4.30.2014

Experiences


We each have memories of things we’ve done, things we’ve said, places we’ve been, and sights we’ve seen - some of which, we wish we could experience again.  Maybe for the purpose of reliving that moment because of how amazing and beautiful it was.  Or maybe for the purpose of changing it because we know the affects it had on us afterwards.  

The fact is, though, that God designed each of those moments to happen at a precise time in our lives because He used them to shape us.  Who we are today is only because of what we’ve experienced.  And how God used those experiences to impact us.  Whether good or bad.  If we were to reverse any part of our history, we wouldn’t be the person we are today.  

Don’t look behind you.  Remember the moments, but don’t let them dictate your future.  Live freely.  Live fully.  Make mistakes.  Learn from them.  Have wonderful memories.  And never second guess who you are and whether or not God knows what He’s doing.  Because He does.  He knows where you’ve been, where you’re going, and the person He’s creating you to be.  Trust His timing and His Maker’s hands.  And when you fall and make a wrong choice, don’t think that He didn’t know it was going to happen.  God teaches us through anything - even our scrapes and bruises.

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He loves me more than I can tell you
You should see what He's done with me
He has made me new
Oh His strength I can handle anything
In Jesus' Name 
You should see the change 
He has made me new

‘Ode’ - David Dunn

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Psst, today is the last day of April...

4.28.2014

Learn to love the rain


The smell of my fresh baked muffins are wafting through the house and I write this, snuggled in my hoodie, sitting on my bed, listening to the rain pouring outside.  A lot of people complain that Oregon rains ‘too much’, but I love it.  Maybe because I’m a true Oregonian.  Or maybe because I learned to love it from an early age.  Or may because one of the mottos I’ve come to live by is: If you can’t change it, learn to love it.  (That is only applicable in certain circumstances, of course).

I think rain can be so much more than just water falling from the sky.  It can be a way of relief.  The sound can lull you to sleep.  Rain waters the earth and helps new life spring from the ground.  Rain washes and makes things clean.

Every year on my birthday, I choose a specific verse that I feel God wants me to learn, and that will be applicable to my life that year.  For my 19th birthday, I chose this verse:

‘Come, let us return to the LORD.  For He has torn us, but He will heal us.  He has wounded us, but He will bandage us up.  He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.  So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.  His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth.’
- Hosea 6:1-3 -

This passage has already had an impact on my life, but there are certain parts about it that hold great significance to me.  I will write future posts about these verses, but for right now, let’s focus on verse three.

‘He will come to us like the rain...’ 

How does rain come?  Sometimes it begins with just a few drops, then gradually increases.  Sometimes it comes down in torrents, bucketfuls of water.  And sometimes it comes as a mist, warm and refreshing.  But what do all these have in common with each other?

No matter how the rain falls or what it falls on, it makes everything wet.  Whatever the rain touches will be washed, cleaned, sparkling with water droplets.

And that’s how Hosea describes God ‘coming to us’.  Like rain.  Rain that waters the earth.  He is the living water that quenches our thirst.  He is the water that cleanses our spirits.  He is the refresher of our souls.

While it’s raining, we may not understand why or what it’s accomplishing, but afterwards, when the sun comes out, when there are rainbows gracing the skies, we can see that after the rain, comes the beauty.  Flowers start to blossom, everywhere you look has water droplets on it, fresh and beautiful.  The same is with God’s work in our lives.  We may not understand what He’s doing amidst the pain and trials, but when we look back on the road we’ve traveled, we’ll see how He has washed us and grown us.

Trust Him.  Learn to love the rain.  

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‘Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.’
- Ezekiel 36:25

4.18.2014

Don't tell me what to do




I swung my backpack over my shoulder with a sigh.  Classes had seemed extra long today.  My head hurt, my feet hurt, my brain hurt.  All I could think about was getting home and taking a nap before dinner.  Just the thought of having to ride the MAX for half an hour to reach home made me groan inwardly.
I blew a strand of hair from my view as I stepped outside the college.  Other students were milling around, each heading in their own directions.  A couple of them waved to me and I smiled and nodded back.  I hoped no one would want to stop and talk.  I didn’t feel much like chatting.
I glanced at my watch and saw I only had two minutes to get to the train stop.  My steps quickened and I soon left the busy campus behind me.
‘Hey!’
I turned to see who had called to me.
It was Ryan.
Another inward groan.  Of all people I didn’t want to see or talk to, I definitely didn’t want it to be him.
I kept walking.
‘Hey wait up!’
I heard his jogging footsteps approach and turned to greet him with a bit of a forced smile.  I knew I looked like a wreck as much as I felt like one.  And here was my fellow student - who also happened to be a fellow employee - standing and looking as perfect as a celebrity.  I also happened to have a huge crush on him.  And yes, I was in great denial of this.
‘What’s up?’ I asked him.
‘Geez, that’s all the greeting I get?’ he raised both eyebrows.
I shrug.  ‘I’m in a hurry.’  I start walking again, hoping he’d either take the hint that I didn’t want (or have time to) talk or...
But nope.  He was following me.
‘You working tonight?’ he asked.
‘No.  Boss called me and said I didn’t have to come in if I didn’t want to.  I have a stack of homework to do, so I said I’d take the morning shift instead of tonight.’
‘Oh okay.’
Fifty more steps to the train stop.  I could see the MAX in the near distance.
‘What homework do you have?  From which class?’ he asked, shifting his backpack and accidentally making his coat collar flip up.  
‘Mostly novel writing, and communications,’ I answered.  ‘Hey, don’t you have a car?  Why are you riding the train today?’
It came out a little more rude that I had intended, but I wasn’t really in the mood for caring.  Ryan didn’t seem to notice.  He took it in stride.
‘No, actually, my car is at the shop.  I got in an accident two days ago.’
‘Wait what?’ I suddenly felt ashamed for being engrossed in my own problems and feelings.  ‘I didn’t hear about it!’
‘Maybe cuz I didn’t tell many people,’ he winked, then shrugged.  ‘Didn’t want people making a big deal about it - cuz it wasn’t.  I’m fine.  My car is the only thing that got hurt.’
We boarded the stopped train and wriggled our way through the mass of people.  We found a spot by one of doors and I looped an arm around a pole, even though I didn’t need it for balance.  I was so used to traveling on this thing.
Ryan stood between me and the wall.  I swallowed hard.  Why was I so nervous whenever I was around him?  This was so stupid.  
I looked away and tried to think of something to talk about.
‘I’m sorry about the accident.  I’m glad you’re okay.’
‘Yeah, me too,’ he sighed.  ‘It could’ve been a lot worse.’
A pause.
‘Thanks for being so concerned.’
‘Of course,’ I looked at him.  ‘Why wouldn’t I be?’
‘I don’t know,’ he shrugged.  ‘You seemed to have kinda been avoiding me lately.’
I bit the inside of my cheek.
Avoiding you cuz I’m trying to keep my feelings under control.
‘Uh, sorry,’ was all I could think to say.
‘It’s all good.  I just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t because of anything I did.’
‘No,’ I replied quickly.  ‘No, you’re fine.  It’s fine.  I’m sorry.  I guess I’ve just been really overwhelmed with school and work and stuff.’
‘Well you should forget about all that for a little while.  Have some fun for a change!’  He bumped me with his shoulder.
I smiled a little.  ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’
‘Fine, grouch.’  He leaned his head closer.
I turned away.
Think of something else to talk about.
‘Do you ever wonder what each of these people’s stories is?’ I said, gesturing to the other passengers.  ‘Like, where they work, where they go to school, what they’re studying, who they’re rushing home to meet?’
He stared at me and didn’t answer for a second, then looked away and said, ‘No. I don’t think I ever have.’
‘I do.  Every time I get on the bus.  Take that lady for example.’  I nodded to a woman sitting across from us, a large paper bag of groceries in her arms, her head leaned back against the seat.
‘Which one?’
‘That one.’
‘There are tons of ladies here.’
I gave a little sigh of frustration and raised my hand to point to her.  Then I saw the glint of humor in Ryan’s eye and knew he had just pretended to not know who she was because he knew I didn’t want to point.
‘Really?’ I asked, my exasperation resounding in my voice.
He gave a little chuckle, then tried to straighten his face.  ‘Sorry.  You were saying?’
I gave a little huff and looked away from him.  
‘You were saying?’ he repeated.  ‘Oh c’mon, don’t be a grouch.’  He poked my arm playfully.  And no matter how hard I tried to keep from smiling, it didn’t work.  It never did.
‘Just that...’ I began, and turned to look at the lady again.  ‘I can picture her being a single mother...with two children...working a job in the city, and having to rush home afterwards to make dinner for them.  She’s tired, and worn out.  But happy to be headed home to be with her family.’
Ryan blinked.  ‘You just came up with that?’
I nodded.
He opened his eyes wide.  ‘No wonder you’re taking novel writing.’
I gave a little laugh.
‘That’s something I’ve always liked about you.  You make me think of things I never would’ve thought about if you hadn’t brought it up.’
I felt a little flush on my cheeks and looked down at my shoes.  He was complimenting me.
‘Tell me another one.  How about them?’ Ryan pointed to a young couple sitting in front of me.  They were married, and clearly in love.  They were holding hands, their fingers entwined, yet I could see both their wedding bands.  She was resting her head on his shoulder and his cheek was pressed against her hair.  I saw her lips moving, yet couldn’t hear what she was saying.  Whatever it was, though, it was making him smile.
‘They’re married.  Headed home after a long day at their respective jobs.  They missed each other and are happy to be together again.  She’s a secretary and he’s some sort of businessman, judging by his suit.  He loves listening to her tell him about her day.’  I smiled at the way the wife rested her hand on her stomach.  ‘And she’s pregnant.’ 
My eyes lingered on the beautiful couple for a few more seconds, then remembered Ryan was with me, yet he hadn’t said a word after I had finished talking. 
I looked at him.  His right shoulder was leaning against the wall, and his head was cocked to the side a little.
‘What?’ I asked him, my voice coming out low and soft.  He looked like he was studying me.
‘You really should stop doing stuff like that.’
‘Like what?’
‘Saying things that make me like you.  And make me wanna kiss you.’
My heart fluttered weirdly and I seemed to forget how to breathe for a second.
‘Like what?’ I managed to squeak out again.
‘Just being so thoughtful and caring.  I mean, what college girl takes time out of her day to think about strangers and make up beautiful stories about them?’
‘I don’t know,’ I mumbled.
‘Well I do.’
‘Don’t kiss me,’ I said, holding up a hand firmly.
He seemed unmoved.  ‘Why not?’  
‘Be-because.  I mean, I don’t know.  Just don’t.’
Ryan pushed himself off the wall slowly and leaned towards me.  There were about six inches between us.  His hand somehow found its way to the back of my neck and pulled me closer.
‘Don’t tell me what to do,’ he whispered against my lips.

---

4.16.2014

Time Well Spent


I was feeling frustrated.

I’m hired for a job at my friends’ fro-yo shop, but the building isn’t completed so I don’t know when I’ll start work (and the opening day has continued to be pushed out since November...).

I’m currently unemployed with tons of time on my hands, yet I don’t have my own car so I can’t go places, can’t visit friends, am always cooped up at home.

I was having a pity-party for myself one morning.  But before devotions, I asked the LORD to help me regain my focus, regain my sight and direction and to give me a hunger for His Word that would never be quenched.  Then I dove into reading through Romans and Psalms.

What seemed liked a few minutes later, I looked at my phone to check the time, and wow.  I had been having devotions for 3 hours.  Three whole hours spent journaling, praying and reading the Bible!  The time had flown by and yet I still felt that I hadn’t had enough.  

God had answered my prayer.

Amidst my prayer of thanksgiving to my Father for allowing me so much uninterrupted time, I thought to myself: This is why I’m unemployed.  This is why I’m single and uncommitted.  This is why I don’t have a car.  This is why I’m still at home. 

So that I can wholly focus on Him.

One of my dearest friends and a woman I consider to be one of my role models, reminded me to take advantage of having so much free space in my days because in the future, it will most likely be cluttered with family, band stuff, and jobs.  She encouraged me to make the most of it right now and to never sit and wonder what to do with my time because ‘as much time as I could spend with Jesus is time well spent’.

So now it’s my turn to encourage any of my readers who are still at home, still not working, and who still have open schedules to grasp this time and invest in your relationship with the LORD.  Allow Him to romance you in a quiet time.  Never, for once, think that ‘just being at home reading your Bible’ is a portion of your day that you could be doing something else.  Because I guarantee you, there is nothing more important that you can do than grow in your love with Him.

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'One thing I have asked from the LORD that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.'
- Psalm 27:4


4.12.2014

Everyday Blessings // 20


>> 1 1/2 hour long phone call with a friend I met on Twitter
>> starting a new devotional journal
>> going to the beach with friends
>> all-you-can-eat frozen yogurt
>> exploring old forts
>> movie night with my sisters
>> starting to read a new book by John Piper
>> new nicknames
>> writing a new song with my drummer (one of our best ones yet, I think)
>> reading through 'Divergent' with one of my besties
>> being born, raised and currently living in Oregon
>> meeting with an old friend for coffee
>> sending friends birthday packages
>> having a door being held open by an old gentleman
>> getting items to review from Etsy shops

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If any of my readers know what those words on my hoodie stand for/are from, you win brownie points.

Oh and keep an eye out for some really, really fantastic giveaways this week!  And don't forget to enter my current ones (just click the 'giveaway' pictures in the sidebars).

4.10.2014

5 Simple Ways to De-Stress


It’s not a weakness to admit that life can be stressful at times.  Between work, school, sports, and social obligations, it’s hard to find a moment to relax, breathe and catch up.  It’s no secret.  We all forget the gift of ‘rest’ sometimes.  It’s been part of the world’s system since God first created the universe, but it’s something we need to remind ourselves of and fit in a time for relaxation into our busy schedule.

Embrace and savor this gift.  You are called to peace.  Don’t push yourself until you feel like you’re breaking from the weight of stress.  

Here are some simple ways to de-stress and add a little tranquility to your day.

1)  Cozy Up
...with your journal, a mug of your favorite coffee or tea, and yeah, grab that chocolate bar you’ve been craving.  Writing down your thoughts and being able to express your feelings in a private little book of your own is a good way to unwind and be real.  It can help you redefine your perspective on life and remind you of what you need to be focusing on.  Plus, looking at past journal entries can be inspiring and encouraging.  It’ll show you how far God has brought you and that you can deal with the tough stuff because you are a stronger person through past experiences.  Your journal is an intimate place where you are free to say what you need and want to say.  A place to let all those bottled up words flow out onto paper.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or even make any sense.  Just be honest.

2)  Spend Time in Nature
Being surrounded by nature has such an amazing and calming effect on our minds and bodies.  Basking in the beauty of a sunset after a long day has a way of putting worries to rest.  The next time you’re in need of a break and to get away from the rush of life, spend some time outside.  Take a deep breath.  Let the wind blow in your face.  Listen to every little sound - of birds twittering, wind in the leaves, trickling water in a nearby stream.  Look up at the clouds.  Take a walk down a road you’ve never been before.

3)  Keep a Blessings Journal
Now this is a separate journal from the one that you write down all your thoughts and feelings.  This is one that you make a specific list of blessings that God has given you.  This helps you to focus on what you already have, rather than on what you want.  Once you start realizing and acknowledging the numerous blessings God has bestowed on your life, you’ll be surprised to discover how much you don’t really need.  Let Philippians 4:8 be a good encouragement to inspire you as you write down your blessings.

4)  Nap
Like I always say, naps are gifts from heaven.  And no, they aren’t just for little kids.  They are simply delicious little snoozes in the middle of the day that give you a chance to snuggle up, relax and let your body catch an hour of recharging time.  And when you wake up - best feeling ever.

5)  Pray
God listens and cares for His children and you can talk to Him at any time of the day, anywhere you are, no matter what you’re going through.  Praying is the most important thing you can ever do during your busy schedule because it is a time that you can spend with your Creator and connect with Him through talking to Him.

Remember that God is a God of peace, not of chaos.  And He left His peace here on earth with us.  As a gift.  Make use of it.


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‘Be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
- Philippians 4:6-7


4.08.2014

Too cliche?


As I sat on my bed, eating Reese’s peanut butter cups and contemplating on what to write about for my next blog post, I was feeling slightly frustrated that nothing was coming to mind.  Every time I’m not able to write, I have the best ideas.  But when I can finally have a free moment to sit down, the list of ideas that I had written earlier don’t seem as interesting or aren’t inspirational enough or just sound downright cliche.

Life always takes such crazy turns.  I have done things, met people, seen places, and surprised myself by liking certain things.  Sometimes it makes me stop and wonder just who I am and where I’m going in this life.  But my Savior has continued to be faithful in reminding me of the little things - that also happen to be quite the big things.  

Such as... 

His presence.  

Knowing that He is always with me.  

Resting in the truth that He knows my thoughts and feelings (even when I don’t know them myself).  

Being humbled and brought to my knees in repentance when I remember that He sees and knows everything I do and say, yet loves me so much more than I can ever fathom.  

And there I go again, sounding cliche.  Sometimes I wonder if my blog readers get tired of reading the same things over and over again.  Or if I’m just imagining that I rewrite things over and over again.  Personally, though, I have learned from experience that sometimes, the most cliche phrases are the ones you really do need to hear the most.

Such as...

Trust God.

Live for Him.

Remember that He has a plan for your life.

These are all truths that we may hear on a regular basis but oh aren’t they just what we need to be reminded of?  And oftentimes the simplest statements are ones that hold the most value and ring with inspiration to us.

So with that, my dear readers, I shall end this random post of random thoughts and pray you all have a blessed week.

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'The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you.  The LORD lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.’
- Numbers 6:24-26


4.04.2014

Need to be rescued



‘I’m waiting for my Prince Charming to rescue me from the life of singleness.’

How many times have we heard girls say this?  Or perhaps one of you used to be one of those girls?  Some of us were taught with the mentality that ‘being single’ is like being a ‘damsel in distress’.  And only a man, a knight in shining armor, our Prince Charming, could save us from this life of woe.

First of all, I feel sorry for all the guys who’ve met girls who think this.  I’m sure they feel a lot of pressure, a lot of demands, and what if they aren’t exactly a knight in shining armor?  What if some of their armor is chipped?  They aren’t perfect.  They aren’t the handsomest.  They aren’t sure they can live up to all the expectations these girls have of what they want their Prince Charming to be and look like.  Let’s face it.  All those Disney princes were pretty near perfect.

Secondly, girls need to realize that ‘being single’ is not something bad.  It’s not something to be ashamed of.  It’s not something to be rescued from.  In a world with so many opportunities for both men and women alike, girls have tons of options to choose to invest their single life time into.  Pouting and waiting for Prince Charming isn’t a good use of their time, no?  And I wonder how girls would feel if the only thing guys thought about when it came to searching for a wife is that she has to be an exact version of Cinderella?  (Well, actually, I think Barbie is more of the hype, but that's another story...)

Like the quote in the above picture states: what we single ladies need to be rescued from is the notion that we need to be rescued.  Yes, a notion.  Not a fact.  We aren't perfect.  Neither are any guys out there.  And thus, no guy can make your life happy and perfect.  You don't need to be rescued.  You don't need to be in distress.  Rescue yourself.  From the theory that you need to be rescued.

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'Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.'
- Psalm 37:4

4.02.2014

Everyday Blessings // 19



>> turning 19 years old yesterday
>> not even realizing that this is my nineteenth 'Everyday Blessings' post
>> new slippers
>> money
>> shopping with my bro
>> cheesecake
>> new jeans
>> water
>> email correspondence with friends
>> receiving items to review from Etsy shops
>> a new email address
>> hearing a sermon that is so perfect and applicable to my current life situations
>> receiving a phone call from a friend after just waking up
>> three new journals
>> iTunes gift card
>> new shoes
>> being inspired to write a song
>> getting the first two seasons of Leverage on DVD
>> being wished a 'happy birthday' from some fabulous people on Twitter

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How has your month of April started out?