Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I started this blog in February and I'm so thankful that I did. It's been freeing to share my thoughts and feelings. It's also been terrifying at times. The are a few posts I'd love to take back, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't do that. I want to live a real and authentic life and so I don't filter my thoughts here. I believe through every embarrassing or awkward thought, I may be speaking something that someone else might need to hear.
Overall, 2014 was a pretty incredible year, and so I don't look at the start of 2015 as being a fresh start, but rather a continued opportunity to live the life God has blessed me with. Are there changes I'd like to make, yes. Are there dreams I'd like to fulfill, absolutely. I am thankful for what I've been through and excited for what is to come.
Some basic goals for 2015:
1) My 2014 "life song" was Brave by Sarah Bareilles. That was interesting to implement. I actually attempted to "say what I want to say" several times this year for better or worse. I can have a tendency to be shy..or fearful depending on how you look at it. The moments of bravery proved interesting at least. I'm not sure if it was always a good thing, but I learned some things. I'm thinking my 2015 song of the year might be "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift.
2) Conquer the mental side of this weight loss thing. This year my job hired a health coach for employees. I have committed to meeting with her regularly to set goals and have some accountability. If I can work through the mental barriers, I'm confident weight loss goals will be met in 2015.
3) DEBT FREE IN 2015!!! It's looking like April. I'm so excited to complete this goal. It's something that's been hard, required me to make sacrifices, and I'm proud of what I'm about to accomplish.
4) Personal spiritual growth and a deeper relationship with God.
5) Leadership- goal for this year is to stop and think before reacting. I learned a lot this year about how to work with people that aren't as easy to work with. But I desire to get better at working through things while avoiding the initial negative reaction.
6) Self-worth- Make it a point to look my best in every situation. See myself how others see me and how God sees me.
I pray 2015 will be your best year and my best year yet!!! Happy New Year!!
Thursday, December 25, 2014
I wrote this in a post from April. I found it while I was reviewing my 2014 posts. I am in this place once again. It hurts more than before.
How does it feel when you think you might have found that "someday" and it appears you are wrong again? For me it feels like I can't take a deep breath and there is a rock sitting in my throat making it hard to swallow. Tears randomly appear in my eyes and conversations play on repeat in my head.
I will get through it, I always do. "Let's be friends" is the story of my life. But this time feels different. Because this time it wasn't forced. I was me all the time. I thought like me, I talked like me, I wasn't nervous or self-conscious. It was real. It didn't come all at once, but grew moment by moment. And I could see it, the future of what it could be. I can tell that he accepts me for who I am. And I cared for him more with every new thing I learned about him. I was honest. He was honest. Yet, once again I am wrong. How can one person be wrong so many times?
I was told once that "you'll know when it's right." I'm not sure I can believe that anymore.
Most of what I feel, I still can't quite find words for. It will take some time but we will move forward. I will fake the confidence for a while and then we can still be friends. But right now it hurts and I can't do anything about it.
This is the closest expression of how I feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY69CiNfWok&list=PLGzTpX4txyFD1-TbSZrRYNlShoiYzrnwA&index=2
If you followed my blog this year, you will know that the word love has been my life word for 2014. I started the year with a resolve to find out what it means to be loved by God and in turn express that love to others through action. While I still feel like I have so much more to learn, I do feel like I have gotten to know God's love for me in a more complete way. I also know that serving others and expressing God's love through action has been more real to me this year than ever before.
I could share a lot of stories of this fact from months gone by, but I really just want to share two that occurred the week before Christmas.
Even though my schedule was already pretty full, I was in search of some real Christmas tradition. Things that reminded me of my youth when Christmas was magical. I've always loved Christmas, and this year I was in search of that thing that would light up my eyes and heart like a Christmas tree. I found that particular thing when a friend told me that his church still does Christmas caroling every year and invited me to participate. I realize for most people, this would not cause a jumping up and down with excitement kind of moment, but I love singing, I love Christmas carols, and I love seeing the joy on people's faces in the moment when you walk up to their house and start singing of the birth of our Savior. I remember doing this a few times as a kid...I don't think it meant as much to me then, but it is something I knew I had to be a part of.
This church does Christmas caroling right! I was impressed with the organization and participation. I was impressed that this is a steep tradition that several church members take part in. I was heartened by the family atmosphere and the understanding of importance this small gesture is to those who have given their lives in service to their church but who can no longer attend as they once did. You see, we weren't just caroling to random houses on random streets...but to church members who are too ill attend church on their own. Church members who were children's leaders or choir members. People who have made the church what it is today. While I was an active participant in the caroling (a-wassailing if you will), since I was a stranger to everyone there, it gave me a backseat role to observe. It was touching, and it reminded me that this is what celebrating Christmas is all about. Spreading the love of God and reminding people that HE loves THEM. I feel honored to have had the opportunity.
Since April my life group spends one night a month having our meeting with several ladies at the Dove's Nest (a recovery program connected to the Charlotte Rescue Mission). Before we started doing this, I had not really heard of the Dove's Nest before, I didn't know what it was, or what it means for the people who live there. These ladies have impacted my life this year. Spending time with them has become one of my favorite Monday's of the month. They are loving, sweet, determined ladies who have great futures ahead of them. This past Monday we got to celebrate Christmas with them. Each month the ladies of my life group have taken turns leading the devotions and activities using their own special God given gifts. A little unsure of myself or what I have to offer, I had yet to lead anything. Then, last month, one of the Dove's Nest ladies in visiting our church realized that I sing and requested that we do that sometime while we are with them. So, stepping out of the little shell I like to retreat to, I decided I would do a song for Christmas and volunteered myself to do just that. But a song is just a song unless there is meaning behind it, and as we planned the rest of the time, I was really feeling there was a special message God had for me to share. The song that came to me was Breath of Heaven, and the message that followed loudly in my head was the power of the Holy Spirit. "Breath of Heaven, hold me together. Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven. I am frightened by the load I bare. In a world as cold as stone, I walk this path alone. Help me be strong." The Holy Spirit IS breath from heaven. He is what helps us through, He is what walks our path with us holding us close and keeping us strong. He is the same Holy Spirit that the Bible says overshadowed Mary during her pregnancy with Jesus. (See part one of this blog for full devotion). Not only was this message fitting to me this week as I walked through some personal struggle, but more so I believe it was a direct word to someone in that group of ladies. I pray she heard it, I pray she understood God was drawing her to himself...whoever she was. Sharing life and love mutually as women...this is what Christmas is all about.
I am continually reminded that I am blessed beyond measure. I have three families that love me; my work family, my church family, and my birth family. All are special to me in so many ways. This Christmas I praise God for the love that he gives here on earth that reflects His love for all His children.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Do you love me enough to give me your dream? Are you willing to surrender your life for me? Am I worthy of your devotion?
Being able to answer this question doesn't mean God is going to make you give up your dreams...but if He did, would you still love Him. Is Jesus enough for you. Is he enough for me?
I have this dream. It consumes my thoughts sometimes. It's not a unique dream, many other people have the same dream. But what if I never get it. Will it cause me to be angry with God? Will it make me question his love for me?
If I'm being honest, which is supposed to be the purpose of this blog, right now I cannot say 100% that I am willing to surrender it. I wish I could say that, I know I'm supposed to say that...but I'm not there yet. And I hate it. I hate that ugly part of me deep inside that is selfish. I've actually said to myself and to God in recent weeks "How good of a person do I have to be, how good of a Christian, when can you stop stretching me. Other people get to have this dream, why can't I?" Yuck, right? I know God can handle it. He's not surprised by our thoughts. But I don't want to be that person...and He knows that too. He loves me to much to keep me in that place of distrust and pride. Because it's not about how good a person I am or even how good a Christian I am.
Please hear me, I do not believe that if I surrender my dream that it will give God permission to take my dream away. I don't have that kind of power. God knows my future; he knows the plans he has for me; he know what the fulfillment of my dream looks like. That is not the point.
The point is that God wants all of me. He wants me to go deeper with him so that he can give me more joy that I can currently imagine. He wants that for me, but it's not really about me. It's about him. Jesus died for me. How often do I stop and really think about that. He died, He was murdered, He suffered pain and agony, for me. So that I could love him and he could love me. What does that mean to me? What does that mean to you? Because he did the same for you.
-The Real Me
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Sermon Recording: https://soundcloud.com/upsidedown-church/valor-factor-how-god-sees-you
Monday, May 12, 2014
Being a leader must be one of those things God instills in people at birth. I spent a lot of year fighting the idea of being a leader. I didn't want the responsibility, the discomfort, the difficulty. Growing up I thought of myself as a follower, going with the flow. But looking back now, I wasn't really a follower, because I didn't really want to go were a lot of other people were going. I wanted to go where God wanted me to go. So I didn't follow other people, but I did follow Him. And He made me a leader...so I'm told.
In high school my mother made me apply for a leadership scholarship, and to try and give me a edge, she made me go to a leadership camp at the college I was going to attend. I didn't want to apply for the scholarship and I hated the camp (a full week of stupid ice breaker exercises. I HATE ICE BREAKERS), and what was worse was that I didn't get the scholarship either. That was my "see, I told you so moment".
But not getting a scholarship didn't make me any less a leader. These days I am mostly okay that people considering me one. I am realizing that God made me that way. I don't want to stand out and draw attention to myself, but I do want to provide confidence in other people; encourage and bring people to a place where they can excel in whatever the task is at hand. I have this thing inside of me that shows up when things need to get done and no one know how to do it (usually including me) or everyone is afraid to do it. I jump in, I take the challenge. Sometimes it's exciting and sometimes it's terrifying, but always I learn something.
Last week I was in NY for a Crisis Incident Stress Management training. I felt WAY out of my league. I was in this class with people who have years of experience in chaplaincy, police work, fire work, pastoral work, etc. Who am I? I just want to learn how to help Internet volunteers care for people who share their crisis and concerns with us. On the last day of training we spent most of the time doing role plays. When it was my team's turn to lead the crisis debrief we were told to pick a team leader. Now, everyone knows that the first person to say "who wants to be the team leader" gets dubbed the team leader, right? So I purposefully kept my mouth shut. But when someone asked the question, the whole team picked me...what?? How did that happen? I know I answered a few questions right earlier but what makes these 6 strangers think I should be our leader?? In the end I was thankful for the experience. I didn't do it all right, and I said some wrong things, but I learned a ton and I will be better at caring for people as a result. And hopefully, I gave a little courage to the next person who didn't think they could do it.
So mom, I guess you were right all along. As I pay off my student loans, I sure wish I had been granted that scholarship!!
Embrace who you are even if it's uncomfortable. God gave you gifts for a reason even if you don't know what that reason is.
-The Real Me
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I almost didn't publish this blog but a good friend encouraged me to. Being "The Real Me" is an intriguing concept, but sometimes it's not easy.
I don't understand the "rules", I probably never will. I'm praying God can work around that. That He can connect me with a person that understands my awkwardness. As well as my ability to be both too shy and too brave at the same time. I'm never really sure if I should sit back and wait for an opportunity to smack me in the face, or if I should take chances when I think they are worth it. Did you know that if you ask 20 different people relationship advice, that you will get 20 different answers? This is true in both religious circles and non-religious circles. Maybe there is no right and wrong when it comes to trying to connect with another person (I am not speaking physically here...I DO believe there is right and wrong with that aspect).
But then, if there is no right and wrong and it is a matter of preference...how do you know what the other person's preference is? I mean, what if you feel like it's perfectly fine to ask another person on a date, but that other person finds it pushy? What if the result is better if you wait. But what if you wait and the other person never knows that you are interested.
And then there is that risk of rejection and the fear that you might lose a friend...or ruin an opportunity to have a friend because of the lingering awkwardness.
Some believe that none of that matters and if it is meant to be then God will work it all out regardless of the steps you take. Others will say "when you stop looking, then "it" will happen". I don't really know that I agree with either of these particular thoughts. Does God have the power to work things out regardless of the choices we make? Yes, He does. But will He? I'm not sure.
And then there is online dating, which is so confusing to me. The rules are totally different there. When you meet someone in person, all of the thoughts above are in play. But online, everyone is looking for someone to date, right? So people talk, flirt, and meet with the understanding that you are seeking a relationship, right? Why is it okay to be this way when you meet someone online, but it's not okay when you meet someone in person (or what I call, the old-fashioned way)? Shouldn't connecting with people in your own area, social circles, churches, etc...be easier? I may have mentioned this before, but there are a lot of things that bother me about online dating, yet I still have a "profile". Everybody says this is how people meet these days. And sometimes I give it a ligitimate try, but most of the time I go in cynical. Now it's even worse since I went through that human trafficking training...I don't really trust any online strangers.
I have heard LOTS of people's special stories. And so I know that every story is different. What "works" for some doesn't work for others and vice versa. Why do I get so frustrated? Why do I let it get to me? Should I just let it all go?
I spent several years of my life stuck. Believing that I had found the man that God had for me. I fell in love and I knew that I would do anything for this man when we ended up together. But then we didn't end up together and I spend way too long confused and longing for something that would never be. After working through the emotions of that, and after seeing some relationships of people close to me break apart, I decided that being single wasn't so bad and if that is the path God has for me, I am okay with it. I focused on work and on friendships and the things that matter to me the most. And for 3ish years I was totally content with this. Today, there is still a part of me that is content with the idea of singleness if that is what my life holds, but my heart has been awakened to the idea of love once again and I believe that God created me to share my life with another person.
At 33 years old, I'm a pretty independent person and I know when the time comes, there will be challenges in merging my life with another. But I also believe that the pros will outweigh the cons because I will have waited for that person who will love me and who will desire to be loved by me. It will be worth it. But I still can't figure out the rules...
So I wait. And I pray. And I wrestle. And I dream. And I hope. And I fear. And I wonder. How far away is my someday?
-The Real Me
Lover All Alone by Clay Aiken: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY69CiNfWok&index=3&list=PLGzTpX4txyFD1-TbSZrRYNlShoiYzrnwA
Saturday, April 12, 2014
On Friday night I sat through a training with The Justice Project (http://www.thejusticeproject.net) which is an organization who's mission is to abolish human sex trafficking in the Charlotte area. When you read that sentence, it's doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a Friday night; and it was in fact very overwhelming and difficult content to learn. But, as you learn about just how big of a horrible problem this is in our city, it becomes humbling to think you can have just a small impact that could be huge for a young girl in the midst of it. Human trafficking is a huge industry in the US and around the world and it is sickening. I think probably many of us (I was one) thought that this kind of thing happens in other countries but not here...we were wrong. Once you know about it, I can't imagine sitting around and doing nothing! I am not sure exactly how I will be involved as a volunteer, but I do know that I will be involved somehow.
That brings me to today, which was a fantastic day. While my official birthday is tomorrow, I celebrated today, and I started the day with an amazing group of ladies hanging out with another amazing group of ladies!! It has been years since I have been a part of an Easter egg hunt so it was ridiculously fun to hide a bunch of eggs and watch adults and children alike race to find them! The Easter Bunny showed up and we had food and singing and dancing. Such a special time with the ladies of The Dove's Nest. (http://charlotterescuemission.org/our-programs/doves-nest/). I have been at UpsideDown Church for 7 1/2 months and already it has openned up my eyes to so many opportunities to impact the lives of others. There is nothing more important. This is Christ in action. Showing people God's love, not just talking about it.
This afternoon some of my favorite people joined me for bowling and dinner to celebrate my birthday. As my friends from different times and places in my life converged to be a part of my special day, I was overwhelmed. 10 years ago I made a choice to move to the south. I didn't know what for as none of my initial plans worked out, but what a ride it has been. I've been through many ups and downs, changes, challenges, growing experiences, great times, hard times...and all of my experiences have brought me to where I am today, with so many awesome people in my life that I can learn from and be encouraged by daily. People from 6 different churches around the area were represented at my party, which truely is an example of the body of Christ. There were friends that I've had for years and friends I just met. There was friendly competition and a whole lot of laughs!! I am blessed. I don't know what the next year of my life holds. I hope there are great things to come. I have dreams and desires I would love to see become realities. I have friendships I'd love to cultivate and see grow. I want to learn how to love people better and serve with my whole heart unselfishly. I want to give more because so much has been given to me.
Thank you Andy, Rachel, Hanna, Webster, Beth, Sarah, April, Brian, Rhonda, Kim, Makeba, Nick, Tameka, Cameron, Kennedi, Tamer, Heather, Matt, Matt, Melody, Josie, and Allyson for being a part of my day.
-The Real Me
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Before the concert, Kari and Chris (lead singer for Rend Collective) did a Q&A session with the audience and they had some great insight for worship leaders. I wrote some of my favorites down.
Question One: "What is your advice for aspiring worship leaders?"
Answer from Chris: "Love people more than you love music. And, learn your words."
Both excellent pieces of advice. Learning your words is always great advice, lol. You know, so if the lyrics computer goes out you don't have to stop the service. I'm still working on this one!! Though, love people is the more important piece of advice in my opinion. As a worship leader it is easy to get wrapped up in the music, the details, wanting to be better, or wanting to be seen. If we aren't careful, a desire to worship the Lord can become self-centered rather than God-centered. Remembering to love people means to me that we remember the number one goal is to worship God and allow people to enter into that special worship connection with the Lord as well. Worship leading is not a performance, it is a service to the body of Christ. Which leads me to Kari's response to the same question.
Answer from Kari: "Remember the service side of leading worship." She shared the example of her own service to her home church. Even though she travels around the country leading worship for huge audiences, she remains a worship leader in her home church where she still has to submit her song list for approval each week so that she stays in agreement with her pastor and the church body.
Next question: "What is your heart song. One of your songs or someone elses's that connects with your heart the most.
Answer from Chris: "Boldly I Approach" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QDnVD7gu5Y
Answer from Kari: "You are For Me" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbSMfL5LuSo
Question 3: Kari on being single and looking for a relationship.
Answer: While she is excited that she now has a boyfriend, one thought that she shared "There are good guys and there are Godly guys. Wait for the Godly guy. Where you will have peace inside your heart and you won't ever feel like you have to sacrifice the Kingdom goals God has given you."
After the Q&A, the concert was just fantastic. All artists approach the stage humbly and in an attitude of worship. It's important to note, not all worship songs are slow songs. Rend Collective is a band I had never heard of before. I love their style, many of their songs have a different but cool kind of beat. It's peppy and celebratory. So much fun. The band is from Ireland and has some cool, different instruments and great accents. And they love the Lord.
The song that spoke to my heart the most this night: Healer, this isn't a new song to me, but the lyrics pierced my heart this night. "Nothing is Impossible for you [God], you hold the world in your hands.
I'm so thankful for special moments. Little gifts that God gives us. An opportunity to worship in the midst of a difficult week. A few moments to gain wisdom from the experience of others. A friend who will buy you a concert ticket to share a few hours with each other. Blessings, all of them.
-The Real Me
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The other morning at work, we had the blessing of hearing Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, share her story. It's hard to complain about your life here in the USA when you hear a story like hers. I'm thankful that I can't currently be put in jail for giving a friend a Bible or talking about my faith in Jesus. I've never been beaten or feared for my life as a result of my faith. I pray this will always be the case, but I wonder, if that WAS a real possibility, how would I live? Do I know what I believe and why I believe it with enough intensity and confidence that I could, for example, have a Christian wedding with 600 people in the middle of a Muslim country like Saeed and Naghmeh did? Do I have enough boldness to stand up for Christ when the time comes. Do I do this now in small ways? Something to think about. Eye opening at least. If you are reading my blog right now, people pause and say a prayer for Saeed; that he would be released from the Iranian prison and that his body would be able to heal from the internal wounds he has sustained and isn't being treated for as a result of being beaten in prison. Pray for Naghmeh and their two children.
Love and Change seem to be ongoing themes in my life and in my reading lately. I've read two books recently speaking to these themes. The first is called Who Moved My Cheese which is an excellent and easy to read book about embracing change and not being afraid to step into the unknown. There are so many great little insights that encourages the reader (me) to step beyond fear and get excited about stepping around the corners into the unknown to see what good may come. Often times we build up the change so much in our head and in reality, none of the things we fear actually exist. Oh the energy we (I) would save if I would embrace the unknown a little quicker. Personally, I believe I am MUCH better at this than I use to be...but I'm still working on shutting down the dialogue in my head that blows up situations and causes unneeded fear.
The other book is called A Loving Life by Paul Miller, and my notes on this book are way too long to type out here (at least 8 pages of notes). I would seriously recommend you read this book if you want to understand love a little better. It takes a look at the book of the Bible "Ruth" in order to explain the Hebrew word for love "hesed". Everyone in my department at work are currently reading this book and we have once a month lunch meetings to discuss what we are reading. I find it fascinating the different ways people interpret the same book. I very much follow the book from an emotional level; what does it mean for my life in the situation I am in right now (single, looking/praying for a future spouse). Others read it from a theological perspective (is it accurate to history and Bible). And still others read it from the perspective of being married and strengthening the relationship they have. Beyond the personal, we also read it in relation to our ministry and how we and our volunteers relate to those that we minister. This book covers all of these things and is a really good read. Listed below are just a few quotes that I pulled from the book:
"Vulnerability is part of the cost of hesed. Love carries risk."
"When you endure in love unnoticed, and someone notices, it can be overwhelming. You’ve held it in so long and gotten so used to the loneliness, it becomes your normal. So when love breaks through for you, when someone really cares, it bowls you over. Ruth’s resurrection has begun."
“Ruth’s whole being is hidden in God. That is the essence of faith. In the storm of hesed love, you hide yourself in God. He is your only refuge when you are enduring alone, without help. Faith is not a feeling-it is a place where you hide, close to the heart of God.”
“This gives us a third way in which femininity is defined as humility joined with power, sensitivity with guts.”
I think I've resolved myself to the fact that I am really bad at online dating. I have moments where I think I should give it another try, but I'm not really sure why. I just don't trust enough to believe that people are who they say they are, and also, I don't make the best first impression. It takes a while for me to open up with people because I need to feel safe first. I don't know if it's the horror stories I've heard, the whole "don't talk to strangers concept" or simply my increasing knowledge of the online world, but I just don't trust people. Also, online dating it pretty much all about first impression. Does my profile say the right things, do I have the right pictures, do I have enough pictures, if I "smile" at someone is it the right "smile", if I email someone do I lead with the right thing? It's just way too complicated and so far, even when I've given it a fair shot, I have been extremely unsuccessful. My hope, is that God will direct someone to me in real life that chooses to take the time to get to know me...you know, the old fashioned way.
I have the best friends. Thinking back a few years ago I remember feeling so lonely. I had (and still have) two friends that are amazing and we've been through a lot together. I love them both so much. About a year and a half ago I decided to join a small group, then last year I started attending a new church with awesome people, and then a few months ago I got involved more with a community group and now...I have more activities to do than I have days in the week AND I have several of the best friends I could ever have. While quantity of friends don't necessarily mean anything, I am thankful for the quality of the friends I have.
Okay, I got a lot out of my head. That's probably enough for tonight!
- The Real Me
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
So earlier in the week I wrote about a speaker I heard on Tuesday night talking about dreams and daring to make changes in your life to follow these dream. You can read this previous post to get a basis for my thoughts on this. Then, on Thursday I found out a coworker is making some changes in her life to follow her dreams. First I am going to say that I am so happy for her. I believe the choices she is making in her life will bring her to great things and the Lord is going to use her mightily in anything that he directs her too. She will be blessed and her family will be blessed. But I admit that this change for her is hard for me. In my selfishness I want her there, in my life, everyday. She is much more my friend and mentor than she is my coworker. She is like family to me. I would guess that she probably knows more about me than just about anyone else. Over the last 8 years she has been a steady presence in my life. We have gone through the trenches together and come out the other side. I honestly can't image what it will be like if she isn't there.
I know that change is necessary, and I'm usually much better with change than most people, but this particular change hurts my heart a little...okay right now it hurts alot. Many people have come in and out of my life and I know I have gone in and out of the lives of others. These types of changes are the hardest because of the difficulty most of us have with opening our hearts to let people in in the first place. When you open your heart you become vulnerable to pain. For some, this causes them to shut down and put up walls so they never have to feel hurt again. I can understand the desire to do this because my heart has been hurt several times in small ways and in big ways. But my desire is still to love and be loved and so I must deal with the pain.
Of course my hope is that I will remain friends with this beautiful lady forever, no matter where she goes and no matter where I go but I know this too is difficult as life changes. And so I will remember the impact she has had on my life and the lessons she has taught me. I will remember how I look through her eyes because she sees strength and courage in me even when I am feeling down about myself. I will remember the moments she has taken out of her busy day to help me think through the craziness in my head. I will remember the prayers she has prayed and continues to pray on my behalf about my future spouse. I will remember her smiles, encouragment, hugs and laughter. I will remember her beautiful voice and the fun we have singing and learning music together. And my prayer is that we will have many more memories to come.
But right now I am going to cry a little and I'm going to know that God is THE ONLY constant in my life and that even when I am selfish and when my head is telling me I am alone, I know that I know that God loves me and will never leave me and that he sees my future and the people He will place in my heart as I continue open myself up. And I will be thankful for the moments in time where friends place little pieces of joy in my heart.
Michael W Smith-Friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOCJAVlESEo
-The Real Me
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
This question was purposes to us tonight at our meeting of Charlotte One. If you didn't have to pay bills or impress people. If you didn't care what anyone else thought. If you had no insecurity holding you back. What are your dreams? What would you love to do? Can you answer that question?
I admit, tonight as the question was asked, I don't immediately have an answer. I love my job very much, but is it my life's passion? I don't know. I'm not even sure what my dreams are or if I've ever had the courage to dream a dream. It's something I will have to marinate on for a while.
Part of my reason for wanting to work towards my debt free goal is so that I have the freedom to do anything and to go anywhere. Sometimes I think about moving to another country to be a missionary, but that also terrifies me too. It so...unknown. Where would I go and what would I do there? Would I fit in? Do I want to fit in? Maybe I'd fit in better there than I do here?
Tonight, on a small scale, my dream would be to be able to communicate in a normal fashion in a group setting without being intimidated. That would be nice. I am always getting in my own way of getting to know people. I'm a great listener but I'm not so good at talking. I haven't figured out why this is. Someday maybe I can speak the words that are so much easier to write.
This post is slowly losing focus, but hey when it's you blog you can post anything that's on your mind!
To night I have a lot of questions and no answers. I'm also a bit annoyed at myself. I will have to work on the answers.
-The Real Me
Monday, March 3, 2014
I don't know about you, but my world moves pretty quickly. I'm so often on the go; get up, run out the door to work, running all day long, after work is exercise, and then into another activity. I'm not married and I don't have a family, but my world stays pretty full all on my own. I pretty much love everything that I do, but I find there is a point where I run out of steam. It is usually identifiable by a change in my attitude (and not for the better). I tend to be pretty happy and upbeat more often than not, but when I go go go for too long I begin to get emotional and irritable. Can you relate? It's in those time that I begin looking for my escape (aka, my happy place). A place where I can slow down, pray, remember who I am, and remember my purpose.
Most of the time my escape is to the beach. There is something about the steady sound of the ocean waves that relaxes my soul and helps me to breathe again. Sometimes I get away with friends and something I go alone. But taking that time to sit and stare at the ocean just does wonders for me. Since I'm watching my budget closely these days so that I can reach my 2014 debt free goal, taking off to the coast as often as I would like is not all that practical so I've found a few other places of solace.
I recently began running again and though I'm not quite at the level where running is relaxing (one needs to be able to take in full breaths in order to relax), I have found that taking the trails through the greenways in my city can be quite peaceful. I've been trying to go to a different trail each Saturday. Whether I'm at the ocean, hiking in the woods, or running (or walking) on a trail, all of these things help me to see God's beautiful creation. It reminds me of who he is and how magnificent the world is that we live in. It reminds me that the stresses of my life are small and that my God is big. It brings me back to center.
There one other place I like to go to escape. This one may sound a bit silly, but I love to go to the movies by myself. Five years ago I would have never been brave enough to do this. I hated going anywhere alone that I thought was meant for at least two people to do together. But a couple of years ago I got brave and decided I wasn't going to let not having someone with me prevent me from doing something I love to do. And I discovered that I love going to the movie theater by myself. When I am alone I can get lost in the story and forget about the real world for a while. I can become part of this magical place. The atmosphere of the dark theater with the big screen and a good heartfelt movie is beautiful.
I'm posting the lyrics below to a song I first heard in December and have since fallen in love with it. The first two verses describe how you can see God in the beauty of the world around us; a sunrise, the colors of the morning, a moon lite night, and the stars. Oh how true this is if we take time to stop and really appreciate these things and just enjoy the beauty. The second two verses describe Jesus and his love for us by dieing on a cross, giving his life for ours, and what an eternity. We are (I am) the bride of Christ and one day we will be reunited with him in joyous celebration. Oh God, how beautiful you are.
"You're Beautiful" by Phil Wickham
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It's all proclaiming who You are
I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You're beautiful
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Have you ever felt like God had a message just for you? You hear something you believe is from Him and then it is confirmed over and over and over again. Sometimes it's a challenging word; something He wants to change in your life. And we all know that change is never easy. But in our heart of hearts we want to be challenged because we want to be changed for the better.
At the beginning of the year, the ladies in my life group (aka small group, Bible Study, etc..) were challenged to think about a word we wanted to be "our personal word" for 2014. Something that we want to grow in this year, where we want to see God work in our life. And then attach a Bible verse to it. Throughout the year we are praying for one another and at the end of the year we will celebrate with one another at the changes God has made in our lives as a result of focusing on this area.
My 2014 word is LOVE. The challenge I heard as I was praying about what word to pick was that I need to understand at a heart level what it means for God to love me. Not just in a "yeah, I know God loves me because the Bible says so" kind of way, but in that deep place inside me in the depths of my heart where I never doubt it and where it creates power from the inside out. And then, to share that love with others in action as an overflow. The scriptures that I chose are from 1 John 3:1 and 1 John 3:18.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
I'm going to take you backwards here before I go forward:
If you are new to my blog and you don't know me at all or very well, you have probably picked up on the fact that I am a Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ. I chose to give my life to Jesus (put my trust in Him and follow him all the days of my life) when I was 9 years old. At that time, I believed at the basic level, with the heart of a child. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit draws us to the Father. Although I didn't know all the details and my faith was simple, I knew enough that God chose to connect me with Him through the death of his Son Jesus and that he would love me and protect me throughout my life. As I grew older, I was the "good church girl". I don't say this sarcastically, I truly am thankful for the life I have lived and to have a story that says I have been fortunate to avoid many things in my life that could have taken me down a bad path and that I chose at an early age to focus my life on trying to be more like Christ. But I am most definitely not perfect and have had to grow a ton in my faith and in "Christ-like" behaviour...and I still need to grow in this every single day. For most of my school days, church was social for me and I learned about God but I don't think a whole lot sunk in. My focus was on other things. In college I became much more focused on allowing my relationship with God have an impact on my life and my faith deepened so much. But a blind-side in my life has been insecurity. I never thought about that before as a lack of understanding about God's love. But I'm beginning to see it now. Once, on a mission trip in Florida, I walked out of a prayer meeting feeling just awful. Feeling like I have nothing to offer, what am I even doing trying to help other people understand who God is. Someone who was on the trip with me that I didn't even know that well, walked up to me, looked me in the eyes, lifted my chin with her finger, and said to me, "lift your head up, YOU are a daughter of the King". I've never forgotten this and it encourages me today, 11 years later. I needed a reminder that day that God loves me because I am his child. He created me for a purpose and nothing can get in the way of his seal on my life. This is unconditional love from my heavenly Father.
So I am on a journey this year to find out what God wants to show me about his love. That I am on the right track has been confirmed so many times in the last several weeks. It's really undeniable. First, my other small group has been doing the study by Henry Blackaby called "Experiencing God" in which the majority of the study talks about God's love. Then, a book I have been asked to read for work as self-improvement is called "The Loving Life" and uses the book of the Bible "Ruth" to explain living a life of love. Then, my pastor has just finished a 4 week sermon series on different types of love. Yes, God, I believe you have my attention. I have already learned so much and I look forward to what is to come.
My pastor said this morning "God cannot love you any less than he does right now, and he cannot love you any more than he does right now." (By the way...this is true for you today as well!) God's love is not based on conditions or on anything that I can do for Him. He does not love me because I gave my life to him at an early age or because I've lived as a "good girl". He will not stop loving me when I mess up or when I forget to pray. He loves me because he loves me. How freeing is that! How does that change how I think about Him? What does that mean for my life? Answering these questions are the first steps in my journey. And then, even though doing things doesn't change God's love for me, it should ignite something in me that want to show God's love to others and to live a life of visible love. We need more genuine love in this world don't we. I want to be someone that adds love to the world.
I think in the world we live in today, the word love has been so distorted that it's hard to grasp what the original word means. I pray that my heart will take hold of what God's love really is and that I will have the courage to make necessary changes in my life to live in this understanding of love.
For God so loved the World (How He Loves) www.PeacewithGod.net: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iB8FeoUoQI
How He Loves (full song): David Crowder Band: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0
-The Real Me