February 27, 2012

Every February, it never fails - I get to this point where I'm all blaaaaaaahhhh.

I am glad we have seasons, don't get me wrong. At first, when it starts to get chilly outside (November/December) I actually enjoy coming inside and getting all cozy, making soup and tea and curling up on the couch in front of the fireplace.

Except then February comes and I'm over it. I get tired of being cooped up inside because it's too cold outside to play, I'm ready for it to still be light outside at 9pm, my soul (and my skin) is ready for long days out in the warm sun . . . the thought of being poolside, even if it's sweltering hot and humid is GLORIOUS.

I want a change in scenery, I start to think that I need a vacation, I use coconut scented bodywash to remind me of the beach :) and I paint my nails in a way to encourage the onset of spring . . .

I do love essie :)

Speaking of being cooped up inside, then I get bored and either want to go shopping for things that I really don't need, and/or just continue with my baking obsession. I recently spent $45 just on baking ingredients - do you see what happens to me?

why yes, you can make rice krispy treats with cinnamon toast crunch.

The good news is, this is the very end of February. Spring is just on the horizon, plus who am I kidding - North Carolina has been unseasonably warm this winter (just last week we had snow AND 75 degree weather - all within a 4-day stretch) and it hasn't been as dreary as it usually is.

The other good news is, I woke up this morning and felt sore in places that I didn't know muscles existed, thanks to this workout:

check it out

and when I say this workout, I mean that I barely made it 1 1/2 way through (well, I did skip the shoulder raises because my arms were about to fall off) and nearly collapsed on the floor . . .

February 26, 2012

apples to apples

A few things to be thankful for today:

1. The smell of freshly cut ginger root. I had never encountered it before this afternoon, when I made a coconut curry soup that called for it . . . it. is. fabulous.

2. Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 'nuff said.

3. Brutal spin workout that lasted a full 60 minutes. Bring it.

You know what? When you pray and ask God to reveal Himself, or reveal sin in your life, He usually answers pretty quickly. I can definitely feel when the Holy Spirit is tugging on my heart or pointing to areas that I haven't fully surrendered to God.

I have this lovely habit of comparing myself to everyone else. Especially right now, I find myself comparing what stage of life I'm in . . . not only with friends and co-workers, but comparing myself with where my parents were at this age.

My parents met when my mom was my age, so I think - shoot, this is the last year I have left to meet the right person. Or, I see someone older than me who is still single and I immediately decide that since there are single people in their 30's or 40's, that must be what God has in store for me.

Just today I was thinking about it, and I felt God telling me to stop. Because it's harmful . . . comparison always steals your joy and contentment. It's also unfair - everyone's story is different, everyone's walk with the Lord is unique. What God is providing one person is going to be different than what He's providing and teaching the next person. Life doesn't turn out the way you might expect. And that's a good thing! How boring would it be if at age ____, everyone entered into ____ stage of life at the same time - and life was just programmed, predictable, monotonous?

No . . . God is teaching us different things in different seasons . . . each of our stories are unique and that diversity glorifies God in a way that monotony never could. I need to stop judging what God is doing (and how He will provide) based on what I see Him doing in someone else's life, on what my personal preference/timeline looks like, and what my current circumstances/resources look like. I also need to stop predicting my own future based on . . . well, nothing.

I was encouraged by something I had written in this blog a few years ago . . . when it comes to God's provision and steadfastness. When Israel was wandering in the desert for 40 years, I'm sure they felt confused and lost and as if God had quit walking right beside them . . . but then He says:

"The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything."

Deuteronomy 2:7

“The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son . . .”

Deuteronomy 1:30-31

I feel like that sometimes . . . that I'm just wandering around or I don't have any clear direction. Even when I'm doing everything I know to do and running to Him, I feel uncertain. I need to remember that even in our deserts or wilderness, God is right beside us - and His hand is over us, even when we don't realize it.

February 21, 2012

oh, you know

What would it be like to pray boldly, with expectation?

To have audacious requests before God?

I find myself praying half-heartedly . . . at least for the things that I think are silly, dumb, or too small to really matter. I feel selfish asking God for provision, so I push it aside and try to bury whatever desire or felt need I have.

But what does that say about my belief in God - what do I believe about His ability and willingness to provide for me? Do I believe that He is a loving Father who will take care of me?

I am doubting God's character when I try to bury certain things, rather than lay them at His feet because I think they're silly or insignificant. If He is my Father, He cares about every area of my life - even the areas that I want to ignore.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:28-33

“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 7:9-11

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

I am so quick to predict the outcome of whatever circumstance I'm in . . . so quick to predict my own future (wherein I am single until the age of 80 when I finally die, in my house full of no less than 50 cats), so quick to doubt what God can do . . . and what do I base those thoughts on? My own human understanding, skepticism, and what I can see in the moment.

When I pray and doubt, I'm not really trusting God. I'm actually taking Him out of the equation and not believing that He will work in the situation. And this could be anything . . . whether it's provision over personal needs/desires, praying for a friend, to see someone come to salvation, to see a great work in our city, to see change in anything, really.

I want to believe great things from God, not live in a state of underestimating what He will do.

God says to trust Him . . . and to not lean on that human understanding that I have!

So . . . will I choose to doubt, to hide my requests, to limit God based on my own human limitations?

Or will I choose to believe that He will deliver, that He is the God who can (and wants to) do immeasurably more than we can ask for or imagine? He is the creator God, after all, and scripture says that nothing is impossible with Him. He is the author of EVERYTHING . . . He created galaxies and brought everything into existence, He knew us before we were born, He is the author and perfecter of our faith - how can I question what He can and will do?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine . . .
Ephesians 3:20

February 18, 2012

we're not getting any younger

Confession . . .

I generally roll out of bed with one of three thoughts in my head:

1) EWW it's 5:15.
2) *Ugh* I am so fat (if I ate "bad" the night before)
3) :) I feel well-rested. Now what? (and then I feel bored)

Are any of these really glorifying to God? Not that I think I should roll out of bed with sunshine coming out of my . . . well. But the attitude that I wake up with can really impact the way the whole day is going to roll out.

If I wake up on a day like today, where I don't really have to be anywhere until tonight and feel bored, I start to question my life.

I'm not getting any younger! I feel bored. Where is my life going? Am I actually doing anything with my life? What should I be doing today? Oh my gosh, 26 years old. Is my life where it should be? I have no clue what the future holds, and most of the time I don't want to think about it . . . but I'm not getting any younger. I feel like every day should be filled with purpose. Or at least I should be trying to figure out what the rest of my life is going to look like. What if I never get married and have a family? Will my life still have purpose? Is it OK for me to be this excited over new Nike pants? These are real questions, people.

But then I remember what Paul writes in Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
-Philippians 4:4-9

What's that? Rejoice when my life feels like it's going somewhere? Rejoice when I am happy with my life - when I feel useful, productive and happy with myself? Rejoice when I'm having a good day?

No . . . Rejoice in the Lord, Paul says. Rejoice in Him, no matter what your circumstances are! On the days that I'm bored, the days that I'm struggling, the days that I'm depressed, the days where my life seems so empty of purpose or direction, and yes, even the days that I feel fat. (that was me trying to be funny).

Because in Christ, we have something that circumstances cannot touch. We have the love of God, we have salvation, we have the promise of a compassionate God who is going to walk with us and hold us throughout life - no matter what lies ahead. To trust in Him, that He knows what He's doing, and since He's the God of my salvation, I can trust Him with my life . . . even if that means I stay single, or if I cannot make sense of the future . . . or if all I do today is dance around in my Nike pants and make 10 pans of rice krispy treats.

February 13, 2012

it's the little things

Sometimes it's the little things . . .

Like waking up before your alarm goes off, and feeling completely rested.

Or the smell of butter and marshmallows coming together in perfect harmony on the stovetop.

Or jumping . . . err, dancing around shamelessly to a certain remix

This winter . . . or at least January until now has been rough. Sometimes when you're going through a difficult season, it's the little things that can make your day.

And just reflecting on the simple truth that you are loved.

I was watching Moulin Rouge last night . . . and I just love Christian's character. Just the fact that the overlying theme of the movie is love, and how he states, "Oh, above all things, I believe in love." And Toulouse, at the end of the movie, yelling out: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love . . . and be loved in return!"

And my favorite song from the movie . . .

And there's no mountain too high, no river too wide
Sing out this song and I'll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide
But I love you, until the end of time
Come what may . . .

It just made me think about God's love for us.

The simple fact that we have a loving, compassionate savior who loves us right where we are. For all of my striving, stressing, anxiety-ridden madness . . . He loves me simply because He is my Father and my Savior.

That love is not based on anything that I have done or could do . . . it is not based on my social standing, my attitude, my works, my thoughts, my actions . . . it is based on what Christ did for me on the cross.

Just to stop and bask in this simple truth . . .

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
-Ephesians 2:4-9

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
-2 Corinthians 5:21

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
-Psalm 86:15

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
-Isaiah 40:11
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