September 29, 2014

I don't believe

I often struggle with taking God at His word, as I am a linear, literal thinking person (which may seem to confirm the opposite), who often imposes my perceptions of people, situations, ideas, and attitudes onto who God is and what He can do.

And since I am a time-bound creature with the sad misfortune of living in this post-Fall world, I am a skeptic of the first order.

Oh that doesn't mean that I don't believe there is a God who is all powerful, all knowing, all loving.  Rather, it means that I put Him and His strengths into human terms and limitations all too often. 

And so if my earthly father has failed to love me as he should, to provide for my needs, or tell me I am valued, I automatically transfer those misgivings, those insecurities, to God my Heavenly Abba.

If you were inside my head you would often hear me think something along these lines:

• Since Dad doesn't have extra cash a lot of the time, I have to go without   __________ (fill in with unnecessary material possession).  Therefore, God is not a good provider, because He doesn't seem to answer my prayers when it comes to financial things or material possessions (this of course is a shortsighted lie fed to me by the devil who wishes to destroy my confidence in my Abba). 

• We don't seem to do many fun activities or go fun places as a family because of money (or time).  Therefore God is a spoilsport who enjoys sitting in His lofty position, making my life miserable (again, this is a lie which I choose to believe, because I DO have a loving Father who enjoys giving me good gifts - see Rom. 8:28; James 1:16-17). 

• I just hate how God isn't allowing me to be noticed by guys so that I am still single, and so old (I am 24), why couldn't _________ take an interest in me?  Of course I have to often remind myself that being "in a relationship" is NOT the most important factor of my life; loving Jesus perfectly is.  And just because it seems like "everyone" I know is getting in a relationship, engaged, or married, doesn't mean that "everyone" actually is, and also, I must recognize that Satan is tempting me to be jealous, or envious of my friends, instead of rejoicing alongside, and praying for them in their new season of life.  

That is what I need to focus on, not my being single.  Because being in a relationship, no matter what kind (I am a daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, etc.) is hard and takes unselfish, Jesus centered love, at all times no matter how I feel. 

• I don't trust God to be faithful since so many of my human relationships are, or have been tainted with deception, manipulation, or straight-up lies (this is another lie which I need to be aware of, because if I begin believing and acting on it, whew! dangerous and destructive consequences will follow.  God is NOT like man in how He relates to us.  He is and always will be faithful, unchanging, and will never do anything to go against His character - Heb. 6:18). 

• I don't really believe that God will punish my sins, because if I did, I wouldn't still be committing my pet sins, over and over, right?  This is why I need to be constantly reminded of the horrendous consequences upon Jesus, because of MY sins, and why I need to read the Gospel accounts of His atoning death, and books like John Piper's excellent 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, to remember that Jesus died for me so that I would not go on sinning and sinning, but shun what is evil and cling to what is good (Rom. 12:9).

These are just a few of the lies I choose to believe, and have to be ready to combat, whenever they present themselves to me.  Because, I serve a God of truth, who has enabled me (through His Spirit of Truth - John 14:17) to overcome the lies I hear or see frequently, and to walk a victorious, joy-filled life centered around Him.  I praise God that I am not alone, that I am not defeated, that I am loved and cared for by someone who has infinite knowledge and understanding of who I am and what I struggle with, daily: 

His name is Jesus.  

Weekly Gram


My favorite sandals - Chacos.  The popular college kids go-to summer foot gear.  ;) 

September 22, 2014

Weekly Gram


Homemade salsa:

Fresh Roma tomatoes
Whole canned tomatoes
Jalapeno pepper
Garlic
Onion
Lime juice
Cilantro

Blend all together in a food processor to desired chunkiness, then can.  It makes for a super refreshing and tasty splash of color and flavor.  

September 17, 2014

Essential Oils

With cold and flu season upon us, I want to recommend to you my readers, the use of essential oils for:

-strengthening the immune system
-fighting off colds / the flu
-everyday uses

I have personally benefited from the use of essential oils, both internally and externally.  My favorite brand to use, because of their quality (the purer the source, the better), and cost, is Heritage Essential Oils, based in Central Texas and run by the Sherman family.

Firstly, what are essential oils?

"Essential oils are volatile, aromatic chemicals obtained by steam or hydrodistillation of various
parts of plants, including seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruit. They are highly concentrated, beneficial secondary metabolites that serve as the defense mechanism of the plant"
What are their uses?

"There are four basic ways to take essential oils: through the lungs (inhalation), through the skin (massage), through the digestive tract (by mouth) and through the absorbent tissues of the body orifices (suppositories or orally absorbed – not swallowed). Holding a drop of a suitable essential oil in the mouth allows them to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Swallowing the oils results in a major portion being destroyed by the stomach acids, so a greater amount of oil is required when swallowed than when simply held in the mouth, but since some oils are too strong to be held comfortably in the mouth, and when internal usage is deemed appropriate, swallowing oils in a capsule is an effective alternative. The choice of the usage should best fit the need." (emphasis my own)
Some of my favorite oils include:

- Cleansing (I have used this on my skin to heal different ailments that I have dealt with, dermatologically)

It can be used to fight infection, fungus, to regeneration damaged skin tissue, it can be used to clean rashes, burns, and bruised tissue.

Lavender (I use this as a sleep aid, when I struggle with insomnia; and as a peace and calm inducing tool; I have also used it to ease the pain of sunburn)

It has so many uses, from skin to hair, to arthritis, to headaches, to infections.  It is a very versatile oil.

Lung Healing (I have used this to combat chest infections, to ease allergies, sore throats, and other respiratory issues)

It can be used to fight respiratory infections, asthma, pneumonia, and other breathing issues.

His Garments (This is a lovely smelling oil which we use as a sort of perfume, but it has health benefits as well; I have used it to clear away headaches)

It can be used as an immune support, good for the endocrine system and thyroid, helps with DNA repair, and as a deep sleep aid.

- Vitality (Is an oil I have used to help with my severe headaches I battle from time to time, and also with energy levels, and focus; it has also been helpful as a hormone booster)

It can used for thyroid support, hormone issues, and energy.

- Plague Defense (I have used this to clean laundry and household items during flu season, it is also an immune booster that helps to fight off colds and the flu)

Can be used to help fight off infections, the flu, lung ailments, for cuts, and has helped to eliminate molds as well.

These are just a few of the wonderful oils that our family has used over the years, to combat illness, to maintain a healthy, happy life, and a clean home environment.

I have also found when I have been ill, that employing reflexology massage on my feet using essential oils, has helped when I have had the flu, and other health issues.

Lastly, here is a helpful resource to get you started on your journey to a healthy fall and winter, despite all the stuff floating around out there.

September 15, 2014

Weekly Gram



I pour out my soul in words.  Desperate to be able to understand life, embracing its ups and downs. Each day is a gift, another opportunity to bless, to smile, to share, to extend mercy, to truly love.

Release your fears to Jesus, and find peace in Him.   

September 13, 2014

Tunes

I have listened to Switchfoot off and on for about now, since I was a pre-teen.  They have such a variety of musical sound, from hard rock to more mellow tunes.  I have really enjoyed their latest album Fading West, and wanted to share a few of my favorites from this band, from over the years.

(dark horses)

(love alone is worth the fight)

(when we come alive)

(dare you to move) 

September 11, 2014

Friends

Bekah and Elizabeth - two dear friends of me and my sisters

This was the third stint of our conversation 

The other day we girls got to chat with some of our dear friends, who live in Tennessee, which means we don't get to see them in person, unless we skype.  It was a fun time of sharing what God has been doing in our lives, daily life stuff, and other deeper things.  I am always blessed when I talk with these two dears; I thank God for friends who point me back to Jesus.

September 10, 2014

IF: Equip



I recently participated in a bible study through the book of Galatians, via the wonderful ministry IF: Equip.  I was encouraged and challenged in my faith, and really liked the simple method they employ to study through each passage.

They have announced their newest study, which kicks off September 16th - Genesis.  This should be interesting, since Genesis is the foundation for the rest of the bible, and as such is a key book to study.

If you are interested in joining me in this study, you can find more information here.


September 8, 2014

Weekly Gram


Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,

    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1 

September 5, 2014

I don't know anything about suffering

After reading books, watching films and hearing stories about genocide, civil war, starvation, disease, and hardships, I realized that I know nothing about real human suffering.

I was born in America, where I have lived a sheltered and privileged life.  My family is intact, I am surrounded by wonderful things which make my life easier and better, the house I reside in is huge, with many rooms full of furniture, clothing and stuff

And yet, I find many things to be annoyed by, and complain about.  In reality I am rich.  And I don’t suffer. 

Don’t get me wrong.  There are real things which pain human hearts the world over, death, loneliness and illness just to name a few.  But, how many of us have really suffered just to get a meal? Or to be warm at night?  Or to see our family safe?

This world is full of suffering; some of it on an immense and enormous scale, hard to imagine.  But, there is an answer.

God sent his perfect Son, Jesus, to become as we are – human.  He lived an absolutely perfect life, yet he experienced all of the pain and temptations humans undergo daily, without sinning.  At the end of his short earthly life, he endured unimaginable physical pain by being whipped with a cat-of-9-tails, having his head pierced with a crown of thorns, crucifixion, and lastly a spear rammed into his side (he was already dead).  Most significantly was the pain of being separated from his perfectly holy father, as Jesus bore the stain of unholy mankind in all of their sinfulness.  Jesus knew real suffering and he did all of that for us, for you and me.

Why?

So that humankind would have the opportunity to serve, love, and honor Jesus with all of their being.  He came to save us from the mess we are because of our sinful lives and choices.  He came because of Love, great and eternal.

And he came so that when we suffer, we might think of him and the strength we get from him when things aren't going the way we would like them to. 

Because:

“In our weakness He is strength.”

So yes, while it may seem the world is full of suffering and evil and wrong, there is Hope. 

Its name is Jesus.


And He came to rescue us from our suffering.  Even if that doesn't mean that our suffering will literally end, we have the hope that one day we will be with him, in perfection.  No more suffering.  No more injustice.  No more pain. 

September 2, 2014

It's Okay


Marriage is not a competition.  Or rather, getting married is not a competition. 

As a single person, I sometimes feel as if the opposite is the common mindset, even among my Christian friends.  Whether they realize it or not, it can be a painful reminder that I am not married, but I need to get married, asap

Because, somehow, if I’m not getting married, I’m doing something wrong with my life, or am cursed, or whatever.  Perhaps.  It is possible that I am doing some things wrong, therefore God is not allowing a man into my life.

Or, could it be that being single isn't a curse, or something to be avoided?  But, rather, embraced with all of its difficulties, loneliness and longing?  I would argue that the latter is true. 

For years I have struggled with wanting to be married, thinking about marriage, guys, courtship, getting into a relationship, living godly so some guy would notice me, settling into a home, having kids, living the dream of my dreams. 

That was when I was 17.  I am now 24.  And even though my hopes and dreams haven’t changed when it comes to being married someday, I have tried my best to embrace the season I am in currently; to do so with joy, and productivity.  Not to sit at home, wondering when "it" will happen, but being a fruitful worker in God’s vineyard, now.   

Why is it then, that we treat singles as if they are second-class citizens in the kingdom of God?  Why do we exclude them from certain roles in the church, or on the mission field, or in the community?  Paul made it clear that being single was something he wished all people would embrace, and use (1 Cor. 7:8, 25-40), for God’s glory!   Of course, even he realized that as an unrealistic expectation (I mean if people didn't get married, the world as we know it would end…). 

Does all of the above mean that I am not seeking to be married?  That I am somehow avoiding marriage, to please myself, to fulfill my dreams, to advance my own cause; all without a man?   No.  I still desire to be married, to keep house, to raise children, to change the world.  That is really all I have ever wanted.  But while I am in this season of singleness, I am choosing, everyday, to keep my eyes focused on my Lover – Jesus, and to be a productive member of His team.  

So to all of my lovely married friends, please be careful how you talk about singleness, and marriage in the context of your yet-married friends, because we are just as important and useful to God and His kingdom as you and your spouse are, we just haven’t gotten a +1 yet. :)

Let’s think about what God wants for our lives – and how we can better serve each other to bless and encourage our community of faith, as we live in this world that is so broken. 


-------------------------

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."  

Galatians 5:13 

September 1, 2014

Weekly Gram


Revelation 22:12-13  "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."