Blessed

a humble princess, pursued by the King, in the greatest fairy tale ever written

Giving God 99% of Me

PART-TIME CHRISTIAN Sometime I wonder…

If you take away the bumper sticker on your car that says “Jesus Loves you”, if you take away the t-shirt you are wearing with a catchy Christian phrase on it, if you take away the cross hanging around your neck… would people see Jesus in you?

From the very beginning of time God called us to be holy, set apart, different from the world around us.

But often times I find that there is a very thin, blurry line in the distinction of a real Christian and an unbeliever.

Other than the fact that a Christian attends a special service every Sunday morning there is little evidence to help distinguish us from the rest of the world during the week.

We settle for a mediocre, part-time Christianity where we follow after Christ based on our own timing and preferences rather than His.

If His truth…

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His Redeeming Love

Yesterday I came across Isaiah 43 (I’m reading the Bible in chronological order and it was my scheduled reading). 

This passage is so beautiful, please look it up in any translation. Over and over God repeats how much He loves us. There’s a beautiful image about halfway through where He promises to make a new way for His sinful people- to bless them with streams in the dry and weary land. 

Over and over He promises to never let go of us- through the deep waters, and through the fires in life.

I just love everything about Isaiah 43. And when God gets to be God, that’s the best part. In my head, or maybe that’s the Spirit talking, it’s SO powerful when God is proclaiming who He is, and what He does. He is God and nobody else is; NOTHING is powerful enough to snatch us from Him, to undo what He has done. 

I got baptized on Easter. It was a really cool thing, not necessarily because it was Easter, although that symbolism is neat. The big thing for me was that April 20 mmarked one year of me coming to Christ. Through all the pain He’s been there, healing every wound. Isaiah 43 really speaks to me because I know all about Him calling me by name. I know what it’s like to be redeemed, and I stand in awe of Him every moment of every day. Because He is God, and He is good. 

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{Life Thoughts}

wisdom3“Until we care more about what God thinks than what other people think we are never truly free” Christine Caine

“Some of the most beautiful futures are built from the rubble of the most broken pasts.” Mandy Hale

“God doesn’t expect us to understand; He just expects us to obey. Sometimes understanding comes after we obey.” Bruce Van Horn

“Be thankful for closed doors, detours, and roadblocks. They protect you from paths and places not meant for you”Mandy Hale

“To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.” Dale Partridge

“Ministry is NOT simply the stage. It is your home, your job, your school, your neighborhood. Different parts, One body. One Glory to GOD.” Brittney Moses

“God’s word isn’t a buffet. We cannot pick and choose what we will obey. Either we are all in or not in at…

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Grace

Today, I finally got to understand what grace is.  I’ve been diving deep into God’s Word and getting to know Jesus for almost a year now, and He’s the most important thing in my life. Every day, I make a conscious effort to spend time in morning prayer, read Scripture throughout the day, and making an effort to purposefully focus on Him at various times throughout the busy workweek. Weekends are easy –  I naturally spend a lot of time in solitude (surrounded by nature and/or animals), and when I am “alone” I am always focused on Him. I am head-over-heels in love with Him, and always striving to know Him better and to be more like Him.

I do a lot of research and prayerful studying of biblical themes, and I understand that salvation is by grace alone.  I know for me – I believe in Jesus, and not only that, but I know Him personally, and I am on the narrow road to heaven. It just so happens that since I know Jesus, my life and the way I live has been totally transformed. I understand that He died for my sins and that I get zero credit in this whole salvation scenario, because He has done, and is doing, all the work – He gets the glory; He is the Glory.

But I’m a giver. I like to do thoughtful things for those I love. So… I am always trying to be better, to be more like Jesus, and I know I fail a lot every day. Once in a while I get a little too caught up in my sins, and I wonder about my salvation. I get frustrated at myself for not asking the Spirit for help, but I find that at times, I’m so ashamed of where I’m at, it’s hard to approach Him. I understand wrath, and I do rightfully “fear the Lord” as I am commanded (this doesn’t mean to live being afraid, but rather to have a very intense love and respect towards Him.)

I understand that my salvation is a gift from God, given out of love and grace alone, and that nothing I do can make a difference in eternity. But because of my knowledge of my sin, and my desire to be better for Him, I struggle at times to live life to the fullest here on Earth.

I’ll save you from the extended version of this scenario –  everyone in my life knows the situation anyway. But short version – I have a mule – as in a large, furry, cuddly pet – and I love her tremendously. I grew up with her and barring any very tragic circumstances, I will have her for a long time. Every decision I make in my life revolves around her, she’s the most important thing on Earth to me.

In fact, she’s the only thing that has ever tied me down. Yes, she’s totally mobile, but until I have a truck and trailer, I won’t move anywhere (I do temporarily live an hour and a half away, but I visit 3/4 weekends each month and I am moving to my own place in the country in a few weeks where I’ll be able to have her with me instead of at my parents’). I can’t imagine living without mules – ever. I like to travel and I have a strong desire to do short-term missions – maybe even multiple trips/year. But I will have a permanent home with mules.

And since I’ve become a Christian, that bothers me. You see, I came to Jesus because my boyfriend had left. No denying that he was just about the most important thing in my life, and in my heart, and he had to be out of my life before there was room for God. God is jealous and He (rightly so) wants to be on the throne of our hearts. So I live with a constant awareness when things seem really important to me, and I find myself trying to make sure He’s still at the center of my heart.

I struggle with the concept of grace at times, because I’m voluntarily tied down by my pets, and in my mind, I’m hindered from serving Him wholeheartedly. I know that had I been raised differently, I would for sure be living in Latin or South America right now – probably having a very lean, nomatic lifestyle, and definitely serving God and spreading the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. So every day I ask for forgiveness, and I make a conscious effort to make sure I’m still putting Him first in my heart and my mule second, and loving His people from where I’m at. I know God is good and I am always redirecting my mind to Him.

I didn’t go to my parents’ this weekend, and today, I found out that there was an event and God saved my mule’s life yesterday. And that led to my first serious understanding of grace. I cried and cried all afternoon, just weeping in my thankfulness. (Periodically, a thought of what could have happened instead would pop up, and that really hurt my heart.) I kept thinking about Him saving her for me, and my initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh, I’m such a bad person and He did that for me! I need to be better!” And that was immediately followed by a new burst of tears and then it really hit me – the reality that God did that very generous thing for me, even though I’m an awful person.

That’s what this grace is – that’s what salvation is. We are fallen people, all sinners, even those of us who are making a valiant effort to live better and to be more like Him. And He wants us to enjoy the gifts He’s given us on Earth. I still need to make sure I’m putting Him at the center of my heart every day, but there’s nothing wrong with loving things on Earth second – as long as these things are God-honoring,good, lovely, and pure. Every good and perfect thing comes from Him (James 1:17) and He is always good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

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“I want ____ more than God”

When God isn't #1 When I used to think of the word “idol” many images come to mind.

People dancing around a golden calf.

People bowing down to a statue of Buddha.

People worshipping the rising of the sun on top of a high mountain.

But often times what I forget is that an idol isn’t just a statue or figure of some sort, it can be absolutely anything.

Idolatry takes many shapes and forms and not all of them are even physical.

For the Israelites it was a golden calf, for Hindus around the world it could be a statue or an animal, but for you it could be something else.

What is an idol exactly? I think Mark Driscoll says it best in his sermon on idolatry:

“An idol is what keeps you up at night and gets you up in the morning. It’s anything that replaces Jesus at the center…

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Conviction

Convictions. If you like the feeling… maybe you’re feeling the wrong thing.

Just kidding. Convictions are great. And they feel great…once you realize what’s going on. 

A conviction is often a painful thing – at least for me. Last night I lost a lot of sleep, and that’s not ideal for someone who runs around as much as I do; sleep is precious and I don’t get enough, even when I fall asleep immediately. Last night I tossed and turned, plagued by something. 

It was sudden, and it was powerful. You see, I was having flashbacks – very powerful memories with feelings attached. It’s like I was travelling through this particular time in my life in fast-forward, and it’s absolutely not a time I want to revisit…ever. If I’m not mistaken, that’s a large part of what hell is supposed to be: people will be tormented day and night, inside their very souls.

I should probably back up to the “beginning” of the story, which we all know isn’t the true beginning anyway. 

Last April, someone wronged me. This person hurt me very, very badly, and he was merciless in the process. I’ll probably never know why, though I have come to regard it as a blessing. Because that’s what brought me, crying and very much humbled, to Jesus’s feet, where my new and very awesome life began. 

A lot of time passed before I accepted that this person and I would not be friends, and that I would have to just live my life and be content not understanding what happened, or why. Although, to quote a very helpful Bible verse (I don’t think I’m misusing it in this case by quoting just a single verse), “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” -Jesus (John 13:7). Someday I will understand, and right now I just have to trust and have faith in the One who died for me. 

It happened overnight. One day, I was soft-hearted and forgiving, and the very next day, I closed my heart to this person. 

And that’s when he started following me around-or whatever he’s doing.(I refuse to find out, because I’m content not understanding.)

And I’m bitter.  I refuse to have any contact whatsoever – he shows up, I leave. How dare he even lay his eyes on me! (Two very simple words would change how I feel, but of course I’m not holding out for that –  I can only control myself, not him.) 

And I see this as progress. And my friends are always on my side –  we all know that I’m simply protecting myself. 

But it goes so much deeper. I’ve let unforgiveness take over, I’ve let bitterness creep up. I’ve taken someone God created and turned him into Satan himself. 

I have a friend interceding for me, though. I have one lone friend, praying for him and feeling pity for this cruel, cruel being. So that makes it okay right? I can be bitter – it’s totally justified and deserved – and it’s not that bad, because she’s still praying for his soul!

I believe God looks down at me and shakes His head in sadness… very often. And I think He’s saving me from myself, but it’s a very excruciating process. So I lost sleep last night. Because out of the blue, there I was, in all the good memories I’ve been blocking for the past 6 months. 

And I remembered how Sirius Black explains to Harry that there’s good and bad in all of us…and how true that is. 

At first I had no idea what was going on, and I was mad at myself for letting these memories come about. But as I tossed and turned and cried, I realized that maybe it was God showing me something. 

This time, I had done it. A Jesus follower isn’t supposed to be bitter. In fact, I am called to love my enemies, and to do good to those who wrong me. For me, that means I have to actively forgive. Maybe this will be something I carry for the rest of my life. And it’s up to me to actively seek a forgiving heart every day. 

NOwhere in God’s Word does it say that bitterness is an okay thing. But forgiveness and love are all over. And even if the bitterness and hatred makes me feel better, I still know it’s wrong. So for the rest of Lent, I’m giving up hatred.

Just kidding. I’m trying to give up hatred for the rest of my life. (Let’s call a spade a spade: I don’t have a problem with hatred, normally. This is just one person out of six billion. Let’s call it selective hatred…it might be even worse.) God showed me my hypocrisy, and it made me sick. Now it’s time for me to live out what I’ve learned and to make sure that not just every word from my mouth, but every thought in my heart, also, is God-honoring. 

 

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Yes, of course a business owner should have the right to refuse service to gay people

The Matt Walsh Blog

gay bill

We critics of modern society tend to run into a problem very similar to the one you encounter when you go to a bar with 27 different beers on tap.

Sometimes, we just don’t know where to begin.

That’s how I feel when I read about the progressives working themselves into a lather over that religious freedom bill in Arizona. The legislation simply solidifies a business owner’s right to act according to his or her religious beliefs (I say “further solidifies” because the First Amendment already covers this ground pretty thoroughly). “News” outlets like CNN, engaging in blatant editorializing (surprise!), refer to it as “the anti-gay bill,” because part of religious freedom is the right to not participate in activities which you find mortally sinful.

It’s not that business owners want to “refuse service” to gays simply because they’re gay; it’s that some business owners — particularly people who work in the wedding industry…

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“I don’t look like the girl on the magazine”

INNER BEAUTY I used to think that to be beautiful I needed to have the right hairstyle, wear the right brand of jeans, and have the right amount of make-up on my face.

But over the years I have learned that true beauty is much deeper than what someone sees with their eyes.

It’s not about what you look like on the outside, but the person that you are inside.

It’s not the person you are in public, but the person you are in private.

For the longest time my standard for beauty were the pictures of girls that I saw on magazine covers but in reality, it should have always been Christ.

Recently we had a women’s conference at our church and my senior pastor’s wife shared a thought about Mary, Jesus’s mother, that really made me think twice about where real beauty comes from.

She said that not once does…

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Am I too content?

Here I am again, in a situation where I feel so “strange” for not wishing for my life to be any different. It’s Valentine’s Day, and there are a bazillion reasons I dislike this day. The big thing is that it annoys me (it really, really bothers me way down deep in my heart) how so many people choose one day of the year to treat their significant other as if he/she is special. I’m sorry, but whenever I have a significant other, Valentine’s Day is nothing special-because I simply require to be treated as if I’m special every single day. (And of course, that’s how I treat my significant other as well-right now my “significant others” are my best girlfriends, and I’m not sorry about that.)

Here I am again, reminded (as I am on a very regular basis) that I have no “special guy” to spend the day with. I don’t have a guy to text all day, I don’t have anyone to go on dates with, I don’t have a guy to take weekend trips with. I’m not alone-many of my female friends are single, and I do so many things with them on a regular basis that, quite frankly, I don’t have enough time to even text a guy during my lunch hour. I don’t have a guy in my life, but I have so many friends that I’m never alone- especially because when I am alone, that’s my Jesus time 🙂

But one thing I’ve noticed that separates me from most of the other single ladies in their mid-20’s that I know, is that I’m perfectly content.

At one of my Bible studies earlier this week, we talked about the fruit of the Spirit. One thing that came up is how often we are jealous of what others have. One of the girls was talking to another about how she feels the sting whenever someone gets engaged, has a baby, etc, and the other girl was nodding. And I chimed in with, “Oh. Well…I don’t have that kind of jealousy. Mine is way different (more like I’ll be jealous of somebody’s fancy new boots or something shallow like that).” The first girl turned to me and said, “You’re not jealous when everyone is growing up and getting married?” And you know, she gave me that look. Like, not only am I really weird for not feeling that way, but maybe she didn’t quite believe it.

And… I do feel weird. Mandy Hale is the only woman I know (well…I don’t personally know her) who celebrates her singleness so vibrantly. Her book is spectacular and so is her website http://thesinglewoman.net/  and don’t forget to check out her Facebook page! I realized just today that much of my time I spend with single friends is spent discussing relationships/significant others/our lack of such a thing. And I find myself getting caught up in the whole “I want to find someone” thing.

But the truth is, I don’t. When I’m alone with my thoughts and not surrounded by “the pressure,” I’m really happy the way things are in my life. It’s not that I don’t like to change-after what happened to me in 2013, change is spectacular and I embrace it with open arms. I went to a wedding by myself last fall and had more fun than I’ve ever had at a wedding before. I get to spend all my alone time in silent prayer or reading a book- I’m not obligated to watch television or something with a “significant other.”

I’m getting ready to move into the house/acreage of my dreams- because nobody is holding me back. I have a job I love in a town I love because I didn’t have to move somewhere with somebody. (These situations are current, real-life situations that some non-single friends of mine are facing right now.)

I get to pick out a dog that I want and I get to grow whatever I want in my garden because the only person I have to feed is myself. I don’t have to worry about trying to make sure someone else likes what I’m making for supper. (I often host feasts/suppers with friends and those are different situations.) I get to spend my money the way that I want to, and I get to give away as much of it as I want, because my expenses are the only thing I have to be concerned about, and they are quite minimal at the current time. I get to spend my time however I want, and I never have to worry if I’m hurting someone’s feelings- or if someone is about to hurt me.

My favorite thing about my singleness though, is the time I get to spend with God. I spent a lot of time explaining how I like to do whatever I want, but the truth is, I do whatever I want when I’m in a relationship as well. But this time with God-that’s the gift of singleness. I spend every waking moment with Him, and oftentimes, I know He’s with me when I sleep and it’s so comforting. Besides doing whatever I want for myself, I’m able to serve God wholeheartedly, because my only responsibilities are to Him. I can take mission trips to wherever I want, because I won’t be leaving anyone behind to miss me. I get to live the life that Paul writes about in his letter to the Corinthians:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

I love my current stage in life, where I’m single and free to be me. You can be the judge on whether or not I’m too content. But as for myself, I’ve prayed a lot to get to this point (of enjoying being “single”) and I intend to enjoy every minute of it. Life is short-live it and love it! And don’t forget-no matter what stage of life you’re in, God is your best friend and His love never fails-you can’t go wrong with loving Him first and foremost. James 1:17, 1 John 4 (the whole chapter), and Matthew 28:20 are some of my favorite verses to remind me that God’s love is best because it’s always the same and it never changes, no matter what I do or where I’m at in life. And I will say this- having a relationship with God has brought me more joy than anything else in life, and I know that as long as my faith and trust is in Him, I’ll have the power to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11).

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Dear single girl

christian single girl I know today is your favorite day of the year.

There’s nothing you look forward to more than seeing everyone confess their love to each other all over social media.

That you just love walking into stores and seeing roses, chocolates and heart shaped balloons taking over the aisles.

That you just love the cliché things that people tell you during the holidays to help you feel better.

About how love comes when you least expect it.

About what a catch you are and how lucky some guy will be to have you.

And I know that you are tired of being a bridesmaid for the 158th time.

That going to weddings is just not your thing.

That you are sick of answering the questions people ask about that wedding ring that’s not on your finger yet.

That no matter how happy you are for your best friend who…

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