December 30, 2010

Raise your glass

I said this a few posts ago, but it is so good to pause and reflect.

The past month has been insane, but especially the past week has been a tornado - with Christmas, crazy work schedule, driving in snow and ice, etc. etc.

I came down with a gnarly head cold at the tail end of this, and so my first day off of work this week I did nothing but sit on the couch, watch My Fair Wedding with David Tutera (new season starts on Sunday!! get excited), made a huge pot of minestrone, and then had a few surprise visits from friends. It was amazing, especially since I normally cannot sit still for more than 30 minutes, and that's on a good day.

All of this to say, I took another moment to look back on 2010 and see the growth, changes and amazing things that I've seen from God.

Years ago I started writing a letter to myself at the end of each year - sort of a recap of the year, as well as a prediction of where I'd be in a years time, as well as I what I was hoping for in the coming year.

I wrote one this month, and it really does some good to look back over the past year. It reminds me to count my blessings, to see growth, and it reminds me of God's insane faithfulness.

I sat down and read a few of the letters from 2006, 2007 and 2008 . . . and they are hilarious. All I really wanted to accomplish in 2007 was to go to another AFI show and get another tattoo. How's that for priority? Love it.

And then I think . . . if I've come this far in the last 4 years, how amazing will it be to look back on this night in 4 years' time?

Have you ever written a letter to yourself? There's even a website to do it . . ., where you can have it emailed to yourself in ____ amount of time. And it's legit.

Whether you do it on paper or email, it really helps you to see how much changes and how much you grow over time, more than you tend to realize.

So here's to 2011 . . . another crazy amazing year, whatever comes our way.

December 11, 2010


Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much I let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
. . .
"Drive" - Incubus

First off, shout out to for encouragement and inspiration that is much needed!

It's funny how easily I let my fears drive me, instead of being content and resting in the peace of Christ.

After all, this is supposed to be the season for peace, is it not?

Instead, I let my distractions and busy schedule steal me away from meditating on the character of God and His promises in the Gospel. Upon waking this morning, I hit the ground running - errands, laundry, baking up to my eyeballs (I never want to see another m&m or Christmas sprinkle again), and cooking food to last me through the week . . . paired with dwelling on my fears and guilt makes for a lousy saturday afternoon.

I finally sat down from mental exhaustion and my aching back - and, as inspired by Kate's post this past wednesday, started to write out what specific stresses and fears have been plaguing me lately.

As I find it true every time I stop to face whatever is ailing me, my problems all stem from (surprise surprise) unbelief . . . unbelief that God is who He says He is, that I am secure in His grasp, that He has given me every reason not to fear, that His Gospel is true.

It should come to no surprise that the first thing Satan said to Eve in the garden was conducive to this very unbelief - "Did God really say, 'You must not eat . . ." [Genesis 3:1]

I hear echoes of that conversation in my own life . . .

-Did God really say that He would provide for you?
-Did God really say not to fear, that He is with you and goes before you?
-Did God really say that you have been forgiven and reconciled?
-Did God really say that He works all things together for the good?
-Did God really say that He loves you?
-Did God really say that He is completely sovereign?

How can I battle this unbelief? It's simpler than I sometimes realize . . . by taking a moment to pause in His presence and lay my fears and failures at His feet. To take time to dwell in His word and trust that He is who He says He is. To rest in the Gospel and allow the peace of God to permeate my soul.

Lately, I've been freaking out about circumstances and the uncertainty of the future . . . and that I've sealed my fate because of my shortcomings.

But God reminds me . . . if He gave me what I needed most when I was dead in my sin - Himself, how can I fear that He would withhold anything from me? How can I doubt His character, His goodness, His sovereignty, His love?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
-Romans 8:32

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-Matthew 6:33-34

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
-Matthew 7:7-11

But above all, resting in the Gospel . . . in the peace that comes from being brought into relationship with God - and realizing that He has already given me what I need the most.

December 6, 2010

Bleeding Love

Do you ever have those moments where . . . your parents are actually right about something? And you actually took a moment to listen and process what they're telling you?

It's a little surreal, isn't it?

Well, they recently confronted a subject that we've been in and out of dialogue about for years. In the past, I always just turned a deaf ear or immediately put up defense - but for some reason, I actually absorbed it this time.

Which led to some inward probing of my heart, my attitudes, my perspective . . . and consequently revealing of unchecked sin.

I have allowed walls of pride, bitterness and stereotype to build slowly over time - not fully aware of the repercussions of my attitudes. It was as if I were blinded to those walls, whilst stacking brick upon brick, fueled by fear, insecurity and misconceptions.

Then one day, you wake up and realize how closed off and cold you are.

Instead of facing my fears and embracing awkwardness, I flee from anything that makes me nervous, approaches vulnerability or threatens my pride.

This only causes me to become further calloused and enclosed, in a silly attempt to protect myself.

Over the past year, I have embraced many things that intimidated me or set my nerves on edge. And through those experiences, you learn and grow more than you may expect.

I want to continue to push myself, to face the fears, embrace vulnerability instead of shutting it down.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." - -- Ambrose Redmoon

I have asked God to reveal the sin in my life, the things that I have been putting between Him & I.

Well, here it is staring me in the face - my pride, my fears, my flawed attitude.

Now that I have recognized this, it's time to take action. Thankfully, I am not in this alone. God promises to walk with me, guide me, provide for me, sanctify me.

I am learning that life is a process. You don't just wake up one day, having "arrived" and conquered everything. It takes time. Just like I didn't wake up one day able to run a 10K - it took time to prepare, build, train.

I wonder if that conversation between my parents and my ability to listen wasn't God's way of further sanctifying me and drawing me nearer to Himself.

I have been asking God to break me of my pride and bitterness . . . today a passage from Philippians came to mind. If Christ humbled Himself to live and die for the world, if He came to divide the wall of hostility between God and the world, then how can I not be affected? How will my heart also not be transformed to be more humble, open and gentle? If the first step is recognition of sin or acknowledgment of a problem, then it would seem the second step is confession and allowing God to transform my heart so that I can move forward. And trust Him that He will work through me, give me the courage and ability to move forward.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

-Philippians 2:1-13
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