Even if…

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“Even if the healing doesn’t come,
And life falls apart,
And dreams are still undone,
You are God. You are good…” Kutless

So I hear this song almost everyday on the radio, but as I was singing along on my way back from a marketing exam, I started to really listen to the words that were coming out of my mouth. I started to question whether I really meant them.

The lyrics I typed at the beginning of this post are so beautiful and powerful because they’re simple and truthful. I don’t think I could’ve done a better job at describing what having your eyes set on God does to your mindset. He renews your mind and gives you hope, no matter how much of a pessimist you are, because I also believed the glass was always half empty.

I think being able to rest on the fact that God is powerful beyond anything I can imagine, is what makes people be able to say “you know what? it doesn’t matter if my life is not going in the path I thought it was going to go in, but I know that in the end, this is way better!”

Even though I’m healthy now, I’ve been sick before, my life has fallen apart more than once, and my dreams are mostly just that- dreams. And to be completely honest, I  don’t know if I could sing this song with my whole heart right now because as much as I love God, I get impatient sometimes when he doesn’t answer my prayers (they seem so innocent but are sometimes so selfish!). However, I hope to become the type of woman who doesn’t have to question whether or not such a song as this describes me.

It has taken me a while to realize this, but whatever I say, think, or do, does not change who God is. He is good, just, and faithful. He is love. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, not if my life is neatly put together, if I’ve accomplished all my dreams, if I got it all figured out, or or if I have no scars from an imperfect past. This life is here one second and gone the next. All that matters is Jesus.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2

“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” James 4:14

Look Forward

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“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’ “

Luke 9:62

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past”
Isaiah 43:18

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”
Philippians 3:13-14

**I meant to post this weeks ago, but I forgot my password, so… here it is! Better late than never!**

2012 is finally gone. Gosh was it a rough year. As I sit on an airplane right now and think about it, I can do nothing more than be thankful for everything- both the good and the bad things that this year brought. You see, it’s so easy to be happy about good things. We got a beautiful house, I brought my GPA up, I went to Haiti… But what about the bad things? Those are hard to come to terms with. Many family members died, doubted myself over and over again, and my sister got a divorce… How can I find happiness in the midst of all that? The answer is that all those trials brought be closer to Jesus.

Not everything in life is always going to go well, and it is then- when the storm is right on top of you, when bad things are coming at you from all sides, when you feel like you’re drowning- that you realize how real God is. if you search Him with all your heart, you will find him.

Life is beautiful. There is never a moment of absolute sadness. As this new year begins, I encourage anyone reading this to take the time and renew their minds. Purpose in your heart not to dwell on the past, rather, look forward to all the beautiful things that are yet to come- all the blessings Jesus is going to fill everyday with. Knowing there’s a prize at the end is what helps me find happiness in the middle of the storm. Reach for it…

Midnight Awakening

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In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”

1 Peter 1:6-7

2012 has been a heck of a year. I’ve lost more family members this year than I have in the last 20, and many family friends have passed away. I struggled a lot to get decent grades in the beginning of the year and changed my major (again). There has been plenty of health related issues and even a cancer scare with my family and relatives. I injured my shoulder and haven’t been able to swim in months. And just when I thought things could only get better from there, my sister goes through a very painful divorce after only 2 years of marriage. How’s that for a  hectic year?

The list could go on and on, but I’m not sitting here trying to make you feel like I have a terrible life. I really don’t. Through all this, God has been wonderful to me and blessed me so much more than I could ever imagine. He’s given my family a beautiful new house, He sent me to Haiti where I realized what my career path should be, He’s brought my family closer to each other than we have ever been, and He’s put people in my life to help me through all the bad stuff (whether they knew it or not). He’s put new people as well as strengthened the friendships I already had and it is SOOOO cool to see that what holds us to closely together is our love for Christ.

The greatest thing that has happened in 2012 has been the revival of my relationship with Jesus. It started a few months ago over the summer, and ever since then, I see the world in such a different way. He has stirred up this passion inside of me that is so real, I’ve never felt so alive. My perspective in life has changed so much, and like Peter says in chapter 1:6-7, I have learned to rejoice in my trials. Why? because it makes me that much more excited about what God has planned for my future. I know things might not make sense right away, but when I start to question myself, I realize that in the end, it will always work out for my good.

I guess this was a post to just let you know that whatever you’re going through, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and his name is Jesus. I’m so grateful for all His blessings and trials because they’ve made me grow as a person. I suppose I should have posted this for thanksgiving, but it’s okay, we should be grateful everyday anyways!

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“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”
Psalm 119:71

Suffering is a part of life. I feel like we spend so much time wondering and complaining about our problems that we don’t see the bigger picture. We go through trials to not only remind us that we’re not perfect, but to also remind us that we have to lean on Christ in order to survive.

Weight. Alcohol. Gambling. Unfaithfulness. Anger. Dishonesty. Drugs. you name it, we all have our own personal battles. I battled with anger and depression for a long time when I was younger, and I still battle with pride everyday. You may know people who have similar battles, but at the end of the day, we’re on our own. Just us and God.

You may sympathize and give advice to a hurting friend, family member, or perfect stranger, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter how much we know or don’t know about something, we’re only human. Being human means being unable to solve all the problems we face on our own. The only way to overcome our battles is to cover ourselves with Christ. Wear the armor of God and be confident that He will get us through.

This blog is not to tell anyone what and how to do it, but to share my thoughts about things. I have to be honest with myself and admit to everyone that it’s hard for me to get this right. I love helping people, letting them know that I’ll be there for them if they ever need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to distract them for a little while. But what do I do when I don’t know that to say? When I don’t know how to make their pain go away? How do I make that person smile again? I put so much pressure on myself when I feel like I cant do these things. I always feel like I’m not being good enough of a friend, daughter, or sister.

It just dawned on me that just as I have to hide in Christ’s heart to fight my own battles, I have to hide in Him to help me help others. does that make sense? pointing others to lean on Jesus doesn’t mean I have to do it on my own. God will help me guide them to the point in their lives where they will also rest in Christ and fight their battles with Him, because they can’t fight them with me. If anyone reads this, this is for you too. The best way to help others and help yourself is to surround yourself with God, have Him in your heart and put yourself in the center of His.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”

Ephesians 6:14-18

Fighting

The Promised Land

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But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it”

Numbers 14:24

Following God wholeheartedly is not an easy thing. When so many problems in life attack you at once, it gets difficult to be joyful and faithful. There are so many trials in life, and it seems like they all come together, one right after the other. It’s like there’s barely any room to breathe sometimes. The thing about being in constant trials is that it makes you seek God like never before, it makes you want to pray, read the Bible, have fellowship, go to church, etc.

These past few months have not been easy for me. There’s been a lot of good news, as well as a lot of terrible news. My life has turned into this roller coaster that I feel is sometimes spiraling out of control, and that I might fall off if I don’t hold on tight. The truth of the matter is that, if I hold on to the right things, no matter how out of control everything is, I’ll be okay.

Caleb followed God with all his heart and God rewarded him with the promised land. I believe our promised land is heaven. I also believe that, when we submit to God’s will on earth and we are exactly where we are supposed to be, that is also the promised land.

I try to fix things on my own and do things my way more often than I’d like to admit. When I do this, it makes me just as blind, stubborn, and faithless as the Israelites after they left Egypt. You might have the same issue too. You keep holding on to a bad job because you earn a lot of money, an unhealthy relationship because you’re afraid of being alone, a certain sin because you’re afraid to change. Even if it’s hard to believe this right now, let me tell you that God has something SO much better for you.

What I’m trying to say is that, if we take control of our own lives, we end up wandering and suffering in the desert for 40 years and missing out on what God prepared for us to have here on earth.

His plans and His timing are perfect. The moment we let go of our lives and offer them up to God may seems scary at first, but you have to follow Him wholeheartedly in order to receive the gift of the promised land we have waiting here for us.

The Hope in not Seeing

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“Sit still my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out”

Ruth 3:18

This post is to reflect on all I’ve been through since I started this blog. When I posted my first entry, I was so clueless as to where God was leading me. I  felt like I was on the edge of something glorious, but I didn’t know what it was. I talked about my struggle to sit still and listen to God, my doubts about what I have been gifted with, my desire to seek Him and not be lost in the chaos of life anymore. The last paragraph said “I think He is leading me somewhere great…” and I believe He has.

I’ve been trying to sit still and wait silently for God to guide my steps. Just like Samuel said to the Lord “Speak, for Your servant hears” ( 1 Samuel 3:10), I hope I have the faith it takes to say that and mean it with all my heart. I can’t see past one day at a time, but I have learned to close my eyes and jump into His arms, just like a little kid does when he jumps into a pool, and knows his father is always there to catch him.

I also learned what my gifts are and how to use them for His kingdom. In the past few months, I have sought God in a whole different way. I’ve searched for deeper meanings in every chapter of the Bible I’ve read. I’ve asked an infinite amount of questions to my parents and friends. I’ve written about and reflected on certain verses, examining them in my head until I fell asleep at night. I’ve made a lot of decisions that have changed my path in life, and I know that God is guiding every single one of my choices.

That great place He was leading me to was Himself. I don’t know how the matter [my life] will turn out in 5 years, 5 days, or 5 hours from right now, but I hope that I can sit still until I do know, and that everything I do is His will for my life.

All I can say to you is that, after you take that leap into the air, sure, there’s uncertainty in the falling, but there’s also hope that your Dad will always catch you. And when He does, it’s pure bliss.

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance”

Romans 8:25

Drumsticks and Wristbands

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“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

Matthew 25:40

I was simply expecting a nice family vacation to New York City. But, something unexpected happened while I was there. I was not expecting to feel convicted of being unloving and unkind, to feel such a burden for those in need, or, at the same time, to feel so much love for a perfect stranger. His name was Jacob. So, this blog post is for him, though he will most likely never read it.

For every bulb that lights the Big Apple at night, there is a person in need right under those same lights. We are often too distracted and dazzled to look down for a minute and realize that we’ve been overlooking and ignoring something bigger than all the skyscrapers in the NY skyline. We are blinded by everything around us, focusing on and only pleasing ourselves. And by ‘we,’ I mean myself.

My eyes were open right after I saw this young man, he must have been around my age. He was a quadriplegic; he couldn’t sit straight or hold the bills people were handing him in his hands. I wish I could say I had a compassionate heart and loved on him, but I didn’t. I simply walked up to him, gave him some money, smiled as I said hello, and walked away. Right after I walked away, it hit me like a train. How could I not love him as I know Jesus would have done? I didn’t even ask him his name…

After that big slap in the face, I purposely stopped looking up at the buildings and started looking down at the sidewalks. I saw so many people in need- the homeless woman shivering and sobbing in the rain, the blind man walking alone in the subway trying to find his way back to the city, the man asking for a hot meal… and then, in the middle of Times Square on a Thursday night, I met Jacob.

He wasn’t like any of the others I saw. He wasn’t begging for money, food, or drugs. He was playing this little drum, making music in the middle of an already extremely loud and crowded place. The only thing is that… he didn’t have a leg- or either one of his arms. Yet there he was, in front of hundreds of people who looked at him with a mix of awe and wonder as well as pity and disgust, finding a way to make it through the day.

I was shocked. Not only by the fact that the only functional limb on his body was his left leg, but that even then, he was making music in front of others. How could he play music? well, he had tennis wristbands, where his biceps should have been, and used them to attach drumsticks to himself so he could use them as arms and play the drums. I had never felt so compelled to pour God’s love to a perfect stranger in front of others, and not care what they would think.

I walked up to him and patiently waited for him to finish his song. I sat down next to him. As much as I wanted to talk to him, he wanted to talk as well- he just wanted someone who would stop for a minute and listen to him. He told me his accident happened 2 years ago and he’s been really depressed since then, he’s 24 years old, and he’s playing drums on the streets so he can move back into his apartment and help his friend (I forget her name) pay for some things since she’s the one who’s helped him through all this. Not only is he handicapped, but the money he makes he freely gives to his friend as a sign of gratitude? I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there listening and all he asked for was a hug. I gave him a hug and walked back to my hotel room holding back all my tears.

The next day, Friday, I could not get him out of my head. I wished I had shared the Gospel with him, told him God loves him, told him God works all things for our good, and even when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is still there. At night, right before I went to bed, I prayed with my brother that God would give me the chance to see him again and plant the seed in his heart so he may come to know Christ one day, if he didn’t already. I wrote him a long note and put my Bible in my backpack, having faith I would see him the next day.

All saturday, as I went about my day, with my Bible in my backpack, I asked God to give me the faith I needed to believe that He would really let me find Jacob again. It was almost midnight and all my family was walking back to the hotel when I decided I would go to Times Square and walk around until I found him. I knew he was there; I was just afraid I might arrive too late. As I approached the lights, I prayed and prayed. When we (my brother, sister, and I) were about to leave, I found him.

I immediately took out my Bible and walked up to him and his friend who was taking care of him. I told her that I didn’t know if they remembered me but I had been thinking about Jacob and the only thing I could offer him was my own Bible. She told me she remembered me and that he had been praying, but that he didn’t have a Bible. Once again I sat down next to him. This time with tears running down my face, in front of a lot of of people, with my Bible in my hand. I told him I wasn’t sure if he remembered me, but he did. I told him God loved him, that he was an inspiration and a blessing in my life, and that I wanted him to have hope. Again, all he asked for was a hug. I gave him a hug and my Bible.

I walked away crying. I cried because he was so thankful and humble, and because I felt I had done God’s will. But most importantly, because once again I realized how perfect and loving God is. He answered Jacob’s and my prayers! He used me to give him the Bible he had been praying for. He gave me faith to believe that I would see Jacob again! He gave me courage to show His love to someone I didn’t know, in front of hundreds of people who faded into the background. He used me to shed light in Jacob’s life as well as those who saw us at that moment. He gave me the urge to buy a new Bible in May, the first one  in over 8 years, in order for me to give it away in a different city in August. He used Jacob to bless me, to humble me, to grow me. HE is PERFECT. And even if I never see Jacob again, I have the hope he will know Christ.