag on my mom and how she has affected my life. 

Mom- you are precious to me. To list all the things I love and cherish about you would seriously be nearly impossible. So here is 21 for every year you have been my mother.

1. Your tender-heart and compassion towards those who are experiencing pain and loneliness. You are so quick to love on them and be a friend.
2. Your sometimes unpredictable/spunky self...the one who loves Cameron and Mitch on Modern Family, the one who isn't afraid of letting out a swear word every now and then, who appreciates good humor and loves spontaneity.
3. The way you love dad. And those times when he's out of ear shot and you turn to me and say "isn't he the best man in the world?" What a blessing it is for me to have parents who love each other so well.
4. Seeing your dedication and devotion to living a healthy life and giving God the glory for having the motivation and self-control to do so.
5. Making our home welcoming to the international students and people who are without family. Your selflessness is inspiring.
6. Memories of just sitting in the TV room and talking and/or sitting on our computers...not saying anything, but just enjoying each others company.
7. Teaching me to appreciate each season of my life. No matter if it is hard or easy.
8. Your passion for kids. I'm convinced that's where I get it from and you are the best teacher. No university class has anything on you! 
9. Your encouraging words when I call from college station crying...for no reason at all, other than just being sad and homesick. 
10. When I'm overwhelmed and want to hide under a rug, I'm so thankful that you gently nudge me to get in the Word and cast all my cares and concerns on the One who can help me most.
11. Your faithfulness in prayer. You are the biggest prayer warrior I know and I have seen God do mighty things through you because of it. 
12. How you are a hopeless romantic. Some of my favorite memories include watching cheesy chick flicks together, then glancing at one another, both teary-eyed and vulnerable. Oh, hollywood, what have you done??
13. I know dad and I give you a hard time, but you crack us up. From your issues with technology, to losing things left and right, how easily amused you are; you make us laugh and I love how you can laugh at yourself.
14. Your cooking. 'nuff said.
15. Having the blessing of witnessing the awesome things God has done in your life the last few years...what a testimony of redemption! 
16. How interested you are in my life. Knowing my friends, what I'm doing, what I feel about certain situations...whatever it is, if it involves me, you wanna know about it. I love that. I'm learning it's a rare thing for parents to genuinely take such great interest in their children.
17. The grace and mercy you have extended to me the past 21 years. While I wasn't the worst kid, we definitely went through some pretty rough patches. Time and time again you gave me forgiveness and love when it was hard to give, I'm sure.
18. Seeing how you treasure your friends. 
19. You're love for Beyonce. ("All the single ladies, All the single ladies!")
20. Your craftiness and good style. I hope I got that gene and I'm just a late bloomer....I have a lot left to learn from you otherwise! 
21. Last but not least, everything. I love everything about you. The good the bad and ugly. I am so blessed to have you in my life and so grateful that God decided to give you to me.
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my momma you'll be."
"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her: 
“Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31: 25-31

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

warning: may contain vulnerable content

It feels so good to be writing again. I've been saddened by my lacking desire to blog/write/share about what's been going on in my life and what I'm learning from my God. Mostly because I didn't want to be real, but I couldn't bring myself to be fake. 
So, I became a Jonah in a sense and ran away from anything that would possibly bring me out of the funk (whether it was reading the Word consistently and intentionally, asking God to reveal new and glorious things about Himself to me, or just blogging about what's going on in my life, forcing me to see where I am spiritually) ....because let's be honest, rarely (never) can I pursue God wholeheartedly and not have a heart change, which leads in to behavior change. Instead, for a reason I'm still trying to figure out, being heavy-hearted, bummed, lazy, etc. was more appealing than devoting the time and energy to beg for God's help in giving me peace and restoring my joy. So dumb.
I was more content sitting in the belly of the whale, wallowing in my inadequacies and throwing myself a pity party for one, than begging God to demand the big fish to spit me out onto the cleaner, way more pleasant ground.
Unlike Jonah, God wasn't asking me to go to a broken land with wicked people and tell them about God's wrath, but He was very clearly telling me to get the focus off of myself and where I fall short and keep moving forward, not letting my fears, circumstances, insecurities, etc., determine what I feel, and how I interact with God that day. And unlike Jonah, I did not ask anyone to throw me overboard to calm a storm, I was using more the fish more of a hiding place. Since I can hide from the One who sees everything, you know.
That is where I have been the last week or so.
Burdened, lazy, self-centered, and too ashamed to admit that I didn't know what to do about it. I knew the church answers like pray, receive God's grace and repent, etc. but I needed specific steps on how to accept God's promises as truth and live accordingly. I was in a constant battle between greatly desiring full trust in the Lord and just shutting down from being so overwhelmed with how much I struggle with that. A battle of wanting to be used so badly for His glory and letting feelings of inadequacies keep me from seizing opportunities. 
So I sat. In the pit of the whale. If at all pleasant, it was only for a moment.
It wasn't until this morning, when reflecting on Sunday's sermon on Jonah (see how I did that?! sermon application, baby!), that I let God bring me out of the fish and accepted His everlasting love. 
This is just another instance where I'm learning to let Him love me, so He can continue to mold my heart to one on fire for Him.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."-Jer. 31:3

Jonah gave a one-line sermon when he followed God's command and went to Nineveh. ONE SENTENCE, and they repented of their wicked ways. God was so good giving me ear to hear His message to me on Sunday. Jonah didn't give an eloquent, beautiful sermon. He said one sentence and God used that to bring His children to Him. Yet, I was fearful of leaving the fish because I'm not confident in my ability to effectively share the love of Christ. I didn't feel "ready" yet...I still had so much to learn about the God and His word. 
No matter what I believe about my walk with the Lord, if I just follow Him one step at a time, who am I to doubt what God can and will do through me and in me if I receive His love?
"Therefore, your accomplishment as a Christian has no bearing on My love for you."
I will always fall short, how grateful I am that it is He who works in me and equips me. 

My heart longs to give Him glory in everything I do, but I need to stop trying to figure out what that looks like in the big picture and look to Him moment by moment, trusting He will guide me if I let Him.

It's so funny how even He teaches me even when I'm not wanting to be taught. Just more evidence of His glorious, mighty love. 
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."-Ezekiel 36:26

Friday, April 8, 2011

outrageous love

these reflect a little of how God has been getting my attention lately and reshaping my heart.

watch this.

and this.

outrageously and unceasingly.
It literally hurts my brain to try and comprehend His love for me, much less live my life as someone who is unconditionally, magnificently loved by the creator of the universe.
I'm speechless.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

continued gratitude

I spent a good 30 seconds trying to decide if that title rhymed in the effort of being catchy and creative.
It doesn't. Right?
Now I've said it so many times both the words sound funny.

I have decided that it would be beneficial for my heart to continue to focus on thankfulness. Too often lately I'm dependent on my current situation to determine my state of mind and mood. If life is fun, carefree, and going well in one moment, I'm happy and positive. If another moment I'm stressed, intimidated, or bored, I'm discontent and blah.
I need a heart check. With His help, I want to continually focus on things that I'm thankful for throughout the day. Not only because He desires that, but I want to train my mind to start noticing little gifts He provides me; so many times they go unnoticed. By finding things to be thankful for no matter my situation, my perspective of my day can't help but be changed.

“The psalmist’s point [from Psalm 145:9, 15-16) is that, since God controls all that happens in his world, every meal, every pleasure, every possession, every bit of sun, every nights sleep, every moment of health and safety, everything else that sustains and enriches life, is a divine gift” -Knowing God by J I Packer (READ THIS BOOK!)

Today, I'm thankful for:

  • waking up with a full 8 hours of sleep
  • this verse
  • words with friends iphone app
  • finding myself debating on how to spend my afternoon (no looming school assignments the rest of the week!!)
  • falling down the stairs, getting only a small scratch and a big laugh with the roommate
  • my comfy bed to sit and blog, read, or do homework in. (and sleep, occasionally)
  • hearing the birds chirp outside of my room
  • being an aggie and the journey to get here
  • John Piper and how the Lord uses him to speak truth into my life- "The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours." 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Give thanks in all circumstances.
I'm just now understanding what this means. I heard this verse a million times. heck, it's even at the top of my page. Whenever I read verses on thanksgiving, I just thought it was a "count your blessings" kind of thing to realize how much God has given to me. While this is true, I have just learned the beauty of giving thanks in every. single. circumstance. It's so easy to do in good times...bad ones are a different story. Anyone in a bad situation can say "thanks God for putting me here because I know you have a purpose for it." But what about gut wrenching, bring you to your knees, painful circumstances where you doubt God's presence? We've all been there. And if not, then it's coming.
I have such a hard time truly and genuinely lifting up my hands and thanking my God in those times. Or even the times that aren't so painful, but just exhausting. Rarely can I, in that moment, stop and thank God with a pure heart. I say it but deep down I'm doing it because I'm supposed to.
Recently, though, God has been reshaping my view of giving thanks. Opening my eyes to see that it's giving Him thanks in every circumstance that allows us to get the focus off of ourselves and onto something constant, unchanging, and dependable. His promises. By giving him thanks we are acknowledging not only our blessings, but His sovereignty. When I truly believe in God and His promises for my life, how can I not genuinely praise Him in every situation? (that's a rhetorical question because obviously I'm a sinner who unfortunately has many times of unbelief)

Paul was way ahead of me when he wrote in Philippians- "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." 

No matter how broken we are by our current circumstance, nothing exalts His name more than one of his children humbly and faithfully coming to Him with thanksgiving. Even thanking Him for the little things.

Today, I'm thankful for-
-early morning workouts with a friend
-oatmeal with fresh strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries
-eyes to see the beautiful, bright sun
-the stillness of an empty house
-time to sit, reflect, and blog

Sunday, March 13, 2011

it's about time

two weeks since I have written on here. that tells you how hectic the past few weeks have been if I didn't find the time to do one of my most favorite things.
feels good to be back. 
not to mention, it is officially spring break 2011. i have been waiting for this week all semester. my big plans to be in dallas all week have not disappointed me, yet. funny how there was a time where (while I love my family) going home wasn't at the top of my "places to go over break" list, and now I couldn't think of anything more blissful. 
The giddiness I feel when I first see the Dallas skyline.
Entering downtown traffic and not even caring that someone cut me off.
Pulling up to my house, knowing there will be a little black girl waiting.
Seeing that little black girl's tail wag, watching her disappear, and predicting her return with one of her prized possessions.
Having my parents run out the door, overflowing with genuine joy that I am home, embracing me as if it was their only chance to do so.
Walking in the door, smelling the familiar aromas and experiencing the beautiful house my mom has put her touch all over.
Sitting on the couch gladly answering their multitude of questions about my life, soaking it in, because too many children are without parents who care.
Being followed by my parents the whole first day I'm home because they want to be right where I am, and me, loving it.
Feeling instant peace and blessings over the home God has so graciously brought me in to.

oh, how things have changed. Not too long ago my eyes weren't open to these little gifts from above. A lot of them were annoyances, or went unnoticed.
Now, I ache for them when I'm away and drown myself in them when I am here.

home so very sweet home.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

wisdom in the midst of worry

I apologize that my posts are repetitive. Stress is just a major part of my life right now and as much as I wish I had something more entertaining to share with the 2 of you who read this, writing it all out is a type of therapy for me...and a reminder to myself of my constant dependency on His strength and mercy to get me through each moment of every day.

Like today, when all I want to do is crawl in bed and run away from my responsibilities...
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Or when my self-image is destroyed by the distorted expectations and desires of society....
"For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14-15)

When I struggle in accepting and dealing with my present circumstances...
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4: 12-13)

When I feel swallowed by my lack of obedience and trust in my God and burdened by my rebellion against Him...

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

And when I try, time and time again, to control the uncontrollable chaos surrounding me...
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31) 

can I get an "Amen"? 
Pray for me. That I can meditate on these verses and use them to bring my thoughts back to Him and His promises. Pray for the rest of the world...who are just as exhausted and stressed, many of whom are a million times more burdened by their responsibilities in life than I am. Let's all just admit that whether we are living life leisurely with no worries or working full time while going to school and raising a family, we all need Christ. Even in good times. 
Every single person on that spectrum needs His love, His mercy, His strength, and His promises. 
I'm the first to admit it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

silly me...

why do I ever doubt God's desire or even ability to be personal? I have experienced it multiple times, you would think I would realize by now that my God is very, very personal. He loves to bless us with things that we feel is specifically for us in that moment.
In all honesty, my Jesus time has been lacking and as I have said earlier, it is definitely taking its toll on me. This morning, I was reminded that time spent with Him will always be blessed. I can't walk away from hanging out with Jesus and feel more stressed, more burdened, etc.  I normally won't share any part of journal entries I write because it is my intimate reflection and prayer time with God, but today I have to give the Big Man a shout out on cyberspace because I am completely humbled.
"Abba, you know my insecurities and my feelings of inadequacy. More times than not, I can't get past them. They cripple me from letting your light shine out of me. Help me surrender them to you so I can fully find my security in you." feels weird sharing such an intimate prayer but there it is. My struggle of letting inadequacies control me.

Now here is where I got goose-bumpy and giddy...I opened my "Jesus Calling" devotional book and turned to February 22.
First sentence-"You need Me every moment."
As if the first sentence wasn't enough to grab my attention, this followed soon after:
"Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice--deep dependence on Me, or despair. The emptiness you feel within will be filled either with problems or My presence."
Completely and totally for me. Why despair when I can be dependent on the one who works everything for the GOOD who love Him (Romans 8:28)?

God loves me. What a blessing to be reminded of my need for Him every second of every day. Too many times my focus is everywhere around me, when everything I need or want is right above me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First thing first, my amazing father just turned a year older, so in celebration I need to brag on him a bit. I have recently developed a much greater respect for this awesome man of God. The way he loves the Lord reflects how he loves his family and others. Daddy, I am so overwhelmed at how much bless me. God is so great. Your leadership, responsibility, patience (lots of patience), and love you provide our family is immensely appreciated.
I will always be your little girl.

On a completely unrelated note...I survived this past week. There were definitely a few times where I did not see the end in sight. Started the week off with a bang when I unintentionally pulled an all-nighter and it was pretty much downhill from there. I was stressed and whiny and I'm sure not pleasant to be around..I was NOT doing everything without grumbling or complaining (phil. 2:14) OR working at everything with all my heart, as for the Lord, not men (col. 3:23).
THEN as if I didn't need another thing for God to throw in my face, I went to go see the screening of Beware of Christians on Thursday. You can read about the movie by clicking on the link but the movie opened with this quote-
“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”
let's just say I walked out of the theater and haven't been able to get the movie off my mind since. I reflect on my life and am heavy hearted at how little I radiate Jesus. Are my actions in line with what I believe? Do I treat my classmates or people on the street in love? Do I take every opportunity to share with others the best decision I ever made? Majority of the time, no.
Do I contribute to the negative feelings others have towards Christians? Do people even know I am Christ follower?
These questions are sobering to me. What actions am I taking to show the Jesus that saves and loves and satisfies to everyone I come in contact with?
"What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."
Matthew 10:27
Thank you Father, for continuing to change my heart and shape me into a woman who wants to radically and unconditionally follow you. I have a lot of work to do, but Your hand will guide me. Keep my heart hungry for You.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

surprise revelation

Oh, how I wish it was Christmas break again. Where my abundance of free time allowed for many days of just me and Jesus. No classes, no papers, no deadlines. I long to have that time again. Time that allows me to search and study His word to the point where I refuse to stop until He speaks to me. And boy, did He speak. In massive ways. Ways that encouraged me to start this blog because I just couldn't keep it all in. He was revealing so much in such a little amount of time that I felt like I would burst if I couldn't share. As I predicted here, my fear has become a reality-I don't have the time to shut myself away from the world and just hang out with Jesus for hours. I get frustrated and disheartened by how little I feel like I am growing now compared to over the break.
I don't feel like I have anything worthy of sharing. There is definitely a list of things that I know God is trying to teach me during this season of my life but my ears and eyes are struggling to catch and hold onto what He is trying to reveal to me...much less act on it. I feel like my days are becoming more about me and less about Him.
And I'm scared. It shouldn't be this do people have lives and actively and devoutly grow in their relationship with Christ?
Why do I have the all or nothing mindset when it comes to quiet times? I want to have this huge chunk of time available for it because I know how effective that was over the break. And now that school has started again and the busyness has picked back up, I am constantly burdened by the battle between my hunger for Him and daily responsibilities. I panic when I think about how much less I'm noticing things He is teaching me. I feel like a disappointment. Poor time manager. Lukewarm. It's a spiral downward when I let these thoughts run wild. I'm viewing my relationship with Christ as frantically trying to keep my head above water instead of letting His grace drown me.
He gave me a very special gift over winter break. One that showed me the importance of spending time with Him. Even though I so desire undistracted time with Him again, He has me right where He wants me. And even as I write that, I am reminded (yet again) that He is working in me.
I may not recognize it in the hurriedness of the day, but in the stillness of a night and reflection of the heart, He's moving in me...changing me.
note: it's saying hurriedness isn't a word but it most definitely is.

Luke 10:38-42
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus [1] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. [2] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Abba, thank you for revealing to me Your abundant grace as I felt burdened tonight. Give me a Mary heart. I am so distracted with everything I feel I'm lacking to be pleasing in your eyes, when all you really desire is me at your feet.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

straight from the Book

this is not a day that I can write.
1. because I am so tired that my words will not make sense
2. I have procrastinated yet again and should be doing my assignments
3. more than anything, I just need to immerse myself in scripture today to get the focus off myself and on something Eternal.

Psalm 23:3
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake. 
Matt. 11:28-30
 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Lamentations 5:21
21 Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return;
   renew our days as of old 
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Psalm 46:1-2
 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Exodus 15:13
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
   the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
   to your holy dwelling. 
1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Today is Your day, my God. Use it for Your glory.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

today, I feel.

I feel sad. Burdened. Desperate. Fragile.
Sad about the brokenness of the world and of myself.
Burdened by fears, stresses, and desires.
Desperate to be held in the arms of the One who promises to never leave me.
Fragile in ways that weaken my heart to believe lies of the enemy.

It's one of those days where I look around and feel crushed by my inadequacies and lost in my pursuit of Him. A day where I don't know how to pray because I'm paralyzed by the multitude of things to pray for. A day that, despite the beautiful sunshine, seems dark and lonely. A day where God seems so out of reach as I struggle to cling to Him.

And then...I cry. For every thought I can't express, for every ache in my heart, and for the longing of wanting Him near.
Slowly I feel His arms encircle me, carrying my weary body, and holding me tightly in His grip. The darkness is being overwhelmed by the Light and I am filled with the hope His promises bring.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”  Deut. 33:12

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."-Isaiah 42:16

 “He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”-Isaiah 40:11 

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand in the heights.  He trains my hands for battle." Psalm 18:30-34 
  I feel hopeful. Secure. Comforted. Loved.

Father, send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell. (2 Sam. 23:4)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

more-than-amazing grace

 It never ceases to amaze me how little I really know about the God I love. You would think that after 20 years of growing up in a Christian household, 17 years of Sunday school, and about 15 years of "having Jesus in my heart", my understanding of the Bible and my Father would be pretty solid. It's actually borderline embarrassing how little I truly grasp Him and His Word. Apparently, I missed the memo where God wants us to study Him. Search for Him. In my ignorance, it's like I was telling myself"Alright, I chose God and God=heaven. I'm good to go." Then as I matured in my "knowledge" of Him, my ignorance turned to laziness. My heart wanted to know and believe the sovereignty and mightiness of the Creator, but I felt stuck. I definitely had times where I desired spending time in His word and growing with Him....even now I look back and see how the Holy Spirit was working in my life and that gives me complete assurance that He is doing it now too.
Through a more devoted effort to learn about my Savior, I am for the first time seeing my need for His strength in my weakness and His holiness in my brokenness. And the more I truly examine how my life reflects Jesus, it is a constant battle to accept His grace and not be consumed by how little I deserve it. I know it seems like something your taught in Bible 101 but this is so new to me. God is making me more aware of my sinfulness so that I can fully grasp the concept of the gospel....that I am forgiven and therefore, am now free to repent. I will never reach a point where I am "fixed" and God has no more work to do in me. By following Christ, I am choosing daily to humble myself before Him and praise Him that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 corin. 12:9).
Hallelujer. (i took up Ebonics as a second language.)

I've said it once and I'll say it again. Every single person on this earth needs to read this book. It has been the biggest blessing to me the past month and let me just say, if you think you know don't. In fact, I'm going to venture to say you hardly know Him. Don't get mad, but it's true. I'll be the first to admit that I thought I knew all about the Big Guy so don't be offended. Just read it and I promise you're understanding of who God is will deepen in ways that give you goosebumps. You can't help but fall to your knees in thankfulness for His amazing grace.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

marley? is that you??

For any of you who has seen the movie Marley and Me, you can get a glimpse at what my weekend back home has looked like so far. I love it. Nothing like coming home to a baby golden retriever who is 110% puppy. Since I pulled up to the house yesterday (ahhhh such a blissful feeling) and saw this little guy rolling around in the ground like he was a pig in a mud pit, it has been a constant mix of hilarity and distress as it takes two of the three members of the family and lots of "No, Maverick!", "Off, Maverick!" to get this little punk from thinking the unfortunate third member's socks, slippers, pants, hands, etc are his chew toys. And attempting all this with your eyes close? near impossible...but necessary. one look at that little guy's face and you become putty in his hands and suddenly, losing a shoe or foot doesn't seem so awful anymore.
note: puppy teeth aren't as cute and harmless as one would think.

but then, he sleeps...
and I'm reminded why this is on my christmas, birthday, general wish list:
sigh...totally called a wish list for a reason. for now, I'll just stick with my empty fish bowl since apparently I can kill 5 goldfish in the span of two months. The last one was a fighter though...
Baby steps. Someday my dream might come true, but I should probably be able to either 1. afford it or 2. be okay living off of beans and rice and selling my plasma every month.
This daydreaming completely reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3. You know, the "time for everything" chapter. A chapter full of the promise for desires when they're unreachable, the promise of weeping and sadness along with joy and laughter. Read it. I promise you will be encouraged. In fact, here's the first part to get you started-
 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:  2 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

While I don't see "a time to buy a lab and a time to be puppy-less" listed....I think it brings enough for me to be challenged by already.

Monday, January 24, 2011


In addition to the other 7 books i'm reading, Captivating has also won a special place in my heart. It is the woman's Wild at Heart. thanks to the Big Guy, I always seem to pick up this book in times where I need it most. It explains my heart. My feminine heart. One frustrated by the romanticism it possesses. One full of desires, insecurities, pain, and beauty. It is a wonderful comfort to have this explained to you and reassure you that your heart is normal.

"Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities- as a reflection of God’s own heart……the story of Eve… We clearly haven’t learned its lessons- for if we had, men would treat women much much differently, and women would view themselves in a far better light… Adam steps forth, the image of God. Nothing in creation even comes close. And yet, the Master says that something is not good, not right. Something in missing… and that something is Eve…She is the crescendo, the final astonishing work of God. Woman. In one least flourish creation comes to a finish not with Adam, but with Eve. She fills a place in the world nothing and no one else can fill…And she, too, bears the image of God but in a way that only the feminine can speak. What can we learn from her? God wanted to reveal something about Himself, so he gave us Eve… Eve is created because things were not right without her. Something was not good. …Something is missing? What could it possibly be? Eve. Woman. Femininity. Wow. Talk about significance." 

This blew me away. Never before have I so intensely felt the need for my existence. 
The book goes on to describe how God created us, as relational, life-giving beings and how, through the fall of man, this can lead to all sorts of bad news. It also marvelously tells that each and every one of us has beauty. Every single person. this is just a very insignificant summary of the book, so I would just encourage you to read it! you boys aren't off the hook, it's a wonderful insight to the fragile, magnificent heart of women. 
"We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil."

I am loving the revelations this book is bringing...God made us in His image, so our desire for beauty is essentially a reflection of His desire. He wants to be pursued, fought for, etc.
Just like me.

"The vast desire and capacity a woman has for intimate relationships tells us of God's vast desire and capacity for intimate relationships. In fact, this may be The most important thing we ever learn about God--the He yearns for relationship with us. "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God" (John 17:3). The whole story of the Bible is a love story between God and His people. He yearns for us. He cares. He has a tender heart."

Yearn- 1. have an intense feeling of loss or lack and longing for something
            2. be filled with compassion or warm feeling
syn. long for, crave, desire, ache for, hunger for.

He YEARNS for me.
this is a line in a movie where all the girls go "awww". and it's being said to me. and you.
soak that in.

Sorry Hollywood, you have too big of shoes to fill.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

4 hours til take off...

the semester officially starts in 4 hours. EEEK.

this girl has been up since 5.
yes, in the morning.
before the sun and 98% of the human population are up.
not only that, it was an intentional wake work out.
yes, i'm feeling okay and yes, i'm crazy.
it was actually so refreshing...even with a restless nights sleep i was bright-eyed and bushytailed when my alarm went off at 5:15 (ok maybe a slight exaggeration). i met a couple friends and it is so much more motivating when you aren't there by yourself! i actually really enjoyed getting up that early. 1-the rec wasn't jammed packed. and 2- now i have a couple hours before class to just relax (or starting tomorrow, do school). it's a new year. new semester, new classes, new friends, and new memories. i am so excited to see what God has in store. i brace myself for some challenging, uncomfortable times ahead, but thank goodness for His strength and power.
2 Timothy 1:7
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."
thank You, for early mornings, and new beginnings. Rid me of every fear and anxious thought about starting this crazy semester, and give me me a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

fluffy post

this post really doesn't have much if you are looking for something inspiring and thought-provoking, you're better off going here or even here.
i just knew i needed to write something before i went the whole day with yoga being the only productive thing i did. (yes, blogging is productive in my opinion.)
i'm sitting here watching my beautiful friend madeline pack up her room as she prepares to move to austin this weekend for her new internship. so sad. the past two weeks of being temporary roommates have been such a fun blessing. lots of laughs and memorable girl time. God is doing amazing things in her life as she leaves college and enters "the real world". that stage of life seems so far away from me. i picture myself in college forever. the reality is that i have only have 2 years left and if they go by as fast as the last 2, i better start shopping for big girl clothes. scary.

on a different note, the last day of yoga is tomorrow and i'm actually getting kind of depresssed about it. i have learned to really enjoy it and i'm tempted to go be one of those people and buy a dvd so i can do it at home during the semester. plus, i feel like with my new goal to work out 5 days a week, yoga can be a more relaxing and easier workout on chosen days. which, on that topic, i refuse to call it a new years resolution because that always sets me up to fail. instead it is a personal challenge i'm setting for stop being lazy, stop making excuses, and learn to love being active and healthy. i know i am capable of it because i've been at that place before. it's funny though, i've noticed how when one part of my life is disorganzied, everything becomes chaotic and i go into hibernation mode. the lack of activity, eating horribly, sit-and-stare-at-my-computer-all-day-mode. this has gotta stop. i've been down this road before and it did not get me anywhere. i am gluten-free (foreign phrase? click here), so i'm already limited to what i can eat. problem is, i have trouble following the diet since i don't have horrible symptoms. however, i always forget how great i can feel until i go awhile having self-control. i've come a long way, thanks to Him, but i still have multiple times where i do not treat my body as a temple (thank you, 1 Cor. 6:19 for that conviction...). SO, as my 2011 challenge that is my goal. Not to lose #lbs, cut out sugar, run 7 days a week....but to search and pray about what it looks like to honor God with my body and let that be my guide, not society or fitness magazine.
so much for a fluffy post. my ramblings always seem to win over my blog intentions.
i've officially put off studying pretty much all day, i think it's time to glance at the review considering the test is tomorrow morning. highlight of the day: babysitting the apel kids...check out the cutest family ever. Praise God for the innocence and carefree spirit of encouraging.

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart."- Ezekiel 36:26 

Monday, January 10, 2011

prone to wander

yoga update: still loving it. did inverted poses today (shoulder stand and head stands) it feels cool to do, but when i saw other people doing it, it just looked freaky...i don't think our bodies are supposed to bend that way.
now on deeper level..

some of my most beautiful times spent with Jesus are on my roadtrips home. it's either 3 hours of me and my fleshly thoughts (otherwise known as satans playground) or 3 hours of uplifting, entertaining podcasts and music. Past experiences have shown me that the latter is such a better use of my time, even if i get weird looks from other drivers as they see me jamming to my "jesus loves me" playlist.
but yesterday, as i was leaving the dallas winter wonderland, the hymn "Come Thou Fount" (David Crowder great.) came on. i've sung this song so many times without fully grasping the lyrics. i am focused on the first verse but then i find myself just mumbling the words i know.

i'm singing to my Daddy, my Love. sure, there are times where i have trouble focusing during worship time in church (my ADD brain takes over). but that PLUS not grasping the full meaning of the song? that's so rude! i would not want someone who loves me to sing me a song without paying attention to the lyrics. just like i would not, in order to show my appreciation and love, go to my parents and belt out Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" (yes mom, that example's for you). it has no meaning. so to be in my car yesterday and realize that i had no clue what i just sang, was sobering and embarrassing. Is God really up there smiling at and delighting in my half-hearted attempt to worship Him?
Matthew 15:8
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
My true desire is to lay my heart down at the feet of my Savior during worship...not keep it from Him.
Which brings me to the verse in "Come Thou Fount" that i very clearly understood and related to:
"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above."

It is so frustrating how prone i am to leave the God i love. how humbling to know He is always there awaiting my return...i'll never understand.
i'm feeling like this entry was a little scattered but i'm distracted by the hype of a runaway stabber a couple blocks away! first this morning there was a robbery at the mcdonalds by campus....then later tonight a guy stabbed someone at that same location. thank goodness for friends who like to have sleepovers.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved,  clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

Friday, January 7, 2011

book therapy

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."- C.S Lewis
Cheesy? who cares...this quote is a beautiful image that suffering brings us to Him more than anything else, so that His glory may be revealed.
the past couple months, my desire for reading has increased tremendously. not too long ago if i asked someone what they like to do in their free time and the response was "read", i'm sure i would smile forcefully and nod but inside i was so confused, yet also jealous. along with yoga (see post below), people who read are classy. i always wanted for my perfect day to consist of tea, books, and a comfy couch, but usually it was spent on facebook, in malls, etc. NOW i can say that reading would be a huge component of my perfect day. God has so graciously brought books like Knowing God, Counterfeit Gods, and Crazy Love (along with the Book of all books) to fill my mind with truth, encourage continual growth in my walk with Christ, and leave me hungry for more of Him and more literary pleasures.
Last night I was reading Counterfeit Gods, an amazing book on the evil of idolatry, when I got a kiss from God (a phrase my mom uses for when we experience something we feel was specifically for us). Tim Keller said that "sometimes God seems to be killing us when he's actually saving us." This seems dramatic, but who can honestly say they have never felt the despair of losing something or having an event change their life completely? and who, in that moment, can look up to Heaven and say "Thank you, God. Thank you for saving me, even if right now I don't necessarily see what from."
not me.
but it's true isn't it? that in that time, we are not equipped to see the big picture. we argue and reason with God that we know what is best for us. Proverbs says that "A man's heart plans his way; but the Lord directs his steps." and does He not promise to know the plans He has for us, to give us a hope and a future (jeremiah 29:11)? So why then, do I continue to beg God to give me my way? It's so challenging to just sit back in relief and remember that while things aren't as I expected, He is redirecting my steps towards His beautiful plan for my life.
Even as I write this, I think back to other seasons of my life where I was so confused and upset that God's ways were not mine, and now I'm overwhelmed with thanks. Now I see what I was blinded by then. Max Lucado put it perfectly when he said "God promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into the future." 
God doesn't want me to question Him...I think it's safe to say the all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator of the Universe who chose me and loves me has my life under control
Thank you, Abba. Thank you for times where you bring me to my knees in submission to your will, for it is far better than any plan of mine.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


it's been two days since i've been back in aggieland. two things i realized in just this amount of time:
1. yoga breathing is not easy- okay. 2nd day of yoga and it's actually going really well...easy i'd even say. i'm pretty flexible, so the poses we have done so far haven't felt too awkward (although i definitely don't look like the instructor). and i feel classy. i always thought people who did yoga were classy, and now i'm one of them :] BUT, the breathing....i'm horrible. i can't do it correctly. while i have mastered breathing in and out of my nose, the whole "relax and extend your stomach and then contract on exhale" thing is impossible for me. if i focus so much on the breathing, i can't do the pose and if i focus on the poses, i don't breath properly. and from what i know about yoga, breathing is like the most important thing. hopefully this will get better with time because it is relaxing so i can only imagine the benefits when i can do it correctly!


2. there is no place like home- i am so grateful for my time at home. my parents were a continual comfort and encouragement to me. i struggled with loneliness a lot this last trip home and although i did not see it then, i believe that was God's way of providing me with sweet, intimate time with Him. i learned more about Him and what He wants for my life in this moment. it's been two days and already my Jesus time has decreased, my mind is filled less and less of Him, and it's unsettling how little amount of time it takes for Satan to pop up more and more. I am fearful because i know what happens when i'm not filling the bulk of my day in the Word or with uplifting books and podcasts(if you haven't read Knowing God by J I Packer....go buy it NOW....incredible). I need Christ. All day. I have a hunger for Him that i have never experienced. it frustrates me when i think about how in two weeks i won't have hours of free time. i want to just spend the whole day with Jesus, undistracted by anything else. I know that is not realistic, but spending time with Him every day is. Just how a couple days of not being home unsettles me and makes me long for it again, so does my soul after a couple days without pursuit of Christ. The benefit of the latter is that I never have leave. in my sinfulness and stupidity, i just choose to.
it's funny how God chooses to use earthly things to open our eyes to our need for Him and to how much greater He can give us.

Matthew 7:11
"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!"

I ask for neverending growth and hunger for my Savior. I ask for continual molding and shaping of my life to reflect His. I ask for comfort and security when my frequent feelings of loneliness and longing come.

Revelation 3:20
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."