Monday, October 25, 2010

our trials make us stronger

inspiration: it's been a day!

i've been up since 4:30AM and i've been going-and-going-and-going-and-going all day.
it's been a long and tiring day with a lot of ups and downs along the way.

i've been tested in many ways (and after a shocking revelation of theft again, i'm still being tested, and trying to find the strength to forgive...), but i've also been blessed in many ways.

i have a lot on my plate this week (that's quite an understatement), but i know that God will continue to strengthen me and bless me with peace.

this week:
-meetings with job recruiters Tuesday and Wednesday.
-two tests to study for.
-a presentation on Wednesday.
-a paper due Monday.
-boot camp.

patience is wearing thin.
stress is overwhelming.
but i am relying on God to get me through every moment of this week, and next week, and the week after that, etc.

i realize that it's not all about me. just because i'm struggling doesn't mean i'm failing; just because i'm experiencing these hardships doesn't mean i'm doing anything wrong. it's just God's way of keeping me in check in my faith - to rely on HIM instead of ME!


But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 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 12:9-10


i don't have it all under control, and i never will.
my strength is FROM CHRIST and i have to remember that each and every day, i am blessed by Him with the gift of life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

first 10K

inspiration: i ran my first 10K today!!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." --Philippians 4:13

it's amazing how far one can come when they believe in themselves and when they trust Christ to provide them the strength to overcome all obstacles in order to achieve their goal. i've been running for 5 months now and i completed my first 10K today. before this summer, never did i think i would ever to be able to run for an hour straight!!

but i worked hard and overcame a lot of physical and mental obstacles in order to reach my goals :) another thing off the bucket list :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

the hard questions...

inspiration: why???

why am i still so drawn to be with a person that i know i'm not meant to be with?
why do i still worry about him so much?
why do i still care?

i guess the last two questions are more because i still care about him as a friend. sure, we're still walking on eggshells a bit and i have to be careful with my heart and with my emotions, but he is human and he is my friend, as hard as it is to say sometimes.

but that first question is just one of those hard questions in life that i'll never know the answer to, but i'll always have to deal with it. God will give me the strength to overcome it and to trust in His plans for me, rather than being pulled by my emotions. He has already brought me so far and helped me overcome a lot of my past mistakes. yet, the longing for companionship still exists.

i have a lot of legit concerns and issues with relationships and i know that only time and the power of the Holy Spirit will heal old wounds and help me find strength that can only be acquired through Christ.

it's hard to deal with. but i know that in time, God will place the man in my life that He created for me. i have to only be patient, trust in Him, and live a life that glorifies HIM above all else and everything else will be provided for.


"An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband." -1 Corinthians 7:34

Friday, October 15, 2010

everything is beautiful

inspiration: Everything is beautiful: life, autumn, adventure.



Starfield's "Everything Is Beautiful"


even though i am uncertain about the future,
even though life doesn't go the way i want,
even though i don't have everything i hoped for,
life is beautiful.
grace is overwhelming.
love casts out fear.

Everything is beautiful :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the cost of living for self.

inspiration: the sermon on sunday and today's events.

God really has a way of planting Scripture in your heart on Sunday and then making you live out that Scripture throughout the week. Sunday's verse at church was:


"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
--Luke 14:26-27


This Scripture isn't saying we must hate the world and everything in it to follow Christ. It isn't about hating in it's literal sense; God doesn't operate like that. But what He is saying is that we must put HIM first, even if that means giving up our father, mother, spouse, children, and ourselves.

Today, I was reminded about just how much "self" I have been putting before Christ: I didn't get the job I applied for and I lost my APSU Alumni mug. Granted, those things in themselves are not major things (the job, maybe, but the mug, definitely not) and they most certainly aren't spiritual things by themselves. But for me, the job was something I took for granted and the mug was something I valued far more than one should sensibly value a travel coffee mug.

1. The job:
I've been blessed to be able to work for several departments across campus. I have networked and worked with various administrators on campus, and I'm very blessed to have done so. So, last week when I applied for, yet, another job (mostly just to help boost my income), I thought to myself "I've pretty much got this." I thought my interview went well, but my only concern was getting all the required hours in. I quickly began shuffling around my schedule in my mind, at the expense of my scholarship hours (and again, I thought to myself "Well, you can always just make those up later").

But my selfish pride and ego suffered a big blow when I got the e-mail saying someone else had been hired. Granted, I realize now that it was for the best that I didn't get hired (I would've been shuffling and scrambling to stay on top of everything, every minute of every day; and for what? Money.)


"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also ... You cannot serve both God and Money."
--Matthew 6:19-21, 24


I was ridiculous in thinking that this job would "make my life better", or better yet that I really somehow deserved it. Had I gotten the job, I would've had an income. But I wouldn't have (a) the free time I have now to study and spend time in worship and praise and (b) my spiritual life probably would've suffered tremendously (long-term effect: more money = more shopping = less reliance on Christ to fulfill me).


2. The mug

I went to Grad Finale yesterday and the first thing I picked up was a (free!!) APSU Alumni travel mug. I was so proud of it. And since I don't drink coffee, I drank my sweet tea from it last night and today at Trane. I pretty much adored it because it signified me being sooooo close to becoming an alumnus. It's crazy to think about and I treasured it, like I said, far more than anyone should treasure a coffee mug!

I lost it today. Can't find it. Probably left it at Trane or somewhere on campus (although, I predict it is the former rather than the latter). Nonetheless, I stressed about it for a while earlier; then I kind of realized "It's just a mug. What's the big deal?"

Sure it was free and said "APSU Alumni" (an accomplishment I am in no way saying isn't important), but having a mug that says it compared to having the knowledge and a degree is nothing!


So, in conclusion, to my random blog, I've realized that even the "little" things that cause me to live for self need to be extinguished, even the travel mug-sized ones. We are called to carry our cross in order to follow Christ. I take this to mean that we can't continue to serve ourselves above Christ; we must die to our selfish desires, ego, pride, self-pity, etc. in order to put Christ first and foremost in our lives.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

strength.

inspiration: it's amazing the strength God will instill in your heart when you choose to die to yourself and live for Him.

i declared a couple nights ago that I was going to throw my selfish desire for a relationship aside. and ever since then, i've felt overwhelmingly strengthened by Christ. it's easy to blame circumstances ("I've been so busy, I haven't had time to think about guys."), and while the circumstance of my busyness does remain true, I don't believe that it's because of that that I am feeling so strong.

last night, at Aqua, Brandon talked about how when we TRULY become followers of Christ, we can have complete freedom in Him. We don't have to be held back by chains and we don't have to think that a simple piece of twine limits us: we are free in Him!

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." --Galatians 5:1

I am FREE in Christ!
I am free to be whoever I want to be.
I am not yoked by my past. I am not chained by my sins.
He loves me unconditionally.
He forgives me over.
and over.
and over.
I have been redeemed through His blood on the Cross.

It's easy to find strength in Christ when I'm not trying to get the attention of a guy.
It's easy to find strength in Christ when I know that He loves me no matter what.
When I find my identity in Him and Him alone.

Relationships will probably always be a struggle for me.
But I know that, in time, God will bring me together with the person it's meant to be with and I won't have to struggle to be accepted. He and I will both have our identities in Christ and our love for Christ will be reflected in our relationship with each other.
Until that relationship comes though, I am going to remain in Christ's identity.
Relying fully on Christ's strength rather than my own!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

awkward singleness....

inspiration: i'm about to re-read Sacred Singleness by Leslie Ludy.

i'm going through a significant transition in life: about to graduate college and enter the "real world". no more school (for a little while anyways). no more classes. no more tests. no more homework. i'm about to enter the world of a 9-to-5 job (or hopefully earlier for me...), paying big girl money, doing real-world tasks.

right now, throughout all this change, i'm really struggling to be content with singleness. i know that i shouldn't be worried about relationships (which is why i'm consciously choosing to read Sacred Singleness again) because who knows what God has planned for me as i step out of my comfort zone and into a completely new realm of life.

also, yesterday marked the "one year" point of me being "single" and it was just weird to think about. the first 4 or 5 months post-breakup were a huuuuge struggle for me, spiritually. i was broken, angry, defeated, worried. but over time, i started finding healing and trust and wholeness in Christ. but now, it's kind of like a relapse into feeling the same "woe is me" thoughts I had this time last year.

so hopefully re-reading this book will help me find my wholeness and fulfillment in Christ alone, again. and i'll be able to set aside my relationship thoughts and worries and live life to the fullest for the glory of Christ and His Kingdom.


32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
-1 Corinthians 7:32-35


i hope to overcome my stage of "awkward" singleness and begin to embrace sacred singleness. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

cultivation.

inspiration: small group last night.

we discussed the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) last night at great length at bible study last night. we went into great depth about the reason Jesus spoke in parables and why he answered the disciples when they asked him why...but i don't have the time to go into depth about that now...

but something that was on my heart when i left last night was "What kind of soil is my heart cultivating?"
Is my heart full of rocky soil, where seed springs up quickly and then is scorched by the sun because there was no root? Or is my heart full of good soil, allowing me to be fruitful and create good fruit for Christ?

I think it's all about the intention of our hearts what kinds of soil we allow our hearts to till. We can't just say "Oh, my heart must be full of rocky soil, so I can't share my faith..."
Just like gardening in a realistic sense is very much full of the gardener taking time to water, nurture, weed, aerate the soil, etc., it's important for us to be gardeners to our relationship with Christ.

Dr. Denley mentioned that this parable was very relevant for the audience at Galilee, because the soil in places was shallow and underneath was a layer of bedrock, and the seed couldn't take root and it would get scorched or eaten by birds. And this is so true for me, at times, as well. I want to nurture my relationship with Christ, but instead, I hit my "bedrock" of excuses and reasons why I can't: Don't have time; I'm not a good servant; I don't have the money to tithe; I don't have any special "gifts"; I'm not "called" to go overseas (which, btw, is untrue -- I'm planning on going on my first missions trip to Costa Rica in January!!)

But when I'm being very intentional with my relationship with Christ, I find myself being a very fruitful person, not only in a spiritual sense, but in an emotional and physical way as well. When I make the time to cultivate my relationship (reading my Bible, blogging, praying, serving others), even if it means setting down my homework for an hour or not hanging out with friends, it's a necessity for me to do because I know that my relationship with Christ MUST come first in order for me to bear good fruit for Christ. To me, bearing fruit does not necessarily mean evangelizing in front of a crowd of thousands; to me, bearing fruit means shining a bright light for Christ through my actions and words.

If I'm putting Christ first, I know that I'm shining a bright light for Him and that others may not understand why I am full of joy amongst hard and difficult times, or why I feel like God is calling me abroad, but that they may see that I'm set apart because of my heart. But I know when I turn inward and start worrying about myself and all the things that I have to do, it's easy to fade into the world and to blend in and to not live a set apart life.

So my prayer for myself is to continue to till good soil in my heart; to keep being intentional in my walk with Christ and to set Him as top priority in every aspect of my life.