2.28.2014

His dazzling glory


‘In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory.  And it dazzled me.’

This was said by one of my heroes, St. Augustine, and those two sentences spoke so much to me.  It is my new favorite quote.  And one that I wrote in the front cover of my Bible (on a page that’s only dedicated to certain life-impacting quotes, so this one is definitely special).

We will never understand why certain things happen to us.  We will never be able to grasp God’s sovereignty.  But through faith we know that everything that transpires in our life is conducted by His almighty hand and nothing goes unplanned or unseen by Him.  

Life is a struggle.  Every day brings new challenges, new trials, new wounds.  But if we rest assured in the power of His will and that He holds to the promise that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28), we can look for the beauty in the pain.  Beauty in not only what He is making us to be.  But the beauty of His glory.  Because all things happen for whatever purpose He has, and in the end, all to bring Him glory.

And His glory is something to behold.  Something most dazzling.  

2.21.2014

4 Types of Worship


There are so many different ways that we can worship God in our daily lives.  Here is a short list of a few ways that I have learned I can worship God the most through.  I’m not saying these are the only ways.  But I pray that these thoughts encourage you to search deeper into ways you can praise our God.


1) Time in the Word
‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’
- Matthew 6:33

As children of God, we are called to learn about Him, to dwell on His words, to SEEK His face.  Just like any other relationship, you will always continue learning about the other person.  There won’t ever be a time when you know everything there is to know about them.  The same is in our relationship with Jesus.  To learn about Him, we must spend time in His Word, gleaning from it, and prayerfully asking Him to teach us more about Who He is.  And through doing this, we are worshiping Him by obeying Him.  Reading God’s letter to us should be a daily requirement in each of our schedules.  Make time to spend in His presence.  It’ll be the best part of your day.


2) Through Song
‘Praise Him with the trumpet sound!  Praise Him with harp and lyre!  Praise Him with timbrel and dancing!  Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe!’
- Psalm 150:3-4

Music is such a passion of mine.  And I consider my talent in music as a gift from God so what better way to worship Him than by using the gift He gave me?  Praising God through song is one of my favorite ways to express my worship to Him.  And I’m thankful for the many songs that I know of that I can use as my own prayers of thanksgiving.


3) Prayer
‘Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.’
- Psalm 95:6

Prayer is so very powerful.  It’s our way of having a conversation with the One Who made us.  Bit of an overwhelming thought, huh?  And through prayer, we can worship Him through rejoicing in all He has done for us.  It’s just like thanking a parent for providing food for us.  We are giving them thanks through our words, so when we’re talking to God, it’s a form of praise.


4) Praising in the hard times
‘Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’
- James 1:2-3

It’s easy to praise and worship when things are going well and life is smooth and easy.  But what about the times when it’s hard to go a day without crying?  Or the moments when you just feel like giving up because whatever you’re facing is just ‘too hard’?  Yet it’s in these very times when worshiping God is the most crucial, and most beautiful.  Like the verse from James says above - we are to count it as JOY when we suffer trials and hardships.  And this verse goes hand in hand with Romans 8:28 where we are promised that God works all things out for our good.  Worship Him during the tough times because through them, He’s making you stronger to withstand whatever else is coming your way.  And you’ll for sure be thanking Him then.
Are you going through something difficult right now?  If so, what kind of attitude do you have?  Is it a good attitude (praising and thanking God amidst your pain) or are you harboring complaints and curses to God and are too busy blaming Him to understand the test He’s putting you through?  I’m not saying it’s easy to go through tough times and keep a positive attitude.  But we can, if we lean on the strength that God is so willing to give us.  He hasn’t abandoned us.  And He won’t start now.

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‘Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!’
- Psalm 150:6

2.17.2014

Of friendships come and gone


We’ve all had that one friend who we talked to all day, everyday, about anything and everything and sometimes nothing at all.  We could talk for hours on end and never get tired of hearing each other’s voice or seeing each other’s name pop up on our phones to alert us that we had a text from them.  We’d send each other silly pictures, have sleepovers, rock out to our favorite songs together, whisper until the wee hours of the morning about guys or girls and always know that tomorrow would be another day to fill with more memories with that person you loved.

And then one day, things changed.  Something happened.  And you will most likely never know what.  The conversations dwindled.  The time grew longer and longer between talks.  The phone calls ceased.  Text messages became a thing of the past.  And the part of your heart that was always so happy at the mention of that friend’s name is nothing more but a mass of memories that make you sad and ache at the confusion and loss of someone who you thought would always be there for you.  Because, after all, that’s what friends usually promise each other, right?  

Maybe you’ve tried to get back in contact with them, but they’ve pushed you away - leaving you to wonder what the heck you ever did to make them upset with you.  Or maybe they just came straight out and told you ‘I don’t think there’s anything worth salvaging in our friendship’, and you left, with tears in your eyes, to think that the friendship you used to hold so dear to your heart was actually nothing worth fighting for.

I know you’re waiting for the happy ending of this post.  Raquel just dragged you through a puddle of memories and you’re hoping she can give you something to help ease the pain.  But, the sad truth is, I don’t have anything to remedy this.  There isn’t anything I can say or do that can help you forget that friend you once had.  Or something that could help you understand why they won’t talk to you anymore.  It’s a part of the past that you can’t undo.  And it’s something you can either choose to leave in the past, choose to carry with you, or choose to let its lessons teach you for the future.

It's natural to overthink, but sometimes this just causes more hurt.  You can keep asking yourself what happened and why or what you did that made this friendship fall apart, but you'll probably never find the answer.  The reason it hurts so much, though, is because you cared for that person.  There wouldn't be pain over a friendship lost if there wasn't a friendship love to begin with.

People come and go.  It’s a fact of life.  And if you have any friends who you’ve known since childhood and are still able talk to, you are incredibly blessed.  (I can count how many of those kinds of friends I have on one hand.)  

Short friendships are kind of a common thing in my life.  For the longest time, I beat myself up over it, almost falling into a depression, wondering and worrying over what awful things I could have done to make those ‘friends’ leave.  I overthink every single little detail.  I love easily.  And I love so hard that it really hurts when I realize that I have to let go.  But I remember one day, either hearing or reading something, that said how every single person who comes into your life is an opportunity for you to show them God’s love.  And since then, I’ve made it a point to reach out to people even more - and invest my time and love into them - even though they might leave.  Even though I’ll only know them for a week, a day, an hour.  I don’t care if they don’t even remember my name.  Just so long as they remember the love I showed them.  Which wasn’t even my own.  I just want them to remember God’s love.

We’ve been put on this world - not to be comfortable!  But to realize that there’s another world waiting for us that will be free of misery and pain.  Where friendships won’t be broken, tears won’t be spilt and pain won’t be present.  But for now, live life joyfully.  Take each day as a blessing.  And smother people with love - even if they don’t want it.  Sometimes the people who push you away are the ones who most need you in their life.  

And, dear one, don’t let those people who have left your life ruin your present happiness.  It’s their loss, not yours.

2.07.2014

Self-Esteem Vs. Self-Confidence



I’m going to be rather blunt and just say that I am so tired of girls thinking they aren’t beautiful.  And seeking attention by complaining about their looks.

For starters, it makes me mad that this world is brain-washing girls to think that without full lips, big boobs, a toned butt, and makeup, we aren’t as beautiful as we could be.

And secondly, it makes me sad to see that girls are actually starting to believe these lies.

You don’t need to hide behind a mask.  That mask can never be as beautiful as who you really are, who God created you to be.  You don’t have to be perfect.  In God’s eyes, you already are.  You belong to Him, the One who never makes mistakes.  He has made each of you unique and beautiful.  

A lot of girls struggle with knowing what would be termed as ‘prideful’ or ‘self-confident’.  There’s nothing wrong with looking in the mirror and thinking ‘I look nice today’.  That’s not prideful, unless you make it so.  If you go flaunting yourself around, worming for compliments (a lot of girls do this via posting photos on social networks), then yes, that’s prideful.  But if you simply state it to yourself and are happy with your appearance, this is not self-esteem.  This is self-confidence.  We should be confident in our skin, knowing that we are beautiful in God’s eyes.  There’s nothing wrong with thinking you’re pretty.  When someone compliments your attractiveness, accept it.  Don’t try to deny it and say ‘oh no I’m not’.  I can’t stand it when girls do this (and I know, for a fact, that it’s a turnoff to guys).  Yes, you are pretty.  You are beautiful.  Be content with this.  Be confident in it.  Be sure.

And let me clarify one thing.  There’s nothing wrong with wearing some makeup to enhance the natural beauty that is already evident, but it shouldn’t detract from it.  We need to find our identity in God, not in the way we look or dress.  When we focus on God and how He sees us, the insecurities will fade - because we are joyful in being content with how He created us.

Strive to be a godly girl.  To have a beautiful heart - by loving others.  To have beautiful hands - by serving others.  To have beautiful lips - by smiling.  

You are a daughter of the One Who clothes the beautiful lilies of the valley.  So how much more beautiful would He make His daughter than a flower of nature?

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‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.’
- Proverbs 31:30

2.05.2014

I.D.


We all struggle with finding our identity, our purpose and our value in this life.  But as children of God, we can rest in the assurance of our identity in Him.

And when you understand WHAT and WHO you are in Christ, this is the starting point for you to discover your purpose in life.  Why?  Because without understanding this precious truth from the start, you will try to fill in the blanks of life’s purpose on your own.  And nothing can compare to God’s beautiful design for the person He is making you into.

Here are just a few identification examples.  I’d encourage you to search out more Scriptures that prove these points.  Maybe write them out in your devotional journal or print them out and hang them around your room as little reminders and encouragements.

In Christ, you are:

Wonderfully Made
'I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.'
Psalm 139:14

New
‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature...’
2 Corinthians 5:17

Righteous
‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’
2 Corinthians 5:21

Beloved
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.’
Jeremiah 31:3

A child of God 
‘See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God...’
1 John 3:1

Delighted In
‘The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.’
Zephaniah 3:17

Forgiven
‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
1 John 1:9

Washed Clean
‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be made as white as snow.  Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’
Isaiah 1:18

Free
‘It was freedom that Christ set us free...’
Galatians 5:1

A Temple of the Holy Spirit
‘Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?’
1 Corinthians 6:19

Set Apart
‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.’
Ephesians 2:10

Whole In Christ
‘And in Him you have been made complete.’
Colossians 2:10

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2.03.2014

Surrendering the Memories



‘It takes a moment to create a memory.  And a lifetime to forget it.’

We will always have memories.  Some are good, some are not as good.  But whether we like them or not, they have been made in our lives and they will come to mind at, sometimes, the most random of moments.

Yesterday, I was struggling with some certain not-so-pleasant memories.  The moments in which they were made seemed lovely and perfect and beautiful and all that good stuff.  But things happened.  Life changed.  And those recollected times aren’t as happy anymore.

I’m sure you can all relate in one circumstance or another.

But...I was reminded of something. 

It doesn’t matter how often we have memories or think back to certain occasions.  What matters is what we do with those memories.  We can’t change them, no matter how hard we want or try to.  But we can choose to turn the pain over to Jesus.  And He will always replace it with peace, comfort and healing.  He never allows His children to go through pain without a purpose.  He will make beauty from this.  Our job is to look ahead to the future, and use the lessons from the past to help us in our callings and what He has planned for us.

Don’t let other people’s mistakes from the past steal your joy in the present.  God has so much in store for you.  He had you go through all that for a reason, but looking back isn’t going to help.

Be filled with His joy today.  Pray and invite Him into every situation your face, every memory you recollect.  Let His mighty power transform your life.  Surrender all to Him and watch as He takes the broken pieces and with them, makes something far more beautiful than before.

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'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.  To them who are called according to His purpose.'
- Romans 8:28