Thursday, December 8, 2011

a beautiful love story

Today started out sucky. Finals week is bitter sweet...I guess. For me, I don't even think there's anything "sweet" about it. First of all, I hate studying. Second, I hate taking tests, I have never been a good test taker. Third, after studying for hours, I (like usual) bombed my final. This is so frustrating. The one thing I want to accomplish this year is graduating, and being DONE with college. I said a prayer before I took my final, but then when I got home I felt angry and frustrated with God, because I could just feel that I didn't do well. Doesn't he want the same hopes and desires as I do? I just want to graduate, that's all I want, and that's all I've been asking for. So I did my routinely quiet time, and I could tell it wasn't even sincere, I was just doing it because it was one of those things I felt like I needed to do. I usually start out with praying to the Lord in my journal, and then I read from my book. After writing in my prayer journal I still felt frustrated with God. I hate feeling that way, because I know that the Lord has much bigger and better plans for me, whether that includes me passing a class or not. When it comes to giving my biggest worries and concerns SINCERELY to God is when I find myself the most selfish. It was until I read from my book that my heart and mind changed immediately. I found myself reading my own love story with Jesus, which like any other woman, melted my heart. 


"Some of you wandered for years in the desert, 
looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God."

"Some of you were locked in a dark cell
cruelly confined behind bars,
Punished for defying Gods Word,
for turning your back on the High God's counsel-
and not a soul in sight to help.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
broke open the jail and let you out.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves." 

"Some of you were sick because you'd lived a bad life,
your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn't stand the sight of food,
so miserable you thought you'd be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you,
that pulled you back from the brink of death."

My Love Story: 

I felt stuck in a dark place.
I was left; heart broken and lost.
The life I had known, gone; and taken by someone else.
The things I had loved, no longer admired me.
Disciplined for defying God's word,
for turning to a mans love, instead of Gods. 
A hard year, my heart felt permanently damaged. 
Then, after enduring days of heartache, depression and gloom - 
I called to God in my desperate condition;
and he rescued my heart in the nick of time. 

I was laying under a damp blanket of neglection and the act of letting go.
I was under the impression I would never love again.
I couldn't withstand the thought or image of marriage, love, or affection.
My body became ill towards the word "dating."
I was convinced my heart was scarred for life.
Would I ever love again? 
Could I ever forgive?
Will my heart ever feel whole again?
I was under miserable belief that I was not worthy of anyone fighting for my heart. 
But one day, in February,
I was sitting at a Church in San Francisco
And I felt God put his arms around me, and touch my heart.
And he said:
"My love, my child, I am here. Surrender your heart, surrender your brokenness, and I will make it whole again. My love is the only love that is everlasting and can full-fill your needs. I am the healer, and there is no brokenness that I cannot attend to. Let me rescue your heart, I will fight for it for eternity, and one day we will be reunited in a place I like to call, Heaven."

So Praise God, for fighting for my heart when I felt it wasn't worth fighting for.
So Praise God for rescuing me when I was in despair. 
So Praise God for healing wounds, I never thought would go away. 
Praise God, for saving me. 

Every woman dreams of her prince charming running in on a white horse, rescuing her from distress and fighting for her heart. Every woman dreams of writing out her love story. This was mine.

What is yours?

Monday, December 5, 2011

the simple act of giving

Christmas time is the one time of year I always seem to find myself in close proximity of shopping malls. I think it must be those big red and yellow signs that are written in bold letters "SALE" that draws me in. I love shopping, doesn't matter what I am shopping for, I just love it. A common saying that is used in my family is "Burning a hole in your pocket." Referring to having money in our pockets, and its just burning a hole, so you better spend it! Well, that got me really far (NOT). I hate saving, and I have never seen the point of it. Why save, when you can go out and buy a new outfit? I think this mindset developed when I was a child, I always wanted to have the newest and latest gadget, which then carried onto my teen and adolescent years when wearing the latest Abercrombie logo shirt was based on your popularity at school. Now this may sound silly at first, but aren't we all victims of this? Maybe for you it wasn't the Ambercrombie and Fitch shirt, but maybe it was those Pokemon cards, or those little weird beanie babies things, (sorry no offense, you have to admit those were kinda weird....)

In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus teaches about 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.

All of us work and have jobs. We work to support ourselves, our families, our hobbies, our interests, etc. I can remember working one summer of my sophomore year of college, and I literally wrote down two full pages of things I wanted to buy before I went back down to school in the Fall. All of the things on this list were clothes, (no surprise there). Long story short, I bought all of these things - and do not wear any of them today. The point I am trying to make is that so many of us work so hard to buy that one thing (or for me it is usually multiple) we "have to have." Taking from the passage in Matthew, Jesus says do not store up all of these treasures; treasures that will either go out of style, will end up in the back of your garage, or something that will eventually fade away. Jesus says store up treasures that not even thieves can steal. This Christmas season I am working at Nordstrom, and I found myself making that annual list of things I wanted to buy while I still got my discount. I then felt convicted when I read Matthew 6.  How long will a new blazer and new boots last me? Probably at the most 2-5 years. Instead of spending $300 on a blazer and boots, I can sponsor EIGHT children in a country where that don't have clothes, water, food, nutrition, healthcare or education. Giving a child in need of something so basic, can change their lives forever, it may even keep them alive. This is what Jesus is talking about, store up our treasures in things that will last forever. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

How convicting. I worry so much about having enough money to buy something I don't even need, when there are children and families all around the world that are trying to figure out how they are going to feed their kids dinner tonight. How selfish of me. That pink blazer and brown boots aren't looking so appealing now. For some families, Christmas time is about getting presents, going to the nutcracker, shopping, eating, drinking, parties, etc. I think the season of Christmas should be a party to celebrate the birth of Jesus (You know CHRISTmas...the birth of CHRIST). The man that was born into the world whom willingly was nailed to a cross to die for our sins, so we could then be healed from our own sins one day.  This Christmas season, why not give and live like Jesus did? Did you know that 80% of the giving in the world is from only 20% of the people? Look into your neighborhood, go to a giving tree at the mall (but avoid all retail vendors), walk around downtown Portland. There are starving people everywhere. There are kids that don't even have jackets to wear in this 40 degree weather. How are you going to give this Christmas season?

Friday, December 2, 2011

growing up

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in the past few months is learning to turn to God with everything in my life. I am hitting that spot in my life where I am having to let go of my parents, and begin trusting in the Lord. Some people would see that as simple, and easy. All of my life I have always fallen back onto my parents for just about everything. Rough days, bad grades, loosing jobs, money, school etc. But recently when I had a turning point in my life, and I was needing to make a big decision I out of habit ran to my parents for counsel. Most kids and young adults ask parents for guidance. My big question was whether I was going to move back to Portland, live at home and finish school up there, or stay in Corvallis and live by myself. Still being financially bound upon my parents, I had to consult with them first. My parents automatically replied with the decision to move home, and finish school in Portland. I trusted my parents decision and began preparing my mind to move back home. But something in my heart was telling me no. I didn't know if it was fear, doubt, or just not wanting to live at home. But something just didn't feel right. So I prayed, like I do about any other big thing in my life. I prayed day after day. And I honestly felt like God was not giving me his answer. It was until I had a conversation with my sister one night after our young life girls group that I told her I have been not feeling at peace with moving home. I told her I didn't know why, but It just didn't feel right. My sister being the genius she is told me that was God telling me I needed to stay in Corvallis. DUH! Wow. My sister made such a valid point that sometimes we pour into scripture, pray day after day but we feel like God hasn't yet pointed us in the direction he wants us to be in. It is the simplest feeling of just feeling at peace with something, that answers our prayers from God. It became clear to me that God was pulling me to stay in Corvallis, and he was calling me to become a young life college leader to mentor young woman. Wow, talk about a wake up call.

Now that I had prayed about this moving situation for about 2 weeks I was dreading the conversation I was going to have with my parents. I knew that my parents were not going to be happy about paying for me to live in a one bedroom apartment by myself. I remember driving home to Portland talking to God and asking him to be with me during the conversation I was about to have with my parents. The conversation was emotional for both sides. I explained to my parents that they have been so amazing in supporting and raising me for the past 22 years of my life. I told them I have felt God pulling me to rely on him for guidance and direction. There comes a time in every dads life where he realizes he has to give his baby girl away. And he gave me away to Jesus Christ that night. I explained to my parents that I am in a point of my life where I am living for Jesus, and his plan for me may not be the same as my theirs. It was bitter sweet for mom and dad. They hate to let me go, but they were moved towards my development in my walk and journey that I have made with God.

Turning to God in prayer seems hard to do when we are faced with making a quick decision. But God promises to always answer our prayers. The answer may not always be what we had hoped for, but God always has something bigger and better in store for us. Sometimes its loosing a loved one, or letting go of something we felt we needed in our lives. Whatever it be, God always has a bigger and better plan. Learn to Trust in him, and you will see for yourself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

True Identity

Today I took a long walk around the Oregon State Campus. (This may sound Absurd, since this is my 5th year at OSU) But I never realized how beautiful the campus is. Something about walking along the sidewalks in freezing cold weather and no one around really put my mind at peace. It made me appreciate the environment around me; the leaves on the ground, the frost dusted peaceful. One of the unfortunate events that has already happened this morning (Yikes and its only 8:30) is that I set me alarm to wake up at 7:00 to write the rest of my paper for my class that was at 8:00. Silly me, in my mind last night while I was setting my alarm I as under the "assumption" that my class was at 8:30. So it was 7:45 and I am cooking breakfast and it finally dawns on me....Oh my gosh my class starts in 15 minutes and I am still in my pajamas! Frantically throwing my rain jacket on, ugg boots and running out the door, I get to my car and of windshield and windows are frozen. Great. It would take me 20 minutes to walk to class, and my bike has a flat tire.  Life lesson: Don't Procrastinate homework! (I tell myself that every term...somehow I never learn) Ok, so I thought and thought and said a quick prayer because my final paper was due in this class! I thought of a brilliant plan to email my teacher and tell her that I was just going to slip my paper under her door. (Small fun fact about me... I hate walking into classes late - I would rather not go than be that awkward straggler scuffing in 10 minutes after class has started, ugh so embarrassing!)  My teacher emailed back, and said it was fine that I dropped my paper off at her office...phew!

Last night I had the amazing pleasure spending time with some of my best girl friends; Jessica, Chelsea, and Ashlen. This was very much needed! (Dead week and finals have taken over my life!) Something about drinking red wine, watching Christmas movies and the laughter of friends really warms my heart and brings me happiness. I have never been the type of person to enjoy being alone (which should put a twist to things since I am living alone next term). I have always enjoyed being in the presence of family and friends, it brings me so much joy. Jessica (my room mate) and I were talking last night about how nice it is to literally "date" ourselves. Which sounds silly-I know. But most of our lives, her and I have been tied up to boyfriends, sports, sorority,  jobs, etc. For once in both of our lives we are having the pleasure of indulging in ourselves. Taking bubble baths, reading books, taking on new hobbies, catching up with old friends and family, treating ourselves to mani pedi's, its been so great. It is truly amazing how much we have learned about ourselves just being alone and figuring things out by ourselves.

During my routeinely quiet times in the morning I always read from my Jesus Calling Book. I felt that the message today fit so well into what I am experiencing in my life currently:

"Modern man has lost the perspective of eternity. To distract himself from the gaping jaws of death, he engages in ceaseless activity and amusement. The practice of being still in my presence is almost a lost art, yet it is this very stillness that enables you to experience my eternal love. You need the certainty of my loving presence in order to weather the storms of life. During times of severe testing, even the best theology can fail you if it isn't accompanied by experimental knowledge of me. The ultimate protection against sinking during life's storms is devoting time to develop your friendship in me."

How awesome if God? He knows what we are going to ask, before we do. He knows what we need, before we need it. He knows what brings us joy, and he knows what brings us happiness. Having a one on one relationship with him puts things into such a bigger perspective. Living for him, and allowing him to be enough for our daily needs. He full-fills our hopes, dreams and desires. Putting my trust in him is how I have found my true identity. And it is the most beautiful thing; to see God answer prayers you never thought could be answered.