Monthly Archives: January 2011

Right Where I Want To Be

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As I snuggled in on the couch last night next to my husband, the thought came to me, ‘There is nowhere else I’d rather be.’  What a sweet, sweet feeling that is.  Sure, there’s tons of other people I’d like to get to see at some point soon and there’s plenty of adventures I’d like to go on and explore and there’s a multitude of places I’d like to live at some point in our lives.  But, last night, I realized I was just where God wanted me.  I am just where He wants me.  What a beautiful thing to contemplate 🙂

In that contentment also comes the desire and obedience to growth and change.  As I was talking to Josiah about a person I kind of know, he asked how long it had been since I had encountered her (which was a year and a half ago.  I ran into her in the restroom at church.).  His response was, ‘don’t you think there’s any chance she’s changed in the last year and a half?’  Wow.  Here I was continuing to make assumptions on how this person was based on her behavior almost two years ago.  Is that really fair?  I don’t know about you, but I serve a God who DESIRES to transform us into His image – who PROMISES to restore us into His likeness -who LOVES to heal, rekindle, and ignite.  I sure don’t want to be the same a year and a half from now.  And I sure don’t want people interacting with me based on past assumptions.  Lord, get rid of my critical nature as I replace it with a desire to see people how You see people!  Lord, ignite a passion within me to actively pursue a transormation into Your image!

No pain, no gain

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During tonight’s Bible study, something occurred to me.  I remembered back to last week when my neck was really hurting.  I was painfully (pun intended) aware of this throughout the day – my movements were constrained, my mobility was limited, my whining was increased 😉  On Thursday, I was walking through campus and realized my neck didn’t hurt anymore.  When I thought about it, my neck hadn’t hurt the day before either.  It struck me then.  I was so accutely aware of the pain when it was in my body and was quick to complain and mention it; however, when the pain subsided – where was my praise?  Where was my awareness of being healthy again?  It was a day and half late and a dollar short, I’ll tell you that!

In 2 Corinthians, we’re reminded of this.  We so often become consumed by our despair – we can’t see beyond our circumstances, beyond our shortcomings, beyond our surroundings – that it becomes what we’re consumed by.  How are we going to get out of debt?  How are these students going to learn?  How are we going to be able to afford _____?  What will life look like in six months? It becomes debilitating.  God promises to CONSOLE the downcast – shouldn’t we be concentrating on that?  His Word is FULL OF TRUTHS that remain TRUE despite our circumstances.

This even rang true as I drove home and was contemplating this idea – that we often give the negative in our life so much more time and energy and worry than we praise and celebrate the positive and the victories.  Yesterday at work, there was a very difficult meeting that I attended.  The story of this mother was absolutely heartbreaking.  Like brought me to tears last night when I laid in bed and thought about it.  However, today at work, I was highly encouraged by a meeting I attended.  But, it didn’t consume me like yesterday’s meeting.  The pain that I felt over yesterday and the prayers that I lifted up on behalf of that mother and her children should have been complimented by my praise and excitement over such a good report this afternoon – something in Philipians we’re encouraged to think about – (whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise). 

When we become aware of this, we should feel a godly grief.  A godly grief leads to earnestness, eagerness to clear ourselves, indignation (strong displeasure in something that is unjust or offensive), alarm, longing, zeal.  Lord, let me be aware of the fact that oftentimes I get stuck in the what ifs – let me realize that is DECEPTIVE; a device the enemy uses to distract me from the peace and character of God..  Those worries distract us from the reality that when we present our requests to God, the peace that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in CHRIST JESUS. 

Another thought that stuck out today is from 2 Corinthians 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved (God has accepted us as His children as separate from the world), let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit (CLEANSE that spiritual contamination that we’ve exposed ourselves to by not being obedient or by not understanding God’s character), making holiness perfect in the fear (absolute reverence) of God.” What is in our lives that is keeping us from perfecting holiness?  (holiness meaning to be set apart)…

His promptings…

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I’m getting sick.  Or fighting off sickness.  Something like that.  I never get sick so that’s a bummer 😦  Considering the fact I’m surrounded by snot-infested children on a daily basis, it’s actually pretty awesome that I don’t get sick more often than I do.  A few years ago I counted the times my sister (whom I lived with at the time), my boyfriend (at the time), and my good friend got sick compared to me.  17-1.  No joke!  Should have taken the Hubs’ advice and taken some of his Airborne.

Anyways…enough about that.  Today I’ve thought a lot about an idea that a Bible Study leader shared with me while in college.  ‘Be Sensitive to His Promptings’.  I’ve thought about this often, incorporate it into my prayers, and keep it in mind while reading my Bible.  Sensitive to HIS promptings – not my own desires, my own selfishness, my own ideas – but rather His promptings.  Oh, what a glorious way to live!

And, today alone I can think of three chances that I wasn’t sensitive to what it was He was telling me.  Three times.  Imagine how much more He would speak IF I would listen.  Imagine how much more He IS speaking but I fill my mind with other thoughts, distractions, motives, etc.

Annoying.  But it also creates a resolve to do things different tomorrow. And, hey, maybe I’ll even venture to start out on that decision tonight!  Be still, my soul.  Be still and know that He is God.  And He wants to talk to you.  He does talk to you.  Now listen…

Storytelling

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I didn’t get the chance to write yesterday – ended up taking a babysitting gig that had me away from the computer and by the time I was home, I was ready to spend some time with the Hubs and head to bed.

Yesterday, as I was incorporating the practice of sitting still in my life – the idea of storytelling came to me.  I was thinking about how throughout the day, even in the most boisterous of groups I teach, if I begin to tell a story or read a book, I can capture their attention.  If only for a moment.  I love telling stories to kids.  Using fun voices (my husband would disagree – ‘fun’ would not be the adjective he would choose.  Maybe ‘annoying’ would be more like it.).  I love the privilege of being able to engage their imaginations and help them create stories in their minds.  I LOVED story time each night with Kalyb while he was here.  He preferred that ‘Mr. Funny’ (a stuffed animal frog he named because I was cracking him up with this ‘Mr. Funny’ character) do all the story telling.  It was absolutely hilarious.  Kalyb would even pick his knee up in the air and hit it with his hand – creating a real ‘knee slapper’, if you will.  When I tried to imitate him and join in on the knee slapping fun at one point, he quickly stopped laughing, looked at me and said, ‘no.  This is not for adults.  Just for kids.’  Well, soooorry!  Glad he set it straight 🙂

Anyways, back to the idea of storytelling.  Last year, when contemplating my job and what I really wanted to do with my life, the idea of writing children’s books came to me.  I even brainstormed with a friend of mine: she would illustrate, I would write.  We created the characters.  We imagined ourselves in a little studio – maybe somewhere up in a northern California coastal town – spending the days writing and drawing and creating away.  Oh, I would just love it!  Maybe it’s because today has felt more rushed that such a calmness seems so welcoming.  But, I think there’s a part of my mind that’s so creative and I haven’t made the opportunities to utitlize that lately.

When I was younger, I had an incredible imagination.  Seriously – ask my mom, ask my friends from that time, ask me 🙂  It was incredible.  I didn’t need anybody around to completely amuse myself and create my own little world – now believe me, if people wanted to join in, I’d quickly put them to work and appoint them a character or activity and get them moving.  Even in my creativity there is quite a bit of structure and organization.  I like that though.  I like structure.  I like creating.  I love writing – it can just be so daunting sometimes.  I love organization. 

I look all around and realize that this God that I serve is incredibly creative.  Incredibly organized and structured.  Yet, also spontaneous and engaging.  Now, how am I going to incorporate some of that creativity into this life of mine these days??

Friendship and Consecration

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As I started this morning out, the word ‘Consecration’ was resounding in my heart.  The definition of consecration is “a solemn commitment of your life or your time to some cherished purpose”.  I love this!  This is just what I want and have done – I have committed to getting up early the next three weeks (don’t they say it takes 21 days to make a habit?  Hopefully I’ll be forming some good ones!).  And, yes, this is a cherished purpose to me – to seek wholeheartedly after the Lord.  And, my oh my, how the happenings can easily get in the way without a purposeful intention. 

Lately, I’ve really loved having boundaries in life.  They make our ‘yes’s’ and our ‘no’s’ really easy.  For example, we’re on a crazy Mission Get Out of Debt (we refer to it as the GOOD mission – or wait, maybe that’s just me.).  But, having our budget set up and those boundaries in place have made saying yes and no a lot easier.  When I used to depend so much on my credit card, I’d do things that were above my means and wouldn’t think twice about it (although now I’m thinking about it as we’re just now paying for all of it!).  I think of this in relationship to the Lord as well.  If my relationship with Him and dependence on Him is more of a priority, I won’t be as inclined to do things out of my own strength.  When consistently in communion with Him, it will be easier to say yes and to say no – because I’ll know whether or not it alligns with His purpose for my life.  Does that make sense?  I might be stretching it a little bit.  But, it almost seems like an oxymoron to state that in having boundaries we experience more freedom – but isn’t that the beauty of it?!  As we seek after His heart and realize the ‘boundaries’ that He’s placed in our life our really for our benefit in being able to better know Him, isn’t that a freeing place to be?  I love it!

Anyways, after those ramblings….I’ve also been thinking a lot about friendship lately.  Probably because I had a great time this weekend getting to spend time with a friend, got a good catch up phone conversation with another dear friend of mine followed by a few hour hang out with another friend I haven’t seen in months.  Followed by today getting to work with friends, come home to my best friend (aka ‘Da Hubs), then an awesome phone conversation with a feathered friend (inside joke, don’t worry, I haven’t gone crazy consulting the birds), and finally spending the evening in the hot tub with a precious friend.  What a beautiful blessing He has bestowed upon me!  As far as friendships go, I have been so incredibly blessed.  I desire for more consistency in many of those friendships – life gets so far ahead of us sometimes, it’s hard to keep up with it all.  But, really, I am so thankful.

I know this has kind of been a little all over the place, but that’s okay – it’s more for me to remember some of this stuff.  It’s just amazing to me that Jesus calls me Friend.  What am I doing with that friendship?  How am I pursuing that friendship?  Am I being loyal?  Loving? Fun?  Giving?  Generous? Consistent?  Honest?

Fasting…

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Over the past few years, fasting is a spiritual discipline I’ve incorparated into my worship.  Now, that might sound a little crazy to some of you – but the Bible talks about fasting throughout the Old and New Testaments…and it doesn’t even use the word ‘if’, it says ‘when’.   The book of Matthew tells us, ‘and when you fast, don’t make it obvious as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable…so people will admire them for their fasting…But when you fast…”

There are also several types of fasts – complete fasts (without food or water), normal fasts (only water), partial fasts (without some foods), Daniel fast (only God-given, God-made stuff – fruits, veggies, legumes, etc.), etc.  And, truth be told, I do not fully understand the purpose or power of fasting in and of itself.  I know that in Isaiah we’re told that fasting is intended to “loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break bondage”  YES PLEASE!!  I know that pretty amazing things have happened while I’ve fasted – I’ve exprienced an incredible dependence on the Lord, an increased awareness to His voice, I’ve been freed from an unhealthy addiciton to food, I found a husband, and things at my workplace improved 100 fold, just to name a few.  However, I’ve also fasted and not noticed any major difference.  One thing I know is that I WANT TO KNOW THE LORD MORE DEEPLY.  I am hungry, I am desperate, and I am pleading to know the Lord more deeply – and one way I will choose to do this is to limit the distractions in my life, to set apart these next 21 days and seek Him fervently with prayer and fasting.  And I want to document some of this experience with you all, my three faithful readers who I know are just dying to be a part of all of this 🙂

One thing I think is INCREDIBLY important to realize and is often overlooked or misunderstood by many people – even those in church leadership, is that Biblically, fasting ALWAYS HAS TO DO WITH FOOD.  Always.  The definition of a Biblical Fast is ‘to restrict food for a spiritual purpose’.  In fact, the Hebrew word for fast means ‘to cover the mouth’ and the Greek word means ‘to abstain from food’.  I don’t think this could be much more clear.  But I think in this culture where food has come to mean so much to us that it’s almost idolatrous, it’s difficult for us to think that God would be calling us to sacrifice food.  And, the reality is, our body NEEDS food and water as energy to survive, so a fast truly becomes a sacrifice where we can physically and spiritually empty ourselves and desperately seek for Him to fill us and guide us. 

I’ve often heard people say they are ‘fasting from television’ or ‘fasting from facebook’.  These are not fasts.  I think it’s a justification to state that they are.  Maybe they could be considered a sacrifice.  But, really, it’s almost unfortunate that we even consider this a ‘sacrifice’ worthy of our Lord – how much of a sacrifice is it really to stay off of Facebook, or from watching tv, or from taking in other forms of media.  And if it feels like a sacrifice in our lives, maybe we need to do some soul searching on our priorities while we’re at it 🙂  God desires our FIRSTfruits – not the leftovers.  And I’m so guilty of giving Him the leftovers – the leftover energy at the end of the day, the leftover time when maybe I can spend some time reading or praying…and that reveals a problem in my life.  If I truly understood the MAGNITUDE of our God’s character, the POWER that He so blesses me with, the LOVE He has for His people, the DESIRE He has for us to first seek Him and live lives of FREEDOM that are reflective of JESUS CHRIST Himself- would I ever really question how I spent my time??  No.  So, these next three weeks as I embark on a Daniel Fast, I want to be really cognizant of where I spend my time: what do I do first thing in the morning, throughout the day, before falling asleep, etc.  It’s the thousands of small moments throughout the day that shape our character – and I want to be so shaped and molded by Him that it’s undeniable.  And, let me tell you (and ask my husband or roommates or family if you need verification) – it is not always evident by my words and actions how much I love the Lord.  But, oh, how I desire it to be! 

So, we’ll see how this goes, we’ll see what I learn, we’ll see how I grow  All I know is that we serve a FAITHFUL God.  And that “our souls can be transformed to the degree that you renew your mind, change your attitude, and conform to the Word of God” – please God, renew my mind, change my attitude, and shape my life! 

C’mon Regis and Kelly!!!

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My mom sent Josiah and I a text the other day informing us that Regis and Kelly are having a competition for the ‘World’s Greatest Love Story’.  You better believe we entered!  I feel like it’d be much better if I could submit a video sharing out story because so much can’t totally be conveyed on a one page story, but I thought I’d give you a sneak peak…and I’m mailing it in on Tuesday, so if there’s any corrections you’d make, let me know (keep in mind it is at its length limit):

I must admit that the greatest love story that I know is compliments of yours truly.  Let me attempt to summarize this incredible journey (summarizing is not my forte as you will soon realize; however, I will make a valiant attempt)…

So there I was (most good stories start out this way, this one not excluded) – 2009 and on what I dubbed a ‘Husband Hunt’.  Yes, that might sound a little aggressive, but it was true.  Let it also be noted I was unwilling to compromise and was not going to settle for just anyone.  I am notorious for my lists and I most certainly had a list of requirements for this potential husband of mine.  Problem was, there was absolutely nobody on the horizon.  I had tried church, on-line sites, blind dates, etc. – but nobody was fitting the bill!  My 93 year-old Grandma had even offered to start hanging posters around her neighborhood helping in this Husband Hunt.  In order to let you know that I wasn’t as desperate as all of this seems (it was more of a joke with serious undertones, if you will) – you must realize that I am a 6’3’’ woman and a strong Christian, so that really narrows down that proverbial sea that people claim is full of other fish!

February 4, 2010 (2009’s Husband Hunt had proven unsuccessful.  But the mission was continuing).  My mom and I scheduled a rendezvous in Oceanside for some dinner/shopping.  The day in itself was noteworthy, but seeing as I’m trying to have this fit in the one page requirement without using a font that would require a magnifying glass to read, I’ll leave out those details.  The point of all of it is that we ended up in Marshall’s looking for shoes for my aforementioned Grandma.  While perusing the aisles, a tall woman boldly approached us asking if she could walk with us for a minute to be around someone that she could make eye contact with.  Any woman over 6’ tall would instantly recognize this camaraderie that comes from being rather Avatar-like in a society where the average woman is 5’4’’ (seriously it is, look it up!). 

A wonderful ‘tall’ conversation ensued – discussing where we buy clothes, what sports we participated in, etc.  At one point she brought up the fact that her daughter feels like a shrimp because she is only 5’9’’ and she herself is 6’ and her son is 6’6’’.  Well, to say this height statement immediately caught my attention would be an understatement.  I made eye contact with my mom in order to get the head nod, and quickly responded with, ‘Well, is he single?!’.  Enter dramatic shift in conver-sation.  This woman (Lynn, we would come to know), looked me up and down and said, ‘yes…’.  I followed with, ‘Well, is he a Christian?’.  She instantly replied, ‘YES!’.  It might have been at that point I determined that her son would, in fact, be the man that I would marry – but I didn’t want to come off too forward, so we simply exchanged emails and Facebook information.  Lynn had also decided that her son would absolutely adore me (as he should).  When my mom and I left that night, I was praying that this man would be my husband (in fact, I texted my sister, my roommates, and my best friend that I had met my future mother-in-law), and come to find out Lynn was letting God (as well as anybody else she came in contact with) know that she sure would like me as a daughter-in-law!

The next day I received a Facebook message from Lynn’s son, Josiah (his mother had never attempted to set him up before, so her reaching out to him and giving him my information had caught his attention.  And he proceeded to look at all of my pictures and videos and become very interested as well!).  We spent a few days going back and forth via email and sharing life stories before he asked for my phone number.  February 9, 2010 was our first phone conversation.  And it lasted 4 hours (at the time, he was living on Catalina Island which was an 1 ½ drive and an 1 ½ boat drive from where I was in San Diego).  We both pretty much knew by the end of that conversation that this was it!  I decided to go out there on February 19th to meet him in person!  I was there for less than 24 hours but meeting him face to face sealed the deal!  On our first date, our waitress even commented, ‘oh look at you two, dating, the body language, so in love…’ (uh, ma’am, this is our first time even seeing each other).  We joked that instead of the quote ‘All because two people fell in love…’ we would have to incorporate ‘All because three woman met at Marshall’s’ into our love story.  To say we entered a whirlwind relationship would be yet another understatement!  Josiah met every ‘criteria’ on my list and beyond.  Before I even met him in person that weekend, I felt that God was knitting our hearts together (don’t worry, I waited to tell him this so I wasn’t a total creep). 

Here’s an outline of our ‘dates’:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Feb. 9th – 1st phone conversation       Feb. 19th – 1st time meeting     March 9th – Josiah surprised me for my birthday         End of March – I went to Catalina for Spring Break     April 11th – Josiah came to meet my family and to surprise me with a proposal!  We finally shared our first kiss J       End of April – Josiah’s boss allowed him to finish before his commitment was complete so that he could move to San Diego to be closer to me        Aug. 9th (8/9/10) – Josiah and I were married!!!!! 

We were married 6 months to the day from our first conversation and just celebrated our 5 month anniversary!  Josiah is an absolutely incredible husband – he’s loving, passionate, considerate, hard-working, devoted, respectful, funny, outgoing, (I could keep going…but as you’re well aware, I’m about at my limit).  We have had such a fun time over this past year, it still all feels surreal.  I have the opportunity to share ‘our story’ often and am always reminded of how faithful our God is!  We are incredibly blessed.  I wish there was more room to detail the amazing experiences we’ve already shared, but I guess we’ll just have to do that on your show next month as we celebrate our 1 year anniversary of knowing each other 🙂