Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Although we do not know the exact date or time, Christmas is the day we remember the child that was born in a manger. Many people did not realize that the tiny, beautiful baby boy born in a filthy animal trough (manger) would grow up to save to world.
That beautiful, perfect and innocent child would one day be mocked, scorned, laughed at and have a crown made out of thorns forced upon His head. He would suffer a terrible death that should only befall the worst kind of criminals, crucifixion.

The amazing part is that, although all those terrible things happened the story doesn't end there. Three days after His death Jesus rose again and walked the earth. His death and resurrection fulfilled the debt owed for our sins.

We are filthy sinners full of greed and lust but we are forgiven and by God's grace we can be saved. Through faith in Christ Jesus and believing He died on the cross and rose again we can be washed clean. We will still sin, but God will see us through Jesus, that baby boy who was born in a manger and grew up to save the world. Jesus will be our wrath absorbing substitute as we stand before God.

Praise God for sending His son to rescue us, and remember why we celebrate CHRISTmas.

As the totally unoriginal, but completely true saying goes, "Jesus is the reason for the season," so let's keep it that way.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Patience and Kindness

It has been some time since I have blogged. With all of the holidays it is difficult to find time to sit and write down my thoughts.
The Lord has been teaching me a lot over the last month. Patience and kindness has been the moto in my household. Between the busyness of the holidays, family in town, family living with us, struggles with friends and work, my life feels like nonstop stress. It is exhausting and sometimes I just can't handle it. So through it all I have to continually remind myself to have patience and kindness.

I think this is something we all need reminding of every once in awhile. On those mornings when we are running late for work and a family member takes the last cup off coffee so you go to work exhausted and coffeeless, or when you are trying to get to church and you are stuck in piles of traffic. When your boss is grumpy and he stomps around yelling at everyone, or when you feel like everyone is out to get you. All we can do is give it to God and ask for patience and kindness. In Him we will find peace even in the most frustrating, irritating, and tough situations. He was patient, kind and loving toward us even when we despised, hated and rejected Him.

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

So as we head into the Christmas festivities, which includes the stress of Christmas shopping, remember patience and kindness. Even when the littlest thing annoys us remember that we are not perfect and forgive one another for their faults. Christ showed us the ultimate patience, kindness and love, which we were so undeserving of, so I am making it my goal to strive and do the same for others.

Merry Christmas :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The deadly truck trip (when everthing goes wrong)

The day started out like a fairly normal Sunday. It was a little more fun then normal because my friends and I were house sitting. We woke up and got ready to head to church together. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Pancakes we the breakfast choice of the day, which was a special treat and thoroughly enjoyed.
 Like most Sundays we headed out to church about 10 minutes late. It seems like it is always difficult to make it there on time, but nevertheless we arrived and enjoyed an excellent Sunday school and a powerful church service. Little did I know that the encouraging morning was going to turn into a deadly afternoon.
Back at the house all of us girls, and one of the girls families got together for a Sunday lunch. It was small and laid back, a great way to fellowship and spend time with one another. About an hour or so into our little get together, a few of us had to take off to go to our church's "convalescent ministry." Unbeknown to us this ministry had been cancelled and it wasn't until we were on our way that we were informed. As we drove we got the call saying it was cancelled, but we decided to continue heading there anyway. There were still old people waiting and needing love and prayer, so we chose to do a little impromptu ministry thing. Just as we were about to arrive the guy leading our convalescent escapade got another phone call.
"Hello? Yes? Oh, absolutely. We would love to. Alright, see you later." He hung up the phone.
My friend, our leaders sister, and I sat there in wonder at what had just taken place. "We're heading to Fremont" our leader proclaimed. "You guys don't have to come if you don't want, but I just volunteered to pick up a couch."
Of course we were full of adventure and eagerly agreed to join him on the journey. It was about an hour there and an hour back, and we had to get home in time for evening service. So we went and picked up a truck, piled in and began our trip.
Now this was not any normal truck. It was an extremely tiny, with three seats in a tight-fitting car, with stick shift and manual steering, and that's not even the worst of it. You can't go over 65 on the freeway in this truck and it feels like it is going to break down at any minute. So that gives you just a slight picture of what we were dealing with.
About twenty minutes into the drive we decided to needed a pick-me-up to make it through the journey so we stopped off at a Starbucks to grab some coffee. The first thing that went wrong was the parking situation. All the parking spots were parallel and when you have a manual steering wheel cranking it to the side to fit into a parallel parking spot was not easy. We took about ten minutes just trying to get in the spot without hitting the car behind us.
Ordering the coffee was a task in itself as well. The workers all seemed to be new and it took five minutes just to order one drink. We were trying to be gracious and kind and not let frustration and annoyance with the slow service control us.
Finally, we were back on the road singing and laughing about this random adventure we had ended up on. Suddenly we realize the merging exit was coming up far quicker then expected. Our driver cranked on the steering wheel and prayed we didn't hit any cars as we crossed over lines to reach the exit. Cars were honking and flying by as veered to the left.
We made it to the exit just in time and realized that the road had a sharp turn and went in a loop to merge onto the other freeway. Again our driver cranked on the steering wheel and slammed on the brake as we nearly went head first into the metal railing on the side of the road. I was clinging to the side of the door, which felt like it was about to fall off, and my friend in the middle was clinging to me, both of us girls were yelling and screaming in terror. All the while our driver was calm and collected, regaining control and making it around the loop fast enough to accelerate and merge on to the other freeway.
We were finally back up to 65 and driving smoothly (if you could call this truck smooth) down the interstate. We made it to Fremont, still alive, but the trouble wasn't over. The couch we were there to pick up was nearly as long as the truck itself. Opening up the bed, we slid it in and realized that the end was sticking out quite a bit. Nevertheless, we strapped that thing down as best we could, stuffed the pillows under it so they wouldn't blow away and piled back in the truck.
Now there was three of us stuffed in this tiny truck, with a giant, few hundred pound couch on the back. We probably drove about 50 mph on the way home and I know I was praying all the way there that the couch wouldn't go flying off the end. We made it home, safe alive but slightly shaken up happy to be out of that stuffy truck.
Little did we know when we started out that we would nearly die on that trip, but all in all it was a great day and a great adventure!

Happy we're alive!
(I'm on the left, my friend is in the middle, the leader of our escapade is on the right.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am ridiculously blessed

It is so easy to take for granted our lives and God's blessings. Lately I have been thinking about how great I have it, and how good God is to me.

I have been through struggle and trial one after another, but I am starting to truly see how God is blessing me through each situation.

Trial: As I move away from the friendships that are pointing me to the world I am losing the dearest people in my life, and feeling like they want absolutely nothing to do with me.

My goal was not to cut those people out of my life, but to spend a little less time with them. I was putting all my time and effort into friendships that weren't Christ exalting and I was not spending enough time walking with God, in His word, prayer and fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Blessing: As I cry out to God to strengthen me and help me get through this trial of losing friends I find myself creating new relationships and friendships. He is bringing wonderful friendships back into my life that I used to have, and creating new friendships with brothers and sisters I didn't know before.
God is blessing me with new and fun experiences with these people. Although it still hurts to lose other friends I am coming to be at peace with how God is handling the situation.

Trial: I live in a three bedroom, two bathroom, one story house with seven grown adults and my dad works out of an office from home. For the last few months there has been frustration after frustration getting used to the way each person lives.
My sister and I have our routines, times we need to get up, use the bathroom to get ready etc... My grandparents have their routine, times they need to get up and get ready etc... My parents have their routines, and my Uncle has his. We are all on different schedules doing different things and it is a huge adjustment getting used to living with so many people.
My uncle doesn't do a whole lot during the day so he stays up very late at night and I often find myself being kept awake by his noise.
I was so frustrated and annoyed suddenly having so many people in the house.

Blessing: God opened my eyes to the fact that I was once a person full of sin, completely undeserving of anyone taking me in. God brought me in, cleaned away my sin and loves me continually. Despite the fact that I mess up over and over, I mock Him, I do things that make Him sad hurt and annoy Him yet He still loves me unconditionally.
I do things that annoy and hurt Him a lot more then just being kept up at night, but He keeps caring for me.
If God can continue to forgive and love me, I have no place to judge or be angry or annoyed at anyone else. He has opened my eyes to that reality and is teaching me how to deal with each situation with grace and love.

Blessing: God has provided me a stable car, a job to provide gas and pay for bills, and even lowered the gas prices so I could afford to drive thirty minutes to and from Church. (Yes that's a huge blessing!!!)

Blessing: God has given me a chance to minister to others and has opened my eyes to the importance of serving.

Blessing: God kept my whole family on the east coast safe from the Hurricane.

Blessing: God is allowing my whole family to be home and together for Thanksgiving AND Christmas.

Man, I could go on and on with the ways I am blessed because that is just a small amount of things I have to be thankful for.

My point is, remember you are blessed and constantly thank God for those blessings.
I know I don't thank Him nearly enough.
Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Every day I'm fighting a war

Every time I sin I know I am sinning. I hate the fact that I do the same things over and over and over, and I want to stop. I want to change. I don't want to be doing these things, but every time I feel like I defeated this temptation the devil just throws more temptation in my way and I fall into that snare again. I know we are called to hide God's word in our heart so we may not sin against Him.( Psalm 119:11)
The problem is, everything I have said, is about me. The word being used is I. When it comes down to it, it's not about me. I will never be able to do this on my own. I can never change on my own. I can never defeat temptation on my own, and it's so frustrated.
All that I can do is keep praying the Lord will take this temptation from me and help me to fight it when I am presented with these trials. I have not prepared myself for when trials strike, so the devil drags me down.
I get so angry at myself because I keep falling into the same sins and when I am doing it I know it's sin, and I don't want to do it but I do. It really brings me down because I am such a disgusting, filthy sinner and I wonder how I can even call myself a Christian. How can I say I am a follower of Christ when I do these awful things that breaks my Heavenly Father's heart.
In moment's like these I remember, I am undeserving. There is no way that I should be going to Heaven, because I deserve to spend my eternity in Hell. These are the moment's I need to preach the gospel to myself. I have been saved by GRACE. Christ was the PROPITIATION (wrath absorbing substitute) for my sin. I am completely undeserving of Heaven but Christ's blood covers me and all my sins are washed away and God see's me as pure and perfect despite my natural sin nature. I just need to repent and turn away from my sins
So I will keep reminding myself the wonderful promise our Father gives to us.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I have been saved

John 10:28
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

My salvation can never be taken from me

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate me from my Heavenly Father.

2 Peter 1:4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

God promises us we will escape the corruptions of our earthly desires and be in Heaven with Him.

"Lord every day I'm fighting a war to flee from it all, until I am free from it all." ~116 Clique

Saturday, October 27, 2012

God's will does not include Breakfast.

"God's will for your life is not very complicated. Obviously, living a Christlike life is hard work, and what following Jesus entails is not clear in every situation. But as an overarching principle, the will of God for your life is pretty straightforward:
Be holy like Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God." -Kevin DeYoung

It's easy to use the excuse that we are "just waiting to figure out the will of God," when really we are just not doing anything. God's will is not some mystical magical thing that we have to spend all this time trying to figure out. His will does not include if we should have a bagel for breakfast or an egg. His will doesn't tell us if we should start school this year, or wait until the following year. It is not a planned out treasure map that leads us to the treasure. He knows every decision we are going to make, but God gives us the freedom to make them. We should do everything prayerfully and wisely, but we should not waste time saying "I am trying to figure out God's will for my life,"
We are simply called to do something...anything... but in everything we are to strive to be like Jesus and do it all for the glory of God.That is truly is His will for us.

Thank you Kevin DeYoung for writing "Just Do Something," this book has convicted me and taught me, through Biblical examples, what God's will is for every Christian.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

With Hope

I cried when I listened to this song. It is a beautiful song written by Steven Curtis Chapman about the journey he, his wife Marry Beth and their family went through after the death of their youngest, Maria Sue Chapman. This beautiful little girl ended her earthly life on May 21st 2008. Despite the struggles, downfalls and pain they endured after being torn from their loved one, they chose to "SEE" God's glory, mercy and every lasting kindness. They have hope and joy that they will see little Maria again in Heaven.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Your grace is enough

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Even in the hardest situations God is our refuge. His grace is enough for us and through Him we can do all things.

I spent 15 years of my life having a dear best friend who I care about deeply. About six months ago is became apparent that our friendship had fallen apart. It broke my heart. I lost one of the closest friends in my life. We walked through so many things together since childhood, and letting that friendship go has been impossible for me.
All I can do is continue to make an effort, love her like Christ loved us and push forward. Several days ago I tried to reach out and my efforts felt fruitless. All I can do is keep my eyes on the Father and know that He has a plan. The hard part is that no matter how many times I tell myself what I "need" to do it doesn't make it any easier. I am broken and don't know what to do but fall before the Lord and ask for strength.
This life is fleeting. Friendships will fade but the Lord will always be faithful in every season of our lives.

Your Grace is Enough
Chris Tomlin

Great is Your faithfulness, oh God
You wrestle with the sinner's heart
You lead us by still waters and to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart

Great is Your love and justice, God
You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
And all Your people sing along

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise, oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

Yeah, Your grace is enough
Heaven reaching down to us
Your grace is enough for me

God, I see Your grace is enough
I'm covered in Your love
Your grace is enough for me, for me

Thursday, October 18, 2012


As usual, I woke up at 7:15 to my "Steven Curtis Chapman" Pandora station. My parents were fairly chipper, because they had finally caught up on rest after their ten day trip to New York to see my brother.
Grumbling and exhausted I poured myself a cup of coffee and came to realize that all of my hazelnut coffee creamer was gone. That meant all I had was some of my mom's vegan almond milk (a few months ago my mom decided to go vegan.) When I went to get my healthy smart breakfast they were all gone too. So I grabbed my mug and stumbled back into my bedroom, I'm pretty sure I was still half asleep.
I got ready slower then usual, because of my lack of sleep, lack of good coffee and lack of breakfast. This reminded me how annoyed I was that we had so many people living in our house. My patience, or lack of it, was running thin. My make-up seemed to take forever to get just right, and all I had time to do with my hair was pull it into a knotted, curly ponytail. From the get go I could tell this was going to be a long day.
As I rushed around my bedroom, trying to pull myself together for work, I didn't take a second to stop, breath and open up my Bible. My mind was on the million little things I had to finish doing, the family stress and the nonstop busy day I had ahead of me,
Finally I pulled my purse over my should, grabbed my piles of clothes I had to change into for children's ministry, my books, and my not so tasty coffee and headed to work.
I think the Lord has a humorous way of showing us when we need to slow down and breath, but I did not find it so funny.
As I reached my car I saw a tub of green jello looking stuff smeared across the asphalt. I made a disgusted face and proceeded to head towards the driver's door. I stopped dead in my tracks to find green jello stuff smeared across the back of my car. Not only was it green but I saw flecks of yellow goo and brown paste. It seemed to have dried and cracked on my car in a not so flattering way. Flustered and upset I burst into my house and grabbed a wash cloth to scrub the stuff off. Just as I was getting ready to text my boss and let her know I was going to be late my dad came in and asked me what was wrong.
I recapped the story for him and he immediately rushed outside and pulled the hose out. In a moments notice my dad, still in his pajamas, was at my car washing off what appeared to be green jello, peanut butter and eggs. I used the rag to scrub away the little he had not been able to wash off, and within five minutes was in my car heading to work.
I was going to make it on time and everything would work out just fine. I raced down the street until I realized... I had forgot my lunch. I had to turn around. I was going to be gone from 8am to 10pm, and needed some kind of food to keep my going. I rushed up the street and ran into my house to grab the food from the freezer. My dad chuckled and I just rolled my eyes in frustration. This day certainly wasn't getting any better.
It wasn't until I got to work when I sat down, took a deep breath and relaxed that I realize what the Lord had been doing. He was teaching me patience, just as He had been teaching it to me all week long with the family situation. I pulled out my Bible and read a few chapters of Exodus (the book I am reading.) I laughed because I was reading about the plagues. The Israelites were so patient as Pharoah continually held them in captivity. God kept sending plagues and the Israelites had patience in knowing the Lord would prevail and carry them out of the trial.
I get so busy, and do so much rushing around that I don't take a second to just read a verse and pray. I dont focus on the Lord and I speed through every second of my life. I don't have patience and know the Lord will take care of me through the day, and instead I get frustrated with every little thing that doesn't go according to my plans.
Moral of the story: Wake up earlier so I am not rushing around.... haha. Really what I learned was that I need to put my trust in the Lord. I need to stop worry about all the things I have to get done and take a second to hear what he has to say to me, have patience through the frustrating situation and take a second to relax, breath and pray.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

All the apple cider is gone.

I live in a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house. In the past it's always fit my family of five. My parents slept in the master bedroom, my sister and I shared a room and my brother shared a room with my dad's office. It isn't huge and spacious, but it has always worked. I have never felt like we are all crammed in. Probably because we were kids and it was easier to roll us up into bedrooms like pigs in a blanket. We each had our own space when we needed it.
Growing up we turned our garage into a playroom. Carpet was put down, bookshelves full of fun things lined the walls and an old couch even ended up out there. It was where my siblings and I spent hours playing together. I have so many fond memories sitting in the room playing Davie Crockett and guns with my older brother. My sister didn't spend as much time in there because she had, "I'm to mature for your childish games" syndrome.
Years later my brother and sister had left for college, and our house suddenly felt really big and quiet and calm. It was my 9th grade year and my dad was working all day and my mom was in and out of the house, busy with life. I was homeschooled, so I spent most of my time hanging out in the quiet house. So at the beginning of 10th grade it was time for a change. There I was, living in, what felt like, an empty house. Little did I know our house was going to get a whole lot smaller.
In the last few years my sister moved back and my uncle and grandparents moved in. Don't get me wrong, I adore my family. I have been blessed with some amazing relatives, but this has definitely been an adjustment.Going from three people to seven is a big change.

So there I was after a long, exhausting day at work. My boss had grumpy and stopping around the office, yelling at anyone that got in his way. On top of that, my piano students had been especially lacking in their practice that week. I was ready to go home, get in some pajamas and curl up with a hot cup of apple cider. Now this wasn't just any old apple cider. This was fancy apple cider from apple hill. A treat I get, maybe once a year, and a friend of mine had so kindly brought me back an entire gallon. So, you can understand my excitement when I finished teaching and headed for the refrigerator. As I opened the door my eyes gazed in shock at the lack of apple cider that was sitting on the shelf. It was gone. The entire gallon was missing and I was standing there empty handed and sad. I hadn't even had a chance to have one cup of my beloved cider. The long, frustrating day had just gone from bad to worse.

You are probably thinking, really? She was upset over some apple cider that someone drank? But you don't understand... this was APPLE HILL APPLE CIDER.
Okay, that really isn't the moral to the story. This was the last in a long line of difficult and challenging events. From waking up at 6 in the morning, on a Saturday, because my room had dropped to about 50 degrees, to find a lack of peace and quietness because every room is full of people.
It isn't really about the apple cider, although that was a bit of a disappointment, it is more about the challenges of living with seven grown, loud, opinionated adults in a 3 bedroom house. I have never been very challenged when it comes to loving people, but the Lord is definitely starting to throw some challenges my way when it comes to loving others.
I am reminded so often that I am called to love, above all else. (1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.)We are called to bring glory to God through loving Him and loving people. God has quickly revealed to me that I need to love people better. He has taken me out of my comfort zone and thrown me into a situation I have never dealt with before. He is teaching me that love is a multitude of things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. )
.My eyes have been open to the fact that I am selfish and I don't like how things have changed. I have been forced to adjust my way of living, but slowly I am adjusting, and through God's gracious kindness He is giving me the strength to have this servant love. It is in no way coming naturally, and it is a struggle that is, and will continue to be, a challenge to overcome.
I have learned that part of loving people is being gracious, even when I am woken up in the middle of the night to someone cooking and the fire alarm going off.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I am not ashamed

You will see how desperately full of sin I am, but how I have been cleansed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Although I still stumble, and I still fall into temptation I know I am forgiven and I strive to live for Him. I have been saved by God's grace and nothing can ever take that from me. (John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.)
I live by faith alone and although my journey isn't easy, I will press foreward and run the race (1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.)
I have walked through many trials that brought me to the lowest places, but the Lord has blessed me and has always brought me through them. There have been times when I questioned my salvation because of the sin that clouded my life.  I wondered how God could love a sinner such as me, and that is something I still wonder every day. That is why God's grace is so amazing. We don't deserve His love for us, yet He sent his son to die for our sins and now we can be assured that one day we will be in Heaven with Him.
There were times I would ask how God could be real when I was so unhappy and felt so alone. He didn't leave me, He was always at my side, but I took my focus off of Him and allowed my life to become centered on the things of the world. I would question if I was ever really saved at all because the sins I was committing were to great to come from a Christian. Then I was told the story of David, the King who committed adultery and murder, yet he was saved and a follower of Christ. No matter how great the sin we can't lose our salvation. (John 10:27-29  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.) I know that I was saved and the Holy Spirit lives inside of me, but I got caught up in the things of the world and caught in the devils lies.
For years I have delt on and off with this feeling of depression. It felt like there was this unexplained hole inside of me and I wasn't happy. I knew I was saved, and I knew the way I was living was wrong, but the devil deceived me and made me believe that worldly things would make me happy. My heart was struggling to fall back into that old way of sinful living. The more unhappy I was the more I sinned to find joy, and the more I sinned to find joy the more unhappy I became. It was a vicious circle. I wasn't turning to God and asking Him for the strength and joy in him, I just kept trying to do it on my own.
As I have grown as a Christian, and really made the Lord my anchor, I know that I have to continually preach myself the gospel and meditate on the good things or I will be dragged down by my flesh (Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.)
I now strive to please Him every day. I want to live every day as if Christ died this morning, rose at noon and is coming back for me tonight. Pleasing Him is what truly brings me joy. I can't find that anywhere else, and despite the struggles that each day may bring I know He gives me strength to do all things. (Philippians 4:13)

So here we go. This blog is devoted to every day life. It is a place I will share my thoughts, struggles and achievments as I fight the good fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12)
I can never do this on my own. Every breath I breathe comes from the one who made me.
I am not very good at writing and probably not very interesting, but this is where I will chronicle my journey as an unashamed believer of the gospel of Jesus Christ.