Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Moving On and Letting Go

   There are so many things to write about just now. Here we are in the Christmas season, a time full of hope and love and peace on Earth. Yet, we still are human and we feel so many emotions: anxiety, fear, pain, loneliness...
   The last few weeks have been chaos for me. So many of you have commented that I look "so happy", that I look "good". I am thankful for those compliments, because I know that God sent you to tell me those things. Underneath that calm, cool exterior you see is a girl, still searching to belong.
   I've had a lot of time to think lately. I've traveled many, many miles these last two and a half weeks. I've met new people, I've experienced new things, I've attained things that I didn't believe were possible. And through it all, even when I've felt dead inside, there is a ray of light that keeps shining. There's a song that comes to mind, "I Look Not Back".

"I look not back; God knows the fruitless efforts, The wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets. I leave them all with Him who blots the record, And graciously forgives, and then forgets.
I look not forward; God sees all the future, The road that, short or long, will lead me home, And He will face with me its every trial, And bear for me the burdens that may come.
I look not round me; then would fears assail me, So wild the tumult of earth's restless seas, So dark the work, so filled with woe and evil, So vain the hope and comfort and of ease.
I look not inward; that would make me wretched; For I have naught on which to stay my trust. Nothing I see save failures and shortcomings, And weak endeavors, crumbling into dust.
But I look up - into the face of Jesus, For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled; And there is joy, and love, and light for darkness, And perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled."
- Annie Johnson Flint

   It seems that this is my cry just now. I don't want to look back; I don't want to dwell in my past. I don't want to look forward; I become too anxious and loose trust in my Heavenly Father because there are so many uncertainties I'm facing. I don't want to look around me; I compare myself to everyone and I fall short according to my own standards. I can't look inward; all I see is wretchedness, guilt, fear, uncertainties, shame, pride. But to look up... To look up into the face of Jesus. There I can rest and I have no fears. There I will find love, joy, peace, light, strength, and courage. In Christ alone, my All in All, is where I need to look.
   Moving on... Each step has been guided by God and I have been able to see His hand in almost everything I've gone through these past two and a half weeks. He was with me, keeping me awake and alert while I traveled over 2,000 miles by myself with no accidents, scratches, or bumps. He was with me at my doctor's appointment and it seems that we are so close to finding out what is wrong with me. He was with me in Spokane when I took my national test, the last one I needed to qualify at the national level as an EMT. He was there when I drove to the Tri-Cities the next day with tears in my eyes more times then not. I was so overwhelmed. During the test, there were times I literally could not remember the answer. I prayed, and He answered.
   It seems like everything is falling into place with me moving here. I found a place to live, I passed my test, I have wonderful friends. But how is my walk with the One who made this all possible? I can recognize Him in all of this, but is He first in my heart or is He just someone I cry to when I need help or when I'm lost, or I pray and say "Thank you" to when I can see His hand in my life?
   There are so many thoughts and feelings I am feeling now, yet it's hard to write about. So many are twisted and confusing. Yet, one thing remains true and untouched and this I must hold on to with all my might, no matter how weak and failing I feel: I am loved. I am truly loved. No matter what those around me think or what I think of myself. No matter how I feel, no matter what if I fail or if I fall.
I. AM. LOVED.
That is what I am holding on to this Christmas season. That God loved us, fallen and failing though we be, But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (1) so much that He sent a Saviour, His Son, into this world, And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (2) that we would know Him and His unfailing love and grace, that we would believe in Him, and that we could be saved through faith in Christ. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (3) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (4) It doesn't matter if those around us are far from encouraging, it doesn't matter if we are sick, it doesn't matter what we look like or what we wear, it doesn't matter what church we attend or what religion we associate with, it doesn't matter if we are homeless or without a job. He loves us, unconditionally. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (5)But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (6)
   Those are my thought. I wish everyone a Christmas season full of the hope, love, and peace that only Christ can give. May He be with you now and forever more.



1. Romans 5:8
2. Luke 2:10-11
3. John 3:16
4. Ephesians 2:8-9
5. Zephaniah 3:17
6. Psalm 85:15






Saturday, August 22, 2015

Are We Emotionally Grown-Up?

   I read an article last night that caused my mind to really start thinking. Article here. We talk about being grown up a lot. We seemingly believe that when we get our own house, pay rent/utilities/car payments, etc, when we become involved in a relationship with the opposite sex, when we get our first real job, when we continually move away from the age of 18 with every birthday: we have believed and been taught that this makes us grown-ups. But what about the emotional part of being a grown-up? The part that controls how we act or react to a situation, how we control ourselves whether we are by ourselves or with others? The part of us that can really define us as a person. Who ever talks about that part of being a grown-up?
   I have linked the article that I read to this post, as I think it would do everyone good to read it. There are a few things that I would like to quote and expound on in this article.

1. "Language can inflame or inspire, and mindful language is a gift."
This is something I can attest to from personal experience. If you don't have anything positive to say or you are still trying to formulate your thoughts, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. It is better to keep quiet and really THINK through what you want to say. Don't say the first thing that comes to your mind because you are trying to avoid that "awkward silence" that you read about in books or hear about from your friends. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/friend/etc will understand that you need time to process your thoughts and if they can't respect that then you may be better off without them. From experience:
"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt." Abraham Lincoln
 
2. "The spirit of compromise is key to being an emotional grown-up. Here’s the mantra for the partnership that goes the distance: If it’s important to you, it’s important to me."
Realize  that there are things that are preferences, not convictions, and let go! Don't try to enslave others in a bondage of "submission" or "obedience" because of your preferences. Rather, talk things out. Why do you feel this way? Where does the feeling/conviction stem from? Be open and honest with each other.
"If we can't be honest  IN ALL THINGS (with each other), then we can't build trust. And without trust, what is a relationship?"

 And compromise goes both ways. It doesn't work if just one of the partners are doing all the compromising. It takes two. We need to realize that a relationship is taking two different people and putting them together. We each have our own likes and dislikes, our preferences, our favorites, etc, but the fun, the challenge, and the reward comes when we can work together and find things that work for both of us. Yes, we will give at times for the other, and the other will do the same for us; that's how compromise works. If one person is always getting their own way, there is no true reward or gratification for the second person in the relationship.
 
3. "Owning mistakes doesn’t make an emotional grown-up weak; it makes them trustworthy and safe, it diffuses conflict and allows people to move beyond blame toward real change."
It takes an emotional grown-up to admit that they were wrong, that they made a mistake. They don't blame it on other people or other events. Their failure falls on them and they accept that. This is something I need to work on. Here's an example: The other night I was going to meet someone and they said they would be there in 40 minutes. I did the calculations and calculated that I had 18 minutes before I had to leave. I got out the door  21 minutes later and then had a semi pull out in front of me who wanted to drive 60mph in a 65mph. Yes, the semi was going under speed limit. BUT! I am still responsible for me! I wasn't there until 44 minutes later. I told the friend what happened but I blamed the semi driver. No, it was my fault! I was driving and I could have left earlier to ensure that I was on time. Yet it was easier to blame someone else who is defenseless than to shoulder the blame myself. When we are emotional grown-ups, we realize that we are in control of ourselves and that we have only ourselves to blame for our mistakes. When we can accept ALL responsibility for ourselves and our actions, when we can admit we have made a mistake, and when we try our best to correct the mistake and ensure that it never happens again, we are on our way to being emotionally grown-up.
 
4. "Trusting your partner is one key to feeling safe in a relationship. For emotional grown-ups, actions and words align."
This thought again would tie in with what I mentioned in point 2, where I mentioned trust. If we can't trust our partner, why are we in a relationship with them? If they say that they are going to pick you up at 7:00pm and they don't arrive until 7:15pm, the trust you have for them is going to dwindle. However, if they arrive at 6:50pm, talk with your parents/siblings, and then you leave, the trust between the two of you is going to build. If a commitment is made and is not kept, we naturally begin to wonder. Was there an accident? Family emergency? Work? What happened?? When a commitment is broken, it NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT. It is important that all questions and doubt is cleared up so that both partners can forgive and move forward. If for some reason an emergency comes up, contact your partner or whoever you made a commitment to. Don't leave them hanging to imagine the worst! Explain to them what happened and 9 times out of 10, you will find that this will clear things up between both parties. Don't leave them hanging! When both partners can feel safe in a relationship, that is where you both will flourish. You will open up to each other and be able to empathize and better understand each other. You can't build a trusting relationship on broken commitments and empty promises.
"Commitment without follow through does nothing to build a trusting relationship. It only disappoints and drives in the wedge of doubt."
 
5. "The poet Khalil Gibran enjoined us to “fill each other’s cup but do not drink from one cup,” stressing the importance of maintaining your individuality in the context of a relationship. Appreciating your partner not only for the qualities and interests that you share, but also for those that you do not, enriches both of your lives.
It is important to recognize that you DO NOT NEED another person to feel happy, content, secure, purposeful, etc. Each of us as human beings are individuals. We have our personalities, our preferences, our habits, our goals. We need to be complete in ourselves, i.e. fully confident and comfortable with the person we are, before we begin to seek a relationship with others. If we don't fully form ourselves to who WE want to be, then the world or our partner or the people we are around will form us to fit their need or agenda.
"We are who are friends are but really, we are who/what our influences are."
If we can find a partner that we are happy to be around, that keeps us smiling even when we are down, that encourages us in our dreams and goals in life, and that loves us for who we are and doesn't want to change us, then by all means, hang on! But if we can only be happy when our partner is around or only feel motivated when they are there to hold us accountable to our word or push us to complete our goals, something is wrong with the picture and it's time to step back and revaluate the relationship. Each person is their own person and we need to realize that it's okay to be ourselves around our partners. We weren't trying to be anyone else when we first met so why change when you start dating or when you get married? We are individuals always but when a relationship is formed, then a third "individual" is formed, that is, a combination of the two partners' individuality into one central relation. But at any time, you are still free to go and be who you are. A relationship shouldn't change your individuality, it should strengthen it. If you are in a relationship where you feel like your partner is trying to change you, leave it! If you aren't accepted just as you are, then it doesn't matter how nice or good looking or giving or wealthy they may be. They will never be able to accept you, they will always try to change you, and you will never find true peace, honesty, trust, or safety with that partner.
 
6. "The highest form of romance is to be truly seen for who you are."
Well wrote. Honest, straight up, and to the point. When we can be seen for who we truly are, when we can be who we truly are and be perfectly comfortable being that person, then we have found a partner worth keeping. For someone to see you AS YOU ARE and not want to change a thing about you, it's priceless. And in order for someone to see you for who you really are, they need to look at you as a person, not an object. They need to be able to look past their own reflection. They need to see someone who is strong in themselves and worth fighting for. We need to be ourselves ALWAYS and never let anyone take that away from us. And when we can be ourselves around someone, treasure, respect, and trust that person and above all BE HONEST. 
 
 
 
 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Bloom Where You Are "Planted"

I have never liked that saying. I think mostly because I had to “bloom” in so many places, I felt like I couldn’t establish a root system to be transplanted again. But we go through this life with our ups and downs, our hurt and joy, and our blessings in disguise.

Recently, I went back to South Dakota to dig up some of my perennials that I wanted to have in North Dakota. I ended up with quite a few buckets of different plants, all of which are special to me for this or the next reason. I brought them home and they sat in their buckets for some time before I had a sunny day and the time to plant some of them.

Iris is one of my favorite flowers. For those of you who are gardeners, you know that the time to separate and transplant the iris is in the fall. Well last fall, I had too many things going and couldn’t make time to transplant anything. Needless to say, come spring when I dug everything up, I didn’t think that I would see any irises this year, as being uprooted from your original environment, having your roots broken apart and separated from where you have always grown, and being placed in a bucket with dirt is kind of a traumatizing experience. I transplanted most of my other plants but the irises I just left in their bucket. There they sat, through pounding rain storms, desert hot sunny days, and super windy days. They had everything working against them: broken roots, crazy climate, and an unstable ground in which they were resting in. Then one day a couple of weeks later, I noticed some purple color coming from a group of green. I had to investigate because I didn’t quite believe my eyes. There, amid all the normal greens of the irises, a bud had blossomed. There was an iris, purple and glowing in glory, amid all the trauma it had experienced. I sat on the ground and cried as I looked at it.

We have moved many times in the last twenty years. For those of you who know our family, we kinda bounced hither and yon. Y’all would ask every Christmas where to send Christmas cards, because you didn’t know where we would be. It hurt, moving so many times. I felt like I was continually being uprooted and transplanted before I even had time to grow and gain strength in one place. I didn’t feel like I had the energy or the strength to “bloom” in another place, hey! I just got here! But as I looked at that one iris, sitting in a bucket with quite a few other irises, I realized that we of ourselves have no strength to “bloom” anywhere. I had dug up the iris, I had broken the only foundation it had ever known, I had moved it to a new environment, and I had watered and cared for it as well I could. And God gave the increase. In a life scenario, we live from day to day, comfortable in our surroundings and doing whatever it is we do. We are carnal and come to trust in and rely on the things and people of our surroundings. We become confident in ourselves, our abilities, and our surroundings. Then, the Spirit comes to us and begins calling to us. We hear this voice and we are stirred up inside. We begin to question our life and our ambitions and our actions and realize that we were living on our own, that we had left that straight and narrow way. Our foundation crumples, because it was built all on what we did or what we could do or how we were feeling. Our roots of self-righteousness, of pride, of a false sense of security, those are all dug up, and we are transplanted into the grace and love of our Heavenly Father. There in His garden, He tends to our every need. We may face storms in life, we may have days that we can’t help but laugh and sing. We have the choice to bloom wherever we are in life and to be beautiful and encouraging and uplifting to those around us. Or we can remain dormant, our true beauty hidden because we are too busy dwelling on the past or feeling sorry for ourselves.

Please realize that I am not pointing fingers at anyone here. I am simply trying to relate my own experiences in life. I’m young and learning daily that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. It took the honesty and love of a new but very close friend to show me that I was dwelling on the past but still trying to move forward in life. It doesn’t work that way! I have spent a lot of time in my life, looking back and using my past to justify my actions, emotions, and thoughts in the present. I have let myself be a victim of circumstance instead of standing up and embracing my upbringing, the good with the bad, and using it as valuable knowledge and experience in life. You know, we all have those experiences in life that are awful and we hated, that we were sad and we cried, that were hard and pushed us to the limits of all we knew. But instead of always dwelling on this, why not use those experiences to learn and grow? I know that the hurt and pain we feel from our past isn't something that we can just give up over night. It's something that we will deal with, sometimes for the rest of our lives. But why not remember those times as the times that you overcame the hurt, the pain, the sorrow? Why not learn to smile through it all and find the good, the lesson in it? We can’t forget the pain, but we can learn to find good in the bad, to pray for ones who have hurt us, and to love all those around us, because we never know what battles they are facing.

 
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
     - 1 Corinthians 3:6-15
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finding Encouragement on the Way

"To us on earth still dwelling, Thou dost descend to give, In love all love excelling, Thyself that we may live. - Thy children Thou didst ransom, And willing forgive, With comfort and salvation, Thy blood has made us live. - Thine own, O loving Saviour, Thou biddest come to Thee, As members of Thy kingdom, Thy grace Thou givest free."

Last night, I was tired and discouraged and longing for a friend to come cheer me up. Granted, I did visit with a couple friends but what I really was longing for was a good sit down, deep discussion on matters of faith. Just now, I feel like I am so weak and failing that I need encouragement. Anyway, I sat down at my organ and flipped to the Communion section of the songbook and began playing. The words really spoke to me, as I prayed that they would, and I found encouragement in them! I could only say "Thank you Father!" It is a joy to know that He did descend and does descend to us, to give us peace, love, and hope. That He died and gave His all: His life, His love, and His blood, that we, poor, needy, and dying sinners may live. And not only live in this life, but we know that we have a hope for life eternal through His bleeding and dying for us. I don't think that I could write on this matter enough because it is so much beyond marvelous that my vocabulary can never express it in its' fullest extent. But when we get to Heaven, we will sing that everlasting song of "Thank you Father" and "Hallelujahs"!

And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.   Revelations 14:3

Today, we had church in a small country church in Belden, ND. The Eastern Mission sent a preacher up, and we had a Communion service. It is a wonderful thing to be able to share our trials, struggles, burdens, experiences, joy, whatever we may be feeling, with brothers and sisters on the way. Not only is it encouraging and uplifting, it is a defense against the Devil. How can the Devil prevail, if we have the words of our Heavenly Father being preached onto us?

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31

On my way home, I had another uplifting and encouraging conversation via modern communication (AKA text) with a new friend. As hard as it is, I am beginning to see that even in the down spots in life, there are always those lights that light up the bleak places on the path that we walk on in this life. I find it amazing how the people that we would least expect to befriend are often the ones that become the closest to us.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   Proverbs 18:24

So just now, I am thanking my Heavenly Father that He has given to me all the many blessings that I have and the many that I don't even know of. That He has blessed me with true Christian friends who love me enough to speak the truth even though it hurts some times. That I can attend church and hear His living word preached and find encouragement through it. And that I can sleep in peace, knowing that He came to save those that who are lost, and that He came to save me.

“Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit until it permeates all your thoughts and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength. Rejoice that the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song – He has become your salvation. “  - Charles H. Spurgeon
 
There was a time in my life where I knew that He died, but I couldn't believe that He died for me. It was a dark time in my life, for what is the point of living if you have no hope? But when I was given the grace to know, really truly believe that He died for me, my life changed. Maybe not so much outwardly but inwardly, I had a joy that no one could take from me!


"There's a peace in my heart that the world never gave, A peace it cannot take away; Tho' the trials of life may surround like a cloud, I've a peace that has come there to stay!

Dear Father, give us strength that we could remain faithful and fight a good fight, even to the end! Let us be fervent in love to Thee and our brothers and sisters around us. Let us speak to those who need encouragement, pray for those who are struggling, uplift those who have fallen, and sing with those who are praising Thee. Let us be bold and proclaim Thy saving grace to those around us, that they too could be partakers of Thy saving grace. Keep us onto the end, dear Father. AMEN

“For most of my life I have thought of grace as a hope of a bright tomorrow in spite of the darkness of today–and this is true. In this way we are all like Pamela, walking a road to grace–hoping for mercy. What we fail to realize is that grace is more than our destination, it is the journey itself, manifested in each breath and with each step we take. Grace surrounds us, whirls about us like the wind, falls on us like rain. Grace sustains us on our journeys, no matter how perilous they may be and, make no mistake, they are all perilous. We need not hope for grace, we merely need to open our eyes to its abundance. Grace is all around us, not just in the hopeful future but in the miracle of now.” ―Richard Paul Evans

 





Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Life Motivations And Lessons

   Life seems to be where I've wanted it to be for a long time. Yes, I am missing a few of the things I wanted to fit in with the overall picture, but I'm okay with that. And I'm learning day by day that just because we get what it is that we think we want, that thing doesn't always make us happy. Being happy in life is a choice we make. We could have everything in life that we want and still be the most sad and lonely people in the world. Life seems to have a way of creeping up on us and telling us what we are missing.

   I enrolled in the online college class I have been wanting to take. I'm in training to become an EMT. Wow. Even now, it's hard to believe. I didn't think I would ever be able to do this. And even now, I have my doubts, but they are a completely new set of doubts:

1.)Will I have the dedication and time to study that I need?

2.) Will be able to read, comprehend, and put to use all I learn?

3.) Can I do this by myself?

The answers:

1.) Priorities are important. So are schedules. So with a strict schedule and getting my priorities straight, yes, I will have the time. And the dedication, it will come with time. So I guess this is a yes, yes answer.

2.) I hope that I will. I have a wonderful mentor that I know I can call whenever I need help on something. I have resources in my area, people I can visit with and ask questions to. And I have my instructors online. There are tests, work books, games, brochures, pamphlets, additional classes... The list goes on and on of the resources that I have. So I think that this would be a yes answer too.

3.) NO. I can not do this by myself, on my own. No one can live on their own. We all need someone. I have relatives, friends, co-workers, and God with me. I may feel alone sometimes, but really, it's just the devil trying to convince me to give up, to quit, to fail. No, I can never do this on my own, but with God, all things are possible.

   Even now though, I wonder if this is the path that God wants me on, or if I completely missed the road He is trying to lead me down. I pray that I would always be ready to serve and follow Him, that wherever He would lead or send me, I would gladly go. I have my doubts at times, but I pray that He would strengthen me as He sees fit, that He would protect me wherever I go, and that He could show His love for me, even if I am blind to everything else in this world. I know that He can and that He will, because He has so many times before.

   I've been thinking about a question that a friend asked of me awhile ago, and I guess I don't really have a solid answer. The question was what my favorite song was. For me, songs are encouraging, so my favorite depends on what it is that I am facing in my life. Tonight, this one is the one I played just before writing this:

1. Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsakes, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish every fond ambition, All I've sought, and hoped, and known:
Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own!

2. Let the world despise and leave me, They have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends may shun me; Show Thy face, and all is bright.

3. Man may trouble and distress me, 'Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me, Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
O 'tis not in grief to harm me, While Thy love is left to me;
O 'twere not in joy to charm me, Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

4. Haste thee on from grace to glory, Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal day's before thee, God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.  (*)

   Lately, this has been my song, that I would live for Him and for others, and not let the hurt of man blind me to the love of my Saviour. I pray that we all could remain strong in our faith and love towards our Heavenly Father, that we would lift up and encourage those fellow travelers on the way, and that we would desire to one day be with our Saviour in Heaven.

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;.

Colossians 1:2-23



(*) Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Henry Francis Lyte, 1824
Hymns and Songs of Zion, #387

Friday, January 30, 2015

I Will Not Be A Prototype


(Or maybe another title could be: "Maybe I Am A Little Bit of A Rebel. That's for y'all to decide.)
   Thank you to the few of you who took the time to leave comments. I am still wondering if I should write, as I don't want what I say to affect my family, relatives, or friends. If all comments, concerns, and criticism was directed directly to me, I wouldn't mind. Apparently, I didn't come across clearly enough. I have heard from multiple people that other people have talked to them, and are/were concerned about me and/or my family. This was not my intention, to draw attention to me or my family. No, my point was that confession does not earn salvation and confession doesn't mean forgotten forever right away. While I do appreciate the concerns that have been expressed in different ways, I feel like my point was missed by some.
   Anyway, aside from the above little note, life has been moving along. I moved into an apartment and I'm enjoying the feeling of self-dependency, even though my family isn't too far away. I plan to start college in a week, if everything works out for me. And then, there's Europe in the summer. (I hope...) Between work, a new apartment, college, and music, I think I will stay busy. But sometimes, I get lonely.
   Which brings me to where I'm at in life. I spent eighteen years of my life living by rules, standards, and ideas. I couldn't talk to people, or go out for coffee, or play volleyball because of rules. I couldn't wear pants, trim my hair, or wear high heels because of standards. My life was a big confused world. And then I realized that just because I wear these clothes, avoid some places, and associate with certain people, none of this makes me a better person. I'm still who I am. The outside of me may have looked good, but in my heart, where it mattered, was still vile and corrupt. I don't have to be who other people want me to be, trained me to be. I can be myself. I was tired of being this predictable, quiet, and too shy to talk to anyone, girl. I was fed up with people always looking at me and then walking past me like I didn't exist. And I was flat out angry when I realized that I always had to drop anything I was doing when others needed help because something else was always more important than me or what I was doing. So I decided to change. Most people would call this being a rebel, or being stubborn, or becoming liberal. I call it fighting for myself and a place in the world outside of the normal people. I want to be different. I want to confidant in myself and my abilities. I want to be needed. I want to be noticed. I want to be known as the girl who has time for anyone, who can relate to anyone, and who is happy and friendly but can still be quiet and caring. I don't want to be a prototype of the culture that I have been part of for so long. So I did change. Not too drastically outwardly, but inwardly, yes. I stand up for what I believe and desire. I am learning to talk to people without turning bright red. I've been trying to insert myself into social circles. (This is the hardest change yet) But how can one undo what they have spent their entire life doing? I still go unnoticed, and sometimes it bothers me. But I can be stronger, I can be more, and I can be helped. I am not alone, although sometimes it feels like I am. I am going to college, I'm working my way to a dream that I have had for years, and for the first time in my life, I have a plan.
   You know, we are called to serve others, to put God first, others second, and ourselves last. But how can we be uplifting, cheerful, encouraging, and loving, when we ourselves are feeling worthless, tired, and discouraged? It's okay to take time for ourselves! It's okay to go out on a date with yourself, splurge on a meal that you can relax, and to buy yourself that something you have always wanted. It's okay to tell people no and get some sleep. We can't always do for others. Sometimes, we need to think of ourselves.
   I'm not saying here to completely stop serving others. No, we are called to serve. But let's not forget that while others are important, we are too. And I'm not saying to completely forget everything that anyone has ever taught you and go be someone that no one has ever heard of. I'm saying: be yourself, be respectful, and be comfortable and confident in the person you become. Because until you are confident and comfortable with yourself and your faith, you will never truly be happy in life.


  
  

Monday, January 19, 2015

I WILL WRITE

   As I have been reminded by many, I have not posted on my blog for awhile now. It's not because I don't have time, or because I don't feel like I don't have anything to say. Really, I do have the time, and I have many drafts wrote up to post, enough for a year if I wanted to. But here's the thing: I don't want to offend anyone. But I also don't want to compromise what my feelings or beliefs are in some matters. So I have opted to not saying anything. So then, I got to thinking, why have a blog if I'm not free to express myself? I don't know who reads my writings, I don't know where each person stands or what they are facing in life, and I don't know how each person believes. I do know what I am facing, what I believe, and what I feel. And even though my feelings may be hurtful, my faith and convictions different from others, and my life is down a complete different road than anyone else, I'm still here. I do know what I am facing. I do know how to express that. And to let my fear of what people might say get in my way, that isn't right. So I decided that I would write, whether people agreed with me on everything or I am persecuted and made an outcast from others. I WILL WRITE.
   That being said, my thoughts have been on my church. I have been thinking how we are taught from the youngest age to confess our faults and failures, our sin and transgressions. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as we are truly penitent and we desire, with the help of our Heavenly Father to turn from our wicked ways. But what happens when we confess out of habit, with no heart change, no penitence, and no sorrow? What happens when our confession becomes our means of salvation? When our acts become our saving grace? Does Jesus then die in vain? Is His grace, love, life, and blood no longer needed? We are told:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
How then can we be saved by a continual confession of our poorness, our depravity, our wretchedness, our transgression, if it is merely an act of repetition, for the saving of our souls? I'm not saying to throw away the confession of sins. No, we are told:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
What I am saying is that we need to be carefully that we don't become so caught up in our works (i.e. confession of our sins, helping others, ministering to the widows and the fatherless, giving to the poor, etc.) that we then think we can use these acts as our salvation. Indeed it is a precious and strengthening thing, when we can go to a brother or sister in Christ and hear the proclamation to "Believe your sins and transgressions forgiven is the name and precious atoning blood of Jesus Christ." Not only is this a precious thing, but it uplifting and encouraging as well.
   My other thought has been this: Since when is it alright to ask for forgiveness for xxx and then tell the person you confessed to: "This sin was forgiven. Now you can't talk about it. You can't tell anyone. If you do, then it's your sin." This has been my general understanding of confession for many years. It wasn't until recent years where I have saw that this is doing us, as Christians and a body of Christ, no good. I do believe that there is a time and a place, that certain sins can be repented of and put away for good. But what of the sins of fornication, adultery, abuse, killing, stealing, cheating, etc.? Do we repent of these and then forget about them? What of the people who suffer(ed) terribly because of these things? How much can we sweep under the rug, and then say that no one can talk about them, because they have been forgiven of? What of the offender? He can confess these things, tell his victim that because it has been repented of they can't talk about in fear that it will then become the victims sin, and then the offender is off again, free to do the same offense or worse again. We aren't holding these offenders accountable for their actions. We aren't standing up and speaking out. We are scared to break the traditions that we have been taught from an early age. Since when is it okay to live a life of fear, simply because we are afraid to break the traditions that have been taught to us since we were young? Since when should offenders not be held accountable for their actions? Since when is it okay for people to turn their eyes away from children, from spouses, from anyone who is being abused or raped or lied to, simply because the offender has confessed? Since when? What has happened to our church? Are we so caught up in tradition that we can't stand up and fight for the truth? Are we so caught up in the political realms of our churches, that we can no longer speak the truth?
   One last thing, and it's a quote I heard a couple of weeks ago that I thought was very thought provoking. The pastor was talking about in the old Testament, where when a sin or transgression had been committed, an innocent animal would be slain, and the blood of that animal would atone for the sin or transgression. Then, when God sent His Son to die for us, that changed. Then, we by faith believe that Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins. We can't do anything ourselves. We can't kill an animal and cover ourselves in its blood. No, we must have faith and believe. So here's the quote, and I'll leave you all with this:

"Hypocrites love tradition because it doesn't require any faith."