Jun 27, 2009

The Mental Battle...

So, my roomie and I were chatting last night about random things... We have a tendency to do that... at odd times usually too :) Anyway, most of our conversation last night centered around the idea of our struggles and how we deal with them, control them, and try to move past them.

Obviously, one of the places we stayed for a long while was on image. Image of ourselves and how we perceive ourselves compared to others around us. I explained the way I used to view myself and the way I currently view myself. The struggles I have, and how I control it.

For example, in college I was much more on the obsessive side of working out and being in shape. I was terrified of gaining the "freshman 15" and so, I watched what I ate more than I had in high school, and I worked out a lot... It backfired on me when my pants no longer fit because my legs had grown too much muscle.. Dang. But, by my Junior year I was starting to see friends around me have metabolisms that had slowed down and they began to gain weight. So, I re-energized my plight to stay thin... I was much more on the obsessive side than I honestly think is ok... But, my thought process was I worked out so I wouldn't worry or struggle with eating habits... That was an area I wanted desperately to avoid (not to mention throwing up is THE worst illness for me). So, I did 750 sit ups every day, worked out for an hour to an hour in a half almost every day, and taught martial arts several nights a week... on top of working 4 jobs and going to school full time... surviving on 4 hours or less of sleep a night... Looking back.. not much of that was healthy from any standpoint... But, it worked, I didn't gain any weight, and proudly stayed the same size I was in high school.

However, once I hit my senior year I realized I was... letting that control more of me than I wanted in my life. So, I quit. I quit running (I always hated it anyway), I quit the elliptical (which was a 45min-hour every day I could fit it in), I quit doing sit ups (at least every day), I quit weight lifting (I've never noticed a huge difference anyway), and I only taught martial arts like once a week. So... slower.

Then I graduated, and life became this insane hectic pace I set for myself... between work, youth group, church, hanging out with friends, being a board member of a non-profit, teaching martial arts, and finding time for family... I simply didn't have time to work out. I LOVED what I was doing, how I was helping those around me, so I began to allow myself the ability to NOT have to work out in order to feel ok.. and much to my surprise... my size has stayed the same. I mean I fluctuated 5-10 pounds randomly.. but for the most part it's consistent. I'm still not sure if that was my substitute or just God's way of giving me a better focus. Granted, I still think about the calories I consume everysingle time I eat, and in my head I think about a decent amount of healthy calorie intake, and I try to maintain somewhere close to that. I also have discovered (thanks to my roomie) that food is more social than anything else.. I am never hungry when it's just me..

Let me clarify something also... Part of this working out obsession comes from my knowledge that if I ever become overweight or out of shape, my body begins to hurt terribly.. I AM one of those people who has to stay in shape in order to not physically hurt all the time. It's just part of my EDS.

Since then, I have swung the completely opposite direction. I have avoided working out in an effort to not lose myself in the obsession again... However, after a couple days in the last year of being in almost unbearable pain for the entire day, I realized I needed to find a true balance to the whole thing.. So, slowly... very slowly I've begun getting myself back into it. I've decided boundaries for myself, and somehow, God and I will figure this thing out...

So, anyway, last night we were talking about the mental battle we feel in our heads. We both agreed that it becomes something that we have to maintain a seriously close tight grasp on in order for it to not rule over us. We almost without realizing it will walk into a room and decide "I have nicer legs then her, she is skinnier than me, she has a prettier face, I have nicer hair... etc.. etc..." It's honestly very sad, and I'm pretty sure not glorifying at all...

For example, if a guy says "your best friend is stunning." If I'm not careful, I've suddenly allowed Satan to implant in my head "what he really means is 'you're not very pretty, your nothing compared to her, and he would never like you or think you're beautiful.'" ... Whoa. Those are some pretty drastic jumps... Way to take a very nice compliment that I COMPLETELY agree with about someone else I care for, and twist it to cause division, heartache, self loathing, and a wedge between God and I... in multiple areas of my life.

So, while I still hear those things in my head from random comments... or really more because of the lack of a comment towards me(sometimes what's not said causes more heartache than what IS said). I have really begun working at acknowledging the disconnect in my thinking and trying my best to clamp down on it. So, anytime a self loathing thought or one that could lead down that road pops into my head, instantly I chide myself for jumping to such a ridiculous conclusion... and then usually it's followed by some major prayer.. both for myself and the dumb thoughts, and also for the person making the comment, as well as the person it's made about. My reasoning is that I do not want a nice, sincere, loving comment about someone I CARE about to turn into a selfish mindset of self loathing and self pity... That's.. DUMB. It's an emotional reaction that's not needed. There's no reason to jump down that path, and lets be honest emotions are no excuse... pms is no excuse... My God is bigger than that.

If you ever think about it, pray for the girls around you and the mindset they are subjecting themselves to. The hurt they are causing and the lack of reliance on our savior... And, any prayer my direction is always appreciated :)

Jun 25, 2009


Today I was driving, and I was just really frustrated. With the day, conversations, conflicts, my computer, deadlines, etc..etc.. the list continues longer than I care to share. I was complaining to God and out of the blue my thought was "God I just want it to be easier..."

.... HOLD UP!... WHAT?!...

Since when did easier become my goal? Since when did desiring an easy life ever rule over any other desire I have?

At that moment, I realized I'd lost it... I mean not lost my mind.. but maybe. When did I allow myself to get into such a funk that I desired easy over any other good out there? When did I choose to focus on easy rather than God's plan... which lets be honest tends to be harder than we ever feel prepared for. I mean seriously, not once that I can remember has God's plan for me every depicted easy. NOT ONE TIME. In fact I have understood for years that easy isn't ever what I'm going for, I mean granted I don't like hard, but I realize I need the challenge in order to grow and move... Cause, lets be honest, I'm not exactly the easiest person to move and shape. I am stubborn beyond anything I'd like to admit. I have gotten light years better than I used to be.. but only in some areas.

I think more than anything else I startled myself with the thought that I wanted easy first. That "all I want is it to be easy..." THAT I believe is a deceptive thought, one that leads to all kinds of laziness and depression... A thought that causes stagnant to become the norm. I hate stagnant, I hate laziness, I hate depression... None of those are me, and I refuse to allow a desire for easy going to be what rules me or my thoughts.

Now, don't get me wrong, easy would be nice.. Sometimes, I feel like had we not fallen or sinned life would be so much easier because things would be the way they were MEANT to be... But, the reality is that since we are fallen, and we do sin the goal is to now move forward making God our daily, hourly, minutely goal. I don't want easy to ever be my goal, I want God to be my goal, my focus, my ambition, my everything. Essentially, as much as it might suck I'll take hard and painful over easy if it means I get a closer relationship with God.

Man that's a scary thing to say... I feel like I need to prepare for a storm now...

Jun 24, 2009

Heart Meditations...

So, today I spent pretty much the whole day reading my Bible or a book called Lies Young Women Believe. I'm reading this for a class I'm teaching some of our girls at work. It's a super easy read, and has pretty good material. Various parts in it stick out to me, and a couple times I realized I also tell myself whatever lie it is.. and then there are times when I realize I have overcome a lie.. (woohoo.. seriously thank you Jesus). But, in one particular section they were talking about garbage in garbage out (basically.. but that wasn't their term), and they popped this verse in and it just struck me.. I mean seriously made me pause, even though I've seen it a million times and have it memorized...

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." - Psalm 19:14

That to me is a heart cry. I want to be sure that my focus is correct, and that I'm paying attention to the things I'm supposed to be. I want to be pleasing to my Savior. I want to know that my mouth, my thoughts, and my heart are what they are supposed to be, not just something that I deal with or try not to let others know... But, truly me. I want them to reflect who I am at my core. I hope I do that at least to some degree now, but I don't want it to just be happenstance that it comes out that way. I want to try and work towards that, so that in everything I do I am pleasing to my Sweet Jesus.

Jun 23, 2009

Valleys and Mountains...

"Sometimes life is just hard for no reason at all."

That's a quote from Remember the Titans. Coach Boone's wife said that to him when he was having a low moment, and for whatever reason, I have always just liked and remembered that quote. I think that for me it reminds me that there doesn't have to be a reason for Satan to attack us and make life hard. He just does, and we simply are fallen.. so life is just hard. It's ok because God always wins in the end, but it takes longer than we like to admit, and it's harder than we realize usually. In fact more often than not while I'm going through something it hurts more than I think I can handle and it lasts longer than I expect.

I have a hard time explaining how much I hurt when my friends hurt. The worst is when I can read it on their faces and in their body language, and have no idea how to help. I hate that, and pretty much all I know how to do is pray for their hearts. So I do, I pray that while they sleep God restores, fixes, molds, shapes, heals, and gives them rest in Him. I don't know what else to pray for them.

On a totally different topic, I got into a.. heavy discussion with a couple friends over the weekend about letting people help me and serve me. It was a needed conversation, and one I've continued to think about, but it was also not an easy conversation to have. Mainly because it caused me to have to be vulnerable... which I was, but was not very comfortable with. It was such a great conversation though because at points it was very intense in the fact that we each were whole heartedly serious in our thoughts and responses.. The thing that I appreciated the most was that they listened to me, heard me, and understood, then called me out in the areas I should at LEAST think about, and things I needed to realize from a different perspective. They also handled my verbal processing well... which is cause for major kudos :)

So, in an attempt to take what they were saying seriously.. I realize I need to allow people the chance to reciprocate. I need to allow them the chance to serve... Not just "give them" things to satisfy their desire to help me or be my friend. I haven't a clue how to do that, and I'm not at all comfortable with it... But, I realize it's important, more so than I realize I think. Because I seriously respect my friends and their hearts and perspectives, I am going to really try to learn how to... allow myself to lean on others equally instead of just "suck it up" and take care of them.

I also have begun trying to think through, and work through my idea of needs and wants... Usually, I just push things I want aside because it's not necessary... it's more frivolous and not essential. Where as on the other hand, I pay more attention to needs because in my mind those are what I should be focusing on.. I'm not saying I'm completely wrong, but just that I think I need to look a little more closely at my definitions and how I cause them to play out. Specifically how I cause them to play out when it comes to friendships. For example, I do not often accept things from friends that are their way of expressing love for me when it's outside my own major love languages. That's really a poor approach to love, even though I tend to purposefully do all of them for others... *sigh* I clearly have a lot to learn about loving and being loved.

Lord, Please help me learn to not just love the way you call me to, but also how you call me to be loved. Help me figure out how to be a better friend, and how to accept the friendships you give me. Help me let my issues go if it's pride related or some other hang up that should not be there, and help me learn how to not be selfish or self centered when it comes to friendships... Please help me learn to humbly accept what's given to me without fighting it or hurting the other person because of my response. It's moments like this that I feel frustrated and like I'm failing at being who I should be... Thank you for your grace in this, and please speak to my heart, helping me learn when to be silent and accept what you are trying to teaching me... I'm trying, but I need you to help me.

I will wait upon the Lord.

Jun 16, 2009

To My Friend...

I think it's better to start this one out by saying that I never write on this blog while I'm mad, I'm still slightly frustrated at the whole situation I'm about to share, but I'm not longer mad.

Sometimes, I think people use my joyful personality and my laughter as a reason to assume a lot of things. Both things about my intentions and things about what I do or what I think. I get told all the time I'm "deeper" than people first thought, or I am more this or less that than people initially thought. I do not mind being underestimated at all, in fact sometimes I enjoy the ability to be able to hide areas if I want to. Either way, there are areas of me that pretty much stay just for me unless a specific reason arises for it to come out. Not that I'm purposefully hiding that part of me, it just have no reason to come out. I forget a lot of these areas until they come out, especially here in VA away from people who have seen me in these different areas for various reasons.

Most everyone knows that I have a lot of friends, I've mentioned it multiple times, and I've spent lots of time talking about how important they are to me and how much I love them all for different reasons. What most do not realize is I am fiercely defensive of my friends and extremely loyal. This defensive loyalty comes out in several different ways. Sometimes, it comes out as me just going way out of my way to care for them or love on them, other times it comes out as me just sitting there when they need an ear, or if they need support in a conversation with someone else... And, then there are the few times when I kick into protection mode. Whether that's protection of them, or protection of the friendship itself for whatever reason.

Recently I have found myself in a situation where I feel like I have to protect a friendship I have. I do not really know how much it comes across.. but, I'm FIERCELY loyal and protective of my friends, almost in any sense of the word. And, in this situation it's not a protect the person kind, cause this person is perfectly capable, able, and willing to protect themselves, but for whatever reason other people have taken it upon themselves to, not maliciously in their intentions, but they have taken it upon themselves to step in and question the motives in the friendship from almost every side. The thing that makes it the most frustrating is, at no point have our answers been inconsistent or changed, and each time it comes up, they push for more information, almost as though they expect to get a different answer if they push deeper.. Then there are times when it comes across (whether they mean it to or not) as though they feel like we're either lying to them or fooling ourselves about what's really going on.

Yesterday, this all came to a culmination when yet another person questioned what was going on.. and the WHOLE time both of our answers have been "nothing," yet apparently it isn't the answer they were looking for or expecting. Which caused my friend and I to have to yet another discussion of everything to figure out what we're doing wrong, either in the way we are communicating it to others, with each other, what they are saying, how we're feeling (or not feeling), the possible ways we can avoid any further problems etc..etc.. It was a great conversation because yet again we are on the same page, and nothing was left to wondering. I think the thing that I find the most frustrating is through it all, nothing has changed, yet no matter how much these other people keep pushing our friendship has stayed the same, and yet they still keep pushing it as though it is now suddenly different. We communicate about it all, which helps because then nothing is getting "planted" in either of our minds that can fester and potentially cause problems later about "what if the other one..." We have kept the lines of communication open and clear, which has allowed me to truly just trust that everything is exactly as I have perceived it all along. And, regardless of the questions I know beyond any shadow of doubt, I have an accurate picture of our friendship.. that is just that, a friendship.

Through this whole thing, I seriously wanted to kick people in the face. I was so mad because I feel as though they are trying to cause division. Which, if I am honest, I really do NOT think they are doing it on purpose, with a malicious intent, or with the goal of hurting our friendship.. I really don't believe that's the goal of any of them.. but, what makes me get so frustrated is that it comes across as though they refuse to accept "nothing is going on" to their questions. Almost as though they just don't want to believe what we're telling them.

Through it all, the one thing that has really just kept me sane is the fact that my friend and I have been able to maintain our open honesty about these topics, we have communicated, things have stayed consistent, and things have not been able to "fester" or get planted in our minds which could cause doubt or a wedge in our friendship.

I want to take a minute to brag about this particular friend of mine... I cannot express how much this friend means to me. To start, from the beginning they have taken the role of being my family and me being theirs seriously. There's a level of understanding that we have and above all of it we keep that "you are my family" perspective. This friend pushes me when I need to be pushed, they encourage me to learn how to be vulnerable in a mature way, they constantly refer back to our Savior for problems and insecurities. This friend has taken it upon themselves to ensure that I can rely on them like I do my family back home. The level of comfort and honesty we are able to maintain allows me to trust them even when my past experiences have caused bad habits in terms of how to react to different situations. Even when I doubt something they have said or done, I can look back and see the proof that this person cares deeply for me regardless of the emotions I am currently applying to the situation. I can also look and see that through it all, they have maintained the course and been consistent. They have become family, and they have allowed me to be family for them... which is what I need when I do not have my family here. They have called me out when I need it, and argued to the bitter end when I need them to. Yet, through it all, they have also allowed it to be a two way friendship, which lets me see and know we both are invested in the friendship. God has clearly used each one of us to help the other grow and see God in a new and different way, we have had seriously marathon discussions about God and different things in the Bible, and this friend has allowed me to think out loud to work my way through my thoughts and bounce ideas off of them.

This friend was sent to me by God, clearly. God knew that I needed this person to help me grow and learn in a new way. I am thankful every single day for this friend, and for the open honest friendship we maintain.I will defend and protect that friendship fiercely as long as I have to.

So, a special thank you to this friend who has helped me grow and learn and move forward. You have shown me more about God and friendships and caring for others than I can accurately express to you, and I am so unbelievably thankful to God for your friendship... Which is all there is and ever has been. Thanks friend.

Jun 15, 2009

Happy Hodge Podge...

So, my best friend from home came down Saturday to visit... She'll be here til Friday. I cannot express to you how excited I was to have her come, and now that she's here, to show her around, introduce her to all my friends, show her my church, and of course talk and talk and talk until we fall asleep.. only to restart the next day :) We laugh like crazy and just really enjoy being around each other, especially since it's been so long since we could just hang out without an agenda or having to cram everything into a couple hours. It's been so much fun introducing her to my friends and hearing her perspectives on them, in part because she's heard so much about all of them before she came down, but also because she knows me so well, that she has such an interesting point of view and insight into interactions and the different people. I love it. Part of what I love so much, is how much she truly is enjoying it, and she loves everyone that I do... which is always sooo nice to have your best friend have the same opinion of it all :)

Yesterday I spoke for our Sunday School class. I spoke about Ghana... Gloria (the other girl on the trip) spoke basically about the logistics of the trip, and how it came about. How everything worked out and how our team came to be basically. She made a quick comment about how she was just really blessed to see our group become a team because of how short of a time we knew each other. Then I spoke. And, I'm not gonna lie.. I had NO idea what I was gonna speak on until I started actually speaking. I mean I was asked to share about the trip, in an effort to encourage people to be more passionate about missions.. of any sort. Awesome, do you realize how many different options that left me in terms of sharing about the trip? I mean seriously, I could have just told one story after another, I could have talked about what I learned, I could have shared funny things that happened or things that were scary. I could have done anything.. I could have easily spoken about it for hours..

But, as I opened my mouth and began from the beginning my mind went nutzo.. I mean inside my head I was ping ponging all over the place replaying things I did, saw, heard, felt etc..etc.. And, yet somehow it all came out perfectly clear and linear! haha Go me!... Actually no, not at all.. Go God because it was clear about 30 seconds in that what I was sharing wasn't what I had planned.. or not planned I guess. I really had no intention of sharing half the things I shared, but as I looked out at the people sitting there watching and listening to me, I just felt compelled to be very real and honest. I wanted them to truly just understand. I wanted them to realize how much things like this change your life... But, they're rarely easy.

So, I started out I guess from the beginning.. although I didn't talk logistics at all. And, to be totally honest I can't remember most of what I said, which is how I know it was exactly what God wanted me to share :) Throughout the course of the talk I shared about how everything we had planned fell through once we got there, and we did "Crusades" instead, and how completely and totally uncomfortable I was with that whole concept. That I felt like I needed to "earn" the right to tell them about Jesus.. which is why I am so much more comfortable with working until I'm so totally exhausted that I need another vacation. However, we weren't able to do that, we basically just shared Jesus the whole time... Which obviously serves a purpose, but it also is extremely hard for someone like me to do just that. I talked about the children and how we interacted with them and how much they just wanted us to be close to them and to have our attention.

I explained how the whole 6 weeks prior to the trip I essentially pleaded with God to show Himself to me, to be in my face talking to me, and I told Him all I wanted to Him, to see Him and feel Him and just really be reminded of Him. Then I explained how the last night I was there Gloria and Matt had already left, and I was in my room sorta packing things up getting ready for the last day and just sorta griping to God about how I hadn't seen or felt Him in any extraordinary way. He hadn't shown Himself to me like I'd asked and I was very frustrated cause I couldn't point to anything specific about the trip where I saw Him. Then Jon came in and gave me a note and a rock that Gloria had left him to give me, and after reading it, for whatever reason it hit me and suddenly I saw God. Not because she said anything specific, in fact she'd essentially shared yesterday what she left in my note about how blessed she was to see our group form on the trip. And, for whatever reason my heart broke. I began then bleeding from my chest to the pit of my stomach and I could feel it. I explained how it went on for a month, that almost every night I cried myself to sleep and I hurt so incredibly badly that all I wanted was Jesus.. I didn't want to get up in the mornings, all I wanted was to be with Him. I explained how I felt Him more viscerally than I ever had in my entire life, and I really felt like He was allowing me the chance to see how much He aches and hurts for those who don't know Him. Whether it's cause they've never heard, they don't care, don't want to hear, heard but are to hurt to hear.. whatever the reason my heart aches for them... Which says a lot because Compassion is not my "strongest spiritual gift."

I think overall it went really well, after I was done speaking, I showed the video I made from the trip, and another one I made from another friend's trip. The thing that was the hardest about all of it, was that about half way through I seriously began to struggle speaking. I had to take a minute and pull myself together cause I thought I was gonna cry. I had a bunch of people crying, and that didn't effect me, but for some reason I suddenly in the middle was over come by the emotions of it all and my throat seized. It took me a while to pull myself through, and I didn't end up crying.. which is good :) But, I also didn't look at my close friends that were there cause I knew they were reacting and I didn't want that to make my reaction worse. That was a very unexpected reaction on my part.. I did not think it would be that big of a deal so long later... Whew!

So, in case there's any question, my calling in life is to "Love people for Jesus" but my passion is foreign missions.

Jun 11, 2009

Dancing The Night Away...

So, over the last week or so my friends and I have been out dancing twice.. and by out dancing.. I really mean out once, and staying in once too. Last Friday a few of us decided it would be fun to go to the local dance academy/night club.. haha which really isn't like what it sounds at all.. It's a "dry" night club.. which really isn't a club, but just a dance academy that they opened on Friday night too. We all got there early so they can teach us something about what we're doing.. since we only have one gifted salsa dancing friend. :)

There was a fairly even number of guys and girls so it made it lots of fun cause no one HAD to be the wall flower, and much to my surprise and joy the guys were great about rotating around to all the girls, especially the ones along the side. It's never a fun feeling of having to be the wall flower because everyone else has a partner...

We all had a blast, and you wouldn't believe the work out that comes from dancing! haha! Much more so as the girl who does tons of twirling. Which, lets be honest twirling is what makes it as fun as it is :) Especially when, my friends and I act like goobers while dancing. My friend Doll who is down here visiting and I even though dancing with our partners, at one point decided warring with each other was more fun.. So, regardless of where the guy tried leading us, we were more interested in acting like we were trying to upstage each other! lol :) It was a blast and we laughed hysterically all evening long :)

Then, last night Doll, Brit, and I went over to a couple of our friend's house and got private salsa lessons. We had more girls than guys, but it was ok, we blasted Pandora and had a blast anyway. Trying to manage, learn, demonstrate, and practice in a very small living room with 5 people all trying to do the same thing was comical to say the least... Which of course caused more laughing as we'd bump into each other, the couch, the chair, the ceiling fan lights, the banister, or when we'd realize the next move we were learning would send the girl (us) into the wall... =O Then, which ever girl was not partnered seemed to always sneak away to get watermelon, brownies, oreos, water.. whatever. :) It was a lot of fun learning and laughing at each other trying to learn. At the end of the evening we popped on some youtube videos for assistance, which was also a lot of fun.. Then we got ambitious and thought we could learn the Lindy Hop.. lol yeah.. that's about where our adventure came to a screeching halt :)

But, regardless we had a lot of fun. We laughed and joked around. The guys didn't hurt us or drop us as they attempted new moves (which is always a bonus!). Sometimes I think it's amazing how all you need is just something that's just fun. A reason to laugh until it hurts. Somehow, it restores what needs to be righted, causes joy to return. I'm not sure how, but it does :) I'm such a fan of those moments. If I could freeze and hold onto them, I would because at those times nothing else matters, just the joy and the laughter. I love it.

"Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!" - Psalm 149:3

Jun 10, 2009

Emotional Unreliability...

I've been thinking recently about how unreliable our emotions can be sometimes. I mean if we aren't careful they can ruin a relationship, miss communicate feelings and intentions, hurt someone else or ourselves.. etc..etc.. But, that's not to say they are bad because without them we wouldn't be who we are.. obviously.. we'd look a lot more like the movie Equilibrium... which is a re-make of 1984. Don't miss understand me, I think we need emotions, I think they are important and I think without them we cannot fully understand God.

What I am saying, is they can often be unreliable in the moment. For example.. If someone makes me mad.. my emotions make me want to punch them in the face or break their knee... Obviously NOT the wisest of choices :) Emotions can cause us to respond poorly in an argument or to overreact to a comment someone else makes. And, I've seen guys and girls do this, so it's not something that's gender specific. If anyone tries to tell you that girls are more emotional than guys.. they're either lying or fooling themselves. Now, what I do believe, is a lot of girls tend towards not thinking through their emotions... And, I think both guys and girls have become accustomed tp allowing it to be "ok" for girls to freak out and not have any sort of check on their actions because they're "just emotional." But, I also know a lot of guys that react on emotions alone as much or worse than a lot of girls.

I've interacted with guys before that the only thing going through my head was, "why is he being such a girl?!" haha I've also interacted with girls where it took all I had not to hurt them for their ridiculous actions based off their emotions.. On the opposite end, I find it refreshing when people can have major emotional reactions to something, and they are able to control it enough to not act out or "sin" because of their emotions.

Personally.. I'm not an overly emotional person... I mean don't get me wrong, I'm easily excitable and very passioante, and that's always clear, but I don't tend towards these massive mood swings where I have a hard time controlling my emotions. I used though, I had this NASTY temper.. and I mean horrible. (Special thanks to my pappasan who helped with that ;) However, today I still feel those emotions, but I've gotten a lot better at controlling them or realizing that they are more a result of allowing Satan to speak into my ear. I do NOT want to be the type of person who reacts to things based off emotion alone and ends up sinning because of it. Emotions are important, but can be unreliable.

If you know me you know it's easy to get me riled up... I become animated, and excitedly depict my opinion on whatever topic comes up.. usually, at fairly loud volumes too :) But, I don't often spit out rancid things at someone when I'm angry anymore... I don't cut someone down for their stupidity or ignorance simply because I'm angry or annoyed... Emotions can be unreliable, and remembering that can be the difference between being the only person to show love and the last person to cause death and destruction in someone's heart.

On the opposite end of emotions, I don't often let my emotions get away from me either if I feel the "butterfly" feelings in my stomach. Those can be just as unreliable and dangerous. It's a good idea to be careful and control those too.

Because of past experience, and times I've allowed myself to run with my emotions, I've spent years trying to control the "swing" of it all. I find people who allow their emotions to control them to be harder to just hang out with because you're never totally sure what will set them off... That's no way to be friends with someone. I've found that the people who are deeply emotional, but also very easy going, and control their emotions enough to allow God to seep in and through the emotion.. THOSE people are the ones I treasure.

See, please don't misunderstand me... showing emotion is fine, allowing yourself to be upset or frustrated, happy.. whatever that's fine. In fact I'm learning how to do that without allowing it to cause me to sin. But, what I want to be clear about, is that allowing the feeling to rule your actions or reactions can be a dangerous slippery slope. But, simply having the emotion isn't the problem. Ok, the end :)

Jun 9, 2009

Creating Family...

So, I've been thinking lately about what it means to be family... I mean obviously there's always the family that "you can't choose"... and we all have those people in our family. I'm blessed that none of them are my immediate family haha :) Once a long time ago my mom and I were talking while I was getting ready to peace out for Ohio for the summer for camp. We were talking and I was admitting to her that I wasn't sure how I was gonna do, would I like it, get along, be able to handle "life on my own," etc..etc.. My mom looked at me and smiled as though I was so precious and like she knew something I was not aware of yet... and she simply said "Krista, you create your family wherever you go." I kinda laughed at her and explained how she was only partially right... and let it go. Then I went to camp, and low and behold.. I did. I made a couple best friends, learned more than I can express, and discovered I can be self sufficient. :)

Somewhere in my college career I was talking with my dad after one of our epic "Daddy Dates" (aka... food... movie.. lots of talking), and I was explaining to him my heart and how much I have this desire to go out and change the world.. It's like this burning passion inside of me, and how I didn't know if I could do it... because at the EXACT same time I was terrified to leave my family. What if something happened to one of them? What if I missed everything important that could ever happen in their lives... What if I gallivanted around the world, and miss the most important thing back home. I was so worried. And my dad smiled at me with the you're precious, and I see what you don't kinda look... and he said "Krista, I would rather have you just visit us here at home and know every day that you are out there changing the world, cause that's what you were made to do... Rather than be here with us every day knowing you should be out there changing the world." That was it. I was now free to go, I knew my brothers and sister would not be happy, but I now essentially had the blessing of my parents to go.

Then a couple years later I was doing the exact same thing as before, I was getting ready to pick up and move 4 states away. And the scene repeats itself... I was explaining to my parents things I was excited about and things I wasn't sure about. Asking them how I was gonna make it, wondering out loud to them all the things God was gonna do... And both of them at two different points explained that I "create family" everywhere I go... and neither of them were completely sure how I did it. I laughed at my dad when he said "I give you two weeks... You'll have friends in two weeks!" of course I argued.. "Dad where in the world will I find people in two weeks? How will I meet them?"... "I dunno, but that's all the time it'll take you." I just laughed, rolled my eyes and went on. Ironically he was right.. it was almost exactly two weeks. haha.. who knew :)

But, through it all I've begun thinking about what that means, because I look at various people here and the way I interact with them, and there are people who feel like family. My roomie's and I and several other friends, a couple who live in one town house and another couple in another town house.. and they all feel like family. We operate as though we are, make dinner together, help each other move, do things, call to hang out when we're bored, leave things at each other's houses.. etc.. etc.. And somehow through it all it makes it feel like we are a huge family. We all laugh together, hurt for each other's pains, pick on each other, make each other upset, angry, and through it all we forgive and grow stronger... But, most importantly, we help each other grow closer and understand our Savior more and more. We rally around people who need us, whether each other or someone else... This group accepts and loves on anyone who comes in contact with us.. and I am so incredibly blessed each day. Some days are harder than others, especially when something comes up that is seriously painful for one of us, and the rest of us can't do anything to fix it but pray... So, pray we do.

So, whether it's family I was blessed to be born into, or family I was gifted I am blessed every single day by them. I love my family, and treasure them more than I can express each day.

Jun 8, 2009

When Blah Is All...

Do you ever just have those days where you just feel... blah. There isn't one thing that stands out as a reason to feel low or quiet.. you just feel... blah.

Yesterday was definitely one of those days for me. I had no over arching single thing that would cause my feeling, and I basically had two options.. work really hard to hide the feelings or just kinda go with it, and allow it to be ok. I wasn't in a bad mood, I was just feeling off. Nothing I could point to, just a combination of things I know.. but sometimes things just build up and seep out slowly.

I can think of several things that caused me to start the mood... and the frustrating thing is usually other things balance it out.. And until probably 2/3 of the way through the day I just felt like smiling was hard... I mean there were things I genuinely laughed at, but for whatever reason I was just.. not feeling normal. I had no specific reason, nothing that was like "aha!.. THAT is why I feel like crappy crap crap".. It was frustrating a bit, but I also didn't want to fake it and pretend I was doing just fine.

However, near the end of the day I got time to hang out and just let my mind meander and walk through feelings and random thoughts.. basically process with Brit. She is just great at the pace at which she pushes me to talk no matter what situation we're in. Then, we got to go hang out with some friends and just laugh and joke around, play Rock-band and just have fun. It was much needed laughter time.

Although, I need some Jesus time I think.. in fact I'm gonna go do that now..

Jun 3, 2009

Healing Moments

I've been thinking over the last couple days about things that heal the heart.. I mean obviously God does, but the specific instances..

I have several friends who are in different circumstances where healing of the heart is seriously needed. One friend is entering a new relationship and she's learning how to trust despite her past. The guy is doing such a great job of encouraging her, hearing her fears and not dancing around them, but addressing them and being patient yet persistent when he needs to be. I don't know where they will end up, but I am so thankful for him and the things he's encouraging in her... :)

Another friend is on the opposite end and seriously her heart is hurting, and I'm watching the grieving process happen inside her. She is watching the life she expected to have and saw a glimpse of just for a little while suddenly die for no reason. My heart hurts for her and my prayer is that each night as she sleeps God heals her heart and restores it a little more. As I sit and watch her, I see the phases of grieving and it hurts, but I also can see the glimmer of hope for her.. So, my job is to love her and show her the hope I see.

Then I have yet another friend who is somewhere in between these two others. He had the new relationship that showed every indication that it was going to be perfect, and yet somehow through a series of things it became clear that it wasn't supposed to work out. Watching him hurt so seriously causes my heart to ache, yet I've watched him become hopeful again because of his dependence on our Savior. I was able to see him go from hurting so badly that simply being around him I could feel it in the depths of my heart how much he was hurting.. even if he was smiling... And now, I can see the change.. well more feel the change.

In each of these instances I can clearly see my Savior working. He is there every moment patching, molding, fixing, creating, loving, and carrying them through. I am so thankful I serve my King.

Jun 2, 2009

Extreme Obedience...

This if from my very good friend Patrick... I really feel like this is huge and I wanted to share what he has to say, I hope it blesses you like it blessed me... Meaning I hope it touches your heart and resonates deep inside of you as something amazing, true, and gives you hope regardless of what you're feeling right now...

Well, the last month and a half has been a crazy roller coaster. God has called me to do somethings that I did not, and still do not fully understand. Major things...things that I had held onto as HUGE deals for a long time and had significant value and importance to me. Over this time frame, I have been to the lowest points in my life that I have seen in 12 years. Throughout all this, I have been down the roads of feeling jaded, angry, and mistreated by God. I felt like I was excluded from seeing anything about my life...no direction, no confirmation, nothing but emptiness. No matter what I did or prayed, I felt like I was getting no response and not allowed to make any decisions...just sitting there frustrated because those significantly important things seemed to have been cast out on the ground to be trampled down. I sat in a place I called indecision long enough for me to not care about which direction things went in, but just a desire to GO. The great part about all this is no matter how much I yelled and vented to God about my frustration with Him and my circumstances, He kept bringing me to points where I could catch little glimpses that there was a greater plan. Then...last week, when I got to one of my greatest points of frustration, God connected a whole bunch of dots at once. It was in that moment that I finally found myself content with my position and calling, when my circumstances have not changed any.

Over nearly the last two years, I have been studying in depth the following Old Testament books: Ezekiel (11 months), Hosea (3+ months), Micah (1.5+ months), and Isaiah (currently 4.5 months into the book...and about another 10.5 months to go). Those of you who have studied these books probably just cringed. To those who did not, here is a glimpse of what is found in these books:

Ezekiel may take the cake...no pun intended...for being the prophet called to do the most amount of crazy and ridiculous things for the sake of God making a point to His people. For example, in Ezekiel 4:4-17, God tells Ezekiel to lay down in front of a brick that he had written the name "Jerusalem" on for every year of the house of Israel guilt....one day per year...390 days total...on his left side. Then, God told him that when that was over, he was to do the same for Judah...one day per year...40 days total...on his right side. Did I mention this is supposed to be done in public? What I did not mention was that Ezekiel wasn't supposed to get up for lunch and dinner breaks...no, no...God told him that he had to bake bread to eat for the whole duration while he laid on his side...over an open fire...fueled with human poop....yes, a poop fire for baking bread that he was going to eat for all those days. What does Ezekiel do? He complains to God about not wanting to defile himself using human poop to cook with, so God gives him an alternate route...he can use cow poop instead. And so Ezekiel carried out God's commands in obedience. That's only one of the crazy things that God called Ezekiel to do.

Well, if you have heard of Hosea, you probably know a little about the crazy things God called him to do. In fact, the first time God speaks to Hosea...He tells him to go marry a prostitute...oh, yeah, and start a family with her (Hosea 1:2-3). God didn't waste time buttering him up first. He got right to the point. By the way, it wasn't like God completely removed Gomer, the prostitute that Hosea went out and married, from prostitution....no, no...she returned to her life of prostitution after a while leaving her kids and husband behind. So much for that family, right? WRONG! God then tells Hosea to go buy your wife back...pay the price of her services and get her back and love her....without having sex (Hosea 3:1-3). God called Hosea to pay her as she would be paid for sexual services, but not to have sex with her...to love her as a husband loves his wife...apart from the sexual side of things. The rest of the book doesn't mention Gomer ever returning to a life of prostitution after that. Kind of makes you wonder if Gomer got the point that she is loved and not because of what she does for people, but because of who she is....Hosea's bride...let your mind run on that for a bit.

Isaiah is no less of a companion to these guys. One instance in particular, God called Isaiah to drop His pants and shoes...to walk around butt naked....for THREE years...to make a statement concerning a people group who were not even Israel (Isaiah 20:2-4). Can you imagine that??

So...remember all that complaining I did about what God told me to do in obedience to Him? Yeah, about that...when God brought to mind the prophets that I had been studying, I not only realized that I had nothing to complain about, but I also realized that God had been prepping me for this throughout that time. God called these prophets to an extreme level of obedience, but God has never been one for asking someone to do something that He isn't willing to do Himself. We don't often think of God learning anything....well, because God is omniscient...but when you are God you have no one to be obedient to. But part of becoming 100% man and still being 100% God means that things need to be learned. This is what the author of Hebrews tells us about what Jesus learned: "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered" (5:8, NASB). What level of obedience did Jesus learn? "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8, NASB). God may have told Ezekiel to lay on his side for the iniquity of Israel, but He never called him to die for the sins of the world. Jesus is the ultimate example of extreme obedience. All of these individuals were obedient...and their obedience came at a great cost to themselves...at the price of ridicule, physical beatings, questioned sanity, decency, and lifelong commitments to the seemingly unlovable. Their legacy has long out lived their time here on Earth. While their cost was great, their impact is still being made today. Their suffering has resulted in hope for many who followed after them. This brings me to the last of the books I mentioned in the beginning:

While Micah wasn't exactly one who fits into the ranks of the list above, his message is one of hope nonetheless. The words found in this book are the nudge of hope that God brought along my path to remind me of why extreme obedience is worth it.

"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me" (Micah 7:7-8, NASB).

Whatever obedience to God has cost me, I know that I am called to watch and pray. I know that God is not done with me yet. I know that I am watching because there will be something to see...something great to watch God do.

Thanks for reading.

My response to him:

This is great! I just keep thinking how insane it is and how incredibly humbling it would be to be THAT obedient to God... I think I have a long way to go still.. sheesh...

The story of Hosea is so vivid for me I think be cause I read "Redeeming Love" which is basically Hosea's story re-told in a western like setting.. It takes his story and puts ... Read Morethoughts and feelings behind the obedience. It was a great way to depict that the feelings were visceral, real, and more powerful than we often give credit to when looking at people in the Bible and their suffering...

They were obedient despite their feelings.. and that doesn't mean that they didn't seriously struggle, it just means they saw God and his plan as more important than how they felt. They were able to see the bigger picture or at the very least know their God was so much bigger and His plan was so much more important than them and their feelings.

I want that kind of witness.. I want that kind of love.. I want that kind of faith.. I want to Love people for Jesus even when I don't get it. Even when I don't see where I'm going, I want my belief that my God is bigger to be the prevailing thought and feeling.

Whoa that's a big statement.. I pray God helps me (and you) daily to remember that.... Read More

Great thoughts and I'm so incredibly proud of you... You know that though :).. Thanks for writing.. ;)

My thoughts for you:

Please re-read this as many times as you need.. if you have questions I'd love to connect you to Patrick to chat some more about this topic. Please, please, please take a moment and let this resonate inside of you. Ok, the end :)

Jun 1, 2009

Best He Has To Offer...

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it is that God is offering me... I mean we have all these typical answers.. "He wants to prosper you.." "He loves you.." .. I don't mean those things really at all. I've been thinking about the way I view Him, and the things He has out on the table for me... Just waiting for me to choose it (Him)...

I think so often we (girls).. and sorry guys, but I can't speak for you.. I have a severe lack of credibility in speaking for guys... So, I won't. :) But, girls tend to view ourselves as not good enough to get something, be with someone, do something.. basically anything we can think of we come up with a reason why we are not good enough for it.

Recently however, I have been thinking about the idea that God wants whats best for me.. and I forget who mentioned it to me first, but it's the idea that "God WANTS to give us the BEST"... The simplicity of this idea makes me laugh because so often I view things as I'm either not good enough or I need to do x, y, and z in order for God to be ok with giving me what I can deal with, things I can make work. Which is clearly works based.. and I don't believe that. Instead I need to work on allowing His grace and mercy, and the fact that he's already covered me flow into that part of my thinking.

I mean think about it for a bit... If I've already been paid for.. Why would I then only get mediocre? Why would I have to go through life just dealing with things, instead of being in awe of my Savior all the tune? PLUS, if I constantly am getting the best that God has to give me... doesn't that continue to blow my mind? I mean, I can think of a whole bunch of instances where I was just amazed at my Savior and the things He's done for me... Those things remind me of how small I am, how much I can't do things on my own, and how seriously I need Him all the time.

Now, I'm not talking about the materialistic side of things.. I don't mean to say that "if I believe, I'll get a million dollars... or someone will magically buy me this new shirt I want.." No, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the idea that God wants whats BEST for me.. not the idea that He will grant me everything I want.

Often times, I look at a relationship with a guy and think "I could make that work." Instead of with the attitude of "can we together better serve God? Will he be what I need and can I be what he needs?" ... So far, the answer has been no. I have not found someone I know is the best for me, instead I tend towards "I can work with this" as though it's an old dress I need to spruce up. I've begun trying to get out of the habit of saying "I can make this work" in my head, because, lets be honest.. my "making it work" is so much less glorifying to my Lord, than it would be if I allowed Him to gift me with whatever or whoever it is that will help me serve my Jesus more... I do this in SOOO many areas of my life and my relationships with others it's really pathetic...

I mean, there's a certain part of me that believes there comes a time when God's thought is "you know my heart... now just go and do already!"... And, that's where a lot of my "just act" mentality comes in.. Instead, I need to be viewing it less as something I myself can work with and make better, and viewing it as it will be the best because God's involved...

Hmm.. just a couple thoughts about God's desire for my life and my new revelation about it :)