07 September 2010

God is Working

So this past month God has been doing so many amazing things in my life! Lauren and I finished up our YellowBook study with DAna. CrossChat is up and running and is SUPER successful. Church small group has started up again now that Grace Fellowship has finally settled into the new building. UNIT (CIA Leadership Team) is also up and running. We've had several very productive meetings and have lots to do for the semester. Classes are going alright, I suppose. I'd much rather get paid to be in CIA, haha.

God is ever present on the bookshelf, too. UNIT has us reading The Way of The Shepherd so that we can become better shepherds (leaders) of our flock (non-believers & new believers). Chapter one talked about knowing the condition of your flock and I've really been trying to implement the principles he talks about into my daily life. Additionally, Aaron and I have established each other as accountability partners for reading the Bible. Right now we are making our way through the New Testament. I'm in Mark. He got side-tracked and is back in the Samuels. I don't know how that happened, I'm just glad he's reading.

God has been working WONDERS! in Aaron's life! It's such a blessing to be a witness to all of the changes and wonderful ways in which God is active. Our relationship is on fire for God and for each other. We are trying so hard to do what God is calling us to do. I am so thankful that we have so many people in our lives that are being godly influences and are encouraging us to stay in His Word. We are currently doing The Peasant Princess study by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church that goes through the Songs of Solomon.

Its AMAZING! Arnold and Amanda are doing a great job of shepherding us through the lessons and fostering great communication between the four of us. I would recommend this study to ANY parent, ANY dating couple, ANY married couple, and ANY one who wants/needs to know what God wants for their "love life", children included. I know God has put us together because we can help each other grow and can help lead others to the salvation and hope in Christ Jesus. I just pray that we are being a good example to others and are following His perfect will. Please pray for this for us.

Also be praying for Aaron as he is wrestling with his future career choices. I've been praying that God gives him direction and affirmation in this.

Its been so awesome to be feeling God working in my life. It's so difficult to quantify and contain all the great things He is doing and put it into a blog post. I am praying for so much these days. I really want to be able to open my heart and share Him with my non-CIA friends. God has really placed this idea on my heart that people I know who call themselves Christians, may not truly be living the way Jesus has called them to. Christians need to stop giving Christianity a bad name! That sounds silly to say but it's so true. It breaks my heart to have so many people in my life that I feel helpless to help. Thank God I don't have to do any of the work. It's ALL God and I know He is using me to glorify His Kingdom. Boy does He have a lot of work to do through us! It's so hard not to be discouraged by the seemingly hopeless situation at hand. There are a LOT of lost people. It breaks my heart to think someone wouldn't want to experience this daily high of God's Love. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and not be swayed by the world.

04 August 2010

Beautiful, Beautiful.. Smile :)

So today is my birthday. Therefore, I am posting this video as a present to myself!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh................. :)

Alright now on to the blogging!
I think today's as good of a day as any to thank God for everything He's done in my life. It's so crazy to think of how He's been at work in my life all along. I am blessed with parents who lovingly raised me to know God. And His hand was in us finding a church that provided a wonderful spiritual foundation to help me grow in my youth. And to think, I thought that I was on fire for God then. I am in such awe of how He carries me through each day. I cannot express in words or even thoughts how amazing He is and how much He's done in my life.

I've always known who God is and who Jesus is. But even still, college can be a treacherous thing. For a while I thought I could do it on my own, that I didn't need Him. I tried to put myself in control. But thankfully, the more I tried to take control, the less control I'd have. I lost the little world that I was trying to build for myself and every door was shut in my face. I know now that that was God. God was bringing me back into his lap, where I had called him Daddy and I was His princess.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Proverbs 22:6

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. ... Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I am fully known."
1 Corinthians 13:11-12

HE CHANGED MY LIFE AGAIN! He is continuously changing my life, everyday. Making it something beautiful. More beautiful than I could ever dream or picture or create. My life is in HIS hands. He made me. He knit me in my mother's womb. He knew me before I was even a thought in someone's mind. He knew I'd be here today and He has crafted this life for me. It is not my story. Its His. Its His story of how He changed EVERYTHING!

Wow. Thank you Daddy for everything. Thank you for bringing me to to where I'm at. Thank you for carrying me along the way. Thank you that Jesus died on the cross so that we can humbly come to you in reverent awe and ask for forgiveness when we fail you. Please guide and watch over me as I embark on the next 21 years of my life. Please continue to bless my life with wonderful servants and godly people who just ache to know you better. Thank you for the gifts that you give and help me to remember to always be thankful. Thank you for making my life beautiful out of the mess I give you. I love you so much!

My birthday present from Aaron!

26 July 2010

He Changed My Life

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,
whatever things are noble, whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue
and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me,
these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

Phillipians 4:6-9

Wow do I have a lot to share. Considering it's (sadly and shamefully) been more than *gasp* FOUR MONTHS since my last blog.. This is going to be a long one. So bear with me. Where to start and what to say? God has been doing so much sculpting in my life! I got the opportunity to go on the CIA mission trip to Norman, OK. Got the privilege of meeting a lot of wonderful people from CIA Tampa. Its wonderful how God throws us into situations where we think we are going to do the blessing.. and it turns out that He had greater things in mind for us. I love that He is in control of life like that.

Summer has been fun. Wedding season is crazy but Ive found a few spots here and there to relax and enjoy the break. Still, its been challenging taking two classes this summer. Astronomy is pretty fun.

Big things have happened on the God front. First off, I WAS BAPTIZED!! This in itself is a huge deal but it was an especially important moment for me because I had to call upon God and really wrestle with Him over whether or not my infant baptism was sufficient for His will. Turns out that when God wants something.. Hes going to keep bringing it to your attention until you listen. And even tho I probably waited longer than I should have to obey what God was telling me. It couldn't have been a more perfect death! I'm so happy to say that I have a moment in my life where I died and truly began to seek His will. Yes I know that there's a long road ahead of me but this is just the beginning and I'm so excited to live out the rest of the story He's written for my life! And it was especially special to me to have my FBO (facebook official) brother, Peyton, baptize me! He is very dear to my heart and I was honored to have him share in the joy of my death and new life!
Additionally, some really great friends have also made that step in dying to themselves and taking up the Cross. I am so proud of everyone!! I may be a bit biased but I have the BEST brothers and sisters in Christ EVER!!! Ahhh I love you all!

So what else what else.. Ooh so on the book list, I got my Dad The Overton Window by Glenn Beck for Fathers Day and still haven't given it to him because both Aaron and I had to read it first, lol! As far as my faith-based reading goes, I've slowed down a bit in my bible reading.. I really need to get back to that.. but let me tell you, Numbers has a LOT of numbers in it.. I'm looking forward to Deuteronomy. Jesus quotes a lot of scripture from there during his life here on Earth. Additionally, I ordered a bunch of books from Amazon that came in today: Big Girls Dont Whine, Guys are Waffles Girls are Spaghetti, and The Way of the Shepherd... all of which come highly recommended. I have also been reading 30 Days with Jesus which goes through and details the Gospels in chronological order. I have to say that I look forward to the readings every day! I have also acquired several new books and found a few old books that I've yet to read. I hope that I can pace myself and be diligent about spending time hearing what God has to say to me today.

Lastly, some great and wonderful things have been happening with CIA. We are getting ready to start what is called "CrossChat". This is no ordinary Bible study. It's a group of people getting together and showing others how God has worked in their lives. It requires one to be transparent and open and honest about who they were before Jesus and who they are now after giving their lives to Him. Last night at our Cell meeting, we had the opportunity to open up and share our stories about how we came to know Jesus and how He has transformed our lives. It was WONDERFUL!! I feel so freed and revived and released and rejuvenated! And more so than throwing of the chains of this world that tells us to hold in our past, I was surrounded by people who did the same! It was incredible I cant even describe how unfathomably wonderful God is and how He has crafted each of our stories so as to perfectly fit into this group and prepare us for what is to come. I cant wait to share my story again! If you want to know what God has done in my life.. PLEASE ASK!!!

And even more blessings came from that.. Aaron and I got to sit down yesterday and share our story with each other. I know that sounds silly.. and to be honest it was a little weird at first but most of what I know of Aaron's past and what he knows of mine came from inquiries about each other under sinful circumstances. It was so genuine to be able to open up and share how God has worked in me and led me to where I am and cultivated me into this person. Aaron and I were able to be candid about how we felt about our own and each other's past. I was able to forgive him for things his old-self did that hurt me and he forgave me for the things that my old-self had done that hurt him. He even said that we could wipe our slate clean! I know this may not mean a lot to you right now but ask me my story and you'll understand! I am so happy to have that weight lifted!

However, I have lately been struggling to forgive myself for the sins of my past and to truly accept the justification that comes in Christ Jesus. I know that when we die to ourselves and take up the business of our Father that He has forgiven us of our sins with the price that was paid with Jesus' blood. It is so hard to accept that while this world teaches us to feel guilt and to dwell in our past. I know God is much more concerned with where I am going than with where I've been. I know He is using my story to help me grow closer to Him and become more Christlike. It's just so difficult sometimes to let go of the things that I fell short of.. and to really feel like I am no longer that person. I know that God and I are the only people who know why I did the things I did and that He's let it go.. I just need to rely more on Him. I need to reject the way the world looks at me and take up the view that Christ has of me, his daughter, his bride. If anyone is going to make that possible, it's God and I've got Him on my side!

God is ever so perfectly working in me so that I can grow to know more about who He is and how He wants me to live. I want nothing more than to seek Him with my whole heart. Jesus blesses my everyday with so much joy and praise for our Father. I'm so small and unworthy and He is so Great and Mighty! Ahh I love it!!! (Can you get that I'm just a tad bit excited?!?!) God is so AWEsome! He is Heavenly and does everything with such a beautiful and mysterious purpose. He is EVERYTHING! I cannot wait to see what He does with this next semester and I look forward to sharing how He changed my life!!

I'm giving my life to the only one
Who makes the moon reflect the sun
On that starry night He changed my life
I'm giving it all to the only son
Who gave me hope when I had none.
So let the praises ring

29 March 2010

Your Hands

So let me start by apologizing for not blogging in the past like three weeks. Its been very hectic and crazy with Spring Break and midterms. But I'm on the downhill slide of this Spring semester (thankfully). I'm so very ready for a nice long summer break.
I talked with my academic adviser today and she informed me that if I take a Maymester, two Summer I classes, and three Summer II classes - that I can graduate in August. Pretty cool, huh? Well now I need to decide whether or not to pursue a summer graduation and move on to a career or to take it slow and enjoy spacing out my last 18 hours between Summer and Fall. Please be praying for this.
Spring Break was awesome! We went to the Wolf Creek Ski Resort in Pagosa Springs, CO. A really really long drive but the trip went very well and everyone came back in one piece. It was even pretty sweet cause Peyton and Larson from C.I.A. (Christians in Action) ended up going to the exact same place at the exact same time and we got to meet up and hang out. Very cool. Turns out - I'm still a pretty awesome snowboarder. And Aaron did so good! We went down a black diamond! Well.. it was mostly an accident.. but hey, it still happened! I'm so thankful that our family is able to do cool things like this. I can't wait till next year.

Alright now on to the good stuff -
These past several weeks have been full of great blessings and great hurdles. First, some blessings. Aaron encouraged me to read The Shack . I really liked the book at first but now, I'm starting to love it! It helped personalize our Lord so much for me. It provided excellent insight into the mind of God. It was beautiful. On another note, He has been so influential in Aaron's and my relationship. I'm reminded every day how lucky I am and how much fun it is to be with this wonderful person. I'm so honored and feel so overwhelmed at how much I love him.

Additionally, a new friend of mine whom we will call Darth Vader :) was baptized last night! She has such a beautiful heart and I'm so happy for her. I know God is going to use her to do great things! C.I.A. has also been a positive influence in my life. I thank God every day for Clint and Kelsey, and Blanca and Tony, and Ana and Mark, and all my new friends. I am so happy because I really feel like I'm a part of a group of people that love me and want to see me grow. Oooh aaaand I met my Adopt-O-Family on Sunday and I'm very excited to develop this new relationship. Blessings all around! :)

Conversely, not to say that God's involvement in my life is not a blessing, I'm still finding God challenging me to give complete trust and control to Him. You know that once you feel comfortable in one area of your life, that God's about to ask for more and then some. Well He's definitely been asking, but in this call to faith - I've learned so much about God. I've become so understanding of how God loves us. I've truly realized, in part because of the humanism that The Shack helped attribute to God, that God loves us unconditionally. And while this is something I've always known, I never really understood what that meant. God doesn't love us we love Him, if we do things that honor Him, or if we serve Him completely. God loves us even when we sin, when we break His heart.

Let me tell you something, if you ask to be more like Christ, God will break your heart. My eyes were opened to a situation where God called me to fully give Him control. And please forgive my ambiguity, I'm sure you can understand the sensitivity of this particular situation. But for the past several months I'd been trying to indirectly control the actions of someone very close to my heart. I assumed that I would be able to have some influence on this person and that I would be able to change their mind. But God has shown me that that is indeed not the case. God is the only one who has that power over us, and He doesn't need to use me in order to fulfill His will. (Keyword: HIS will, not my own. Remember Claire does not demand her own way.)

I was reminded that if I love this person, that I should resign myself of control of this issue and let God take care of it. If I love this person like I do, I need to respect their choices in life, even when I don't agree with them... even if they hurt my feelings and break my heart. This is how God loves. Every day His children lie to Him, cheat Him, and break His heart - but He doesn't turn away, He never leaves us, and He will never love us any less.

I made the choice to love this person wholeheartedly and I do not intend to recant my decision to respect their choices in life. Still, it's one thing to say this - it's another to live it. I realized yesterday that this person may very well spend the rest of their life doing something that hurts me and puts their own life and livelihood in jeopardy. And they may make the choice to do this at the expense of my emotions. Yesterday I questioned God's plan, I cried that I wasn't getting my way, and I felt horribly foolish for thinking God wouldn't hold me to my resolution. I know God will use every act to further His Kingdom, and that means that my own feelings and will are overtaken by a peace only a relationship with Jesus can bring.

It's a hard way to love someone, but it's the only way to truly love someone. The pain that this action causes me and the questions I have as to why this person does it really enlightened me to God's love for His children. I am so overwhelmed by the thought of it I don't think I've at all adequately put it into words. I don't think I can. But thankfully, when my heart is breaking, I know God is in control. I know He has a plan for this moment and a plan for my life. I'm honored to be apart of it.

I know that this is God calling out the sin in my life. I try to pretend that I have control and I seek to be filled through a feeling of security that is constantly failing me. I know I need to put my faith and trust in Jesus and He will be my security and my refuge. And I can have a peace about my life knowing that in spite of my disasters, God is in control. Jesus, I'm with you.

09 March 2010

In this storm

This past week God has been hard at work in my life. It's been rough and scary and I've been through a whole host of emotions but I feel so wonderful. God has really tested my faith in His plan and my trust in Him. I cant say that I know where He's calling me tomorrow but I know that right now its all in His loving and merciful hands. The biggest test of my faith was turning to God during a big storm that had been building up over the past couple of weeks. Well the storm hit very hard but I have to say that turning to prayer and surrounding myself with my brothers and sisters in Christ helped me keep focus. I am so honored to be surrounded by such a loving group of prayer warriors in CIA who lift me up. It seems as though I've found a family, especially a group of girls, and I'm so blessed. I hope that God can use me to bless their lives in even a fraction of the way that they have blessed mine.

So I've noticed a trend in the blogs that was completely unintentional where I like to post a song that pertains to the topic of the week or just has spoken to me lately. Well this week's song is Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns.

What is so powerful about this song is that it emphasizes being in such a turbulent period in your life where you don't know where to turn and having the faith to turn to God. It was exactly where I was at this week. Its important to recognize that we serve a King who gives AND takes away. And a beautiful woman of God pointed out to me a few days ago that if it is in God's plan to take something away from you, then you want Him to take it... even when your heart is broken and torn. It is such an inspiring promise to know that God has plans for you to prosper and will grant you the desires of your heart if you submit to Him and love Him with your whole heart. I am in awe that God so intricately wants to design our lives and takes care in every detail. And if it's in His plan to build me through these trials, then I praise Him for the storms He calls and say bring it on.

Additionally, I've been reading about Abraham in Genesis and God totally had me in mind when He wrote about asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son through whom God had promised to make many nations. Abraham had complete faith in God's plan and never questioned or bargained with Him. And by trusting that God knew what He was doing and loving the Lord above all else, God saw that Abraham's heart was right and called for him to stop the sacrifice. It was 100% God and by turning completely to Him during the trials and tests He presents to us we will be blessed as good and faithful servants.

And then to top it all off, God again had perfect timing. The lesson for Sunday's bible study was from Mark where Jesus calms the storm. How appropriate! And the breakout challenge was to identify the storm in your life and define why you're afraid of it and then determine what you think Jesus would say to you. It was wonderful to be able to share this story with my sisters of how He had brought this storm into my life and carried me through it.

I'm not going to pretend that this past week was easy potatoes.. but God proved Himself to me by showing me that when I turn to Him, even when it's hard to trust in His plan, that He will bless my life.

As Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm

03 March 2010

Whatever You're Doing

"Claire is patient, Claire is kind.
Claire does not envy, does not boast.
Claire is not proud, is not rude.
Claire does not demand her own way.
Claire is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs.
Claire does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Claire always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres."

God, whatever you're doing, I trust You. Please give me peace and wisdom during this time. Help me to hear Your voice. I have faith in Your plan for me. I pray that you will speak to Aaron and give him guidance. I thank you so much for the blessings in my life and am confident in Your Word.
I love you, daddy.

28 February 2010

Boy Meets Girl Meets Uncertainty...

So this devotional thing has been wonderful thus far. I really like my Woman's Devotional and LOVE the Love Dare: Day By Day. They are both really insightful and have great ways to apply God's Word to daily life. This week, The Love Dare challenges us to live a life of love and truly be examples of Christs love for us. They had a really cool activity where you take 1 Cor 13:4-7 and replace the words "love" and "it" with your name. For me it reads:
"Claire is patient, Claire is kind.
Claire does not envy, does not boast.
Claire is not proud, is not rude.
Claire does not demand her own way.
Claire is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs.

Claire does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Claire always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Isnt that cool? Of course it will read differently for you. But it is such a tangible way to embody how we are supposed to lead Christlike lives. This devo was probably my favorite part of the entire week!

On another note, this Boy Meets Girl book is spurring a lot more questions than it is providing answers. Have any of you read this book? It seems so radical. Its causing Aaron and I to question our motives and our relationship. But when our love for each other is not in question, should we be worrying about it? I mean there are some really great points that Harris makes that make a lot of sense but I'm not sure I agree. Of course we are only on chapter two but the controversy seems to come from this idea that [in a nutshell] says that you shouldn't date/court until you're ready to consider marriage. Well personally, we know marriage is the ultimate goal but we have several other goals we'd like to meet in between that time. Does that mean it's wrong for us to be together?? Ahh I dont know. Thankfully Clint and Kelsey have come into our lives and hopefully they can shed some light on the situation. Anyone else, feel free to chime in.

Lastly, [this is a short one this week] PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be praying for Aaron's momma. She's having complications with treatment for her auto-immune disorder. It's a scary time for the entire family. God is the great physician and I know He still works miracles.

Well, Im off to study the Word, yo. :)
Thanks for reading. And please, prayers and input is MUCH appreciated!!

p.s. For the other ex-Cons... we sang this song in church and I would have cried had it not been my turn to write prayer requests. I loooove this song. It was so powerful to sing with yall. [Thanks for the vid Tour J]


So just a little follow up from earlier today. I got the chance to talk to Clint about my concerns over what this book is saying and he was quick to point out that no matter what, your goal should not be marriage or a career or a family, but Jesus. Our ultimate goal and purpose is to serve, love, and honor Christ in what we do. God will make a way and will use wherever we are at for the greater benefit of His kingdom.

I feel better about this. [Yea Clint it really does take the pressure off :) ] I know that giving up control and giving it all to God is all about doing my best to follow His Word and listen for guidance.

Yay. I'm happy. :)

22 February 2010


I am so excited because today is the day I start my new devotional! I began reading Jane Syswerda's book: The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible: A One-Year Plan for Studying, Praying, and Responding to God's Word. Today I read the first three chapters in Genesis.

I cant help but realize what a loving God we serve. In His awesome splendor created this beautiful bountiful Earth and gave us the animals and plants and the land and sea and sky. He took such care and put so much love into making this beautiful world for us to live in. The Bible says repeatedly that God "planted" such and such for us. I don't know any gardeners but I do know that if I'm trying to grow and cultivate anything, that it takes a great deal of patience and love. What great care He must have put into making us and making this planet. It's just so cool and awesome to fathom how much He loves us. Even in our sin He was merciful and just. When Adam and Eve at from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, woman was punished with pain in childbirth and with being servant to her husband while man was punished with a life of scratching the ground for resources (which had been created to be abundantly fruitful). Additionally, man would die and return to the dust from which we were formed. But, graciously, God provided a way for us. He never said we would be unable to eat of the earth nor would we be without. He also never said we wouldn't walk with Him. (p.s. It is so awesome that God was just hanging out with Adam and Eve in the Garden.. walking and talking.. so close and intimate! Ahh I love it.) God is so amazing that even when we sin, He is loving and merciful when we are anything but deserving or worthy. He truly wants to be one with us. Not just be a part of our lives but be the reason why and be the cry of our hearts. He understands our desires and our needs and wants to provide for us and nurture us.

Another thing that really called to my heart about Genesis is the relationship between man and woman. God gave man a companion and a friend to share his life with. God could have just as easily created woman from the ground but instead woman was taken of man's flesh and was created to be man's helper. In this way, God was showing us that man and woman were designed to be together and through marriage, to become one. It's wonderful to know that God is preparing a husband for me and before I was even a thought in anyone's mind, that God had already laid out a plan for my life. To think that He has formed and cultivated an entire person just for me is astounding. What an incredible gift! to be blessed with someone. I like to think of it as God showing up on my birthday and being like "Hey Claire, so I got you a little something. I've been working on him for quite a while but I think you'll find him to be everything you've ever dreamed of..." And poof! there he is.. my future husband, my best friend, the man of my dreams.. tied up in a big red bow all for me!

Let me just take a sec to say WOW! And gush over this thought and over the wonder of our God!

... ... ... ... ...

On a similar note, this whole giving my current relationship to God is pretty scary. I feel like I dont know what to do but conversely wonder if I should be doing anything. How do you balance this idea of direction in a relationship while acknowledging that you have no control over its course? I mean certainly a godly couple has some idea of where God is taking them? But how do you know that its God and not you? I guess all I can do is pray that He will make it very clear and direct whatever direction He has planned for us. We are going to be starting a devotional together soon too. I'm just waiting on the books to come in. I also think we will be reading Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris. Those books came in the mail today. I'm looking forward to seeing how God uses these resources to point the way and to help us lead better lives and have a stronger relationship, if He wills it. It's all so exciting and anxious, I want to be in this whirlwind of feeling God's power over our relationship and I cant wait to get there. I know its going to take a lot of time and prayer but I really feel that He knows what Hes doing here.

Lastly, I wanted to say that I was really blessed this past week in that I met a whole bunch of new people and friends in Christ. Who would have thought that Zombies would lead me to a new spiritual family?? :) It was really nice to feel like a part of a fellowship again. When you've been gone from church for a while or have been going to a megachurch, that feeling of belonging is really missed. But these guys just really opened their hearts (and homes) and embraced Aaron and myself this past week. We went to their church and although it put me a little out of my comfort zone and the style of the service was foreign to me, I really felt good about being there. I am looking forward to developing closer relationships with this group and am very excited to see what God's going to do with it!

So, if you're reading this, please keep me in your prayers. Please pray for guidance as I begin these devotionals and dive back into Gods word. Pray for this new group of friends that God has led me to this week, that I may find a place that I can really call home. And also for God to bless this journey that Aaron and I are on. We have a lot of mixed feelings and emotions about it all and really want God to point the way in our relationship and in our individual lives. Additionally, please pray for Aaron's mom who is struggling with very rare health issues and is spending a lot of time in bed and at the doctors.

Finally, I hope God is continuing to show you all that you have been blessed with and that somehow something in this message about how He is working in my life can speak to yours.

The books I'm reading:

14 February 2010

Love Never Fails

I had a very interesting conversation with my best friend a couple days ago. He was worried that I was too dependent upon him. I almost instantly turned around and shot back at him for something he didn't even do wrong. Truth is... I was ashamed to really listen to what he was saying and face up to this idea that I sometimes seem like I'm not my own person.

I've always joked that I'm a serial monogamist because I've been in three consecutive long-term relationships since I was 14. Each time, I've created this identity of who I am as being that significant other's girlfriend. I feel like I take on this identity because I feel so lost as to who I am. I know that I'm smart and fun and a good friend... that I'm caring and energetic and loving and giving and all these wonderful things that God has made me but beyond that I dont really know what I'm striving for. My best friend and I talked about our separate goals and what we are aiming for at this point in our lives. As someone who pretty much plans for a living, it may surprise you to know I really havent thought much about my own short term goals. Long term is easy. I so wholeheartedly want to be a mom and a wife and to raise a healthy, loving, God focused family. But beyond graduating college and getting some type of job, there isn't much else. So until I'm in a position to be a wife and a mom.. I make it my day-to-day orientation to focus my priorities on my significant other (or significant otter :)(shout out to Jackie and Phil)).

Let me go on by saying that I am so blessed to be dating such a Godly man who I can share this part of my life with. He is so smart and really tunes into these opportunities to help support my walk with Christ. The conversation progressed into a realization that I need no other focus than to be a child of God. If I relinquish control of where I want my life to go and who I think I should be, God will shape me into the person He wants me to be and direct my life to where He wants it to go. Rather than waking up and wondering how I can show my boyfriend how much he means to me and how much I love him, I should think instead how can I honor God and show Him that I love Him.

It was very difficult being so honest and transparent in that conversation. Not because I was hesitant to be open with this man I love and trust, but because I was afraid to realize these truths about myself. I am so thankful that I do not need to have control of my life or make any attempt as to answer the question who I want to be in this world, but who I want to be in Christ.

In an unrelated conversation, my best friend and I decided fairly recently that we were going to give our relationship to God. Just try to fathom for yourselves saying that I have no control over the course of this relationship because I'm letting God take it where it needs to go. I am scared and uncertain but hopeful and at a strange peace in giving that control to God. I know and pray that God will use us to help each other grow. I have faith that if we keep focus on Him, as best as we can, that He will bless this relationship over its course. I know that God will break us up if it's His will and direct us each on to greater relationships and He will send us confirmation if it's His desire for us to stay together and build a healthy and Godly marriage. Please pray for God to work in our lives and for us to keep our focus on Him.

I am honored to add "girlfriend" to my identity as a child of God but I know that this is just a part of His greater plan for my life. More importantly, no love can replace that of our Savior and the more we try to fill our lives with the love and affection and acceptance of others without God, the emptier we become. The Bible teaches us that we need to use the example of His unconditional love for us and reflect it in our love for others. Not just love for our families, lovers, friends,.. but love for all of His little ones.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

08 February 2010

Uncomforable Situations

So it's been a couple days since the last blog. Friday and Saturday I was attempting to get all my stuff moved into my new house. For this, I was extraordinarily unprepared and still have a lot to do before this Thursday, when I have to be officially moved out. Still, I was listening for God. It can be very hard to appreciate your blessings when you are overwhelmed with the stress of life. But looking back I have to say I am so grateful. Not only for God's provision of a beautiful new place to call home and a roommate I like very much, but grateful also for Woody and Aaron and Phil and for their help with the move.

Sunday was a day full of odd little gifts. Jackie, Rebby, my wonderful boyfriend and I made the early morning trek out to Kingsville for my godson's dedication to the church. It was such a blessing to see Alyssa and Mike, they are wonderful parents and doing an awesome job raising him. I am so honored to be Noah's godmother, not to lie, I cried when Alyssa asked me because I was so excited. I'm still amazed at how big it is to be someones godmommy! I get to be apart of Noah's life for as long as I'm alive! I get to watch him grow up and be there when he becomes a big brother and starts Kindergarten and graduates and gets married and has kids of his own... Yikes just thinking about the commitment gives me goosebumps!

Most significantly, I have the responsibility of ensuring that Noah grows up knowing who God is, that He loves him, and that He wants to be a part of his life. I get to pray for him and be there for him if, Heaven forbid, something were to ever happen to Mike and Alyssa. I was so proud standing in front of that church, holding my godson, and promising to help raise him to know God.

I do have to admit, that the entire experience of participating in the ceremony really put me in an awkward situation. It's always unusual going to a new church for the first time. I have been blessed with the experience of touring with the Continental Singers while in High School, so I feel that maybe I am a bit more open minded when it comes to being accepting of new surroundings. Still, I felt very apologetic for my fellow attendees who had not been witnesses to the practice of being "Slain in the Spirit". It's not something I would regard a common practice here in the heavy Catholic/Baptist South. I'm not sure what the Bible says about it, but I know that as a member of the Methodist denomination, we don't practice it. It did not at all surprise me that it made others uncomfortable. To be honest, I was still uneasy about it but I decided to keep an open mind.

I believe that God takes you who you are, where you are, with what you have... and calls you to worship Him as you feel most comfortable. I'm telling you that this humble little church was aching for some musical direction, a drummer older than ten, and a parking lot.. but to God - the praises of that congregation fell beautiful on His ears. But it is hard to for non-believers to be receptive to God's love in uncomfortable situations. There was even a guy who chose to accept God that day but it almost seemed like the Pastor forgot about him during the prayer. He went off on tangents and with all the church members dancing around and the loud music and shouts to God, the guy kind of wandered awkwardly back to his seat in the pew.

It's situations like this where I really don't know what God is asking of me. I believe He wants us to wholeheartedly and whole-bodily yield to His awesome power. But if those practices of one church turn a non-believer off to our faith, what has it done?

Ahh lots of thoughts... blessings and love. Thank goodness He knows all... I dont think I could handle it!

04 February 2010

By Your Side

So God has blessed me with a wonderful, thoughtful, and godly boyfriend who, some time ago, decided that he was going to find a song for me. I wasn't really sure what he was talking about at the time but went along with it. Well, he ended up picking the song By Your Side from Tenth Avenue North. It's a beautiful piece of music that has beautiful lyrics to match.

If you've never heard the song, the lyrics to the second verse are:

"Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run"

You see, I was searching for love. I had been trying to find something to fill the void inside me and I kept trying to fill it with a strain of serial monogamy in past romantic relationships and failed long-term friendships. I felt very alone and was ignoring the unconditional Love of our Savior. Then He used a very hurtful experience to introduce me to my current boyfriend, a man who keeps God at the forefront of his life. I know I am a very lucky girl, but more so I am a very blessed child of the King who uses life's trials to bring us closer to Him.

I know that I do not deserve the mercies and love of our God any more than I deserve to have such a sweet and loving boyfriend. And yet, I praise Him daily for these gifts. I know that no matter what I do, I can neither run nor hide from our Father's love. He knows me, every part of me. He knew me before I was a thought, before I was someone else's dream and He knit me in my mother's womb.

He is always with us... holding us, guiding us, crying for us, and loving us. To this day I don't know why my best friend chose this song but it so clearly speaks to my heart. I know that this relationship is all a part of God's plan for my life, and He will never leave me.

God, thank you for using Aaron to help me grow closer to You. I ask that you watch over him. I look forward to seeing him become the man You designed him to be. Thank you for allowing me to share this part of his life with him. Please help us keep our relationship focused on You. Amen.

03 February 2010

Haz Llover

While walking to class this morning I found myself being very put off with today's weather. It's cold and wet and rainy. I couldn't wear my flip flops today (which I don almost daily) and I had to wear a sweater.. again, and it was utterly pointless to do my hair. Then it hit me that the rain is only gross because its an inconvenience. How selfish and unfair is it of me to take something that God decided to grace my day and this planet with and throw it away. So I decided for today's blog I would look up all kinds of good things rain does for us.

Typing in "What does rain do?" in Google comes up with some pretty snappy answers. A fellow blogger listed out five good things rain does in her life. And a kids website lists all the ways that water helps the earth. When I was on tour with the Continental Singers and was preparing for a performance in Costa Rica, we were having one of those days like today. There was a song that our Director taught us in Spanish. The lyrics are as follows:
Haz llover. Haz llover. Abre las puertas del cielo.
Let it rain. Let it rain. Open the flood gates of Heaven.
It was such a beautiful song and I found myself singing it in the car on the drive home today.

Here are some things the Bible says about rain:
Job 36:27-28 "He draws up the drops of water,which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
I love that the Bible uses the word abundant, reminding us that God consistently and without fail pours out his blessings over His children, supplying us time and again with more than we could ever need. Psalm 147:7-8 reminds us that we should be praising our Father for the rain. It is purpose is all a part of His plan for providing a planet that can sustain our existence.
Psalm 147:7-8 Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp. He covers the heavens with clouds,provides rain for the earth,and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.
And here in Hebrews we are taught that rain is sent as a blessing from God.
Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God.
Who am I to look upon Gods gifts and dismiss them as an inconvenience? God has so graciously blessed my life and has given me a beautiful home, surrounded me with loving friends, and has abundantly provided for me.

So here are my five good things I love about the rain:
5. I get to wear my sweater. Which I really do love doing. Plus it's one extra day I can wear the shirt I was going to wear today because no one saw me in it.
4. I don't have to worry about how I look today because everyone is wearing their rainy-day clothes and has rainy-day hair. Oh weather, the great equalizer.
3. One extra week till swimsuit season!
2. The rain dripping outside the window sounds beautiful! Its a perfect lullaby for the nap I sneaked in today. :) Also makes for an excellent cuddling excuse!!
1. God is blessing me and preparing the Earth!

Hey God, please help me appreciate your blessings every day and to recognize everything as a part of Your plan. Help me to look on the bright side and to use days like today to reflect what You are doing in my life. Thank You for all that You've done for me in spite of how little I deserve it. Please continue to make me stronger and help me to grow more like You! Amen.

02 February 2010

Dear Daddy

Daddy I feel so small
Yet, like a universe and its stars
turned inside out

I feel so lost
like a child who is afraid to take the road that leads home
because shes scared of where she's never been

I feel so transparent
pierced by eyes straight through and into
my broken beating heart

You knew me, you've been waiting for this
I know you have a way, but Im uncertain and fearful
knowing that I've lost control though I know I never had it

Break me down
Move me for your plan
Lead me blindly and faithfully
Still my heart
Bring peace to my thoughts
Be the Master of my desires
and the Lover of my soul

01 February 2010

Whatever He's Doing

I've always wanted to write a blog but I was never sure what I would write about or who would want to read it. Lately God has been speaking to my heart and calling me back to Him. I'll admit that for the past several years I have been trying to control my life and have been avoiding the realization and acceptance that my life is not my own. Still, amazingly, He has continued to bless my life and use those around me to help guide me and draw me closer to His love.

The title of this blog comes from a song by Sanctus Real. I really feel that the lyrics verbalize what is on my heart. I know God is working violently inside of me and I feel like I'm ready to surrender to whatever he's doing. I know I do not belong where I've built my life - and I'm giving it back to God. To be honest, I'm horribly scared and anxious to live out His plan. If you know me at all you know I have control issues. [Yes, I said it.. now let's move on..] But I trust that He will use this test to make me stronger and a better example of His love and the power and influence He can have in someones life. He's up to something bigger than all of us and I'm so excited to see what He's going to do and what He's begun.

I have been searching myself and am resolving to use this blog to open my heart and my life to God knowing that He will use it to speak to others. I ask that you pray for me and help keep me accountable to His word. And if God is speaking to you, please feel free to comment. I also would love nothing more than for you to share your story and your heart as well. I believe that God puts people in our lives to help teach us and to help us grow. We were never meant to keep our faith a secret, whether we feel we are strong or struggling. It's all a part of His plan.

So God, to whatever You're doing, I'm giving in. I'm so sorry for straying so far from You. You've always been home and I know You've always been there watching over me and loving me even when I wanted to pretend I didn't need You. Thank you for all of the wonderful friends You've placed in my life, help me to surround myself with a strong group of those who want to know You more. Thank you for my brother and sisters, help me to be an example to them. Thank you for two Godly parents who have not only shown me Your love but have reflected it in their love for each other. Thank you for blessing my life with a man who seeks Your heart, I ask that you continue to work within our relationship. Forgive me where I have wronged You, You've always been my first love. Give me the strength I need to put You first. Watch over me as I embark on this journey of becoming more like You. Amen.

Whatever You're Doing - Sanctus Real