Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why to What Continues...

"Now that this is my reality, what am I going to do?"  I know that I am not even close to answering that question.  I also know that it's okay that I don't have all the answers right now.  This is a defining moment in my life, it's time for God to use me and prune me into whatever He is creating me to be.  Pruning moments in life aren't easy.  Sometimes they hurt, sometimes you feel empty and lost.  I am trying to hold on to God's word and rest in Him.  There is a particular song that has been on my heart lately.  One line in the song says, "What if trials of this life are His mercies in disguise."  In my crabby moment last night as this song was stuck in my head again I thought to myself, what does that even mean?  My trials give God the opportunity to reveal Himself to me.  It gives Him the opportunity to show that He is a loving and merciful God.  Then I thought how insiginificant my trials are compared to what others go through.  Why me?  Why am I so important to God? 

Psalm 139 says that God knit us together in our mother's womb.  Wow.  God knew me so inimately before I was even a thought in any individual's mind.  Have you ever knit something?  It is an intricate art of crafting yarn into a useful and purposeful article of clothing.  It takes time and diligence to finish a piece with just a pair of knitting needles and yarn.  God took the time to craft me into whatever He has created to be. 

There are many people in the bible who most likely felt insignificant the way I have been feeling.  Abraham was elderly and his wife was barren, yet God promised that his ancestors would outnumber the stars.  Moses had a stuttering problem, but he was able to be a leader to God's chosen people.  David was an adulterer and murderer, but we remember him as a man after God's own heart.  Naomi was a widow, but God was faithful to her.  Job went bankrupt and lost his family, yet God blessed him more than Job could have imagined. 

We all mess up in life.  We all have dreams and plans that fall through.  I don't want to follow my own plan or dream if it doesn't coincide with God's plans for me.  As insignificant or unworthy that I may feel sometimes, I know that God can still use me for something bigger.  So for now, I will let God continue to mold me into what He wants from me, and I will pray that He will reveal Himself to me and what His plan is for me now...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Growth Opportunity

Don't you love those reminders that God places in our lives right at the exact moment you need to hear them?I am an avid reader of my Proverbs 31 Ministries Devotionals.  Every morning I settle in on the couch before I trudge off to work and spend time in a devotional with God.  It's a nice way for me to start my day and reminds me of what I am working through my day for.  Yesterday, as I opened my email and snuggled up with a blanket... and Gizmo (I love Fall!), I read a title and devotional that sounded vaguely familiar.  Before I could get the thought out about another repeat devotional, I noticed that it was written by my favorite author, Lysa TerKeurst.

The devotional was entitled When God Hurts Your Feelings.  Lysa spoke of when her 14-year old daughter's dreams in gymnastics were crushed because of an injury that would leave her unable to return to the sport.  Lysa said in moments that dash dreams away and our hopes for our future are crushed, that it is a natural reaction to ask "why?"  She pushes even further to say it's okay to ask, so long as to not let that become an excuse to distance ourselves from God.  She also said that we need to replace those "why" questions with "what" questions.  She gives some suggestions to the "what" questions we should be asking, which struck a cord with me yesterday.

You see, the past few weeks, I have been dealing with a very real situation in my life which could potentially change everything I have ever dreamed for in the future.  Since my miscarriage, I definitely have grown in maturity with my walk with God, and have learned to lean on God and trust Him in my circumstances.  I have to say that my faith really hasn't been tested over the weeks up till this point.  It's easy to trust and lean on God when things are going so smoothly, but add a setback into the mix of things and how we respond will surely show us exactly where we are at in our faith journey.  I have to admit that in that very moment, my mind instantly went to the way I would have handled this particular situation in the past.  It's easy to let our mind go to a negative place and to start becoming angry and distance ourselves from God.  But the good thing is, in the past few years that I have grown, I have learned a thing or two.  I have learned the power of prayer.  I have learned how I can battle the lies of this world with the truths I read everyday in the Bible.  I have learned of the accountability I have through my friends and family.  And I have learned what a blessing these things are.

So isntead of saying, "That's it, this isn't going to work.  The odds are against me and I am left with nothing."  I can say, "My God is great, and my God is huge, and there is nothing that my God can't do if He only chooses to."  Instead of saying, "There is no way this is going to work."  I can say, "I have seen and acknowledge the miracles God has done in my own personal life and I cannot deny the fact that God can create another miracle in this situation."  Instead of making alternative plans for the future, I am safe to say, "I trust you Jesus," and know that God is going to carry me through this situation, no matter what His answer is for me.

So now, when my setback is staring me down and hovering over me, I am not afraid.  I know that I have the power of God on my side and I know that God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.  So my "what" questions... This is the reality of my situation, so what am I going to do with it?  What other opportunities could God be providing?  God is providing me the opportunity to show how much I have learned from my past.  He is allowing me the opportunity to lean on Him, and I choose to push into my God even further and trust Him even more everyday.

I am praying for a miracle today.  For always.

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things."  Philippeans 4:8

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Soul Surfer

Justin and I rented the movie Soul Surfer this past week.  We were a little skeptical about watching a movie where a girl gets attacked by a shark, but from the reviews of others, it was an inspirational must-see.

After watching this astounding young woman's story, I was completely amazed by her.  How is it that this 13 year-old girl (at the time of the attack) was so brave and composed?  How is it that she immediately leaned on God for help and guidance, even while still in the hospital and adjusting to the new journey she was about to embark upon?  How did she continue to find strength in her weakest moments of trying to make her way back into professional surfing?  For such a young lady at the time, she had such a deep, mature faith to trust God in the most difficult moment she faced in life till that point.

I read an article about Bethany Hamilton shortly after watching the film.  In this interview, she stated that a month before the accident, she was praying with her mother for a way to use her surfing to glorify God.  Through sharing her journey back into the surfing community and leaning on God the entire way, sharing her faith with all she came in contact with, she definitely exceeded her requests to the Lord.  Shouldn't we all strive to find our strength and courage from the Lord and in the meantime, share that important testimony with those we meet?  Why don't we consistently do this as Christians?  What is so hard about laying our lives down at the foot of the cross and letting Christ bear those trials for us?  Do you know the peace you find when you give your entire life to Christ?  And why don't we as Christians hold each other accountable to these standards?  Christ doesn't just say that He would like to walk with us in our lives through our difficult trials, He says He wants us to be completely surrendered to Him in every facet of our lives.  That we do not eat, sleep or breathe without our God being apart of every second of our entirety.

Bethany discovered that even through a very traumatic and horrifying trial (the attack itself and working to make her comeback into surfing) that she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her.  (Philippians 4:13)

We should embrace our weaknesses, our trials and tribulations because that becomes an invitation to trust in our God.  It becomes a chance to glorify Him with the next steps in our circumstance.  It shapes us into a deep, mature faith-seeking Christian and defines who we become.  Most importantly, it gives us the chance to glorify our God!

"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 upon me.  That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12: 9-11

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Push On...

Hey all!! It's been a while since I have posted... sorry about that!! A lot has been happening in recent weeks, and now I get to share some of my thoughts with you!

Recently, there have been some things that are coming up for me which have been raising some anxious and stressful emotions.  It is so easy to start to focus on the what-if's and doubts that life hands us.  The waiting to see what is going to happen also becomes unbearable.  But that's just what Satan sometimes wants from us, to try to drag us away from the truths God provides.  The anxiety, the doubts, and the time to play these games in our minds.  But what are we supposed to do as Christians when we have these moments in life, which inevitably sneak up on us?

Lamentations 3:24-25 says, "I say to myself the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him, it is good to wait quietly, for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.  Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him, Let him bury his face in the dust- there may yet be hope.  Let him offer his cheek to the one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.  For no one is cast off by the Lord forever.  Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love."

What we can gain from this verse to offer to the Lord is to sit in silence with Him.  Let His grace and love rain down on us.  Wait on the Lord to give us the strength and courage to press on in life.  We live in a world that is fallen, and we need to remember that it will not always be easy and perfect.  But the best place we can rest our heads is on the shoulder of our incredibly gracious and merciful Lord.  Find verses that combat the lies Satan feeds us with the truths that we can strongly stand on.  Find a close Christian mentor that we can confide in to pray over us with whatever we are going through.  God's truths always give me a peace that no one else can give and has a way of drowning out those doubts and insecurities that come with tough situations in life.

I know that there is a lot of hurts and doubts now and even to come with the economy the way it is, the health of our friends and family in question, or whatever circumstance you are going through right now.  But God has big shoulders and we can lay those at the foot of the cross and give it all to him, asking him to carry it for us and give us the strength and guidance to push on.  I pray that you push to push on with God carrying you through it.  And I hope that you will pray for me through my circumstance too.  God Bless!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Shark Week

This week is one of my favorite weeks in the summertime.  Shark Week on Discovery Channel is one of those things that reminds me of my childhood.  My oldest brother always loved to watch Discovery during this week, and we would watch it together all the time.  It was quality time with my brother, as we would act like sharks and "attack" each other and make voices for the characters in the shows.  It is one of my fondest memories of my youth.

Justin also loves watching Shark Week with me, which has been a blessed continuance of some great memories.  Last night, we were watching a series of some men tagging Great White Sharks in hopes to discover new and interesting facts about these creatures.  One of the sharks that they tagged was actually pregnant, and the researchers were hoping they can gain some more information about where these species go to give birth.  I can't help but think there are so many things about many different species (some may still be undiscovered even) that we have yet to witness.  It reminds me a lot of a book that I am reading right now called Crazy Love (by Francis Chan).  The very first chapter is so convicting because it calls us to stop praying and just marvel at the creation of God.  Francis Chan points out that a wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of him. 

Did you know that there are 228 seperate and distinct muscles in a catepillar's head?  Did you know that the average elm tree has about 6 million leaves on it?  What about the fact that your own heart generates enough pressure to pump blood through your own body to shoot blood up to 30 feet?  These are all amazing facts that Francis Chan brings up in his book. 

If we could just take a step back and see the creativity and wonders that God has carefully and purposefully chosen for each and every thing in this world, we would be speechless.  Since I started this book, I constantly am thinking about why things work the way they do and marvel at the fact that God purposed those things to operate just that way.  It's wild really.  Psalm 19: 1-4 reads, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour fourth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

Take a moment with me tonight.  Instead of pouring out words to our Lord tonight, just marvel in his creativity and purposefulness of the wonders around you. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Tattoo

I know this seems like a strange thing to blog about, but I feel that now is a good time to share this story.

In January of 2009 I had a miscarriage and it was very dramatic for me.  Not that something like this isn't dramatic for anyone else who suffers a loss, but it was something that really hit me hard.  The doctors and nurses couldn't confirm that I was miscarrying for 3 weeks, and even after that, I still ended up needing a DNC.  It hurt me emotionally and I became angry.  I was angry at God for allowing me to get pregnant, only to take it away from me so quickly.  I was angry at my body because I felt like it had failed me.  I was angry with anyone else around me because I felt like life just moved on while I stood motionless and numb of anything.

I began to distance myself from everything.  My relationship with God grew farther distant, as well as my connections to friends and family.  I became angry and frustrated with pregnancy announcements because I couldn't figure out why I was punished to endure this painful storm while everyone else was so blessed.  At that time, I really hurt a lot of friends and family, and now I realize that they only stood by my side because they loved and cared for me so much.  The only comfort I found was in going to Wendy's to eat.  I quickly gained 50 lbs from grieving through my loss.

I can now tell you that I know what it means to know that "God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me."  I know that we still live in a fallen world, where even in the midst of a difficult struggle in our lives, God can and should still be glorified.  I only know this because I had such wonderful family and friends who reminded me of these truths daily, even when I wasn't able to hear it.  I can't say that there was a "ah-ha" moment that occurred to make me realize this.  I can't even tell you when exactly that light bulb went off for me.  I can tell you that without God blessing me with such wonderful people in my life, I wouldn't have gotten through what I did.  I do regret the reactions I had at that time towards others and I am truly sorry for that.  I think everyone grieves differently, and I know the reason it was so hard for me is because we so desperately want a family.  However, I can now say that I am able to be happy and share in the joy of the wonderful things going on in my friends' lives and also understand that it is okay for me to still long to be on that same journey with them too.  I think there will always be a piece of me that longs for a family, and that is the way God made me, so I can find peace in it.

Once I started healing, I began to focus on the things in my life that I could control, growing in closer relationship with God, friends and family through prayer, Bible devotionals and fellowship.  I joined weight watchers and began working out with my sister-in-law (who is such an amazing woman of God and without her love and support through every trial I have ever faced since we met, I don't know where I would be... I love you dearly and you are so special to me!!)  I began to put my focus back on Christ instead of hating myself and rejecting others around me. 

One particular verse that I clung to during that time was 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  It says, "Do you not know your body is a temple, given to you by the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own, you were bought at a price." 

God created me and my body to operate the way He sees fit.  My body does not fail me when I can wake up each and every day and glorify God by serving others.  I lost 40 lbs once I was able to focus on this verse and respect the gift of an able body that God had entrusted to me.  Furthermore, God already paid the price with the precious blood of Jesus on the cross for me.  I am certainly not my own, and I was bought at a very high price.  I don't have to feel alone or that God has failed me, because He has given me more than I could ever want or deserve.  Most importantly, GOD NEVER FAILS US!  My life does not have to be defined by whether or not God chooses to bless us with a child.  Once I began to see all the amazing blessings around me, it was even more obvious how much God does love me.  I truly feel that He has Justin and me in the palm of His hand and will take care of us no matter what road He takes us on, family or not. 

Which brings us to the reasons behind my tattoo.  I wanted to remember how far I had come on my journey.  I wanted to remember who I belong to.  Through branching out in my relationship with God, as well as my friends and family, something beautiful grew.  That is why I chose to have the verse that helped me through this difficult time in my life as well as a branch with flowers growing on it.  It is a beautiful reminder of how precious I am to my Lord and Savior.  I don't know where you are at on your journey, but I do know that God has bought you at a very high price and He values you and you are worth it to Him.  Don't ever believe the lies of this world.  Your body is a temple given to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells in you and you have received this only by the high price that Christ paid.   

I don't know what God has planned for Justin and I.  But I do find peace in knowing that God is holding me closely to His heart.  I still think of that baby and long for a chance to be a mother.  I still get teary-eyed sometimes through the struggles to have a family and wish it was easier than what it is.  But I do know that the one thing I can still do is glorify God.  I have learned a lot from this storm in my life, and I don't know if I would have pushed into deeper relationship with God if I didn't hit rock bottom first so He could move me where He wanted me to be.  So I count it as a blessing, and I trust that God knows what is best for me, even if I can't see it all the time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Insignificant but Important

While on vacation, we watched the movie Remember Me.  I won't spoil any details for you regarding the movie itself, but one particular line that struct me in the movie was a quote from Ghandi. 

"What you do in life is insignificant, but it's important that you do it."

It made me think a lot about the meaning behind the quote.  Justin and I even had a conversation around this topic.  Justin felt that line was untrue.  I pointed out that from the standpoint of the world looking in, what you do may be insignificant to society, but it is important that you do it from an individual or close knit circle of community.  It reminds me much of our walk in faith.  What we do may be insignificant in the sense that we may not ever see the seeds we plant in others come to fruitfulness, but it is important that we do it.  I look at our world and see that it is so natural that God is not represented in our government, schools, work, even extracurricular activities.  If we don't reach out to plant those seeds in our communities, how will others ever know Christ? 

I know that God is bigger than you and me, and that He will always provide a way for others to know Him in some way, shape or form.  But when He is calling us to reach out and be that example or that voice of reason to others, do we act on it?  I have to admit, I don't always... Maybe it's because I fear that I will get in the way of what God is trying to do in that person's life (through my own humanness, I tend to talk too much when I get nervous in situations, and I fear I will overwhelm someone)... maybe it's because I think I will make a fool of myself and look crazy... maybe I am just being ridiculous?  I often find myself feeling so inadequate in being a light for others, which is selfish.  I just so desperately want the words to come out right and not hinder what God is wanting to do that I cripple myself.  It's a lie that Satan feeds us to make us ineffective Christians.  I don't want to be that person anymore, maybe that's why I am reading and trying to discover my spiritual gift.  While I am searching to find out what that is, I hope I can still be a light for His Kingdom.

"Go and make disciples, loving people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, and provide for all, a life-time of Christian growth."