The Spiritual Catnaps of our Chaos

Today, God decided, in the midst of a hectic season, to spread out an effortlessly delicious day in which someone could lose all their troubles.  Well, at least it seemed that way to me.

 

I headed out for a run and God treated me to a getaway.  I believe that on days like today (or almost any day for that matter) it is impossible to stand outside, peer up at the sky, and be stressed. (Well, this works for at least a short time!) As the sun seeped into my skin, the breeze licked at my cheeks, and I squinted up at a blue sky streaked with wispy white clouds, I felt like all was right with the world.  If only for a moment, time stood still and every worry melted into a balmy sigh.  

 

I firmly believe that God sends us little moments in the midst of our mayhem for us to revel and rest in.  The question is whether or not we see them.  Think how many delicious little moments – spatters of sunshine, breaths of air, touching scenes, encouraging words – we miss in our tunnel-visioned rush.  God used a fresh Florida day to remind me that, not only do these moments exist, but I often brush past them without a second glance. It’s simultaneously alarming and exciting.  Alarming because I miss them, but exciting because they are there to find.    

 

We are talking about a God who knows the hairs of our head (Matt 10:30), is distressed when we are in distress (Isaiah 63:9), and rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).  It isn’t too far-fetched to think that He creates little moments to still our rushing hearts and turn them to rest in Him, is it?  

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware how life can be pretty crazy sometimes. Many people who are very dear to me are suffering, whether physically or emotionally, and although I’m very blessed with relatively good health and life, things can get pretty hectic in my life as well.  I’m certainly not trying to say that all of life is sunshine and rainbows.  Quite the contrary, actually. 

 

BUT, I’m also discovering that this is precisely why it’s so important to start searching for little ‘God moments’ in the mundane or the chaos. I’m not saying they fix every problem or eradicate stress.  But they’re kind of like the spiritual catnaps of our chaos.  They give us little extra bursts of hope and rest to keep us going.  And God knows exactly when we need them most.

 

Above all else, rest in the truth that God PROMISES to be our hope, our refuge, our strength, and our peace.  No matter what.  

 

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Sunburns and Gratitude

I wrote this post a little while ago and forgot to post it… sorry it’s been so long. My life has been beyond crazy, but once again, I’m alive and still blogging!  

Ugh! How easily I forget God’s goodness, and how pathetically ungrateful I can be!  Today, God, as He is so good to do, reminded me of this particular weakness in my life.  

 

See, it all started with a sunburn… Now, I never get burned, so when I do, I really freak out… like, ‘Help!  I’m on fire!  Will it ever heal?  Am I dying?!?!?’  And if I peel, oh heavens!  Needless to say, my easily-burned mother and brother enjoy a few laughs at my expense when this does happen.  

Well, very unfortunately, I managed to get a nice little burn last week after spending all day at Sun N’ Fun, in full sun… with expired sunscreen.  As a result, I now look like a molting duckling and, unlike usual, am hiding from any overly friendly rays of sunlight. 

 

Anyway, I was push mowing in the heat of the day today, (yeah, I have great timing, I know…) so my poor mottled shoulders and neck were once again mercilessly exposed to the sun because the yard I was in had only a few patches of blessed shade.  Well, I had been talking with God while I mowed, when suddenly, I thought to ask Him to please bring clouds over the sun when I had to venture forth from those patches of shade.  Sure enough, God, in His graciousness, did just that!  

 

But, did my ungrateful self think about why my sensitive skin was shaded from more scorching, or thank the One who provided that shade?  Nope.  It wasn’t until a bit of sun peeked back through the clouds and I began to complain that I realized how long God had been answering my prayer.  It was as though those few rays of light were His reminder to me of how blessed I had been in their absence.  

 

Through my silly sunburn fiasco, God was showing me how much I took His blessings for granted.  Realizing how ridiculous I was, I repented of my ungratefulness and thanked God for granting even such a petty request.  I love how much God really does care about the little things in our lives!  

Anyway, amazingly, despite how undeserving I was, He gave me a mostly shady mow and kept me from burning again.  Although this may seem small and silly to some, it was yet another way that God reminded me of His goodness, mercy, and patience in my life!

 

As I retold the story to my mama, I began to see parallels to my daily life.  How often do I pray for something spiritual or physical, (like clouds over the sun) then God grants the request, and I forget to credit and thank Him?  It’s humbling to realize how often that happens.  And usually, like the shade today, it isn’t until that blessing is taken from me that I realize how wonderful it was.  

But most important of all, is God’s reminder that no matter how undeserving I am, He still loves me, He still listens to me, and He still will bless me.  I can never deserve His goodness, and yet, He mercifully says that I don’t have to!  

It Is For Freedom That Christ Has Set Us Free!

I don’t know if it’s partly due to my personality, or my often unconventional way of looking at life, or immaturity, or what… but God has recently been making it very clear to me that I have a problem.  Ok, I have more than one… but He’s been driving a few into my head more recently.  

I struggle to accept God’s forgiveness and the clean slate He freely offers.  I do.  And it’s pretty pathetic.  What’s more pathetic is that I’m just now realizing it.  

About a month or two ago, I was (yet again) lambasting myself for failing in some area: bible study, prayer, relationships with others… I don’t know, but I was pretty frustrated.  I had asked God’s forgiveness and even for His help on a fresh start, but I felt like I couldn’t move forward until… what?  I really wasn’t quite sure.  

Suddenly, I had what I call a ‘eureka’ moment!  (These moments are usually defined by a ‘why-haven’t-I-thought-of-this-before’ realization and me running to my mom excitedly blathering about my discovery…she’s pretty awesome and knows me well enough not to be alarmed when I come screaming out of my room! hehe)  Anyway, in the midst of my self-lecture, God put on my heart Galatians 5:1-2 – ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ and Romans 8:1 -‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’  Can I get an Hallelujah?!?!  Honestly, hearing God whisper those words to my heart was one of the most freeing things ever!  He has set me free from guilt, and sin, and the obligation to perform for His love.

I realized that I’d been putting God inside the pathetic little box of finite humanity.  Think about it, if I was to betray a dear friend or family member in some way, and then apologize, they’d still love me and of course forgive me, but our relationship would need a bit of mending.  Whether it was time, or, depending on the offense, regaining their trust, I couldn’t just apologize and pretend nothing happened at all.  It’s just how human nature works.  BUT, God’s nature doesn’t work that way!  When I confess my sins, He casts them as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).  Just like that, they’re gone, and our relationship is restored by Christ’s blood!  

WHY HAVE I NEVER EMBRACED AND REALLY REALIZED THIS???  Seriously, it’s one thing to know it in your head, and a whole other thing to let God sink it into your heart!  If you haven’t accepted His grace fully in this area, please please please ask Him to help you do so!  It will change your life and your relationship with God!  = )

Oh, and to make it all even more awesome, a day or two later, I went to a college worship service (Nav Night) I usually attend at USF, and they were teaching on the SAME. THING.  And, it seems since then, I’ve been bombarded with verses, teachings, and people all talking about the same thing!  Ever feel like God’s trying to tell you something?  

So anyway, I just wanted to encourage ya’ll not to let guilt weigh you down and hinder your relationship with God.  Confess, accept His forgiveness, and continue pursuing Him!  I believe that conviction is from God, but nagging guilt is from Satan.  Conviction drives us to our knees before God, and pesky ol‘ guilt tends to push us away with the thoughts that we have to earn His grace before coming to Him.  

Remember, it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free!  ❤  

Why Hello There 2013!

It seems that these end of the year/NewYear’s reflections are becoming a tradition for me.  I think this is partly because they offer me a chance to regroup and get my thoughts on paper, but also because I love sharing how God has made Himself strong in my life each year.  The hardest part is always sorting through a whole year of lessons, joys, pain, surprises, and above all, time with my Savior, and trying to sum it all up.

 

At the beginning of 2012, when challenged to choose a word that would sum up my resolution for the year, I felt God strongly putting ‘trust’ into my heart and mind.  A year later, I laugh, thinking how little I really knew about the word at the time.  As usual, God knew, and He has faithfully taught me trust in a million different ways, from little, day-to-day situations, to what felt like life-changing decisions.  

 

Looking back, I can very honestly say that my life would not be where it is now if it wasn’t for God leading me here.  Without Him giving me the grace to trust Him, I have a feeling that I would have made some pretty poor decisions and missed out on a lot of opportunities.  I marvel at how I still fail to trust Him sometimes after He has proven Himself, not just in my life, but worldwide throughout history!  

 

2012 has probably held the most changes for me of any year in my life.  One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is trusting God, not just when it’s easy, but trusting Him when I can’t see around the next corner.  When I’m peering anxiously ahead, trying to at least see my next step, wishing He would just give me the 4 step, 6 month plan I so desperately want, that’s when He just whispers ‘trust me my child.’  If I knew my life for the next 6 months, would I have to stay as close to His side?  Would I cling to Him and seek Him every step of the way?  I’m afraid that in my sinful, forgetful nature, I wouldn’t.  So when I get frustrated that He won’t let me see my next turn, I’m learning to be thankful that He’s using it to pull me into His arms.  

 

Life doesn’t always go the way I plan for it to… actually, I’m learning that it rarely does, but I’m also learning that’s ok.  

 

Another very important thing that I’ve learned is the importance of relationships.  Not just the importance of having a lot of friends, but the absolute importance of having one-on-one, vulnerable relationships.  I’m learning that people must come before busyness or my agenda, and that the time invested in them is more precious than that spent accomplishing things or furthering my goals.  I thank God for wise parents who He has used to remind me of this and continually encourage me in many areas of my life.  Most importantly, they have been faithful to point out when I put anything in my life before my relationship with God.  It’s easy to be blind in this area, as I have been, but I’m thankful that they have opened my eyes over and over.  

 

I’m in the process now of not just saying that God is first in my life, or thinking it, or even playing at it, but actually letting Him make that true in me.  I’m learning the importance of complete, humbling surrender, and of letting go of me and letting His strength be made perfect in my weakness!  I can be so prideful sometimes, often without knowing it, and I’m thankful for friends who are vulnerable with me and unknowingly showing me this while admitting their own pride.  By thinking that I am not proud, and that I have that area of my life (and others!) under control on my own, I have been demonstrating terrible pride.  Oh, the irony of life and the deceitfulness of our own hearts…

 

It’s hard to explain, but I feel like the world has opened up to me exponentially in the past year, and not necessarily through opportunities, excitement, or enlightenment.  Somehow, I feel like I’m finally learning what it means to live, love, and grow.  I always thought I had all of that down, but it’s like God has taken what used to be concepts for me and made them deepening realities.  I’m learning the fragility of just about everything in life, and how naive I have been in refusing to believe that.  It’s like my eyes have been almost rudely opened to ‘real life’ in the past year, but God has made it a beautiful thing.  He has shown me how shallow I’ve been, how petty, how silly, and is showing me what it means to live deliberately and with purpose.  Obviously, I still don’t have it all figured out, and never will, but I’m excited to be discovering more every day!  The bottom line is that God IS good, it’s not just something we spout out in a burst of Christian excitement, but it is a lasting, recurring, vitally true statement about the very being of God.  He is unchanging in the midst of instability, and loving despite our failures.  Never be ashamed to cling to Him, to cry out to Him in the most childish fashion, or even to ask Him ‘why?‘   He’s our Father, and He LOVES us.  

 

Well, I have rambled on long enough, and could continue on indefinitely, telling ya’ll how awesome my God has been, but I hope and pray that my stumbling journey somehow encourages you.  I love you all dearly, and appreciate the influence, inspiration, love, and encouragement each of you has given me.  I truly am blessed and I apologize for taking ya’ll for granted, and even putting my ‘busy’ schedule ahead of time with ya’ll.  I want to deepen, develop, and rebuild my relationships with ya’ll this coming year.

 

I pray that God uses this coming year to challenge, grow, and humble me, and that I become more like my Savior through it.  As I continue to learn ‘trust’, it seems that my theme for 2013 will become ‘let go.‘  I need to let go of my pride, my plans, my selfishness, and well, myself, in order to let God have full reign!    

I’m Still Alive…

Whoops! It’s been far too long since I’ve posted… you know it’s bad when people start asking if I’ve abandoned my blog…

See, I’ve had this problem… I somehow got in my head that the only time I should post on here is when something semi-noteworthy or significant occurred in my life.  And then when something exciting has happened, I’ve been too busy experiencing it or too forgetful to actually post.

Crazy thing is, that whole philosophy goes against why I started this blog in the first place.  I staked out my tiny piece of the world wide web so that I could share my random ramblings and many musings with whoever cared to listen, not just to document significant happenings!

Anyway, my goal is to post much more often now.  Especially because I would like to use this blog as an outlet for sharing anything that God has been teaching me, verses that I love, or His fingerprints all over my life.  Rather than selfishly keeping these blessings to myself, I want to share them with ya’ll, no matter how ‘small’ they are, in hopes that it might make someone’s day better!

Now, the trick to to remember that I plan to do this, find the time to do it, and actually carry it out!  If I don’t, feel free to… well… um… bug me until I do… *grimace*

Oh, and regarding my life… it’s been crazy and busy as usual but still one big adventure that I’m tryin’ to live to the fullest by the grace of God!  I hope all of ya’ll’s lives are going well and saturated with our loving God!

The 7 Day Juice F(e)ast Day 5: Trudging On…

I’m. Sick. Of. Juice.  There, I’ve said it!  At this point, my problem isn’t as much a craving for real food, (although that desire is definitely still there) but just being plain sick of drinking the juice.  Today I sat there, starving but grumpily glaring at the juicer, refusing to drink its spewings.  Needless to say, the juicer won that stare-down, forcing a delightful concoction of carrots, beets, and celery down my throat.

After some research and the deduction that I am sadly protein deprived, I will supplement tonight with a vegetable-based protein powder, which I shall drink with tears of joy.  Pathetic, I know, but when a girl’s gone 5 days without her protein, she starts to crave it crazy bad.

On another note, my mother has lost 8 1/2 pounds and I’ve lost 4 pounds so far.  This wasn’t my motivation for doing the fast, since I’m pretty fit, but I figure that any weight lost while on this fast was probably healthy weight to lose.

Oh, and apparently, when on a fast, the body takes 2-3 days to use up all of the food in the digestive tract, and another 2 days to use what is stored in the liver.  Consequently, this means my ‘real’ fast just started today.  Fascinating, huh?  I was pretty sure on the first day that my body was already fasting, but apparently not.

Anyway, hopefully these next 2 days fly by.  The good news is that when this is over, not only do I get to eat, but ya’ll get to quit hearing about me NOT eating!

All of my future posts won’t be this… um, radically healthy.  I promise!

And So It Begins…

So, after a few suggestions, much deliberation, and an eventual decision, I am now writing my first blog post.  My little piece of internet space doesn’t exactly have one main purpose or topic, but will instead be a collaboration of my thoughts, discoveries, and the events in my life that I find the time to share in hopes that they may interest someone else.  : )

I relish living, exploring, and experiencing this glorious world upon which I find myself, and I am constantly astounded by how much God has blessed me with incredible friends and family to live this adventure with.  Although nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking usually happens to me, I tend to find excitement in the details of life.  I hope to share not only the interesting or informative things, but also the bursts of sparkling sunlight I discover along the way.  It is those little bursts, in the form of answered prayer, a good belly laugh, or perhaps a curious chipmunk, that make life the grand adventure that it is!

So here we go!  I hope to encourage, entertain, or at least amuse you!  = )