Sunday, February 28, 2010

thankfulness.

inspiration: awesome day.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18



So I had an absolutely awesome day!
I served for the first time today in Grace Acres doing check-in. So I'll be doing that every week at the 8:30 and 10 service :) Then I went to the 11:30 service and sat with Kelsey and Heather and the Pearsons! Following service, I went to the Blackhorse with Heather and we had lunch and great conversation!

I'm so thankful to have such amazing friends who have been with me and supported me through all my bad moments and who are rejoicing with me in these happy days! I finally got the closure I needed and have been working tremendously hard to just keep my focus on God and for the person HE wants me to be with. :)

Tonight at the Denley's small group, we started the Alpha series. I'm quite excited about it. It's just basically going through the basics of Christianity and digging deeper into the "Why"s and "How"s that we often face as Christians. It was a great intro and I'm super excited to dig deeper into the series!

Overall, it has been a wonderful day and I just know that better days are still ahead! Praise be to God for strengthening and comforting me everyday. Good days and bad. I know one day He will reveal my future husband to me and I absolutely CANNOT wait! :)

P.S. Also bought The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Excited about reading it. :)

P.P.S. AQUA is on Wednesday! Cannot wait to worship with GCom's College Ministry! It's gonna be TIGHT! ;)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"don't you know you're beautiful?"

inspiration: Kellie Pickler's song "Don’t You Know You're Beautiful", Jonny Diaz's "More Beautiful You" and Captivating



I know from personal experience that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to look in the mirror and feel like you're special, like you're worth "something". The world builds us up only to tear us down. We're fragile beings. But take it from me, if you are a woman, you should NEED to hear/read this:

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!



This is the truth.
Whether you've been told this before (which I hope you have) or not and whether you believe it (which I hope you do) or not, this is the absolute truth.

1. You are created in God's image.

I've been told many times before, "God don't make junk." and while I may have brushed this off with a light chuckle, it's important to realize this and to be strengthened in God for creating you in HIS image.

2. You are created for a purpose.

Women have a universal purpose. We've been "conditioned" to believe otherwise, in some cases, but it is my belief that women were created to be caregivers, nurturers, life-bringers, and "companion" to men. (I'll expand on my use of quotes in a second). Eve was created because God knew it wasn't good for man to be alone (see Genesis 2:18). I use "companion" very loosely, because it is my understanding and my opinion that companion is not a good enough word. A dog can be a companion, but a dog doesn't fit the mold that women were created for.(I mean, a man may choose a dog over a woman but a dog can only fill so much of a man's heart).

Women and men alike are created to reflect the image and heart of God (you can check out my "Essence of a Woman" post here), but as men and women, we do so differently. One of the most important things, I think, to realize is that we are beautiful creatures. Every single woman is beautiful! The world tells us differently (and often in cruel, harsh ways), but what keeps me going is knowing that I'm God's creation. "God don't make junk!!!"

People will tell you differently. People will pour out their criticisms on you to break you down. People will tell you "You're not pretty enough. You're not skinny enough. You're too _______ or not ________" You can insert just about any adjective in those blanks and you've got a recipe for a true self-esteem crusher. Trust me, I've heard my fair share of "You're nots" and "You're too" statements. It never feels good; in fact, it's broken me down before.

But "God don't make junk". You reflect God's beauty. Look around you. Look at the flowers (well, the ones that haven't been eaten alive by the cold or covered in snow). Look at the sky. Sit down one evening and watch the sun set (or get up early and watch it rise). Everywhere around us, you'll see God's beauty. But we are the absolute capstone of His beauty. Flowers and sunsets are beautiful , but they don't hold a candle to a woman who can worship, praise, and glorify their Creator!


But we also are created for a special purpose. We all have our unique characteristics that we bring to the world. Our smiles, our humor, our everything (I like to call our less-desirable characteristics "our quirks" ;)) But God has a plan for each of us. God has created us for a special purpose. We must trust in His plans because He has it all under control. I've tried hard to "control" my own life, and it has worn me out and broken me down. In those moments where I tried to take this whole "life" thing into my own hands, I've found that I'm not "good enough". God loves us far more than we ever give him credit for. But He truly does have unique and special plans for us.



3. We are God's daughters.

I am a "Daddy's Girl". Like hardcore, Daddy's girl. I knew growing up (and still now in my "adult" years -- man, that's weird to say) how much my dad loves me and cherishes me. Not to say I was a perfect child (I know, hard to believe, right? ;) ), but even when I did mess up, my dad and mom both disciplined me but also showed the mercy, compassion, and grace as well. So when I was older and was able to evaluate my mistakes and such, I was also able to learn and grow from those experiences. Being raised with a good understanding of discipline and grace is probably a huge factor in the strength of the relationship I share with God.

But we don't all have those kind of experiences with our parents (and especially our dads). I've read several books in which the author will say a damaged relationship with their earthly father has adversely affected their relationship dynamic with God.

But something every single girl/woman should NEEDS to hear and understand is this: We are God's daughters. He cherishes us greatly. He desires our absolute best. He wants our passion and beauty and love to shine. He genuinely does. "God don't make junk!" He absolutely adores and treasures us. We'll make mistakes and we'll stray away from Him, but He extends His love and mercy to us in a way that we will NEVER fully comprehend. John 3:16 dictates that love.

We are cherished and delighted in. God cherishes us as His daughters. He will always provide for us, He will always forgive us. But most of all, He will ALWAYS love us with the love that only a father knows.

4. We possess a strength that most men don't.

We, in general, are relational to our core. We, sometimes, get a bad rep because we're "too emotional" (here we go with those "too" and "not" statements…), but our emotions reflect God's heart, too. We want to know we're delighted in, that we're loved, that someone cares; God wants our love, our desire, our passion, too. Our relationships with others are important to us. We are able to relate and "open up" more so than men. We relate to each other on levels that men don't. (I won't say "can't", because some men do, and that's wonderful! But men are "wired" completely differently!)

Women shouldn't accept the "too emotional" statements as an insult (they may hurt, but turn that energy into something positive). We should take it as "I am relational to my core and that's okay! I am created in God's glorious image. God don't make junk!"


So to every woman reading this: every daughter, every mother, every wife, every sister, every friend, take this to heart:

You are worthy!


You are beautiful!!!



The world may have a tainted view of you because we live in an imperfect world. But God is perfect and God don't make junk. And that's completely true.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

james 4: submission

inspiration: notes in the margins.

i was trying to figure out something to "blog" about today since i try and write every day or so. i was flipping through the New Testament and going through all my little "sticky tags" that i have sticking out of my Bible and i flipped to James 4. In the margins of my Bible in certain books, next to certain chapters and scriptures, I've written words or phrases to catch my attention about those specific passages. I won't say what i have written in the margins by James 4, but I will say this: I wish I had taken these words more seriously.


1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."[b]

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

[a] Or that God jealously longs for the spirit that he made to live in us; or that the Spirit he caused to live in us longs jealously
[b] Proverbs 3:34


Verses 1-3: I desired so greatly for certain things in my life, that I completely walked away from God to get them. And for what? Pleasure. False happiness. Guilt. I lost sight of the important things in life. I lost sight of God. I wanted what I wanted and nothing else mattered. But what ended up happening? Since I wasn't walking in the light with God, I was denied what I "thought" I wanted most. "You do not have, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:3). I was selfish, greedy, and manipulative. And I hope to never go back to being that way again.

Verses 4-6: God is jealous for us. He longs for our love and desire passionately. Not because He is an egomaniacal crazy god; but because He loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us (John 3:16). He wants us to delight in Him because He brings us ultimate happiness and grace. He knows that worldly desires and becoming a "friend of the world" will turn our eyes away from Him. And that's what I did for a long time. I had my eyes fixed on worldly things and became very self-sufficient and unhappy.

Verses 7-10: Once I gave my "baggage" up to God. Once I submitted myself to Him fully. Once I turned from an old life and had my spirit renewed through the Holy Spirit, my life and outlook shifted as well. God never changes; His love is always unconditional, his mercy always overflowing. Whenever we stray from Him, be it two days, be it two years, be it two decades, He is always waiting for us with open arms. Waiting for us to return to Him. (see Luke 15:11-32)

Verses 11-12: This is something I definitely struggle with sometimes. My natural reaction to being hurt is to put up my guard and start firing insults, slander, hurtful words back. I judged actions. I judged people. But who am I to judge someone? I am flawed and imperfect just like everyone else. What authority do I have to ever hurt another person or to judge them? I don't! I try incredibly hard to keep my tongue and thoughts in check when I'm in situations that involve pain and situations where I may be tempted to judge, gossip, or slander.

Verses 13-17: "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:14-15). I plan. A lot. I like to have structure, I like to be organized. I like to have the general gist of how things are going to go. And I had a "plan" for my life at one point (one without taking God into consideration) and I thought I was in control. I thought "This is my life, I'm gonna live it how I wanna live it, by golly!" (awful lot of personal pronouns, huh?)

But, of course, God had other plans. Much more important plans. And I found myself with no other choice but to surrender and say "I trust you, God, with everything." Who am I to believe I am the most important person? Who am I to believe I can control everything?


All these things, I wish I had realized sooner. I wish I had taken these words seriously and applied them wholeheartedly before. Granted, I know now and I'm continuing to grow in my faith and I'll always make mistakes. But if I can at least help one person to keep from making mistakes I did, from walking down a path I did, I will have helped one person strengthen their relationship with God. And that's the most important thing: our relationships with God. They need to stay strong and we need to trust in Him to provide us with anything and everything we need in order to do His will for us.

:)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

happppy days!

inspiration: the sun is shining again.

so i'm slowly healing emotionally. one step at a time. but they're steps in the right direction :) i hurt a little less every day. and for that i am thankful. i must say that i have a lot of people to thank for that though.

Meagan, Kelsey, Joyann, Sharon, Heather, and of course, my main man, Jesus Christ. i've experienced so much love and compassion and support from every single one of you. i really do owe a lot of my happiness to you guys.

and of course, Jesus knows what the true meaning of love really is.


"The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, "This is love." God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, "THIS is love." (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, 64)


...and the more i think about it, the more i realize that God will bless me one day with the person HE wants me to be with. it's not about me. it's not about my man. it's not about anyone else. it's about GOD being glorified through each one of us. it's about in every situation, whether single or "in a relationship" or married, that God be glorified through us.

i'm a pretty selfish person, i have to admit, but it's always incredibly humbling to know that all my "holes" and filled by God all my "imperfections" and "quirks" are made perfect in Christ. i'm here for a purpose. i like to believe that i'm meant to "complete" someone, somewhere. but most of all, i know my purpose is to glorify Christ in and through my life.

so whether i'm single, dating, or married, God WILL be glorified in my life. in this i have complete and utter confidence.

people change. constantly.
but God is the same. He always has and ALWAYS will be the same.
no matter what we do, His love and compassion is the same. unending and unchanging. grace. it exists forever. so even when i'm the long lost prodigal, trying to get by without Him, God is always waiting, arms open wide, for me to come home.

...and for this, I am extremely grateful.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ill never understand...

inspiration: i don't understand...

there are many things in life that i'll never understand. some of them, i'm not meant to understand.

Like, I'll never understand
  • God
  • his unconditional love
  • his overflowing mercy
  • ...etc.


But there are also those little things that i want to understand, but i just don't.
Like,
  • heartbreak
  • why guys don't seem to "like" me
  • why guys tend to put barriers up when it comes to emotions
  • why i still feel the way i do about a certain guy


I just want to understand the things that I don't. I want to know "Why?" *sigh*

Monday, February 22, 2010

Questions to God.

inspiration: an inquiring mind.

i've been in kind of an inquisitive mood today. this morning on the Mornings with Brant, Brant had posed the question "If you could ask God one thing, what would it be?"

i honestly didn't give much thought to it this morning when i heard it (mostly because i switched it over to 1075 the River to listen to "Gender Wars" -- lame, I know. lol), but now that i think about it, i do have a few questions i want to know the answers to.


  • Who is my husband going to be?

  • Will I be a good wife? Mother?

  • Does the way I live my life make you proud?

  • What is my purpose in life? Why me?

  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

  • ...and finally
  • Where is Waldo?



Of course, I guess I will eventually find out the answers to the first two questions. It's just a matter of waiting (and being "patient" -- which I find it hard to be most of the time). But as for the rest of the questions, I really do wonder...(especially Waldo. He's been puzzling me for years. lol.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

essence of a woman.

inspiration: Captivating

i'm not a big "read-a-book-a-second-time" kind of person. once i've read it, i'm generally over it. the novelty is gone. even if it's a really good book, reading it a second time isn't the same.

but Captivating is different. i read it once (right after walking away from a friendship with a person i loved -- and still deeply care about...a decision i felt i had to make and the hardest thing i've had to do. ever.) and i'm re-reading it again (after attempting to rebuild a friendship with that person. and my attempt being rejected.)

Captivating is one of those books that i know 100000% that i'll pick up on things that i "missed" the first time. things will speak differently to me than they did the first time because i'm in a different place in life. i have a different outlook on life and relationships, too. i'm a different person.

i've only re-read the first like two chapters and the concepts haven't changed. but a couple things that i absolutely have truly taken to heart:

Women long for three things:

  • to be romanced

  • to plan an irreplaceable role in a great adventure

  • to unveil beauty

...and this makes a lot of sense to me because we (women) were created in the image of God and God desires the same things. and it even applies to the desires of men: they are the desires of God.

First, you'll discover that God is relational to his core, that he has a heart for romance. Second, that he longs to share adventures with us -- adventures you cannot accomplish without him. And finally, God has a beauty to unveil. A beauty that is captivating and powerfully redemptive (p. 26).

this makes so much sense to me and it makes me feel so special. i'm not just "some woman" that wants "to be loved and pursued". i share the same desires that God does. i was created in His image to be captivating. i was created to glorify Him and i am special because no one could ever do what i am created to do.

You were made to fill a purpose
that only you could do
there could never be a more beautiful you.
--"More Beautiful You", Jonny Diaz
i am a beautiful creation of God.
my heart reflects the desires of God.
i am captivating.
and that makes me special. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

blessed beyond imagination.

inspiration: a new outlook.

if you had told me at the beginning of this week "on friday, your confidence will be at an almost all-time high", i probably would've killed over laughing. at the beginning of this week, i was dealing with some a lot of confusion, struggle, and pain. i was disgusted with life and relationships. i was mad; i was upset; i was hurt.

but after a few good conversations (and especially Meagan, my amaaaazing small group leader), i've definitely been able to see the brighter side of life and love. i've started telling myself i'm beautiful and i'm loved (because I am). i've been thanking God for everything I'm given (because He blesses, even when we're undeserving). i've been praying for "my man" (because he is out there). i've been truly blessed.

the sun is shining today.
my heart isn't hurting as badly today.
i'm treating myself to dinner tonight.
i'm going to watch (what i hope turns out to be) a good movie tonight.
i'm re-reading Captivating and this time taking notes.

i can really see the upside of heartache now. i've made mistakes, lots of 'em. and i've been hurt. and i continue to make mistakes and i continue to hurt, but time is healing all wounds (not to mention good music, good friends, and an amazing God!).

i'm learning, maturing, and growing in my relationship with God. i'm taking small steps to overcome all the pain and struggles of my past.

I truly am blessed!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

many prayers.

inspiration: praying for strength and for others.

i heard on the radio that when you're feeling bad or feeling selfish, to do something for someone else or to pray for someone else. well, i've definitely been feeling badly and negatively about some things lately and i feel like i need to be less selfish.

i also heard that sometimes it can be good to write a prayer for your future spouse. granted, i don't have a clue who God has in mind for me, but it may help me keep my perspective about relationships. so at the end of this post, i'm going to post my prayer for my future husband.

my small group has been listening to a series of podcasts entitled "Love, Dating, Marriage, and Sex" by Greg Pinkner, and they've been incredibly eye-opening and, for me, heart-shattering a bit because i know that i've made a lot of mistakes in past relationships.

but i want to keep my perspective on God. i want to keep my eyes on Jesus. i have set the standards in my heart and now i have the faith, spirit, friends, and family to hold me to those standards because they know what a relationship focused on God and not on worldly pleasures is based on. and i'm so glad i have that now.

it doesn't change the fact that i yearn and desire greatly to be accepted and loved and wanted by someone; but my desires and "non-negotiables" have been set in stone upon the tablet of my heart and i am going to guard my heart with everything i have.

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

i pray for spiritual discernment to know who deserves my heart. i pray for strength when temptation comes. i pray for patience and trust in God's plans for me. but most of all i pray that whomever God created for me will be more passionate and in love with God than i am.


Dear Lord,
I know this is about different...I usually pray for myself and I usually ask you to bless me in some way or another. But I dedicate this prayer for my future husband.

I pray that he is healthy, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I pray for his safety and strength. I pray that he is living a life that just reflects your heart. I pray that You're blessing Him in ways that only You can bless Him. I pray that he trusts in you wholeheartedly and will do anything You call him to do. I pray that when you bring us together, You would be glorified in magnificent ways.

I know You'll bring us together and while I hope that time is soon, I also realize that I'm an impatient person and "soon" will never be soon enough. So I trust wholeheartedly in Your timetable and in Your plans for me.

I love you, Lord, with all my heart and mind and strength. Bless both myself and whoever "my man" is ;)
In Your Glorious Son's name I pray.
Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

sweet satisfaction in Christ.

inspiration: J.Campbell White quote:


"Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ's purpose toward the world he came to redeem. Fame, pleasure, and riches are but husk and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ's undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards." (J. Campbell White)



I read that quote in Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. That book had an amazing impact on me.

I'm such a selfish person sometimes that I forget that I'm here to serve and praise God. In my quest for "husk and ashes", I forget the essence of happiness: God's love and joy. In my quest for a relationship, I forget about the love God has for me. In my quest for attention, I forget about pursuing God's heart.

Ultimately, I have to realize that God has amazing plans that will unfold in its proper time.
" There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)

I have to remember God's unconditional love for me and that He truly knows my heart and knows that I want to be in a Christ-fulfilling relationship. He put that in my heart for a purpose and He is going to bring that person into my life on His timetable.

Something I learned recently is that we echo God's heart. Men and women alike. When God "created us in His image", that includes our desires and our wants and needs. (A book I recommend for all women who want to know about being a woman of God: Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. Amazing!) As a woman (and a passionate woman pursuing God, at that), it's no surprise to me that I want to be treasured and delighted in and pursued. Because that's how God feels. I want to be loved unconditionally. So does God! Everything that we want and desire are reflections of God's heart. I just need to trust God's plans for me and just continue to pursue God passionately and fervently.

I can pursue relationships for the rest of my life. And even if I find "the one" for me, if I’m not pursuing God's heart in the process, I won't experience the most ultimate and fulfilling happiness possible. And as difficult as it is for me to be patient and stay focused on the Lord and His plans and purposes for me, I must hold on to that trust and faith and reliance on Him. But I trust Him with everything and I know that as long as I am pursuing His heart and fulfilling His purposes, I am experiencing truly, marvelous, sweet satisfaction in Christ!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Compliments to God

inspiration: worship.

As much as I hate Valentines day and as depressed as I am that I don't have a "special guy" to share it with, I'm bound and determined to look past my sad, pathetic woes and praise God for all His workings in my life.

Today started off as an AMAZING day of worship at Grace Community Church! Pastor Ron did a sermon about worship. The Scripture he focused on was Acts 16:25-34 about Paul and Silas. He made mention of 4 principles of authentic worship:


  • It happens in the good times AND bad times

  • It builds community

  • It captures God's attention

  • It leads others to Christ



It was an inspiring sermon. After finishing Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, it really tied some things together for me. After all, we are all called to worship God. He LOVES our worship. Think about it, we love to be complimented about things we do. It makes us feel good; it makes us feel special. That's what worship is to God. Endless, awesome praise. Even the "small" things we do in life bring honor and glory to God.

I also was baptized today! =D

It was an awesome feeling to just profess in front of friends, family, and strangers that God is doing incredible things in my life. In those moments where myself and about twenty others were being baptized, it wasn't about us or what Chad and Michael were doing: it was about God. Our baptisms were representative of each one of us dying to ourselves and being awakened in Christ!! Our baptisms were just "compliments" to God; praise and honor and glory for Him and His blessings in each of our lives.

That's what today was about.

I'm tired of carrying a burden of negativity. I'm not generally a negative person outwardly because I try to suppress my negativity around others in order to avoid being labeled a "negative Nancy" (or in my case a "negative Nikki"). But I know that carrying around a burden of negativity isn't worship. It's the opposite, actually. It's not bringing God glory, it brings pity upon myself.

But today is about worshiping an amazing God who loves me unconditionally! And I will try my very hardest to send my little compliments to God every. single. day. I will try my very hardest to live a life of authentic Christ-centered worship.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

1 Timothy 4

inspiration: 1 Timothy 4


The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.



Dear Lord,
Please keep me on a path directed to you and your heart. Use me to serve your purposes: to bring joy and honor to your name. Let me not stray from your words and your path for me. Let me set an example in speech, life, love, faith, and purity for you. But let it not be me that gets any glory. Let that be for you and your name and renown. You've blessed me with so many wonderful things and I want to praise you for everything for all my days.
In your glorious Son's name.
--Nikki

my thoughts on valentine's day.

inspiration: Single Awareness Day is tomorrow.

so i'm going to be incredibly candid about my thoughts on Valentine's Day.
it's not just because i'm single that i feel this way (although, that may have some influence, i guess). it's not that i'm upset i don't have someone for "this particular day"; the thing that gets me is the fact that i don't have someone to share and create memories with on the other 364 days.

Reason #1:


i hate the concept of it.
i don't hate the gifts, per se. but i just hate the concept of it. to me, it's become a huge commercialized holiday. a way for chocolate companies, jewelry stores, and Hallmark to make big money. and not that i dislike chocolate, jewelry, and Hallmark card, because i don't.

but my point is, if you're truly in love with someone, you'll find some way to express that love every. single. day. and even if you're not in love, you'll express some sort of appreciation for a person every. single. day.

so what makes February 14 so special? shouldn't we be expressing love and appreciation on January 16 and May 19 and all the other 362 days (or 363 days on a leap year ;] ) of the year.


Reason #2:


i hate it because i would honestly prefer to get a handwritten folded piece of computer paper that has "i love you" written in crayon. Valentine's Day has become so dependent on mass-marketed sentiments and gifts rather than taking the time to MAKE something from the heart.

to me, receiving a homemade gift means more in the world to me than an expensive gift. i LOVE knowing someone put time, thought, and energy in creating something truly from the heart. (i guess that feeling just comes from the fact that i LOVE making stuff for people. i'm horrible at buying gifts for people, so i just make stuff.)


Love needs to be expressed every single day. Not just on February 14th.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

a Valentine's Day baptism.

inspiration: I'm getting baptized!!!

So Valentine's Day will truly mean something special this year.

I'm getting baptized!

February 14, 2010 at 2PM at St. Bethlehem Christian Church on Dunbar Cave Road.


I'm upset at myself because I've become somewhat of a jaded, cynical person about Valentine's Day, simply because I don't have anyone to celebrate it with. I'm, honestly, tired of hearing about dates and romantic plans for Valentine's Day. Quite frankly, it makes me sad, so I'd just rather not hear about it.

I had to text my small group leader this morning because I was so upset about it. I know that God has someone special for me. I trust wholeheartedly in the plans He has for me. But I pray every day that I'll get stronger...that somehow I'll be able to make it a day without getting upset and emotional about not having a "special guy" in my life, but I think I'm getting weaker. I'm getting emotional now just typing this....

...but regardless of my emotional woes, I'm very excited about Sunday now! I have something to look forward to and it's going to be a wonderful day, even if I don't have a "special someone".

But here's a little bit about why this is so important to me:

I was saved and baptized when I was about 12 or 13. I remember walking down the aisle at my grandmother's church to accept Jesus Christ into my heart. It was a big decision I had made and I was so very proud that I had made it. I was baptized a couple weeks later, but as a 12 or 13 year old middle schooler, I didn't fully understand the concept of what "accepting Christ into my heart" meant.

At that point in my life, it was more of a choice I had made rather than something that affected my lifestyle. My lifestyle didn't radically change (I mean, granted, I was a pretty good kid), but it didn't reflect my becoming a "new creation".

But now, over eight years later, I'm getting baptized again. I've grown and changed and matured a lot in my faith, especially over the last several months, and I feel like I have a much better and much clearer understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ and to walk with Him every single day. It means dying to myself and to the world everyday in order to bring glory to Christ! It means staying rooted and established in Christ and His love for me, even if it means turning down the pleasures of the world.

To me, this is a huge step! I'm going to show the world once and for all what I'm all about:

Glorifying Jesus Christ!

...so while I'm still quite upset about spending another SAD (Single Awareness Day) alone, I know that I really won't be spending it alone. Christ is always with me. Maybe not in person, but always in Spirit. And someday I'll meet that "special someone" who I'll spend many Valentine's Days and other special holidays with. I just have to be patient. It's hard and it's not really getting any easier, but one day it will be worth it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

cool is just a state of mind.

inspiration: Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

I'm a college student and I'm a girl.
Therefore, I want to "fit in".
"Cool" is naturally an adjective I want to be used to describe me.

But after reading a chapter entitled "Living to Prove He is More Precious Than Life", I've kind of realized that cool doesn't do justice for the type of lifestyle I want to lead. One that we're all called to lead. ESPECIALLY if we claim to love Jesus with all our hearts.

The chapter opens up with the thought that as Christians, we need to be especially aware of how we live in regard to our possessions and our money!

"The issue of money and lifestyle is not a side issue in the Bible. The credibility of Christ in the world hangs on it." (p. 109)



"If we want to make people glad in God [in short, to spread the gospel!], our lives must look as if God, not possessions, is our joy." (p. 111) (brackets and emphasis added by me).



These are definitely heavy issues that shape our lives and our walk as Christians. We want to walk in the light and we desire to bring God's glory to the forefront of our lives, but it's definitely a hard path to walk when the world is battering us with "Buy me!" and "You need me to be happy!" and "Money = Happiness" messages. Especially in "College World" (as Kyle Dunn from my Passion group would say), keeping a steady and straight path directed toward the heart of God is tough. You not only have school and studies to worry about, but also jobs, church, and relationships to balance on top of that. I have rent, bills, a car, and food expenses. But add the fact that I yearn to be "cool" on top of all that, and it's basically a thin wire I'm trying to balance on.

In this same chapter, John Piper delves into some WWII history, Iwo Jima in particular. He illustrates several examples of people who sacrificed themselves in order for a bigger cause. They weren't trying to gain the status of "cool guy", they were putting themselves in danger in order to serve our country.

Outside a cemetery in honor of lives lost at Iwo Jima, this is chiseled:

When you go home
Tell them for us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today


I teared up reading that and some of the other stories, because isn't this a life we're supposed to live for Christ? Aren't we called to die to ourselves in order to gain Him? Aren't we called to take up our cross and follow Him? We're never promised an easy life. We're called to suffer for the sake of Christ.

I had a hard time reading this chapter because I know that I tend to treasure my earthly things and money more than Christ. I desire worldly acceptance. I desire to be accepted. I want to be loved. I want to be wanted. I want to be cool.

This quote really put it into perspective for me:

"Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe true greatness. It is a small word. That's the point. It's cheap. And it's what millions of young people live for." (p 128).


I'm one of those people. I strive for "coolness"; I long for acceptance; I want to be wanted.

I always think "If only I had (fill in the blank), then I would be so much happier and it would make me want to be closer to God". But that's completely the wrong perspective to have and definitely in the wrong order.

Once we get our priorities straight, we will put God first. We will live a life that isn't wasted because it will be about bringing glory to God and finding our happiness in God. And we certainly won't worry about being "cool" by the world's standards, because we will have a treasure in Heaven that is far greater than whatever "cool" can get us down here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

advice to be taken. by me.

inspiration: Valentine's Day is right around the corner ... unfortunately.

I would do well in life to take my own (and others') advice. I know in my heart that God has a glorious plan. One that ultimately glorifies Him and one that will ultimately bring me complete joy and satisfaction in my life. But I would do well to really soak in everything that God has blessed me with.

I still beat myself up and am extremely critical of myself over stupid things. Stupid things I have little or no control over. Especially it being the week before Valentine's Day. (Truth be told, if the seasonal aisle of Walmart that will be perpetually red and pink until next Monday just BLEW UP, I think I would be okay with that. Lol.)

I'm so hard on myself because I've made mistakes in a past relationship. Too many stupid things. Things I've tried to put behind me for good. Things I've forgiven others for. Still working on fully forgiving myself though. I just wish I could go back and change so much. And I guess that's why I have such a hard time just "letting go" for good.

Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."



I'm doing well to guard my heart from others. I'm doing well in knowing what I desire in a future relationship. I'm doing well to really take this time of singleness to get to know myself and to become more in tune with the heart of God.

But the thing I'm failing miserably at is guarding my heart from the past. I'm still holding on to things and desires and hopes that I held before. I'm still holding on to emotions and feelings. It's such a rough path to be on, too. Unanswered questions and unrequited feelings aren't very easy for me to deal with, in all honesty. I think I care too much, but I'm not really sure how to care "less"...


"Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
In the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make your paths straight."
--Proverbs 3:3-6


I've quoted that passage before to people. But I guess I would do well to not just say it, but live it out myself. Not just in some aspects of my life (school, church, jobs, etc.) but in EVERY aspect of my life (relationships, especially.). I just need to stay rooted in God's word and God's love and let that ultimately fill me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

friends.

inspiration: friends. john 15:13.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. --john 15:13



i've been so blessed to have amazing friends in my life. girls that came into my life when I needed them most. girls that are there when i need a hug or a smile, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen when i just need to scream; love, support, kindness, grace, and joy.

here's a shout-out to you and praise to God for placing you in my life! May we always honor and glorify Him with our lives :)

joyann: my sister. i've known you for almost 12 years now. we've made so many memories and been through so much together and apart. we're living proof that distance doesn't matter when it comes to friendship. you truly are a woman of God and i look up to you so much. you've offered me so much "joy and grace" -- LOL since that's your name ;)-- and i appreciate all the long conversations and the fact that even when i've seemingly hit rock bottom, you're there to lift me up and to push me forward in my relationship with God. Great praise to God for blessing me with a sister like you ♥

brooke-ulus: my roomie. housing didn't know what they were getting into when they placed us together (but God did =D) and i'm so blessed for that. we have incredible and hilarious memories and we've both certainly struggled with so much. but i'm so glad that you've been a true friend to me, even when i treated you less than honorably. Girl, remember, God always has your back! I'd do well to take my own advice sometimes, but He is gonna take care of us :) we may not know our directions in life, but as long as we stay on the path toward Him, He will never leave or forsake us. He will provide! Always. (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:12-13)

sharon: my "admissions person". i love you so much. you've been such an inspirational and influential spiritual mentor. i'm so glad God has blessed me with someone who i can talk to about pretty much anything, who will lead me and provide me with spiritual knowledge. i hope that someday i can be as influential, spiritually, as you are to me :)

kelsey: my neighbor. i am SOOO glad we've been able to get to know each other over the past few months. you're a beautiful and amazing girl and i look up to you so much for your strength in Christ. singleness, especially in college, can be rough and even though i know that "someone" is out there for me, im glad that we can talk and relate to each other so well. thanks for all the "pep-talks" about guys. i know that whenever God deems it right on His timetable for me, that someone will come into my life and it will be a relationship that glorifies Him.

Woman's Club!: my thursday night crew. Brookeulus, Carmen, Mo-Schro, Kate! You gals are pretty swell! I love knowing that no matter how rough or great my week is, on thursday nights, i have a group of amazing girls that will lift me up to God in my trials or celebrate with me in my triumphs. I pray that we will always be closely knit, not only with each other, but also with God. He is our stronghold; He is our refuge and strength.

Small groups: my sunday and monday night community groups. Katie, Heather, Sheena, Meagan, Kim, Dr. Denley, Hannah, Jackie! Grace Community Church in general has changed my life for the better. Not only by bringing me closer and more passionate for God, but also for bringing me into contact with you guys. i know that every sunday night, i can expect good food and conversation centered around Christ and what He is teaching us and showing us in our daily walks with Him. and on monday nights, i look forward to our "girl time" with Christ and just being surrounded with friends and a small group leader (Meagan) who is just deeply rooted in Christ and to bringing Him glory! i'm so amazingly blessed!


Someone loves you even when you don't think so
Don't you know, you got me and Jesus
By your side through the fight you will never be alone
On your own, you got me and Jesus
--"Me and Jesus", Stellar Kart

Thursday, February 4, 2010

finding strength in rejection.

inspiration: i'm horrible at dealing with rejection.

i was slightly let down today. i had hoped (quite emphatically, at that) to have a chance to have dinner with someone i haven't seen in a long time. i had been planning on this since saturday night. this person had told me all week that they weren't really sure about their plans for tonight. but i kept my hopes up and then when they told me today that they couldn't really have dinner or hang out or anything, i was immediately frustrated.

my immediate thoughts were "they weren't ever going to meet me...they just strung me along all week...". i was understandably hurt and frustrated and upset.

but amidst this "rejection", if you consider it that, i'm determined to find strength and to be at peace. it hasn't been easy so far. i'm still upset and hurt and slightly offended, but i guess i shouldn't get too wound up over something as miniscule as dinner.

"don't cry over spilled milk", right?

i'll overcome this situation. hopefully even gain valuable perseverance and faith. :)

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore me to the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. --Psalm 51:10-12



I'm praying for a peace of mind and heart. not only to be at peace with God's plans for me, but also for peace of mind and heart with this person. everything will work out with them in accordance with God's plans. i just need to take a step back, be patient, and breathe...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

...let me do this first.

inspiration: AQUA!

so last night, Grace Community Church's College Ministry gathered together for our monthly event called Aqua. And it was amazing! Great worship, great sermon from Brandon. God's presence was definitely known.

Brandon's sermon was about how we tend to use the phrase "Let me do this first..." and and how we treat our relationship with Christ like a game. This is something that is definitely relevant to me. Especially the first part.

"Let me do this first..."
We've all said it at some point. Mom wants us to run an errand or dad wants us to take out the trash, but we're in the middle of playing a game or watching our favorite TV show. So we say "Let me finish this game" or "I'll do it when my show goes off."

How often do we say this to God? How often do we want to control our lives by saying "I'll do this first, THEN I'll follow you God. I'll go where you want me to go THEN"

Treating our relationship like Guitar Hero
The second point Brandon made was that sometimes we treat our relationship with Christ like a game. Something we can win, something we can earn...Rather than being in complete surrender to God and His will for us, we think we can "do enough good things" to "win" the "game of Christianity".

Both of these things I'm completely guilty of committing. I strive so much to be "good enough" for the world and that translates into my relationship with God. I try and plan my course rather than just let God have full control of me for His will. I formulate my "two year" or "four year" plans and I plan my semesters and summers for myself, rather than allowing God's plans for me fall into their proper place.

But last night was awesome! I'm looking forward to more AQUA nights :)
God's presence is absolutely amazing at Grace Community Church and it's evident to me in every aspect: worship on Sundays, community groups, AQUA. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

i refuse.

inspiration: my poor car =[


i refuse to let my automotive woes to snuff my torch of happiness.
i refuse to let money (or lack thereof) to rain on my parade.
i refuse to let Satan attack my spirit.

i am a child of God.
i am blessed beyond measure.
i trust fully and wholeheartedly in Him!



my car hasn't been doing very well lately and i was worried something was wrong with my transmission, so i took it to the shop this morning since we didn't have class. well, it turns out that two sensors on my transmission are bad, and the replacement of said sensors will run me about $500. but they cannot tell if there is any actual transmission damage until the sensors are replaced. worst case scenario is if there is transmission damage, it will run around $2500.

everything really overwhelmed me this morning. the cost, the lack of funds, need for transportation. but after praying and laying all my worries and burdens at the foot of the cross, ive come to realize that tests and trials are going to come. they come to test my faith in Christ and to strengthen me for the cause! :)

A good friend told me this morning: "God is bigger than car problems". True that!

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Nothing is too big for God to handle. Nothing is too small. Anything and everything can be handled by my God! So I refuse to let something so insignificant overwhelm me and my faith in the greatest Person in the universe and beyond! :)