Friday, December 31, 2010

Scripture Memory Team!

Hello dear ones,
Tonight I'm writing to you from a tiny hotel room at Scott Air Force Base in IL. We are half way to Wichita Falls, Texas and a short 5 hours away from Fayetteville, AR where we'll be spending the New Year.

I have so much to write about our travel experience and have just been itching to tell you what God's been up to in my life but for now I need to clue you in on this exciting project!

Beth Moore has listed all of the "official" rules for the Siesta Scripture Memory Team on her blog but I thought I would give you an abridged version here and add a few things that we can do to bring the community of scripture memory team members together.

1. On the 1st and 15th of every month check in on the blog and I will be posting the memory verse I have chosen and a reminder to choose your verse. This means that this time next year you will have memorized 24 verses! Sound scary? Beth encourages us by saying "Look at it this way, if you're going to be meditating on something: unforgiveness, toxic memories, misery, lust, greed, dissatisfaction, jealousy, competition. Choose Scripture! Christ Himself said as a man thinks, so he is. He also sad His words are spirit and life. This is work worth doing, Sweet Thing. never - NOT ONCE - have I ever known anyone to get to the end of a Scripture memory commitment and say that it didn't make any real difference. Not a single time."

2. Post the verse that you have chosen as a comment below my posting. This will be such a cool way to share with others what you are studying and learning about. If you cannot post as a comment because you do not have an account or some other technical reason, send me an e-mail with your verse and I will post them. If you do not wish to share your verse with the community, send it to me anyway and I will keep it confidential. When you comment post your name, the verse, and translation. Here's an example.

Noelle Ulman, "For God so loved the world that He gave is only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 NIV

3. When you post your verse be sure to keep it relevant to your own  place in life. It will be much easier to memorize scripture that appeals to your heart and helps you through your personal battle. 

4. Don't forget to record your scripture in your spiral or on a notecard. Carry this notecard with you and read it, read it, read it, read it, and read it! This is what makes this challenge so cool. As you go throughout the year you are choosing verses that are meaningful to that moment in your life. As life goes on and God continues to move you can flip back and see how His word really is true. 

To start off this exciting challenge I want you to get creative! The fun part is learning new verses and sharing with a community, so let's share. Send me a picture of your notecards or spirals.( Let me see the simple to the sparkly! Have you decorated your cards are you ready for the challenge? Send them to me and let the Scripture Memory Challenge Begin!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A quick pause

Well dear ones, I am going to sign off for a few days while we begin to pack up celebrate the holidays and head out to Texas! As of right now I am 95% finished with the packing (which is a BIG accomplishment for me) and am so looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my hubby.

Tomorrow we will head home to our families and then on Thursday begin the trek to Wichita Falls, Texas...LOOK OUT! Along the way we'll be stopping in Indiannapolis, IN; Fayetteville, AR; and potentially Nashville, TN. I will surely be posting and updating along the way.

Until then here are a few things to look forward to in the new year so stay tuned!
1. Teaming up with Beth Moore and the Siesta Scripture Memory Team for a year of 24 verses put to memory!
2. A "not-so-fearful" study on Fear
3. More pictures and some guest posts.

Merry Christmas friends, enjoy the time with your family and loved ones and check back this time next week.
-Much Love

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Silent Night (Day): Rest

Today I was given a very special gift, a gift that I didn't even know that I needed or really wanted. A gift that will linger with me all throughout the day, and I gift that I hope you will appreciate as well....QUIET.

Learning and accepting the days a lone is one the greatest challenges I have experienced since the move. The busy lifestyle I was used to has suddenly disappeared and left me with an empty apartment and little activity. I have tried hard to fill my days with noise and people and things to do so that I don't feel quite so lonely. I have music playing constantly around the house and make frequent trips to the grocery store for extra excitement. But today, instead of watching Ellen, I sat on the couch and finished reading my book. All I could hear was the sound of my own reading and the clock ticking, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

It was beautiful. I could literally feel the Holy Spirit filling me with peace and rejuvenation. It was quiet and I wasn't filled with fear or doubt but instead I let the LORD use that time to fill me up.

"Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

When I start to think about the birth of Jesus and begin to imagine what that day and moment must have been like, I don't imagine any feelings of rest for Mary and Joseph. Until the beautiful baby Jesus was born. At that moment it seems like all the earth stood still and Mary and Joseph must have felt an overwhelming peace about them. Check out the last verse of the famous carol Silent Night. I'm sure you sing this every year and it seems so relevant to Christmas time. But today, the last verse is exactly the comfort I got from the peace and quiet of the ticking clock this afternoon.

Silent Night Day, Holy Night Day,
Son of God, loves pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord at thy birth, Jesus Lord at they birth.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

On a lighter note, check out this cool "generation iY" version of the Christmas story. Hit pause on the music player in the right panel and play this inspiring video.

Joseph's Plan B

What a wonderful weekend we had! Just as he always is, God has been faithful to bring us a beautiful couple to get to know here in Dover. Tyler and Lindsey are friends we have made from Colorado. Their story is unique and one day with their permission I'll share it with you. But what I can tell you is that they are a perfect example of following God's plan and not their own.

This theme seems to be appearing so often in my life right now and yet again at church yesterday we heard a wonderful sermon about learning to obey God's plan from the eyes of Joseph. Joseph had big dreams and big plans to marry a Godly woman and start a family of his own. When he found out that Mary was pregnant he thought long and hard about leaving her. She meant nothing to him at this point and as far as he knew, she had betrayed their engagement and committed adultry. I wouldn't want to enter into a marriage that began like that would you?!

But just then, God appears to Joseph in a dream and says, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21)
That was all that Joseph needed to hear, that was all the instruction he was given and he did as he was told. "When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus." (Matthew 1:24-25)

So many of us would love to have an angel appear to us in a dream and tell us everything will be ok, just trust the Lord. Or to give us direction on what to do next. But that's not always what God does and the way that Joseph responded is certainly not always how we respond.  When our dreams or life plans don't just happen the way that we thought they would we crumble and cave in. Instead of standing up and walking forward with God.
What is your initial response when you find your dreams seeming to be caged or put on hold? Do you crumble or stand; turn inward or turn upward; become paralyzed or start walking?

It's not easy, but God wants us to walk by faith not by sight. To truly believe that he has a plan and holds our future before us. There are so many stories of people who have just simply obeyed the LORD's calling and have seen their lives transformed. Ultimately they can look back and see how God's plan was being fulfilled all along. I want to recognize his plan right now! I don't want to get to the end of my life and finally have that ah-ha moment, instead I want to recognize his hand at work right now!

For more on this summary of this Sunday's sermon (12/19) at Bay Area Community Church check out the podcast on their website.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How you live

On a very snowy drive home last night this song came on the radio...

Now the song has everything that a cliche don't- take- life- for- granted kind of song should, and I've heard it probably 100 times but sometimes God takes the common and already understood and speaks t you in a new way. (don't you just love that about Him?)

Anyway, I started to think about all of the times that I just think too much. I choose the cheaper option, and hold myself back from things for what? To save a few pennies here and there, well maybe, but what about living just for the sake of living. Setting the table with our nicest china on a Tuesday just because, or dressing up in a cute outfit even if you are just going to the grocery store that day.

Imagine how much more we may enjoy the life God gave us if we really lived it? If we really just let loose and enjoyed the blessings He's given us. I think it would even make us more greatful for the little things if those little things were noticed and used a little more than usual. When a person lives this way it's contagious and spreads so fast and furious you can't help but smile.

Dear friends, be that kind of person this weekend. The kind who makes a special meal just because, brings someone flowers, or sends a note just because. Let's live a little and thank God for that!

My little indulgence today was a delicious cup of coffee from Starbucks instead of my usual coffee at home. What a joy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Word Up!

I am thrilled to share with you all a very exciting thing that happened today. I finally tackled the guest room which has been filled with unpacked boxes for weeks now and came across a spiral of index cards. I remember buying these cards at the university bookstore feeling just as lonely and desperate as I did today. I took the spanking new deck of cards to the library and cracked open my bible and started writing down as many comforting verses as I could. I carried this spiral with me everywhere and when I was having a bad day (or even a great day for that matter) I pulled out the book to remind of God's truth and power in my life.

Rediscovering the spiral brought back a refreshing feeling that reminded me all that God had brought me through. The truths in His book are so powerful. Feeling pretty rotten today, I added a few more verses to the book and have decided to start memorizing scripture each month. When the ground seems to be fall right out from under me, I know that I stand on solid rock in Christ.

Looks like I'm not the only one who has found comfort in the Word. Check out what Beth Moore is doing to help others feel the power of the scripture.

In short, starting 01 January Beth is challenging us to memorize 2 verses a month (that's 24 verses this year). Her creative team has designed adorable spiral note cards (just like the one I found) to inspire you to memorize. She also says, you can always go to your local CVS, Target, or Walmart and buy your own note card spiral. 

Jump on board with me, Beth, and the rest of the Siesta Scripture Memory Team! Send me an e-mail if you want to embark on this challenge and we will support each other every step of the way. Plus, you could be eligible to win a FREE Siesta Scripture Memory Team Spiral!!!

Rest in me...

"Rest in me, my child, forgetting about the worries of the world. Focus on Me- Emmanuel- and let My living Presence envelop you in Peace. Tune in to My eternal security, for I am the same yesterday, today and forever. If you live on the surface of life by focusing on everchanging phenomena, you will find yourself echoing the words of Solomon: "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"

Living in collaboration with Me is the way to instill meaning into your days. Begin each day alone with Me, so that you can experience the reality of My Presence. As you spend time with Me, the way before you opens up step by step. Arise from the stillness of our communion, and gradually begin your journey through the day. Hold My hand in deliberate dependence on Me, and I will smooth out the path before you." (An excerpt from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Hebrews 13: 8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Proverbs 3:5-6 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Give it up: Worry

Why do I have so much trouble just letting go? I think it's safe to say that many of you struggle with this too. Let's get personal now and let me just share with you exactly what I'm talking about....

C and I will be moving to Wichita Falls, TX for 3 months in January and while I will begin graduate school classes I am unemployed! The idea of not contributing to our family budget or even just being able to do something with the day that affects the greater community is killing me! I've job searched and job searched as much as I can from here and nothing, zero, zilch, nada!

Now, I know that if I look to the truth to find the answers, the Bible says, "Do not be anxious in anything, but in everything by prayer and petition make your requests known to God." (Philippians 4:6)
"Do not be anxious about your lif, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow or reap and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable then they? And which if you being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" (Matthew 6: 25-27)
"Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) 

So why do I continue to worry? Why do I spend hours a day searching websites and worry my little life away about how we will pay for things? And what I will do with my days in Texas?
Sometimes it feels like a vicious whirlwind that I get trapped in and believe that if I stop I will somehow be giving up. But I think God wants me to "give up". He wants me to say "It's all you God". And while I am learning to give it up to Him and let Him provide for me, I need to pray in humility and honesty that my heart aches for something more. Please Lord give me rest in you and be patient with me while I learn to really trust you.

So in an attempt to make a change, I'm going to put my computer away for the day and get up and praise God for what He's blessed me with right now, and let Him take care of tomorrow (January-April in Texas).

And I'll let this picture remind me of the adventures He's brought me through when I never thought it would happen.
Finishing my 40-page senior thesis.
Presenting the thesis in front of the board.
Moving out of my house in Fredericksburg.
Surviving a long-distance relationship and getting engaged!
The summer at the Naval Academy.
Folding over 200 paper airplanes.
Getting the alterations right on that dream dress!

And marrying this man, knowing my life would be better with him than without him!*PRAISE THE LORD*    

Me Too: Community

I have really been captured by the story of Ruth & Naomi these days. There are so many things about their story we can learn from. In the first chapter right from the beginning, we see an amazing commitment from Ruth. Let me set the scene...

Naomi's husband has just died leaving her with 2 sons and their wives. An economic depression and famine hits the land if Judah the family looses everything so they move to Moab. As if things can't get worse Naomi's sons, Mahlon and Ephrathites, both die. Imagine being in a strange land and loosing the very things that are familiar and hopeful in her life.

I can just hear her crying out to God "Why me? Why me God? How can you let this happen to me?"
Now here's the important part. As a widow Naomi has no identity in Judah, she has no name and no rights. Still she decides to move back to Judah and tell everyone to call her "Mara" which means bitter, "because the Almighty has made me very sad". (Ruth 1:20)
Now her attitude and her identity lies in her unfortunate circumstance. She embodies every last bit of anger, sadness, loneliness, and despair, well who can blame her?

Naomi comes to her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, and tells them her plan kissing them good-bye. Orpah says good-bye to her mother-in-law but Ruth stays close.
Naomis said to Ruth, "Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her own people and her own gods. Go with her." But Ruth said, "Don't beg me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people. And your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried...Not even death will separate us." (Ruth 1:11-18)
It's a sign of hope, God heard Naomi's cry and blessed her with Ruth. In the darkest hours, Ruth says "ME TOO". It's the gift of community.

When you are in your deepest and lowest parts of your life God gives you people to just walk with you. There are so many times when life doesn't seem to go our way and we miss this gift. We assume our circumstances are so bad and so difficult to mend that there is no one who could understand or anyway to overcome it. But there are the ones who say, "ME TOO", I'll walk  with you, I'll lift you up and go where you go.

Don't miss this gift, when things are going your way, and don't let your identity encompass the despair your feel like Naomi did. Instead notice the ones who are saying "ME TOO" and enjoy the company and gift of community. And maybe you need to be the one saying "ME TOO", "I'll go where you go, and your people will be my people."

Here are some of the "ME TOO's" in my life right now. In the seemingly foreign land I'm living in, I am learning to notice those who are with me and not those who are against me, and it's made all the difference.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Wall: Patience

Do you know what it feels like to hit a wall? To come to a point of desperation or need that makes you feel completely and utterly lost.
God's plan doesn't always match up with ours, and sometimes things happen that make us wonder what in the world He could possibly be thinking. Why can't that couple who has been trying for so long have a child? Or why is that precious child alone at Christmas? Why can't we get the job? Why are our relationships so broken? Why are our loved ones still away fighting for our country?

This is one of the most difficult things to grasp about Christianity; that God loves you enough to strip you down to the very core so that He can rebuild you in a way that makes you more like Him. It's not that the person you were before was bad, but that for some reason they are keeping us from knowing God the way we should.

Pete Wilson explains this so well in his book "Plan B". That's what happens at the wall. That's why it's so painful-because we are being stripped bare...there is a transformation from what we believe in our heads to a belief that permeates every fiber of our being...."The wall represents our will meeting God's will face to face...Fundamentally, it has to do with slowly breaking through the barriers we have built between our will and a newer awareness of God in our lives."

The sweetness in this truth is that God does have a purpose. That even though the wall is extremely painful and stretches us in ways we never knew, that there is meaning in it. And when you break through the wall and begin to see the light on the other side, it is a renewed sweetness and closeness with the LORD , greater than you could ever imagined!

I used to have this note posted on my mirror in college, "God has brought me to a tough place but He will surely carry me through with grace."

One more word of hope: "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No Doubt: Discouragement

How many times in your life have you taken steps forward only to be knocked down by the world? 

You build yourself to a big decision, or a leap of faith, or even trying something new that takes courage. Getting to the point where you begin to feel confident in your decision. We struggle to trust God and to hear His voice and begin to walk where He sends us. 

But so many times the world has other things in mind. Satan sends his messengers to flood our minds with doubt, discouragement, and destruction. All of the time we spend seeking guidance and trusting in His faithfulness can go out the window so quickly. When one person says something that causes us to doubt, or doesn't support our decision it is so easy to believe the lies of the world instead of trusting in the truth of the Word.

I honestly, don't have any positive answers for this today. I struggle so often with pleasing the people instead of pleasing my God or even myself. I let the smallest comments of opposition tell me that I'm not good enough and I really don't know how to change that. But I do know that there is truth, so here is what I am reminding myself of today.

1. God loves me and I am His. "I am my beloved's and his desire is for me." Song of Solomon 7:10

2. God has a plan for my life and will not leave me to tackle life on my own, even when others don't stand by me. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

3. I will delight in knowing that God knows my deepest feelings. He knows I will stumble and fall but He will lift me up and love me even more. "When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When  the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul." Psalm 94: 18-19

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Song Bird: Praise

Yesterday I got to meet with the dearest friend of mine. For 3 hours we just sat and talked, couldn't even believe what happened or where the time went. We talked about good things and bad things and what God had been teaching us this past year. I knew God was smiling at us, because boy were we smiling!

This has been a time in my life of decision making, and constant direction seeking. As we talked about this she told me about a cross stitch her mother had done during a similar time in her life. It had a picture of a bird on it and said, "The Lord respects me when I work, but he loves me when I sing."

What a beautifully simple truth about our God. There is always a time and a place to be working and God surely blesses our efforts when we work. It is how we provide for our families and contribute to the world we are living in. But what about those times when we just sit back and sing? I think about the Sunday mornings, when we don't go to work but we go to church and simply worship. Or even those days when we are sick, or exhausted and are at the end of our rope and reach out in cry of desperation. We are at our weakest and have no other option but to turn for help. It is our song.
Our song of joy, or of peace, or loneliness, or fear, or even delight. No matter what the feeling or emotion of the day God loves us most when we sing. When we open our mouths and let it rip! It may not sound beautiful to us, but to Him, our cries are an exquisite treasure.

"Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coast lands and their inhabitants... let them give glory to the LORD and declare His praise in all the earth." Isaiah 42: 10-12

"I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 57: 2-3

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Scary Movies: Fear

Why do we get so scared during a scary movie? We close our eyes and cling closely to the most secure and masculine thing around us. Weather it's our spouse, boyfriend, or just the closest pillow; we cling to what's near just waiting for the moment to be over so we can move on to the happy ending.

In the moment of the car chase or fight scene we are hoping that the good guy gets away and the bad guy is put to an end. Even though I pretend to love the excitement of the scary movies (especially in front of the boys) I always close my eyes and wait until the tense scene is over and the conflict moves toward resolution. But in the film industry, those tense movements make the happy endings that much more beautiful.

In my life right now I feel like I just want to close my eyes and open them again when the conflict is being resolved, when the tough decisions have been made, and when the happy ending is in sight. But that is what faith is all about. Trusting God with our eyes wide open knowing that the happy ending is on it's way.
“The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that trust in him.” – Nahum 1:7
It says he is there is the day of trouble. The times when things are unsure and scary. When we want to close our eyes and cling to our spouses' arm or that comfy pillow. When there are decisions to be made and paths to choose, I want to embrace the scary moments with eyes wide open. Face the car chases, and fight scenes so that the happy ending and resolution is that much more enjoyable and I can look back and know that God brought me through.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” – Psalms 46:1-3

“he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” – Matthew 24:13