Tuesday, May 15, 2012

7 Things most Christians don't want you to know.

As I scroll through Pinterest I can't help but see the pictures that have something to do with current events or current struggles in our world. I can't put a number on how many "pins" I have seen that bash or put down Christians (especially now with gay marriage being a huge controversy), nor can I tell you how many cruel remarks or pushy statements I have witnessed being thrown back by Christians. It always leaves my heart heavy as I read the conversations between people. There are posts floating around with pictures of the old Willy Wonka saying "Oh you post scripture on your facebook? You must be so religious!" or "Oh the Bible says that? You must be so much better than the rest of us!" Jesus told us the world would hate us. They wouldn't get it. But sometimes I wonder if the world hates us for the wrong reasons? Do they despise our joy or commitment to Jesus? Or do they hate our "more holier than thou" attitudes? I want to take a few weeks to dig into this. I want to place on the table what we Christians really don't want others to know. I feel it is so important that we admit to this so that the world will see that WE ARE NOT PERFECT!.... and we know it.
 I realize my blog is no Proverbs 31 ministry's or Focus on the Family and that on a good day my posts only get about 20 people looking at them (and 5 of them are probably me making sure it all makes sense etc.) But I'm ok with that. This blog is just as much for me as it is for the public. By typing out my feelings etc. I get to understand what is really going on in my head and as it's laid out before me I can discern if what I'm thinking is right or way off base. I plan on writing a new post about the seven things we don't want the world to know every Tuesday for the next seven weeks. You're more than welcome to join me in this journey and to leave comments on how you feel about it. I will say that there's a reason why it says "Most" Christians. I realize that not all Christians struggle with the things I am going to discuss. But as I listen to friends and random strangers I have come to the conclusion that I am not the only one that feels these things. But again, feed back is always welcome. Lets try to be uplifting with one another and help each other.

Here is what I plan on going through, "7 things most Christians don't want you to know."

#1 We do unfairly judge others

#2 We do still struggle with sin

#3 We get worn out and depressed

#4 We try to do it on our own despite what we know and WHO we know

#5 It takes time to change

#6 Sometimes we choose happiness over Joy

#7 We forget what we have been taught, but God brings us back.

Lord, I ask that you would hold me accountable to stick to your word and plan and not my own opinions or desire to be right. I pray that you would bring Christians and non Christians here so that we may all accept that as humans we are nothing. We are weak, we are corrupt, we are missing the mark. It is only through you that we can stand. May my words not be harsh or unloving, but honest and true. May they reach into peoples hearts and stir them to become more like you. May I be honest about my own short comings, and not afraid to admit that I am nothing and that I struggle. Jesus take hold of this tool and use it in the way you so desire. I ask that you use me in whatever way you plan so that others may see you and get to know you. You know my heart Lord. You know the hearts of everyone out there. Bless our time God. In your name, Amen.

With Love,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Standing in the crashing waves

I'm a  "jump first think later" type person. I think some people would disagree with that and say that I think things through, but really I don't. Especially if it's something I think looks fun or "good for me."

Have you ever wondered if that's the kind of mindset Peter had when he yelled out "Lord if that is you walking on the water then call me out to you!" (Matthew 14:28 paraphrased) Now I don't know about you but I would probably even think that one through! Lets see, huge crashing waves, lots of wind, deep Deep water.. yeah I wouldn't say "I want to come walk with you on the water!" It would be one thing if God had said, "So that you may know that it is me come out of the boat and walk toward me." But no, Peter just stood up and declared his desire to walk on the water. Maybe he thought it would be fun? Either way it takes a lot of faith to say "I will come!"

 As he climbed out of the rocking boat he kept his eyes on Jesus. As he took his first few steps he kept his eyes on Jesus. Then the waves began to swell and the wind was blowing his hair into his eyes and his body off balance. He panicked and looked down. He began to sink and he cried out, "Lord save me!" and Jesus grabbed hold of his hand and said  “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Have you ever stepped out in faith knowing that it was God's will and He had called you to do it, but then found that it's hard and not comfortable? Maybe you're finding out that parenting isn't as "fun" and magical as you once dreamed. Or maybe you're in a job that has suddenly become very hard or taxing on you. Do you surge forward with your eyes on the Lord, the one that brought you to that place, or do you look down at your problem and begin to see just how big it is and allow it to swallow you up?

I would be in the later category. I run head first into what God calls me to do (ok only if I think it looks like something I want as well, I'm not that great at just doing what God wants me to if it looks scary from the gitgo.) but as soon as things start to get rough I look down and think "Holy cow! This is so hard! How do I manage to get through this rough patch?" What we're (yes we, I'm assuming I'm not the only one that looks down!) forgetting is that our problems are so small compared to our AMAZING God. He's got this!

Here's an illustration that my Pastor likes to refer to in times like these. Look at this picture of Jesus (yes I realize it's a bit corny)

Now close one eye and hold up your thumb in front of you, just to the side of the picture. You should be able to see both Jesus and your thumb. Your thumb represents your problem. Now bring your thumb closer to the opened eye until it completely covers the picture. This is what happens when you focus so much on the problem and not on God. It's not that God isn't bigger or more powerful, it's that you are allowing that problem to take the center of your life. Do you really want to live that way? Do you really want to sink? Remember, dear ones, that God is bigger and He can get you through anything you are dealing with. Trust in Him. Keep your eyes on Him. Don't let your perspective lie to you.

With Love,

Resources: Matthew 14:28,29, Tim Harkness, Image found on google (I do not own it)

Monday, April 30, 2012


Good morning fellow bloggers!

Today's post is a bit different. Today this will not end in a pretty little bow. I don't have the answers, but I am fervently seeking them.

The past few days have been rough. I have been really struggling with trusting God and with even caring. I hate it when I go down this far and I HATE even more admitting it to others. Shouldn't my faith be perfect by now? Especially since it's really not based on my strength but God's? Shouldn't I at least be seeking God when things go upside down like this? It's especially hard to admit when nothing life changing has happened! My emotional "needs" just have not been met by God and my selfish desires are getting in the way.

Something that I found tied into this really well is that earlier this week I got rather huffy with my husband. I told him that I didn't feel like he was trying very hard to make me feel special and loved. I obviously know I'm loved (and the more I think about it the more I realize he is quite the catch ;) ) but he wasn't doing certain things that "I" thought would show romance and love. As I talked it out with him I realized my heart was no where near the right place. I had been watching some Grey's Anatomy this week (Ok maybe 10 episodes in two days is a lot? ;) ) and I was getting all these ideas about how love was supposed to be and I was thinking so much about myself! I wasn't really thinking about love, I was thinking about my wants and my desires. Those two things are very different. Love is what we need. What I want is something that is fleeting and not important. It's just like God. He offers us what we need but that doesn't always mean we're going to get what we think we deserve or want. However if our hearts are in the right place and if we're following after God we will start to want what He wants and we will be less selfish. I've experienced this many times, but I still seem to fall back to the "me, me, me" mentality.

So some things I'm struggling with with God:

1: "If it's too hard and you're feeling weighted down by your faith, then you're trying to muscle it on your own." Ok but how do I stop muscling it? How do I truly give it over to God when I'm a control freak and like to hold on deep down?

2: How do I trust God when I don't want to?

3: God doesn't promise that he'll give us what we want but what we need. Well if my heart isn't in the right place then I"m not going to want what He wants and so there is going to be this constant struggle between us. And I don't want to draw closer to Him right now because there is something I really want and I am so afraid it's not what He wants. So how do I turn to God when I'm so fixed on what I want and so afraid that He'll take it from me?

4: I have asked the Holy Spirit to fix this and to help me... but every time I pray that there's this little part of me that's crying out "NO! Don't fix it! I want to be in control! I want to get what I want and ignore God!" So  how do I deal with that?

Despite all my questions and hard feelings I do trust that God will show me the answers and help me through this. I am beyond thankful that He promises that I will not be left this way. He may not work in me and change me in the way I think He should, and He may not give me what I want. But I have to just keep the trust that over all He will come through. I may be struggling with trusting the specifics, but I do believe above all else that He loves me and knows what is best. If you have any words of wisdom or scripture for me please feel free to comment! I love feedback, especially when I'm needing answers :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here's to a good relationship!

One of my very good friends (ok, best friends) and I seem to always have a daily check-in via text message. There's never a set time or set conversation, it just happens. It's anything from, "Hey dear! I was thinking about you and praying for you today. I hope your day is going well! Love you!" (usually I'm on the receiving end of this) to "Ugh I am so crabby and need to talk!" (Unfortunately she's usually getting this from me lol) It's a very special thing to have a relationship with someone that you fully trust and can talk to about anything. But even with our daily "chats" we have to get together at least once a month, if not more, to have a sit down "catch me up on your life" conversation. In the weeks between our long conversations I always miss my dear friend and I always long to hang out with her. It is in these conversations that we grow closer to one another. We're not distracted by other things or limited to how many characters can go into a sentence before being cut off. We laugh, we vent, we cry, we talk about the One that connects us above all other things. Some how hours fly by with her. My husband is always amazed when I finally walk through the front door, "Wow! You were gone a long time!" I just laugh and say, "What did you expect? It's always like that when we hang out!" I am so blessed to have this sweet girl in my life. And as she does so often through her words and actions she has reminded me of my relationship with Christ. Each morning as I get up and do my devotions I turn to the right pages and read for a bit, put my Bible down when finished and thank God for His word. I pray for a little bit and then head off to get ready for the day. When I start my morning in God's word my whole day just feels better. It doesn't necessarily go better, but I have more joy and contentment. It's such an honor to be able to come to the feet of the all powerful God and just talk with Him! But as the week lags on my heart gets lonely  and I become weary. I assumed I was just tired from getting up each day and going through the motions of life. I figured that once the weekend came I'd be fine. And usually I did get better as far as rest goes. But I would still feel unsettled and restless.  I've always noticed this tendency but never figured out what was going on, until last week. Last Friday I felt the urge to sit down with God before I did my chores or in all honesty got on Facebook. I get Friday's off and usually try to be as productive as possible ;). I always squeeze in some Bible time after I do most of my "to do list" but I never sit down and just pore over the Word the way I did that day. I sat on my couch for four hours and went through passages that I had been wanting to look up. I wrote down scripture that I wanted to memorize. I prayed about everything under the sun. I laughed and I cried with my Savior. Though honestly most of my crying was from Joy of finding new wisdom and truth in His word. I was amazed at all the things He showed me that day. God shows me amazing things in my morning devos but due to a time restriction and lack of discipline on my part (I admit it) I often times don't get the full blessing of seeing God's heart. I loved that I was able to sit down with My Lord and have a "Catch me up on life" conversation with Him. Our relationship with Him is no different than any relationship with our friends and loved ones. It needs time and effort for it to prosper and become personal. Quick "hellos" and "how are yous" each day are amazing and a wonderful way to stay connected, but we still need a face to face, heart to heart every so often. I've also noticed that after spending a longer amount of time on a chat,either with my friend or with God, I tend to think about them more often. If I  spend the majority of one day a week or every other week with God my focus really starts to be on Him. It's amazing! I am praying with all that I am that God helps me to continue this way of getting to know Him. May life never become too important that I don't take the extra time to really sit down with Him!

With Love,


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Have you ever tried to lose weight or get healthy? Every couple of months I try to get "back" into the routine of healthy eating and working out. I don't do this to lose weight (had to clarify that for all you who like to encourage me and tell me I'm fine just the way I am :) ) I do it because honestly it does make me feel better and I like not jiggling as I walk down the aisle  at Kroger (purchasing carrot sticks and ground turkey, I promise!)  But some how I always fall back into "oh a side of french fries wont be a problem," or "three cupcakes? Not a biggie!" (yes I have done this.. many times.)
During one of my "I'm going to do it!" phases I subscribed to a magazine that goes through several work out routines a month and has tear our cards of weakly meals. In this magazine there are countless articles all about how to eat healthy and how to "trick" yourself into loving the good stuff. I'm amazed and astounded by how one months article completely contradicts the next months hot fad.

"Throw all of your weaknesses out! Get rid of all the salty treats and sugary confectioneries today!" cries one article, "You have to get it all out as soon as you commit to a diet. If you keep the junk in your house, you're bound to eat it!"  Makes sense right? And really it holds a lot of truth.

"Don't go crazy and give up all your favorite things at once!" another article claims, "If you do you'll just crave it even more and end up giving in and heading to McDonald's or Dairy Queen." That too makes a lot of sense! And once again holds a lot of truth in my life.

So what's the answer? The more I Google "Good dieting tips" the more I see contradictions! One website says that studies show this and another website says the complete opposite. What's the truth?

It's all the truth... and not in the sense that some people do better with "this" fad or others do better with "that" fad. Honestly one week throwing out all the junk works, and then the next week going slow works really well. Why is that?  In Jeremiah 17:9 (you were waiting to see how God tied into this weren't you? ;) ) it says "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Do you ever wonder what you really want? On one side you really want this... but then again you kinda don't want it. I have noticed a lot lately that there are a lot of things about me that contradict one another. An example is that I thrive on attention. I LOVE it when people treat me nice and give me praise. But on the other hand I HATE attention! I would rather sit at home with my husband and puppy, I get embarrassed when someone tells me I did a great job or look really nice. If that's not a contradiction then I don't know what is. What does my heart really want? Will totally getting rid of the candy bar help me stay healthy or should I slowly ease my way into a chocolate free zone (ok we all know that is NEVER happening!) My heart is so deceptive. I can never truly understand myself. That is why there is no "inner peace" or "inner truth." Because as humans we just don't have what it takes to find perfection in ourselves. But if we continue onto Jeremiah 17:10 it says, "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind," Only God can look at our heart and our mind and organize the crazy mess. Only He can tell where we're truly at and what will truly make us happy. He is our peace and our strength. We shouldn't be putting our trust in ourselves, if we did we'd be beyond confused! No, we are to be putting our trust fully in Him! Only He is stable!

With Love,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Fear of Man

The Fear of Man....

So being afraid that some guy will sneak into your house with a gun and jump out from behind a door... right? That's what I thought of as I looked at the bulletin in my hand on Sunday morning. Well this will be interesting! We sang the last song of our worship time and sat down. Pastor Steve stood up and started talking about fearing right, the title of our latest sermon series. My mind was,unfortunately, wondering. I was still trying to figure out what this sermon would be about exactly and (so ashamed) wondering what we would do for dinner that night. My ears perked up as Steve said "Twelve ways you can tell if you're struggling with the fear of men." "Oh goody!" I thought as I grabbed my pen, poised to write down a list (I LOVE lists :))

Number One: You are easily swayed by others.... well ok yes I don't hold onto my opinions for very long with anyone outside of my family. But that's just because I don't want to offend anyone!

Number two: You are over committed. At first I thought I definitely don't struggle with that. I can be very selfish with my time. But the more I thought about it I am very over committed when it comes to close friends and family. I'll do anything for them even if it messes up other plans.. I still don't think this is a huge issue for me though?

Number Three: You feel like you "need" things from people.  "Jay I just need you to do this so that I feel important!" "If she would just talk to me and start the conversation then I could do this and I'd feel like she wasn't so mad at me...." Yes this is the big one for me. I constantly feel like I need something from others in order to feel important or to feel like every thing's ok. 

Number Four: Self esteem is critical to you. I have LOW self esteem most of the time. And I focus on it so much! It's to the point of where praying about it has just become one more way to obsess over it. I never truly hand it over to God.

Number Five: You feel as if you might be exposed as an impostor... lets face it I'm really not as smart and social as I like to act.

Number Six: You always second guess yourself because of what other might think. SO TRUE or maybe it's not? I don't want to come across as stupid... what do you think?

Number Seven: You get embarrassed easily. Unfortunately my face doesn't help me pretend I'm not embarrassed... Red as a beet comes to mind.

Number Eight: You tell "white lies" often. Well not very often... ok a lot.

Number Nine: You diet to impress others. Ok I really don't think I struggle with this one. Usually I do that kind of stuff for myself.

Number Ten: You Avoid People. Um yes.

Number Eleven: People often make you angry or depressed. I think this goes along with low self esteem. Either way I struggle with this big time!

Number Twelve: You compare yourself to others to make yourself feel good. Guilty.

As I finished writing the list down I put my pen down and looked over my notes. Oh my word am I messed up! It makes so much sense that all of these things go together and that they are because I am afraid of men and what they may think of me! Pastor Steve went on to read from Jeremiah 17:5-10. It talks about how a man that relys on men is like a shrub living in the desert, no fruit and withering away to nothing. But he who trusts in the Lord is like a tree planted by the stream. It can take on draughts and extreme heat because it is deeply rooted in the spring of life. I fell in love with this passage and even had plans to put it to paint. The passage goes on to say that we can not trust our own hearts but we can only put our faith in a never changing, ever faithful God. Again I loved this passage because I have been noticing lately  that my feelings tend to contradict one another and I never know what I truly want etc. How can I trust myself or any other man if we have no clue?

As the service ended I found that my heart was heavy and I couldn't help but think "But I didn't get a list on how to fix these things! There wasn't a step one, step two type deal! I'm not fixed!" And then it hit me. This is one of those things that is solely reliant on Faith. There is not step by step plan on how to stop fearing man.. at least not truly and forever. This is something I HAVE to rely on God for and trust in Him to change in me. It's exciting... yet terrifying for this List loving control freak. (Notice how I capitalized list as though it was someone of importance ;) ) I am so thankful for this sermon and for finally understanding what is holding me back from so much... the fear of men.

Jesus, I thank you for the opportunity to go to church and be fed your word and to be able to apply it in my life! I thank you that you do not leave us with out Hope. You are our Hope! I am not destined to stay this way. You are slowly chipping away at me and changing me little by little. I thank you Precious Savior! Thank you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Painfully honest

He had tattoos up and down his arm, his hair was buzzed on the sides and a six inch Mohawk spiked up from the center. He wore a wife beater and jeans (which I'm sure had holes in them) and he played the drums. I watched as he went crazy, jumping up and down as hit the cymbals. I half expected him to keel over from all the exertion.

And this was at a Christian concert.

I like to think of myself as open minded. I had come a long way from thinking that drums and guitars in church were a big no no. I went from thinking they were all a show to- God gives different people different talents and those people are using their talents to glorify God. What's wrong with that? The more I grew spiritually, the more I accepted things that were different but not sinful... or so I thought. As I watched the bands perform at winter jam last night, I couldn't help but think "Are these guys for real? Do they really believe in God and want to glorify Him or are they just putting on a show?" It was so hard not to judge them.

In between bands I leaned over to my husband and whispered, "I really wish Christian artists would try to look less like the world! They're making me stumble because I'm judging them! And don't they know the world is watching them and thinking "right, you're a Christian! You look just like me, how are you any different?"" My husband looked at me and said "You look like the rest of the world." My pride reared its head and I answered, "Well ya but in a good way. I don't look like a sinner. If I dressed in mini skirts and low cut tops people wouldn't believe I was a Christian.. or at least they'd assume we were all hypocrites!" Again he looked at me and said very kindly, "Is how they're dressed a sin? It's not the same thing as if you dressed immodestly because that is a sin."  In my heart I knew that having tattoos and looking like a punk wasn't a sin. But aren't they putting off an image that makes them look like their heart is in the wrong place? When you see someone dressed like that, don't you automatically assume they're into drinking and partying or stealing?

I watched as another band took the stage. In this band the guys had long hair and the bass player was hopping around and going crazy. He looked like he could have been playing for Aerosmith or any other secular rock band. I shook my head and the inner war in my heart raged on. "Could these people truly be Christians? Their lyrics are all pointing to God, and they were deep lyrics not fluff. But look at them up there! I just wish they'd look more like me so then I could take them more seriously!"

Again I turned to my husband and told him what I was thinking. I went off on a tangent on how people were probably questioning whether they were true believers or not. Jason said, "Ya, and I'm sure more than half of those people questioning it are Christians. If they live a life that's totally different from what their appearance is saying then the world will see the difference. It's the heart that matters. If they're not sinning by looking that way then why do we care?" Everything within me rebelled against what he was saying. I had to be right! There was no way a Christian should be dressed like that. I continued to mull this over as the concert wore on. I enjoyed the praise songs they sang and the lyrics were beautiful and soul deep. But they were still jumping around and having way too much fun in my opinion.

Suddenly an interesting thought hit me, "this is what heaven will be like... only better because we will not be questioning where that persons heart is based on how they're dressed or if they're standing still with arms raised or going wild."

I noticed my thought didn't say "because they wont be dressed this way or acting that way." It was all based on where my heart will be. I wont be questioning. Why was I questioning now? Simply because they didn't look like goody goodies? I didn't know their life style. I didn't know their story. Maybe their personality is just a rockster but instead of using that for evil they turned it into something beautiful and chose to use it to glorify God. They weren't sinning, so why am I so caught up in appearances?

Later in the evening they took an offering and had people standing at the end of each row to collect the buckets of money. The lady at my end was wearing a faded stripped t-shirt and shorts. Her hair was flat and in between wavy and straight. She wore no make up and honestly looked cheap. I looked at her and thought, "Really? You came to help out at a concert and that's how you dress? You look so trashy! You don't look like a Christian. I hope you truly find God." (Oh my word I am SO ashamed to admit to that!) The thought stunned me. Did I really just think that? Did I really just judge some one's faith simply because they weren't dressed super cute or didn't try to do their hair cuter? Did I really just assume she couldn't be a true Christian because she wasn't dressed like me? This time I didn't turn to my husband. This time I didn't admit to the thoughts running through my head. I already knew what he'd say, "what do looks have to do with it? If they're not sinning what's wrong?" But shouldn't we be trying to look our best so that people see us and think "Wow they have it all together, how do I get that?" Oh my word, how ridiculous! I seriously thought this people! Because as it says in the bible, "Dress the best you can so that others may see your faith..." um ok it doesn't say that. In fact the bible talks about dressing modestly and not focusing so much on how you look on the outside..that's it. The Bible talks WAY more about what is on the inside and where you heart is. Yes your outside should reflect what's on the inside. You attitude and actions are important. But how you dress is not important.

I wish I could say I completely changed last night. But like it is with everything this change will be slow and real. I am not a better Christian because I dress nice and clean. I am not a better Christian because I stand sweetly with my hand held up when praising God instead of jumping around and going nuts. If God had a tally board I'm sure those people would actually be doing better than me. They're not afraid to be themselves and put God on the spot light despite who they are. Thankfully God doesn't compare us and our salvation isn't based on how well you're doing compared to tattoo boy over there ;)

I've been learning a lot about myself in the last week. God has been chipping away at me and showing me sins and things in my life that I am so ashamed to admit to. But I'm glad He is showing me, and I am blessed that He is saying "Hey, you struggle with this... a lot! Lets fix that." He is setting me free from my chains and helping me to rely on Him in everything. I am so blessed!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I see the army closing in, rushing towards me with their weapons drawn. I stand my ground knowing that my help in on the way. He will not abandon me or leave me hanging!

Suddenly the winds pick up and in a rush of heat He is standing next to me. I look up into His eyes and I see the power and authority that they hold. I will not fear for His promises are true! He has and always will come through!

The warriors continue to get closer, I can see the anger and hatred on their face. I lift my eyes up, my help comes from Him. I grab His hand as they draw near. A sudden burst of strength flows from His hand to mine. Though He has not whisked me away from the chaos and terror that is headed my way, He has offered me His hand and His promise to stay by my side.

The Army is upon us, their weapons slice the air searching for a way to harm me. I lift my eyes up and look to Him for direction. Our eyes lock and He holds mine as the army rushes past us. I do not even notice the sharp swords only inches from my body for my eyes are fixed on Him and He has given me the spirit of strength, not fear.

Our hands go up in victory as our enemies are demolished by His shear Will. My God came through! He did not delay! He was right by my side! He held my hand and saw me through the toughest time.

Oh, My God, He will not Delay!  My refuge and strength always, ALWAYS!


Monday, March 5, 2012

I stood, hunched over by the weight of my sin and pain, watching as He walked down the street. He was coming closer, walking slower with each step. As He moved along the line of spectators each one suddenly stood and stretched, no longer held down by their misdeeds and guilt. Each one that stood gasped as though they could hardly believe their sins were lifted. As each person stood up straighter, He slumped forward further as though the cross on His back got heavier with each step.

He drew nearer to me, He saw my failure and my shame. He couldn't possibly help me. I looked away, ashamed of all that I had done. I felt His stare. I could no longer keep my eyes away. As He approached He looked into my eyes, and in that instant I knew who He was, I knew What He was and what He was capable of. I felt the instant release of my burden. My back no longer carried the weight of my sinful self. I stood. I stretched. I watched as He took on my sin. His shoulders fell forward, His legs buckled slightly under the weight, but He moved on and looked into the eyes of the next lowly sinner.

What could I say? What could I do? He had done this for me! He took my chains away! What else was there to do than to offer my heart to Him? Completely.

I then followed Him, walking on salvation. I felt my spirit awakening along with a new spirit guiding me calling me to follow the one who had saved me. I was standing! And as I followed Him I watched as hundreds more stood. My life I now offer to declare His promise and to praise His name!

I once was held down by my sin and misery. But I will now stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in complete and utter awe of the one who saved us all! I will stand, my soul Lord to YOU surrendered. All I am is YOURS!

This is the scene that played in my head yesterday as we sang this song (http://youtu.be/bN1JyZ5yvE0)  in church. I nearly cried as I thought of His eyes searching mine, as the weight of my sin transferred from me to Him. He not only died for us, He took on sin He who knew no sin. That is our God!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

One more "Say yes!" this week.

Well I took a leap and said yes again this week. And you're going to be so disappointed in what I had to say yes to.... going to Bible study last night!

Isn't it funny/annoying that after all I said two weeks ago about LOVING Bible study and being So excited to go, I just wasn't up for it last night? I could blame it on being an introvert, I honestly love just staying home every single night and not doing much. I could say it was because I was struggling with memorizing the verse of the week. I could even claim that I didn't want to go because once again I was intimidated by not knowing hardly anyone there.

I almost caved... almost. But outside of lying and saying I was sick, I really had nothing to hold me back. And I wasn't about to lie!

Once again I poured out my anxiety to God as I drove the short fifteen minute drive (add an extra five minutes since I drove past my turn.... Again! Anyone want to become my night time chauffeur?)  and once again He answered my prayers.

The minute I pulled in to the parking lot I saw a girl I knew from high school, and we walked in together and sat down. Thank you Lord for giving me a friend to talk to! Next we were sent into our groups to go over the memory verse and what we did over the past week. Every woman in my group admitted to struggling with memorizing the verse! We said it all together and no one casted judgemental glances or laughed as we all stumbled on a word or two.  Thank you Jesus for reminding me that we are ALL human and have struggles and that we are meant to build one another up, not tear each other down. The rest of the discussion was honest acceptance that we all struggled here or there with understanding what a passage meant and helping one another understand it. I felt accepted.

The rest of the evening all the groups came together and we went over the passages and how to apply them. Our leader even retold the story of "Tangled" in a way that depicted sin as holding us in a tower and deceiving us into believing it knew what was best for us when in all honesty we are the King's daughter and He is searching for us and wanting to be with us. (That alone would have been worth going to!)

All in All I am so glad I went! I was blessed with fellowship and the renewing of my soul. I could have easily stayed home and just said I was too tired or didn't feel like going, but there is a reason I'm in this Bible study. And I am so thankful God didn't just let me put it aside!

Thank you Heavenly Father for the opportunities you give us to grow closer to you! Thank you for not leaving us in our messes and telling us to just work our way out of it on our own. Lord, we are so blessed to have a God who loves us with ALL His heart. You are our King, and you have made us your princesses (and Princes.) I praise your Holy name, Father, with all that I have! Thank you for the constant nudges and opened doors. Lord, You alone truly satisfy me, You alone bring me justice, and only You can bring me escape from my sin and old self. May I cling to your promises and dwell in you all day long, in prayer and in your word. May the trappings of this world have no place in my heart or mind. May my heart and mind be SO full of you that there is no room for anything else! Jesus I thank you for your love and sacrifice!

With Love,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I said yes to this week...

I love order. I love having set rules and knowing exactly what is expected of me. When it comes to Bible studies I love having someone else decide on the pace and have questions thought out ahead of time. I really enjoy sitting down with my Bible, my notebook, and pen. With those three things I'm ready to "study" and answer all the questions put out in front of me. When I'm done reading my section and writing down my answers and observations I open my Bible to yet another chapter and start in on my other Bible study that is well thought out and put together completely, forgetting what I just read in my last study. With a final stab of my pen I end my last sentence, close my notebook, click my pen, close my Bible and move on.

Every day I would feel accomplished. I got through two Bible studies! But what did I learn? What scripture was I holding on to through out the day? Nothing... Nada! Sure in the moment I learned something and loved it! Lights were being turned on in my mind, but I didn't have the time to allow that light to stay on and grow brighter. And my relationship with Christ wasn't growing.

But it's better to read more scripture each day right? It's better to get in to as many Bible studies as possible right, to learn as much as possible in one sitting?

For some this is perfectly fine, even beneficial. But for me it was becoming a chore. Some days I dreaded opening my Bible because I saw all the curriculum piling up in front of me. Other days I looked at it as a challenge to get through.... to get through. Not to digest, not to grow in... no, to get through. I was getting burned out.

I felt like I was hearing a lot about "check lists" lately. My pastor has this analogy for doing things for His glory, but based on what we want to do. Pastor Tim calls it the donut.

At first Christ is the center and we really want to do things to bring Him glory. We start out with a Bible study, that's great! God wants us in His word! We then think, "Well I should do another one so that I'm doing more for Him!" Ok.... if you can handle that and if God is still the center then awesome! Go for it! Pretty soon you're adding on service projects, you're taking on more and more and suddenly it becomes about the things and what you're getting done instead of bringing God glory. God is no longer the center.. POP! He's out and you're left with a hole. What are you doing all those "Things" for? You have nothing in the center. You're a donut!

I felt like that was what was happening with my devotional time. I was trying to do more and more. I had even considered adding a third study. Again for some people this really does work! But for my perfectionist, structure loving self, it became about getting stuff done. I felt the loneliness of not having a close relationship with Christ. I didn't feel like I was really learning anything or growing closer to Him.

But I could do it! I knew I could! I just had to work harder, get up earlier! But it wasn't about time, it wasn't about working harder. I could easily do the devotions, but I wasn't allowing the time to really dig into them and allow God to open my eyes to what He wanted to show me. I had to get both done... that's all it was about.

So though my schedule loving flesh yelled out in protest I asked God what He wanted from me. I felt the answer right away. "Give up some of the stuff and just follow Me. I will show you what I want."

So this week I gave up a Bible study and decided to follow after God in a true walk with Him. The minute I dropped one of the studies I felt light and hopeful! I have dug into my other study with excitement and expectancy. I denied my desires and decided to stop "studying" and start devoting my time to Him who created me and saved me.

With Love,


Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's a new year and things have started out fresh! Last night I attended the first meeting of my church's women's bible study and we went through Romans 6:1-14. This passage is rich with promises and truth. We are a new creation when we accept Christ. Our old sinful self was buried with Him and new life has been born when He was resurrected! New Life... a fresh start, different, not held back from past sins! Sin no longer has us wrapped in chains. We will still be tempted and still fall into sin, but we no longer Have to do it!!! We have the greatest weapon of all on our side and ready to help us battle sin... Jesus Christ! For it is nothing that we have done that saves us from sin, but what He has done.

Having all of this running through my mind I thought "Am I living like I am a new creation? Am I living out the truth that I am dead to my old self?" The answer is no. And that word no is something that has been holding me back for a long time.

No I don't want to go to the women's bible study because I don't think I'll know anyone.
No I don't want to go to small group because I feel like I'm at a totally different place in my life than everyone else.
No I don't want to admit to that person that I totally told them a bold faced lie! They may judge me and hate me!

Though saying no obviously isn't a sin, saying no to God is. God wanted me to go to that Bible study, I knew it all along but up until the actual minute of walking through the front doors I was trying to come up with a reason why I couldn't do it. I wanted to say no so badly. Had I done what I wanted I would have missed out on a HUGE blessing! Same with small group this week. I didn't want to go because I was grumpy and didn't feel like hanging out with people. But again I would have missed out on yet another blessing and great fellowship. God nudges our hearts for a reason. He doesn't just tell us to do something for the fun of it, He has a purpose. Whether it's to bless someone else or us.

So where am I going with all this? I'm done with telling God no. I want to live the rest of the year, and my life, saying yes. Even if it means doing crazy scary things like moving (yes, to me that is terrifying!)
But I want to receive every bit of blessing I can and see God working in others. My hope and dream is to get on here every week and say "Hey guys this week I said yes to this and this is what happened!!!" But I also realize that there are going to be weeks maybe even months when God doesn't ask much of me. So here's my commitment, for every week that something does happen I will blog about it and tell you. I'm excited to see what saying yes will mean for me! Saying no has lead to guilt and regret... I want to be done with that! I want to say "Lord what do you have for me? You want me to talk to that person that I hardly know about that awkward thing? Ok I will!" If it's what God wants me to do then it will be beneficial :) Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But some day :)

Before I tell you about my week I have to tell you that I saw this idea on another blog. This girls story sounded so much like my own and her willingness to say yes inspired me to do that too. SEE!!! Saying yes has already been a blessing to her! She may never even know it but she has helped a person grow in their faith :) Here's a link to her blog if you're interested!  http://samanthareed.org/2012/01/a-year-of-yes/

This week, as I've already said, was the first week of my church's bible study for the women. For the past month or so I had been wanting to get involved with my church and get to know the people in it. I go to a Harvest Bible chapel, if you've ever been to one of those you probably know how big they can get! I love our pastor and how he preaches the word with out apology. The only thing I really have to complain about is that I don't know hardly anyone outside of my small group there! When they announced the Bible study I felt God nudging my heart saying this was the perfect way to start getting involved. It took me a whole month to finally get signed up simply because I was afraid. As the day got closer doubts started flooding my mind and my introvert personality balked at the idea of walking into a room full of faces I didn't know, not to mention driving in the dark to a place I have never been! I'm basically blind at night (that probably worries a few of you) and I tend to get lost very easily. But I did it. After much prodding and prayer from my best friend I said yes and went. I am SO thankful I did! I can't wait to continue digging into God's word with these ladies! Not only will I be building relationships with new people but I will be getting into God's word and learning new truths!

Another thing I said yes to this week was confessing my sin and asking for forgiveness... from the person I sinned against. I lied to a few of my friends and God kept nudging me through out the night to admit it. Usually I just confess my sin to God and try to get over it, even though He always puts it on my heart to admit it to that person and truly be free from it. Especially when it's a lie because that tends to lead to more lies and more when you don't admit you lied in the first place. For once I said "Yes Lord" and admitted it. Wouldn't you know He blessed me with such great friends that they forgave me and I am now free from guilt. I don't have this guilty conscience nagging at me and telling me I need to come clean. It is seriously the best feeling!

I pray that you don't take from this that it's all what I do that brings me blessings. It's not! It's just me following God's will. And He is giving me the strength to do so. I am so excited for this journey, and scared silly! ;) But lets go on it together. If you feel God nudging your heart to say yes to Him more I urge you to take that step. Lets see what amazing things He will do!

With Love,

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's a funny thing....

Grief is a funny thing, well you know what I mean. You expect it to knock at your door at specific times, and hope that it will go away when it's over stayed its welcome. I've mentioned randomly through out this blog that I recently lost my mom to a very long battle with cancer. Recently... there's another funny term. For some a year sounds like a life time ago, for others (myself included) a year seems like just yesterday.

When my mom first passed away I way fine, or at least as fine as anyone could be. I cried my eyes out the first few weeks and morned my loss, but I also rejoiced in my new found faith and in the fact that my mom was no longer in pain or being dragged to yet another Dr.'s appointment. All in all I was doing ok. She died on February 8th 2011, it was the beginning of spring that year and the sunshine did my heart a lot of good. It rained a lot in the later months but my heart still soared as I dug into God's word and put my hope in Him. Through out the summer I hung out a lot with my family and spent a lot of my free time swimming at my parent's house with my little brother and older sister. I wish I could say that my mom was always at the back of my mind, but she wasn't. Whenever something happens that I know would cause me pain I tend to push it out of my mind. If I don't think about it then I wont be upset. There were nights when memories would start flooding my thoughts and the agony of missing her would finally hit me full force. But even then I would push it away and think about other things.

Though spring and summer were great and my spiritual walk progressed fall was another story. Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the smells, the food, and the colors that adorn every tree. By the middle of July I was ready for fall. I couldn't wait for carving pumpkins and baking apple crisp or walking around Tanner's orchard. I waited and waited. Half way through October I was still waiting. It just didn't feel like fall. Nothing was the same but I just couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. Random thoughts of my mom would come to mind, going grocery shopping together, going to the mall, more Dr.'s appointments, and lunch at Olive Garden. By pushing everything down I had forgotten that my mom had been a huge part of fall the year before. As the season wore on I decided to set my sights on Christmas and winter. I figured that since Christmas was a time for the family to get together everything would be perfect. Obviously I knew that it would also be a time to really miss my mom. But I figured the lights, the tree, the time spent with family, all of that would make up for it. I was super excited to celebrate Christmas this year also because it would be my first Christmas as a Christian.
Just like fall, however, nothing felt quite right. Christmas tunes played on the radio but it was as though I couldn't hear them. Christmas lights were up all around town but they didn't make me smile the way they use too. I even got two weeks off from work but did very little in the name of Christmas cheer. When Christmas day finally arrived I was grumpy and irritable. Nothing was going the way I thought they would and I just could not figure out why. I cried and yelled about things that weren't really bothering me and tried my hardest to search within myself for the problem. Finally after lying in bed for a good twenty minutes and crying my heart out to God the cold stark reality hit me. I miss my mom way more than I thought.
 Like I said, grief is a funny thing. You'd think I'd have gone through all this when she first died and finally be on the rebound now that a year has gone by. But with the year marker quickly approaching I find myself angry. Angry with God, angry with my circumstances, angry with the world. I know my mom is in a much better place and that she is happy beyond measure. And I still don't wish her back to this dreary sinful place. But there is a part of me missing now and it's hard to deal with that.
This past week or so I have really been dealing with "am I truly changed in Christ?" I was slipping back into old habits, not reading God's word not wanting to further my relationship with Him. I was back to the old lazy Abbey. This made me even more angry with God and confused. How could I continue with this relationship if the promise of change wasn't fulfilled?
I talked to my best friend about it yesterday and she continued to say that she had seen a change in me. I was a new creation. Out of anger I argued with her and told her I just wasn't seeing it and couldn't believe it. But the more we talked the more I realized I have changed. Maybe not in the way that I wanted or even as much as I had hoped, but I am new. Unlike two years ago my anger and frustration has not made me turn my back on God. I still believe that He loves me and that He knows what is best for me. That promise has never changed. My sinful self wants Him to just hand everything to me that is easy and happy, but He never promised that your life here on earth would be one big rainbow. Though He may not be holding me the way I want Him to be, He is indeed holding me and whispering "I love you Abbey."
I'm still struggling with the pain of losing my mom. I'm still angry. Not so much at God but at how things played out. However I'm not running any more.... or at least not today. I'm going to take life day by day now and just look at what God is giving me. I will abundantly thank Him for what He has done and lean on Him with the assurance that He will hold me up through all of this.

I realize that today's post may not make sense to many people. I'm a bit jumbled sometimes as I write my thoughts out, mainly because my thoughts are often times jumbled :) But if there is one thing that you get from today I pray that it is this. No matter what you're going through remember that; God's word is ALIVE and ACTIVE in you, You can do all things through Christ, You are who God says you are (redeemed, loved, chosen, blessed, blameless, a new creation in Him, the list goes on) God can do what He says He can do, and God IS who He says He is. Just because you feel yourself slipping into to old sins and habits doesn't mean you are your old self. Don't run from Him in your shame, run to Him knowing that He will not turn away from you. He will open His arms and lift you up. For you are His and He loves you.

With Love,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Long time no see!

Wow it has been a while! I wish I could say I've been so busy in God's word that I haven't even had a moment to breathe let alone blog!!! But alas my confession is that I went through a rough patch. A VERY rough patch. It has been as though God finally decided to get me off my spiritual high and see how I do when life really gets in the way. I feel like I failed... I was angry through out most of Christmas,missing my mom and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. I didn't spend much time praying or digging into God's word, and I honestly believe that is what caused my foul mood.

For Christmas my wonderful mother and father-in law got me a beautiful leather journal. It was a bit pricey so I didn't really expect anyone to get it for me. When I opened it on Christmas morning I knew right then and there that such a lovely journal would be Perfect for my prayers. Looking back over my first week of prayers I noticed a lot of "Lord, I just can't wait for spring because that is when my heart finally turned to you last year!" or "God, I need to feel your Joy and warmth... please bring me to you!" But all the while I negelected to get into God's word. I expected God to hand me Joy on a silver platter. Now sometimes He does do that... in fact last spring He just gave it to me without me even asking, but that was before I was a Christian and He knew that, that was what I needed then. Not now. Now He wants me to grow and give up my time to Him. It's sort of like Job. Job had a great life and everything was going well, so of course He praised God... but how would He do if things started to crumble all around him? Now I don't see myself as blameless or as Godly as Job was... but I think we can all take something away from his story. God wants us to lean, dwell, and trust in Him all the time. Whether it's through the hard times or the really good times.

If you've been following this blog at all, or even if you just bounced around through a few posts, I'm sure you've noticed this seems to be common problem for me. I either do Really good about getting in God's word and living for Him, or I do absolutely horrible! I can't seem to find a middle ground. For the longest time I didn't want to admit that to anyone. I wanted people to think I was constantly connected to God... again with my pride!! But now that I think about it I realize it's a process. And not a process that lasts a few months and then BING perfect! No it's a process that will last a life time. The only place where we will have perfect balance between life and worship is Heaven. I will never be perfect here on earth, and that's not an excuse to get me out of trouble, it's a fact of life. But that also doesn't mean that I should just give up and only look forward to Heaven. God has shown me way too much for me to believe that while we're here on this earth we should just do as we like and we can save the changing and worshiping for Heaven. God wants to bless us now. God is ready for me to change, Now. And He will show which area He wants to change when HE wants to change it.
I have been bombarded with the fact that this is ALL about God and His glory.. maybe that will be my next post :)  Every where you look there is God. He has a purpose, a Will, a plan. I need to be opened minded and hearted so that I may be ready to be a part of that plan.

One final thought "1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;  yes, if you call out for insight  and raise your voice for understanding, 4
if you seek it like silver  and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God
." Proverbs 2:1-5

Digging into God's word is SO important! It is an amazing way that God speaks to us. May our ears be attentive and our hearts inclined! God is ready to reveal His plan to us, whether He wants to show us the big picture or it's day by day. I want to get back in loop :) I am ready to lean on God and ask Him "What would you have me do today? How might I bring you glory?" Are you?

With Love,