Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye, 2010. Helloo, 2011.

So, it's New Year's Eve. 2010 went so quickly, that's for sure. It's definitely been an interesting and eventful year. I began the year meeting a wonderful friend who introduced me to the man who is now the love of my life. I finished out my Junior year of college and went to DisneyWorld, did my internship in Minnesota, started my Senior year, got engaged, became an aunt, got sick and haven't been able to finish my first semester, and now here we are. I've done well in classes, done poor in classes, done some things right and some things very wrong.

I think this has been a year where I have made, or at least noticed that I've made, some of the biggest mistakes of my life. I have been mean and rude to people, I have said and done things that I shouldn't have, and through it all.... God has been good. He is incredibly good to me, and I have been blessed beyond measure. This past semester especially, I have realized what amazing people God has placed in my life. No matter what happens, no matter what stupid things I do, no matter how sick I get, I know that God is looking out for me, and He has the best plans for my life. He is so good and merciful to me through all of the situations that I absolutely mess up all the time.

I'm ending this year with some regrets, but ultimately knowing that even though I am messed up beyond measure, God has saved me and He is sanctifying me, no matter how long it's taking and how little of steps I have to take.

And now... I look forward. 2011 is coming, and it is a year that I have been waiting for for a long time. It's the year that I graduate college, and more importantly, it's the year that I get married. I am so ready to be out of school, and I am so absolutely in love with Eric Pegors, and I am so excited to becoming Bethany Pegors. :) Bethany Pegors.... I like that. It has a nice ring to it. I'm so excited to be a wife and to live in Minnesota with my husband with our own place.

I'm looking forward to learning what God has to teach me about Himself in the coming year. I'm sure it's going to be a challenging year, especially next semester -- taking 18 credits when I'm just ready to be done, working, and planning my wedding at the same time. I've never been a person to shy away from what's difficult though, so I will face this year head-on, knowing that I have a God who loves me unconditionally, will never leave me, and is incredibly merciful toward me, and a wonderful fiancé -- soon to be husband -- who will be with me no matter what, through thick and thin, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.

I thank God already for 2011, and for the blessings that I already know He's given and is going to give to me. And no matter what happens, He is in control, and He knows what He's doing.

As far as New Year's resolutions go, I don't think I'm going to make any. I have plenty enough that I have to do for the wedding: guest list, save-the-dates, invitations, cake flavors, flowers, music, lose weight, etc. etc. If I tried to do anything else, I think I'd go crazy. I'll have plenty of new experiences to keep me occupied this whole year, so I think I'm going to just be satisfied with that.

So, 2011, I welcome you with open arms. Let's make this year a fun one. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Health Again and Reflections.

Well, I'm starting to feel better. Praise God. I had some pain last night, but not nearly as much as the other night, and 3 Tylenol definitely did the trick and I slept all night. I hope this is the beginning of getting healthy again. This past week with all of this going on has been horrible.

For all of you who don't know, I went to the emergency room yesterday. Multiple people told me that I should go, so even though I didn't want to, I decided it would probably be safer to go. Unfortunately however, the labs came back inconclusive. *sigh* That's really frustrating to me. One of the doctors (an intern) just wrote me off and didn't see it as a big deal at all. He was a really strange doctor, too. I think at the very beginning he was trying to flirt with me, but then I think he saw my engagement ring (thank you, Eric. Among other things -obviously-, I love the fact that you save me from creepy guys). Then he became serious and explained things well to me, but then at the end he acted as if I was overreacting and nothing was really wrong with me. Oh well, I guess. One positive thing is that he did say that the place where I have my main pain is not a "dangerous" place medically. A lot of people have pain there, and it ends up going away through Tylenol and other things. He did say that it could very well be a small ulcer, so he suggested I continue taking Zantac, Tylenol, and then add Maalox (yuck). So, nothing has been discovered about what's wrong with me, but at least I'm feeling better. Let's just pray that it continues.

Now on to my reflections. As the semester has pretty much ended for me (I'm getting extensions on all my finals and assignments), I've been looking back at what an eventful semester this has been. Eric and I have been engaged for over 2 months already. At first it seemed like it would take forever for the end of the semester to get here, but now that I look back, it really flew by. I hoping I feel the same way about second semester, so then he and I can finally be married. I say "finally" facetiously and seriously because even though we haven't even been together for a year yet, I'm ready to marry my best friend. I don't want to wait anymore. Alas, I guess this is the place we're in, so I need to be somewhat content and deal with it.

One thing I've been realizing through looking back on the semester is this: I am incredibly blessed. And I almost always take it for granted. I have a family who loves me, and now we have a wonderful new addition (my nephew), and my family is going to definitely grow in June when I gain a whole other side to my relatives. I have a man who loves me deeply, and I don't always see that clearly because of my selfishness. He's so good to me, and I'm... well, I'm just me. I don't deserve him, that's for sure. I am blessed beyond anything that I could imagine. I have wonderful friends who love me, and are willing to take care of me when I'm feeling like crap. Annie Bolger has been absolutely amazing to me in the past few days. She drove me to the hospital, stayed with me while I was in the emergency room, and make me cream of wheat after we got back from the hospital.

Yes, I'm very blessed. I don't deserve anything that my wonderful God has given me. He loves me unconditionally, even though I am a wretched sinner, and I do not take nearly enough time to thank Him for that. He is so good to me. I really need to learn how to be more grateful to Him and to others. Instead, I normally just tend to focus on myself.

I'm looking forward to the start of a new year in 3 weeks. It'll be nice to start fresh, and look forward to so many new things in the months ahead. Graduation, getting married, moving to Minnesota, (maybe) getting a house, being a youth pastor's wife, getting a new job, and starting a new life. It's going to be wonderful, and I'm so excited to start it all with my best friend, knowing that our focus is on Christ and on His plan for our lives.

God is good, all the time.
And all the time, God is good.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Health Issues.

Oh boy. I really hate having UC, and not being the healthiest that I could be. But.... I need to remember that God has a plan and He's in control of everything.

For the past few days, I've been having intense stomach pains, and the first day I was bleeding. I'm really not sure exactly what's going on, but I really appreciate everyone who has been praying, and I want to ask for prayers from everyone else. I think it started as a flare-up of my UC, but now it's something else. Right now I'm thinking that it's actually an ulcer. This, even though it sucks, would actually be welcome as opposed to the alternatives, which could either be that I'm having a really bad flare-up and thus would need to go to the hospital, or I'm lactose intolerant, and it's taking forever to get out of my system. It would make sense for it to be an ulcer as well, because since I have UC I am prone to getting ulcers. I haven't had one in the 14 years I've had this disease, so maybe it's just time that I had one. Buh.... Not fun.

I talked with my doctor, and he just told me to take Zantac until it gets better, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm really praying that this is what it is, and it will get better with just powerful antacids. I really don't want to go to the hospital....

I'm at a point where I'm really trying to see God's purpose in all of this. I hate being sick, and I've been able to live a relatively normal life, but it's times like these when I really feel like I don't know why God put me into this situation. It's been nice however to continue finding out other people who have this disease or know someone else who has it. It really makes me see that I'm not alone in it.

Thanks again for the prayers, everyone. I really appreciate it. Please be praying that I start feeling well enough that I'll be able to do well on my finals this coming week, and that the 8-hour drive to MN won't be torture for me on Wednesday. Thanks, guys.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Auntie Bethany.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a new aunt. My first nephew was born on December 4th, 2010 at approx. 8:15 in the morning, weighing in at 6 lbs. 8 oz, 20" long. I...am an aunt. :)

And a very proud one, at that. Don't believe me? Just look at the pictures:

Caleb Michael Brunstetter



This baby has the cutest nose I have ever seen. I don't care if he's splotchy because he's a newborn. He's BEAUTIFUL.


He looks so perfect in the arms of his mama. :)


I almost die every time I look at this picture. His expression and his hands are ADORABLE. :)


Grandma gets to hold him. :)


So fetching in his dad's arms.

This picture made me cry the first time I saw it. My dad, now a grandpa.

So again I say, I'm a very proud aunt. I have the cutest nephew that anyone has ever seen, and no one can convince me otherwise. He is absolutely adorable, and a huge blessing to our family. I am so excited to watch him grow up and see how God decides to work in his life. I'm so sad that I'm going to be so far away from him during these years, but that just gives me even more of an opportunity to spoil him when Eric and I visit Colorado.

Little Caleb, welcome to the world. Welcome to our family. We all love you very much, and we are so excited to have you in our lives. We want to take care of you and love you, no matter what. We are your family, and that is what we're here for. May you look to God always in your every pursuit in life, and may God use you in abundant ways for His purposes and for His glory. Love you already, little one. I'm so excited to meet you in just a couple weeks. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drat.

Well, I have a confession to make. I tried to drink decaf coffee tonight, hoping that it was the caffeine that affected me rather than the coffee itself. Unfortunately, my hopes were in vain. :( I'm still getting shaky, and now I have little chest pains and my stomach is startiong to do funky things.

Oh, the annoyances of having U.C. :( Oh well, I suppose. Such is life. I'm guessing I'm going to be limiting my diet even more in the future, but we'll see what happens. So far it's been pretty good - I've only had to stop having coffee and eating breakfast sausage (random, I know). God has been good with this disease, but we'll see what happens as things continue on.

Anyway, that's all for now.

<3

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coffeeshop Blues.

So, I haven't talked about this yet to my blogger friends, but.... I can no longer drink coffee.

This is a very sad thing. I've been off of coffee for about 5 days now, and I may lose my mind. Going to Joe's (the campus coffee shop) is just depressing now, because all I really like are steamers, creme frappes, and sweet tea. Without coffee, everything is just too sweet. I want that espresso "edge" back in my drink.

And it's days like this -- cold, cloudy, and dreary -- where I would just love to curl up with a book and a nice, hot vanilla latte and look outside from my warm and comfy spot inside. Alas, I'm now stuck with hot chocolate and tea. Don't get me wrong, both of these can be decadent and flavorful, but it's just not the same as coffee. Too much of a sweet drink just makes my stomach sick (and unfortunately, coffee does the same thing. It just tastes better when I drink it).

That's all I really have.. I'll update on my progress of my coffee detox and the withdrawal period.... I know that I was addicted, but so far it hasn't been too difficult to stay away from it. We'll see how I feel once winter begins to creep closer and closer. It may very well be that coffee begins to be more and more desirable the colder it gets outside. What a lovely struggle THAT will be...

PS - It's highly ironic, but even though I can't drink coffee, I really want to decorate our kitchen with a coffee theme. We'll see how that one goes over.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One more.

Well, I decided to write again, since I haven't updated everyone on my life for a while now.

Let's see... Where to begin...

Well, Eric and I have been engaged for a month and 5 days now, and it feels so crazy to think about that. :) I'm finally getting used to my ring on my finger, but I am still often very struck by how gorgeous it is and how much it sparkles. :)

While it's amazing that we're getting married and everything, I've also realized just how many misconceptions I had about engagement and about other people during the engagement period. Eric and I still have things to work through in our relationship (and I'm sure we will for the rest of our lives), but things have taken on a different tone now that both of us still have to get used to. I also thought that people would start seeing our relationship as more legitimate than when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend, but for some reason people are still so quick to make assumptions about the "termination" of our relationship. For example, I told a couple people about a really bad day that I had a few weeks ago, and when I told them that it was a really bad day, their first assumption was that either something was wrong with the engagement, or that Eric and I had called it off. I'm not really sure where that came from since I've never even remotely hinted at it, but alas, I guess people still think that we could do that.

In a way, it does make sense. I guess engagements do get called off from time to time, but Eric and I both have the same mindset that no matter what, we are in this for the rest of our lives, and for that I am grateful. The engagement was definitely a bigger decision for me than the wedding. In my opinion, the wedding is more of a formality, because I'm already totally committed to Eric in my heart. The wedding is just going to make that previous commitment official, instead of deciding to make that commitment on that day.

Speaking of the wedding, wedding plans are coming along nicely. We already have a beautiful location, we're working on our wedding website and our registry, we have the bridal party set, and I have my dress chosen! I have to wait until Christmas break to actually buy it, but I know exactly which one I want, and I'm so excited about it. During Christmas we're also going to be working on the save-the-dates and the invitations, so it's definitely going to be a very busy time with my family. I'm excited about it though, because it'll be nice to get those things done before the semester starts so I can be at least a little less stressed about everything.

I'm so excited for the wedding, and so bummed that it's still 209 days away. I'm really excited about getting into the 100s, though. I think that'll make it feel at least a little closer. :)

I guess that's about it for now. School is going well - it's winding down for the semester (or winding up, if you look at the workload) so I have a lot of stress and work with that, but I know God is faithful, and he'll give me the energy and strength to get it done. I really like that about Him.

Oh, and I was talking to Eric tonight, and I realized that I really need to learn how to cook... Anybody want to teach me or can recommend a good cookbook for me to start testing recipes? I think I'm going to have a designated night at least once a week next semester where I try a new recipe. Let me know if any of you have any suggestions. :)


<3

Worship. (Part 1)

So, for my Senior Seminar class we have to read a Biblical Studies book with 2 other people in a group and present it to the class in a few weeks, and my group chose the book Recalling the Hope of Glory by Alan P. Ross. Oh my goodness, this book is amazing. I've only gotten through part one so far, but I have already been convicted about my definition of the word "worship" and how American worship works and how it often falls short of being biblical. In his book Ross says,

The popularly named renewal movement has been trying to bring life back into worship services. Now more and more frequently congregations are (literally) faced with 'worship teams' - which actually are a number of singers and musicians - who function as leaders for the time of worship (the time of worship refers to the music and praise leading up to the rest of the service). The music is usually contemporary, and he praise brief exclamations. But these times of worship, even though involving the congregation, often follow a set pattern at a particular time in the service with repetitious songs. Thus, in fact, a new form of liturgy has emerged, which may be every bit as predictable and repetitious as prayer book worship. And the brief expressions of thanks between choruses are a far cry from the clear and rich praises and thanksgivings that the devout psalmists offered in the assembly of the righteous. Without solid biblical content in the music, in the readings, and in the sermon, it is no wonder that the church has produced a crop of inarticulate Christians.
I really don't have anything else to add to that. I think that Alan Ross said it all. American Christianity has been so watered down that we don't understand the true richness of worship anymore, and we have skewed the definition to simply mean a time on Sunday mornings when we stand up and sing songs before the sermon. Worship is so much more than that, and I am so excited to find out more. I'll definitely be posting more blogs about this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wanting to Matter.

Have you ever had those days where you've just sat back, and wondered if your life really matters, or if everything you're doing is in vain and will ultimately just be forgotten? I've been thinking about that a lot recently. For the past couple of years, I'm seen myself get caught in this pattern where I feel as though I'm being ministered to more than I am ministering to others. When this happens, I begin to feel like my life doesn't matter, and I'm not doing anything worthwhile.

I then have to stop and catch myself from this line of thinking, because it can be very dangerous. Who am I to say if something I do matters or not? I don't have to be like Mother Theresa, or even like anyone else on the earth.

This truth really sank into me last week during Moody's Mission Conference. The very first speaker did a wonderful job opening up the week by saying that our lives are not about how much we serve the Lord, but rather about our hearts for the Lord and how much we love Him. Let me explain.

In our American culture especially, I really believe that we get so caught up in the "go" aspect of our faith. We feel like we have to constantly be doing things to serve the Lord, and if we're going through a dry spot in our service to Him, then we've backslidden or we're more focused on ourselves and we're not doing enough. We compare ourselves to other people to gauge whether or not we're doing enough to serve Him. But honestly, have we really thought about whether or not that's the right attitude to take toward things?

I have done this more times than I can count. Especially at Moody, it is so easy to get caught up in comparing myself to other people. I know multiple people who are involved in several ministries besides their required PCM (Practical Christian Ministry), and here I am, only involved in my PCM, and that's it. And I hold babies for it. I mean, what kind of ministry is that? I'm not working with the homeless, I'm not teaching English to refugees, I'm not working with inner-city kids. I'm just holding babies at my church for an hour once a week. That can't possibly be enough.

But honestly... It really is. My heart's desire is that I would be more available to be involved in ministry, but sometimes life just doesn't work that way. I have a total of 20 credits that I'm taking this semester (including internship things), I have a job that I work at least 15 hours a week at (or more), I have a long-distance relationship to keep up with, and I now have a wedding to plan. That honestly doesn't leave a lot open for organized ministry, except on Sunday mornings.

God doesn't judge me based on how many hours I take for organized ministry during the week. Too often I make the mistake of thinking that's the case, but it's really not. What matters is my heart. What am I doing to care for it? Am I spending enough quiet time with Him that I'm able to hear His voice in my life, and I'm willing to follow Him? Am I really taking the time for "soul-care"? I think that's a really important question to ask.

Again, it's still not about how much you do. It's not as if God is going to be happier with me if I read the Bible for 20 minutes a day versus 10 minutes, or even if I spend an hour in specific prayer versus 15 minutes. What matters is my focus on Him. Do I keep Him at the forefront of my mind every day and talk to Him more than just when I close my eyes and fold my hands? Do I talk to Him when I'm doing well in a class just as much as when I'm praying for a really difficult exam to go well?

I think it's also the little things that we do in our lives that really matter to God. Organized ministry is not as big of a deal as we've made it out to be. What matters is how we are treating our peers and those who are in our sphere of influence every day. Though I can't be in more organized ministries this year, I've really become intentional in the relationships that I build with people, and I've been doing my best to meet with at least one person per week for coffee (it usually ends up being more, not to say at all that I'm some amazing Christian), and I do my best to encourage those that I bump up against every day.

I used to be a very self-involved person, and I only cared about my problems and how others could help me. But with God's grace, that's beginning to change, and I'm really wanting to learn more about others, their lives, and how God is working through them.

And what's great to know is that, though meeting with one person each week isn't much, I know that it's enough. God doesn't require me to do more for Him. He just requires that I love Him enough to actually do something, and not just do it as an obligation, but rather do it out of the overflow of my love for Him.

I'm definitely not perfect at it, or even great at it, but that's why we serve a gracious and merciful God. :)

So, that's it. I guess my ending question for you all is: What does your heart look like? Are you trying to do more for Christ, or are you trying to love Him more and take care of your soul?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Horrified, Appalled, and Angered.

Before you read any further - I want to make this truth very clear:

I AM ANGRY.

This isn't an anger that will pass on in a couple days and I will realize that it's stupid - this is an anger against those who take away the grace and mercy of the Gospel, and reshape it into something gruesome and terrible.

And again, before you read, I'd like you to watch this video. It is of Matt Chandler, speaking against a heresy that I unfortunately had to encounter his morning.


Matt Chandler accurately describes the emotions that I am experiencing right now. This morning, right here at the Moody Bible Institute during Missions Conference Week, I encountered this same rose illustration, even though it was used a bit differently.

The speaker (who shall remain nameless) had a bouquet of very expensive red roses. He took three out of the bunch and passed them around the room, telling everyone to take a petal until all the petals were gone. When there were still some left, he told the men to take one more.

He then walked up to the front of the room with the petal-less roses, and grabbed three other roses from the bunch and put them together. He then proceeded to walk up to a girl, and asked her which rose she wanted. She chose a big rose full of petals, and then he continued on to the next girl. She chose another one, and then another chose another rose, until he was left with only the roses that didn't have any petals. He turned to the room and said, "This is my point. We all gravitate toward things that are pure are whole and holy. We don't want something that isn't pure. We don't want a rose that has been picked on."

After already knowing the anger that Matt Chandler had felt about a rose illustration, I was hoping and praying to God that this wasn't what he was doing, but rather he would say that we need to help those roses that are broken and falling apart.

I was sorely disappointed.

He then continued to explain and asked the question, "Don't you want to be a whole rose for your spouse? Don't you want to be proud of your relationship if it ends and say to that person's future spouse that you didn't 'pick on' that person?"

And then, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, he said those words that still make me shudder.

"Nobody wants a rose that's been picked on."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I will fully echo Matt Chandler's sentiments and say, "JESUS WANTS THE ROSE! THAT'S THE BEAUTY OF THE GOSPEL!!"

Just because we may have made mistakes with our sexuality in the past, or may have been sexually abused, that does NOT make us any less valuable or "damaged goods." God does not discriminate against those who have sinned in these areas - why should we?! What right do we have to love these people any less because of what they've done than Jesus does? If Jesus, a perfect, sinless being can love these people even though they've sinned, what right do we, equal sinners with these people at the foot of the cross, have to judge and condemn them?

I have a past.

I have made mistakes.

Are you telling me that I'm not good enough and I am unlovable because of that? Maybe I should be, but are you telling me that you're better than me and you're more worthy of others' and Christ's love than I am because you haven't done those things?

WHAT RIGHT DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE AWAY THE GRACE AND MERCY OF THE GOSPEL?



I will end with the main verse that Matt Chandler uses in his video:



Romans 5:8

...but God shows His love for us in that while we were STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US.



PRAISE GOD.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This is Bliss.

On June 11th, 2011....


I will marry my best friend.




To have and to hold....

From this day forward....


'Til death do us part.



To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. - Jude 25








Sunday, October 10, 2010

ENGAGED!

So, apparently many people want to hear the story of how Eric and I got engaged yesterday, on October 9th. :) Well, here you go. :)


So, through a series of unfortunate events, I basically knew that Eric was going to propose sometime this weekend, but that was all I knew. I had no idea as to when he was going to show up and what was going to happen. It's a lot harder to figure that out since we're a long-distance couple. ANYWAY. So here's what happened.

My friend Heather (who I lived with this summer and who is also good friends with Eric) asked me out to breakfast a few days ago, and she wanted to go out to eat on Saturday morning. We had to make it a really early breakfast because I was supposed to work 10-noon that morning, which ended up being perfect timing. Heather met me at my apartment a few minutes after eight, and unbeknownst (sp?) to me, she had JUST finished meeting with Eric to get instructions on what she was supposed to do. I had a small inkling that maybe it was a set-up because one of my roommates had asked if it could be, but I quickly pushed that aside and just decided to spend time with Heather and enjoy it instead of worrying about engagement things.

We went to a breakfast place really close to campus, and we had a really great time just catching up on life and having fun, and then when breakfast was nearing its end, I asked her what her plans for the day were. She said she had some homework to do, and then she said, "Oh, and I'm supposed to give you this." She pulled out a manila envelope from her purse, and I shrieked as I realized that it was from Eric, and I was about to get myself ENGAGED! I opened the envelope, and here's what it said:



Attached to the letter was $30 to pay for breakfast, and he secretly had someone take my work hours for me! I was so incredibly joyful at this point, and I didn't know what to do with myself. Thankfully, part of Eric's instructions to Heather were that she needed to stay with me up until a certain point during the scavenger hunt, and then she could leave. He wanted me to have someone to enjoy the time with and freak out with, which I was VERY grateful for, because that's exactly what I needed!

When I got to my apartment, I found a rose and another envelope on the table, and after I had changed, I read the riddle inside which was in the form of a poem, and it led me to the campus post office. I walked down there with Heather, only to find another rose and envelope taped above my mailbox. When I opened that one, the riddle led me to the place on campus where Eric first told me he loved me, the next one led me to my car in the parking garage, when finally that one led me to the beach, where Eric had asked me to be his girlfriend.

Heather and I had to walk quite a ways to get to the point where Eric wanted us to be, but when we got there, we couldn't find anything. We searched as much as we could, when I finally saw a lone rose out in the sand in the distance. I pointed it out to Heather, and when I did, she quickly said, "Alright, gotta go! See ya later!" And she promptly walked off. My heart began racing at this point when I realized that this was the moment that I had been waiting for. I walked over to the rose and picked it up, but I was completely clueless as to what I should do next. I looked back at Heather and she was just shooing me away, and when I looked forward again, I was still confused.

Then I saw a woman running on the beach with her dogs, and I realized she was yelling at me saying, "There's more!! Keep going! Keep going!" As I looked further down the beach, I saw that there was a whole line of roses leading down to the shore. I followed them and picked them up, only to find the last one at the shore, and Eric was not there. However, another envelope was there, which I promptly opened and found this:



I was going crazy, but I closed my eyes. Then I heard Eric behind me and he said,

"Bethany."

I turned around to find him in a tuxedo, kneeling on the ground, ring in hand, and looking so amazing. My eyes welled up as he smiled at me and gave me the most beautiful speech I have ever heard which included him saying if he ever let me go he would regret it for the rest of his life, and then he asked me to marry him. I couldn't stop smiling when I nodded my head quickly and said "YES!"

Now, I KNOW that I really want to marry HIM, because when he got up to hug and kiss me, I didn't care about the ring at all. He had to ask me if I wanted to see it and put it on! :) The ring is SO beautiful, and he did an amazing job picking it out. I couldn't imagine a more beautiful ring.

Friends, I'm going to die to myself and marry my best friend on June 11th, 2011. I couldn't be happier. Eric is by far the best man I have ever known. He is Godly, loving, caring, sensitive, funny, absolutely adorable, and the one person I can never live without. Thank you so much for all of your prayers throughout our relationship. I am so grateful to our wonderful God for granting our prayers and giving us to each other!

Yesterday afternoon we also had our engagement pictures taken, so be on the lookout for those as well. I have a great feeling that they're going to turn out BEAUTIFUL, and I'm really excited about them! Eric also had the same photographer secretly photograph the proposal, so I will definitely be showing those off as well.

Thanks so much again for all your support and for loving Eric and I through this! We love you all, and we're so elated that we get to spend the rest of our lives together. :)

<3

Friday, September 17, 2010

That's Just The Way It Is.

I feel like I'm on a constant emotional rollercoaster. One day I can totally see the light and the hope that I have in Christ, and the next, I'm right back to or further away from where I started. My life has been such a whirlwind of events lately, and I don't really know what's going on. False accusations on my character, a destroyed reputation, feelings of guilt, jealousy, hurt, anger... and on top of all of that I have to place intense schoolwork and learning how to live with a long-distance relationship.

Let me tell you... It's not easy.

I know that God has called me to the place I'm at for a reason. I know that He has given me the strength that I need in order to overcome whatever I'm facing, but that doesn't exactly make things a walk in the park. Like I said, I still have my good days, but then I have my very bad days as well. I'm so grateful though for my wonderful Eric, my friends, my family, and above all, my Lord and Savior. I know that God has place the people in my life there for a reason, and I know that I have faithful friends who love me and want to see me through this.

That is a huge comfort.

I hate the fact that my posts lately have been more depressing than encouraging. I guess this is just a dark spot that I'm facing right now, but I'm trying to fight through it with everything that is in me, and cling desperately to the promises that my God has given to me. I know that He will never leave me, and He will never forsake me. I know that I may never see the results in this lifetime, but He is fighting for me, and He has ultimate purposes for everything that happens. I am so incredibly grateful to Him for His love and His mercy toward me. I don't deserve it at all.

I feel so much like David in the Psalms. If there was ever a picture of an emotional rollercoaster, the Psalms is where it's at. David is up, down, up, down, then up again. Then in the next Psalm he's right back to being down. I am finding a continual growth in dependence on the Psalms in my life for that reason, and it's really a comfort.

Though I can't see it right now, God is working in my life. Maybe He's molding me right now. Maybe He's showing me that some things in my life need to change, and even that I won't always get justice in life and things won't always be fair, but He is still God, and He is still sovereign. I guess He might just want to remind me to trust Him that He knows what He's doing.

...Ha, as I wrote that, a line in one of the songs I'm listening to said,

"You are God, and that's just the way it is."

I guess I need to remember that. Plain and simple, God is God. He's got it covered.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lasting Hope.

Hope. What is it? It's... well... Hope. It's the belief that no matter how difficult things get, there's still something to live for. It's the belief that when all seems lost, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a faint light, or we may not be able to see it at all, but it's still there.

I can't always see God working in my life. I can't always see how He's moving and how He's coordinating certain events in my life to work together for a certain purpose. All I can see is what is in the moment - what I'm longing for, joyful for, or even afraid of. Things seem to be such a mess in the moment, and I can't see how God is weaving it into His intricate plan for me.

And in some respects, I think part of me doesn't want to. Part of me wants to think that things in my life happen randomly, so that I don't have to worry about consequences if I try to fix it on my own. There's this small area within myself that wants to think that I'm on my own, that God isn't orchestrating everything, and that I can do whatever I want in order to resolve the situation in the way I see fit.

But that's not how it works. As positive as hope is, it also comes with a price. I have to give up my pride, and be willing to trust the One who gives and is my ultimate hope. I have read those passages so many times that God is sovereign, that He knows what He's doing, and He has a plan for my life. But when have I actually believed it? I've never had to put it into practice before, and now is the time when I actually have to live out what I believe. Phew... That's not easy.

But:

God is my hope.

God is my strength.

God is my deliverer.

God is my source.

God is my rock.

God is my redeemer.

God is my LORD.

God is my warrior.

And he... He will overcome everything that I face and everything that I struggle through. It is Him that I can cling to in my darkest and most difficult of moments, and even in the times when I think life is easy. He is the one I should look to.

Oh God, be the Rock of my life, and the one that I hold on to through the calm and through the storms.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Working With People Who Are Being Worked On.

So, the title of my blog this round is a long one, but it is needed. What does it mean though, "Working With People Who Are Being Worked On"? It means that throughout our lives, we are going to work with people who aren't... *gasp* ...PERFECT. Each of us is still in process, and this is something that I have been learning very clearly in the past couple of days.

Recently I had a situation happen where I found out that someone I worked with in the past still harbors resentment toward me and is choosing not to forgive me for the mistakes I had made during the time we worked together. When I first learned of this, I was absolutely heartbroken, and I still am. I broke down in tears and cried for an hour or more, and I felt as though I was the worst person on earth. After I was done with that mess, I began to feel very bitter and resentful myself. How could this person do this? Why couldn't they see that I'm not a terrible person?

And then... I began to see my hypocrisy. Just like this person was choosing not to forgive me, I was doing the same thing. Now yes, the clincher here is that I saw my poor attitude and I had/have the desire to change it and the other person does not, but I HAVE always been someone who sees the flaws in my thinking fairly quickly. This does not make me better than the other person, but it just makes my thinking and the way I handle situations different.

The point here I suppose is... God works in each individual person differently, and it's not up to me to decide when that happens. I know that this other person is a believer, and so all I have to do is wait for God to work in their life. I am at peace knowing that I did everything I could to rectify the situation (and trust me, I racked my brain many, many times and I still do to see if I did anything else that needed to be fixed), and now it's in God's hands to do what He will with it.

I may never see the results of God's work in this person's life, and that needs to be okay. I was told by a couple people that I discussed this situation with that I may never see reconciliation in this matter. I may never see things "fixed." And that needs to be okay.

Oh my goodness. Do you know how hard that is for me? I am, by definition, a "fixer". So to be told that I can't fix something is one of the most difficult things for me to swallow. All I want to do is call this person, message them, do whatever I can in order to make the situation better. But the truth of the matter is that God is infinitely better than me at this kind of stuff, and I just need to leave it in his hands to do what He will with it. He has it all under control and He knows what He's doing.

Growing and learning to trust hurts a little bit.....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Homeless and Humbled.

Homeless people. What do I think of them? I'm ashamed to say that I tend to look down on them, such as a situation that happened the other day:

------------------

As I sit in Starbucks, coffee in hand and Bible on the table, a homeless man walks over and stands next to me, talking to himself. I look at him, studying him carefully.

What do I do? Do I smile at him? Do I offer him my extra banana walnut bread? Do I simply pray for him silently?

No - I don't do any of these things. The only thing I do is slowly, carefully pull my purse closer to me, thinking that one sudden move will cause him to let loose. He moves away from me, beginning to shuffle through the crowd. He poiltely asks people if he can get through. All the people he passes just stare at him as he leaves without saying anything.

With head down and shoulders hunched over, he exits.

I sit at the window, dumbstruck at what I had just done. As I look out into the street with thoughts racing through my mind, I see him. He walks past my window, as as he does, he glances back at me. Sadness fills my heart when my eyes meet his. He doesn't look at me for long, but I will never forget the hopelessness I saw in those eyes as he passed.

And just like that, he is gone.

I am left sitting with my fancy drink and bread, dumbfounded, convicted, and shamed. What did I just do? Who am I, that I would ignore someone who is made in God's image, just as I am?

I am completely humbled and broken. As I walk out into the street, still holding my drink, the tears begin to flow. I begin to feel so selfish, spoiled, and ungrateful. What have I ever done to help the homeless in this city? I have so often just ignored them, turning a blind eye to their pain. I have been filled with so much judgment, believing that it is their fault that they are homeless, because they must have a drinking or drug problem, and not stopping to realize that they are human beings just like me, and God loves them just as much as he loves me. God even has a special affection and heart for the homeless.

And here I am, looking down on them and feeling superior to them.

Eric gave me some wonderful insight in saying that the reason I am where I am is not because I am so great or I have gotten myself there, but because I have people in my life who love me and want to see me succeed. He then explained that for most of the homeless people, the reason they are on the streets is because they do not have those connections. They have either lost all family connections, or because of intense pain and hurt in their lives, they choose not to use those connections.


I used to pride myself on being a kind and compassionate person. I don't view myself so highly anymore. I don't know how, and I don't know when, but I know that I now have a desire to serve the homeless in some capacity, and learn who they are. I want to be rid of my presuppositions and my judgments, and see them as the image of God that they really are.

I hope you do the same.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

100th Post. Wow.

Wow, my 100th blogpost, that's kinda crazy. I actually wish that I had more posts than that right now, just because I love writing so much. I don't do it nearly as much as I'd like to just because I'm so busy a lot of the time, and I can't process everything that I'm thinking. Thus, my blogs tend to be much longer because I have, like the movie Mean Girls says, "Word Vomit." I keep everything in for so long that it just ends up spewing out onto here without much thought - which right now, makes the title of my blog very ironic. For everyone's sake and since I feel like being nice because it's my 100th post, I'll break it up into sections. So... Here goes.


Reflections on my Internship:

Sooner or later (probably later) I'm going to write a post about everything that I did on my internship this summer, just because I told people I would keep them updated on here, and I really didn't do such a hot job of that. But for now, I'll just talk about the things I learned. That may be a bit backwards, but I don't really care so much at the moment. :) Okay. Sarcasm finished.

So, for lack of a better analogy, this summer was a total emotional rollercoaster, filled with TONS of highs (Being with Eric, doing fun things with the students), and lows (having conflicts with other interns, being stressed and behind on my Bible study). Because it was so up and down all the time, I really learned a lot, and I learned different things than I expected to. I expected to learn how to do youth ministry and how to teach a Bible study. While yes, I did learn those things, those weren't the main things I learned. Probably the biggest thing I learned was how to work through conflicts with people that you're on a team with, especially if you have two totally different viewpoints on what the ministry should look like and be about. It's different and difficult to work with these people, but I realized, especially after the internship was over, that they have just as much of a right to work in the ministry as I do. Bummer that I had to figure that out afterwards, right? But yeah, it's definitely not easy to work with people that you disagree with, but since we are the body of Christ, we are called to be united with each other and to work together for a single purpose and cause. If we don't, then everything falls apart and we are no longer working for the cause of Christ. I wish I had figured this out earlier... Because I definitely experienced the falling apart end of things. Oh well.. Lesson learned.

On a personal level, I learned that it's A LOT different dating someone in real life than it is at Moody (please remember that, Moody students!). It was so strange to be living 15 minutes away (so far) from Eric all summer, and yet I still saw him every day (a habit that was formed at Moody and was pretty much impossible to break). It was really difficult to learn how a relationship functions outside of the Moody environment. I wish we had known that going into the summer, but I guess that's a lesson learned as well. Now unfortunately we're about to learn what a long-distance relationship looks like, and that's going to be incredibly difficult. However, I'm trying to go into it with a strong head on my shoulders and know that I'm going to cry a lot, but in the end it's going to be totally worth it.

Reflections on Life:

Lately I've been feeling a lot of criticism and judgment from people about my degree and what I'm going to do after I graduate. This really disheartens me and makes me really think about why I'm doing what I'm doing. So, I'm getting my degree in Biblical Languages. Basically it's just a Bible degree with languages tacked on there as an emphasis. I honestly can't do a whole lot with that degree to make money besides being a Bible teacher at a Christian school, but I've really never thought about getting paid for using my degree. Honestly. I've always just wanted a side job that pays the bills so I can do my real work, which is ministry in the church. I don't care about having a "real job" persay, but the question I have been asked a lot is, "When are you going to get a real job?" ...That sucks. That's not who I am, and that's not who I'm going to be. I don't have any moral aversion to getting paid, but I just don't really want to. That's all there is to it. I know that God is calling me into full-time ministry, and He'll provide the money that I need to live on. I may not live "comfortably" or have very many extras in life, but all I need is enough money so that I can survive. I don't like the judgment that I feel from people, but the truth of the matter is that this is what I truly believe my calling is, and the people who judge what I choose to do and not do just don't understand. They're not bad people, they're not rude or inconsiderate. They just don't understand.

I feel like this is what happens with the vast majority of students that attend Moody. People from the outside don't get why we'd come to a school just to study the Bible, and then go out into the world and not make any money. Our American culture is all about climbing the ladder of success and the more money you make, the more successful you are. However, that's really not how I see things. I don't care about making money. I'm not saying that I'm a better person, but that's just my perspective for my life. If I make money, then I make money. If I don't, then I don't. It's really just not a big deal to me.

----

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day, and I'm sure that now that my internship is over, I'll be blogging a lot more frequently. So... yay! You all should click the little "follow" button up top so that I know that people actually read this thing. Or comment. Yeah.. Comments are fun. :)

<3

Everything I Need.

This song is absolutely amazing, and I love it so much...


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blown About And Tossed Around.

This summer has been... crazy, to say the very least. I have felt so blown about in my life and in my faith that I have a hard time seeing which way is up sometimes. My internship has been the most stressful and most growing experience that I've ever had in my entire life. My emotional, spiritual, and physical life has been tested, bent, wrung out, and broken this whole summer. Though I've thoroughly enjoyed all the time that I've had with my students, it hasn't been easy.

I've found myself asking a lot of questions about my faith. Is the faith that I have real? Am I willing to do anything for the cause of Christ? Am I willing to follow God's leading, no matter where it may send me? Am I in this just to be comfortable, or am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and in faith?

Unfortunately, I have yet to answer most of these questions. I've just felt so blown about that I don't have any stability right now in order to answer those questions. As soon as I get my feet on the ground again, I know that I'll be able to answer those questions with confidence. I see the light at the end of the tunnel though, which is wonderful.

I don't know how and I don't know when, but I know that God is going to bring me through this difficult time that I find myself in. I am longing to feel long-lasting joy again. I'm longing to feel full of life again. I know that hope is there, but when things will actually start happening, I can't be sure.

Please continue to hold me in your prayers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saddened.

Wow, it has really been a long time since I've updated anything on this blog. But lately through talking with people, purusing my facebook, and hearing about things, I have become very saddened about what I see going on in the peoples' lives around me.

My heart breaks because of the choices that I see my friends and others making with their lives, but at the same time, I feel so totally helpless in the situation. What do I do? I am not at a place in anyone's life to tell them that they are making wrong decisions and they are only hurting themselves. I am seeing more and more people getting into partying, drinking, drugs, and sex, and none of it is leading anywhere good. I am finding out about more and more girls that I know who are becoming single mothers, and that absolutely frightens me for them. I am more than thrilled that these young women have decided to keep their babies, don't get me wrong. I also want to note that I am not condemning them for their choices, but I will be honest in saying that it does make me very sad at where I see my generation going.

Again, I feel very helpless in this matter. What do I do? What do I say? Do I just live my life as an example and hope for the best? Do I just hope that they will see how I'm living my life and want to be the same way? Or do I actually step out and say something to them? If so, when, how, and what do I say to them? I really do feel utterly helpless and lost in the situation. I am scared for these people.

I don't have any answers in this blog. All I'm doing is posing my questions and helplessness in cyberspace, hoping to somehow figure it out along the way. But the questions still remain. I want to help, but I don't know how, and I don't even know if it's my place. I guess that the least I can do - and the most - is to pray for them, and pray that God takes care of them and gives them the strength to do what they need to do.

I just wish there was something more that I could do.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

When God Works, He WORKS.

Wow, I cannot believe the amazing and ridiculous things that have occurred within the last week. I have been surprised by God's power and might so much in the past few days that I can hardly stand it. I have never seen him work so obviously and so quickly in my life, and I am so grateful that all of this happened. Okay, here it is:

So, you all know that I have been a Women's Ministry major at school here for a couple years. Well, not anymore. Ever since I had such a huge issue trying to find an internship with that major I started thinking about changing my major. I didn't really think about it seriously until a couple weeks ago when I really started to research it. I realized that I would have to take a couple extra classes online and I would have to CLEP a few classes, but I knew that I was completely willing to do that in order to change my major, take the classes that I actually wanted to take, and do an internship that I would actually enjoy. I already knew that the Bible department head was okay with me switching, so I just needed to meet with the Pastoral department head to see if he was alright with it. He was, and so he signed my Change-Of-Major form, I took it to Academic Records, and the next day (Tuesday) I found out that I am now officially a Biblical Languages major! But wait, it gets better.

So, right after I turned in my form for the major change, Eric told me that his youth pastor had previously been looking for interns with the youth group for the summer. After I found out that everything had gone through, I called him up, and we decided that I would be going to Minnesota this summer to be an intern! So even though I thought that I was going to go home for the summer and work, God made the door of opportunity WIDE open, and I just had to walk through! And just wait, it gets better. Almost simultaneously as I found out that it was official that I would be working at the church this summer, my friend Heather texted me to tell me that her parents want to have me live with them while I'm an intern! Let me tell you, all of this was almost too much for me to handle. But that's not all that happened.

So, as you can tell, Eric are not going to be long-distance this summer as we had previously thought. This would not have worked out for all of this to have happened earlier in the semester because of where our relationship was. But the weekend prior to all of this happening we made a total shift in our relationship and are on a completely new and amazing level, which means that we are both totally comfortable with and excited about the fact that we're going to be together all summer.

And oh yes, there's more. After I informed my parents that I would not be spending the summer at home but would be living in Minnesota, my dad asked me if Eric would be interested in coming to Florida with us after graduation before we drive to Minnesota together. I didn't really think all that seriously about it, but decided I'd ask Eric if he'd like to go just for kicks. He actually was really interested in it, and decided that he wanted to go. Both sets of parents were in total favor of it, and even decided to help him pay for the majority of his expenses. So, not only are we going to spend the summer together, but he's also coming with my family and me to DisneyWorld!

Needless to say, this past week was incredibly overwhelming, and God's work throughout it was just completely obvious, wonderful, and almost unbelievable. I am now a total believer in the fact that God really does have perfect timing, and that he knows without a doubt what he is doing. He's never surprised by anything, but will wait until the circumstances and situations are perfect until he decides to make a big move.

Thank you God for this incredible opportunity. I don't deserve it, but I am so glad and blessed that you chose to reveal yourself in this way.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Psalm 96

Psalm 96:

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
Tell of his salvaion from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the
peoples!
For great is the Lord,a nd greatly to be
praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are
worthless idols;
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his
sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the
peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his
name;
bring an offering, and come into his
courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of
holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall
never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity."

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing
for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

All Things.

Love Bears All Things.

What does this statement really mean? I was struck by this one sentence today after church. While waiting for Eric to get out of a children's ministry meeting, I was contemplating on the sermon preached today which was 1 John 4:7-21, which was about loving others as God loves us. I wanted to dive deeper into what it means to really love others, so I began to study 1 Corinthians 13. I don't know if I've ever actually meditated on those words as long as I should, but that's what I did today, and it opened my eyes to new understanding.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


I want whoever's reading this to really meditate on those words. What do they really mean in the context of our relationships with other people? I know that I've glossed over these words so many times without really thinking about what they mean, but today I took the time to chew on them, and what I found is incredibly deep.

When it says that love bears all things, it means just that. It means that love is there no matter what. No matter what the other person does, if we truly love them, we are not going to just walk away. Now, let me make myself clear: there is a difference between someone whose heart is hardened and will not change, and someone who is sincere in changing and bettering himself yet keeps making the same mistake. With someone whose heart is hardened, we are not obligated to stay with them and "bear all things." But I believe that the ones that we are to bear all things with are the ones who deeply desire to change their behavior and their actions, yet struggle to figure out how. I hope it's somewhat clear what I mean.

Continuing on - When I think about how often I actually "bear all things" for the sake of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am astonished to realize that I more often give up on people than anything else. I want to believe that they'll change, but because of past painful experiences, the temptation and desire to walk away can be overwhelming at times. However, I would not be loving others if I chose this path. We are called to put others above ourselves. We don't live for ourselves if we are in Christ, and therefore we are commanded to serve our brother and sisters.

I struggle with this - I really do. I want to live for myself and put my needs above others' needs, especially when things get difficult. When things get tough and I feel weak, it becomes SO easy to stop serving others and focus on myself. Even if the person is REALLY struggling, I end up becoming selfish and want them to focus on me for a change instead of continuing to give more of myself. Especially in close relationships however, this is not the way that it should work. Demanding that our needs be taken care of as well just causes more harm to the other person, and doesn't end up helping at all.

I am not saying that we shouldn't have our needs taken care of. But in that moment, whatever friendship or relationship that it is, if one person is struggling, they need to become the primary concern. We, as the strong ones, need to find our comfort, refreshment, and strength somewhere else so that we are able to continue helping them in the way that they need it.

This is what it means to bear all things. We love until we feel like we can't love anymore - and then we love more. We not only "put up with" the poor behavior, the bad attitudes, the brokenness, the sheer humanity, but we gladly help the other person to bear the heavy load that they are carrying, in order to do what we can to help them.

Those outside the Christian faith will know us by our love. What do they see when they look at us? Do they see us serving each other and loving each other with an enduring love that purely seeks for the good of others, or do they see us being selfish and wanting our own needs met above our own brothers and sisters? I am continually challenged by this thought.

I will readily admit to being very bad at loving others, and putting them above myself without expecting something in return. But how did God love us? He sent his very own Son to die for us, knowing full well that we would never be able to repay him for that sacrifice. But yet Christ died anyway, to show that God loves us purely and selflessly.

We are called to sacrifice ourselves for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Love isn't always or maybe even often a "warm and fuzzy" feeling, but it's uncomfortable. It's painful. It's hard. It's exhausting. It's not easy, friends. It is hard to love others, especially if they have hit a weak and painful time in their lives. It is in those moments that we need to show our love for them, and we need to be Christ for them. It is in those moments that we are called to forsake ourselves, and serve them in the best way that we know how. We won't be perfect at it or sometimes even good at it, but we know that God will give us strength to get through those times, as we help others get through their hard times.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Strength of Mind.

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted... I guess I've either been busy, or I haven't done much that I think is worthy to be blogged about. Just a quick update:

I'm in the middle of my busiest time of the semester. Well, just about to start it. I have 2 quizzes tomorrow and an exam to take this weekend, plus I have an exam for my Self-Defense class, and a couple paper due next week. It's going to be very busy, that's for sure. To top it all off, the Junior-Senior banquet is this weekend, and while it's going to be fun, it just adds to the stress. I'm trying to take it all in stride though and figure out what the most important things are, so I can do those. I know I'll get everything done, but just like everything else this semester, I don't know how well I'll do on it. But anyway. For those of you who are interested, things are still going well with Eric. It was our 2-month anniversary on Saturday. :) I went home to Minnesota with him this past weekend for Easter, and it went well.

So anyway, now on to my rant....

So, I've been thinking a lot lately about how important it is for people to have strength of minds. What does this mean? Well, I see too often that people are just "silly." I'm speaking abut my own sex in this case, mostly. There is so much time spent talking about things that don't matter, such as shopping, celebrities, and which guy we think is cute. I'm really frustrated about this behavior. I mean, I guess I can see why and how it would happen since I have those tendencies myself sometimes, but I can't imagine filling my life with such meaningless things.

These things that we talk about all the time... I wonder if we realize that they're all just going to pass away? They don't do anything to up or to help us look heavenward, but rather they pull us back to this earth, which will not last. Not only is this the case, but these meaningless things that we put so much time and effort into don't even help our intelligence or success in life.

The kinds of things that we put our time and effort into reflect what we believe is really important in life. While a person who says that guys/girls are really not that important to them and they're okay with being single, the amount of time that they spend talking about them and being with them says differently.

I feel like my thoughts are just going everywhere at the moment, but it's something I'm really struggling through. What types of things do I think about, talk about, and dream out? Do I think, talk, and dream things that matter, or things that are absolutely meaningless?

Honestly, it doesn't matter if the guy on that sport's team is cute or not, or that celebrity is the best actor you've ever seen. It doesn't matter if you get the highest score on a facebook or video game, and it definitely doesn't matter if you own the most movies or not. It doesn't matter whether or not Jon is going to get custody of the kids from Kate, and it doesn't matter which celebrity is getting a divorce this week.

I cannot stress enough just how meaningless these things are. I'm not judging those who think these things are important (well, maybe a little), but I struggle with some of the exact same things. We get so focused on this world and what it has to offer that we forget what's really important.

So what is important then? Christ. No, we can't think about Christ constantly because we have other things going on in our lives, but if we make Christ of first importance, then we will be more able to prioritize correctly in the way that we should. Christ needs to be central in our lives. He needs to be who we strive after, and who we live for. In the end, nothing else matters. Absolutely nothing else. All that matters is what we did with our relationship with Christ, and how important we made him in our lives.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Am Broken.

Why do I do this? Time and time again God gives me an opportunity to trust him, and I throw it away. I depend more on myself rather than on his promises and what I know to be true about him. I have become the very same type of person that I so often speak against. The person who does not look to God in her circumstances and trust him to bring her through. The person who makes herself more like a god than God himself by believing that she has everything under control. I am without doubt a despicable human being.

Why is it so hard to trust the God of the universe, the one who not only created everything, but who also sustains it? It's hard to fathom just how easy it is to love God one minute, and then completely turn one's back on him the next.

I should trust God with my future, and know that he knows what he's doing. Through all of this, I'm realizing that I do not spend nearly enough time in the Word. I focus more on myself and what I want to do instead of immersing myself in Scripture and getting lost in it. I should want to fill my heart and mind with Scripture, but so often it just becomes a drudgery and I end up doing or reading something else instead because, well, God will love me anyway.

I need to stop this, and I need to actually get into his word and really glean what I need from it. Scripture is supposed to encourage and convict us, but too many times I've just stared at the pages, not letting any of it sink in. I want to trust God, and I want to fall thoroughly in love with his word. I need to in order to be healthy. I know in my mind that God is good and trustworthy, but it is through reading Scripture that my heart may know the truth.

Psalm 62:5-8

For God alone, O my soul, wait in
silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Jesus is My Boyfriend."

So, lately I've been hearing from a lot of people a lot of criticism of songs that are apparently "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs, where if you took out Jesus' name in the songs and inserted someone else's name (the one you love, obviously), you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Honestly, I have a hard time having the same criticism as these people. I guess I can see their point, but aren't we supposed to sing songs of how much we love and adore God? Yes, He is far more than anyone that we could ever love and He is absolutely incomparable to anything that we have ever experienced, but if we want to express our love for Him, why can't we express it in a way that we know how to do, which is to describe it in terms of a human relationship? I think that love songs to Christ have come under far too much criticism. I don't know if I'm just not listening to the same music that other people are, but the songs I'm hearing are absolutely fine.

Right now I'm thinking of a song by Phil Wickham called "Always and Forever." In it he sings, "You are my Love, my Life, always, forever..." Sure, that could also be sung to another human being, but we are supposed to sings songs of adoration and love to our King. I do believe that there needs to be a balance between how many of those types of songs we sing and praising God for the things that He has done, but I don't think it's fair to criticize the love songs simply because of what they are.

I think people have gotten carried away when it comes to criticizing things, that we have forgotten about the things that are actually important. We spend all of our time judging this and that, thinking this is stupid and that is dumb, and not realizing that we may actually be missing the point of the things that we are being critical of. Does that make sense?

I mean, I know that I have the same issue as well. I tend to pick apart every little thing in a song or a sermon. I become very judgmental and want things to sound good on my terms instead of realizing what the other person is trying to say. Should we be critical and discerning in our lives? Yes, yes we should. But we can definitely become too involved in it, and unfortunately I think the reformed culture has taken being discerning to an extreme - even to the point of mocking things that they don't agree with.

This needs to change. Instead of having superior attitudes over the things that we disagree with, maybe we need to actually take things in and consider what the person is really trying to do or say, and if we still disagree with it, then maybe we just need to hold our tongues.

No, we are not here to please others and to make them happy, but we need to be mindful of them and the fact that they are made in God's image just as much as we are. We may disagree with other believers on certain issues, but really... if we agree on the basic doctrines of the faith, shouldn't that cause us to be more unified instead of becoming divided on small issues? Instead of alienating those that we disagree with, we need to embrace them because God has called us to be unified as a church.

It has been rare that I have seen criticism be uplifting and encouraging to the person that it is against. This is what causes divisions in the Church, and it needs to be stopped. Be discerning, yes. But don't be so critical to the point that you bring down fellow believers and end up hurting and pushing them away in the process.


Philippians 2:1-11

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 something 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 ever 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.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Contradictory Culture.

Hm.. I was talking with Eric today, and something that we talked about caused me to think about the postmodern culture that we live in and how contradictory it really is. Have you ever noticed that? I've found myself guilty of it as well. I think that the cause of this is mainly just the effects of postmodernity in general. While I don't believe everything about postmodernism is wrong, I think that it has greatly affected us in how we believe what we do. So many things center on there not being an objective standard of truth in today's culture, and I think as Christians we unfortunately are susceptible to being sucked into that. We are inundated with the world telling us that truth is subjective and it's how you want it to be that it becomes difficult to separate what the world is telling us from what God is telling us.

As Christians, we know or at least we should know that the Bible is our objective standard of truth. I'm sure you've all heard the cliche that "all truth is God's truth." This is... well... a true statement, as cheesy as it is (I might be a little more critical of it since I've heard it at least once a semester since jr. high). However, I think we tend to get more caught up in the unknowns about the Bible instead of focusing on the objective reality. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it causes us to be more easily swayed when we're told about different interpretations of certain Scriptures and how we should apply Scripture to our every day lives.

No, the Bible doesn't give us an answer about every situation of life. And frankly, I don't think it's necessarily supposed to speak to every situation that we face. It's good to apply the general biblical principles to life, but we also need to consider what we know to be true about God (which also comes from the Bible) and we need to use the wisdom and discernment that God has given us as His children. Honestly, I don't think we use our minds enough when dealing with certain aspects of life or trying to make decisions. Instead we try to gain knowledge and wisdom from other people by buying books on the subject, and talking to as many people as we can in order to get "advice." In my experience though, sometimes that really just makes the situation worse. People are always going to have their own opinions of what the "right" thing to do in the situation is, and we just end up being more confused than we were before.

However, I think I'm getting off-topic. Kind of. This is still an illustration though of how contradictory even our Christian culture can be. We don't have an objective standard that we look to anymore, but we just generally look for what other people's opinions are; after that, we just end up doing what "sounds" best. What "feels" like the right thing to do. This is why I know that God gave us the ability to have discernment in our spiritual lives. We have the ability to make logical and rational decisions on our own without all this help, but we decide not to because we're too afraid of making the wrong choice. This is not to say that I don't believe in asking for other people's advice, but I think there has to be a balance, and you can ask too many people.

Overall however, I think that if we use the combination of the Word, what we know to be true about God, and the minds that He has given us, we can overcome the contradictions that our culture has so inundated us with.

Yeah, I don't know if this post makes sense at all, but it's just something that I've been thinking about and figured I'd throw into a blog. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

So, It's Been a While.

Hey guys... :) So, it's definitely been a while since I've posted anything on here, so I thought that I would go ahead and update everyone on what's going on in my life. I'm on spring break now, so I actually have time to do that, which is really nice.

First off, school has been absolutely insane this semester. I feel as though I'm barely staying above the waves, but by God's grace I'm still surviving. I've unfortunately gotten behind in a couple classes, but my professors are gracious and understanding, and just want me to do as best as I can under my circumstances. I never realized the difference that one more credit in my schedule would make. I've had 17 credit hours without any problem, but 18 is a whole different ball game. I think it's also the fact that I have harder classes this semester with more work, which makes me tired and stressed most of the time. All that being said though, I love my classes. I really do. I'm in the middle of memorizing the book of Romans right now, I've preached one sermon and another is in the works, I'm learning about the history of the American faith, I'm continuing to learn more Greek, and I'm learning how to defend myself as well. :) God is good in getting me through, and while I won't get the best grades this semester, I know that I've done as well as I can.

I don't know if I've mentioned it on here, but I'm the leader of a women's ministry called ZOE on campus. Basically, my job is to create and host events for the women on campus in order for them to be relaxed and to hear from great speakers. We had a professor speak in February, and I'm going to have another professor speak in April. Right now the women's ministry group as a whole is working on a dessert for the women on campus in March, and it's definitely time consuming. Who knew that creating such a large event would be so much work? I've been mostly in charge of advertisement, which is something that I really enjoy and I'm glad that I'm doing. It's just not easy to do in the midst of everything else I'm responsible for this semester, but all of us are in it together, and that's a great comfort.

As far as my summer plans go.... Things have been so confusing and have changed so many times. At first I wanted to intern at a publishing company, then I talked to the women's ministry director at Eric's church for a month and then found out that it won't work, and then I thought I was going to get full-time hours at the library, and I just found out yesterday that that's not going to work out either. This is definitely a time where I'm really confused, but where I know that I need to trust God and His plans. He's choosing not to reveal to me just yet what He wants, and while I don't know why, I know that I need to trust that He knows what's best. Once I get back from spring break I'm going to explore other job options and see what's available so I can still stay in Chicago.

So, now on to the present time. Right now I'm in Spokane visiting friends for the first weekend of spring break, and it's absolutely wonderful. I'm staying with my dear friends Hollie and Carter, and I couldn't be more blessed to be here. Hollie and I have really been able to bond over the past couple of days, and I've also been able to see and talk to a few other friends. It's definitely interesting being here after moving away so long ago (the last time I visited was October '08). While I'm really enjoying being here, there's definitely a disconnect because this is not my home anymore. It's clear that my home right now is Chicago, and this is not where God wants me to be. But it's still nice to catch up with friends and reconnect with them. Tomorrow I head back to Colorado for 12 days, and that will be really nice. It'll be good to see my family again and to hang out with high school and camp friends. Then on the very last weekend of spring break I'm flying up to Minnesota to visit Eric and his family, and I'm so excited for that.

Speaking of Eric... :) Just a short update. Things are going really well with us. We celebrated our one-month this past Wednesday, and we are both absolutely excited about what God has in store for us. We know that it's the early stages of our relationship (obviously), but God has done so much to allow us to open up to each other and really work through the baggage that we both come with. I am continually amazed by this man every day, and it's the hardest thing in the world to be away from him right now. All I want to do is hold his hand and know that he's there beside me, but I have to wait another 13 days for that. It may not sound like a long time at all, but when we're used to being around each other for at least some of every single day together, it feels a lot longer. Please continue praying for us, that we would seek God's will in everything continue to put Him at the center of our relationship.

Well, I guess that's all for now. If I've left anything out I'll just post another update soon, but I think that's pretty much all. Love you guys. <3