6.30.2014

And I'm off!


Today is a first for many things.  

My first time flying alone for more than 4 hours.  My first time out of the country.  My first time to Peru.  Yes, it’s finally here.  The day I’ve been planning for since last November.  I am going to Peru for 17 days.  

When the LORD first made it clear to me that this was what He wanted me to do, I was like ‘okay, but I have absolutely no idea how to raise all the funds for my trip, so I’m handing this all over to You to provide for me’.  And He did.  I raised all the money I needed - and more!  It’s been an incredible and very humbling experience to see HOW He has provided for me.  From something as large as a friend who I haven’t seen in years sending me $100, to something as small (yet significant) as work boots that I needed going on sale from $70 to $29.  His hand truly has been in all of this and I am so, so blessed.

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Here are a few specific prayer requests that I am asking people, if possible, to remember to pray for me about.  Thank you so much if you do.  It means a lot to me.

- safe travels
- no complications
- that I find my luggage
- that I will be a witness to any of my unbelieving family members
- safety while touring
- that time with family will be well-spent
- that I will be bold for Christ no matter who I’m with or around
- that I don’t get food poisoning
- that there are no complications meeting up with my team on the 7th
- that the bus ride goes smoothly and I don’t get carsick
- that I connect with all my team members
- that both teams get along well (30 people in all)
- that we arrive at Kusi safely
- that we connect well with the boys
- strength against spiritual attacks
- that the LORD would speak through me when I help lead worship in the evenings
- that we get a lot of work done
- that our presence will be more of a blessing than a burden
- safe flight back to the US (Texas)
- emotional strength saying goodbye to all my team members
- safe flight back to Portland (home!!)

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Father God, I am presenting myself to You to be transformed.  I pray that You use me in whatever way You desire to.  Make me to be sanctified in Your truth.  Help me to learn much from You during this time in Peru.  Help me to always focus on honoring and glorifying You with everything I do, say and think.  Renew my mind in Your Word.  Show Your glory through my life.  Speak through my words.  Bless others through my touch and my smile.  Give me patience and strength.  May You always be praised.  Forever.  Amen.

6.28.2014

Everyday Blessings // 23


>> roadtrip to the beach with friends
>> cheese
>> guest posting (read my guest post on Monday over at ThoseFellows.com)
>> getting good deals on clothes and other necessary items for my trip
>> encouraging and refreshing talks with best friends
>> laughter
>> band photoshoot
>> recording a new cover
>> pears and cottage cheese (seriously, it's super yummy)
>> new tanktops
>> Oregon rain
>> resolving and settling frustrations
>> new camera card
>> getting my hair layered and styled (don't worry, it's still long)
>> family visiting from out of state
>> outdoor cooking
>> getting hugged by a child
>> baby's breath
>> new flipflops
>> that overwhelming feeling when I stop and realize just how blessed I am

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How is your June month ending for you?:)

6.25.2014

Hands Open


We are often reminded that we must give our dreams over to the LORD.  ‘Keep your hands and your heart open to His will’, people tell us.  And this is very true.  But so often, that’s all we focus on.  That we must give, give, give it all to Him.  

What about having your hands open to receive?

Part of being a follower of Christ is giving up what is worldly, what is important to us, our desires, our way of living.  In Luke 9:23, Jesus says:

‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’

Our daily cross is our daily life.  We need to carry on, to follow Him, to deny our SELVES (our wants and pleasures) and follow Him for something far greater than what we can imagine.  And this is where the receiving end comes in.

When we hold our hands open to give to the LORD, we are expecting them to be filled in return.  Not necessarily with what we want.  But part of trusting Him, is having faith that He will give us what He so sovereignly desires to give us.  Regardless of if we think it’s right for us or not.  He knows the future.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knows what we need, and what we don’t need.

Keep your hands open - to give and to receive.  And keep your eyes focused on Him, not on what you hold.

6.17.2014

Specificity


I don’t think you can ever be specific when it comes to people.  People aren’t specific.  They’re unique and crazy and wild and beautiful.  And their souls are all completely different from the next.

When you think about someone, most of the time it’s not about anything in particular.  You think on what you know about them, what you like about them, what makes them intimidating and interesting and special.

And knowing a person, truly knowing them, is a daunting challenge.  But to me, ‘daunting’ is not only a challenge, it’s a mystery.  It’s something that frightens, yet fascinates and excites me all at the same time.  Like the rush you get while climbing a steep hill to reach the top and catch the last glimpses of the sun as it sets over the horizon.  The climb is worth it, yet if you look over your shoulder, the height can scare you.  But nothing can stop you from reaching the top for the prize, the goal.

I love challenges.  And most of the people I have met who were ‘intimidating’ to most were ‘intriguing’ to me.  It made me want to talk to them and learn about them.  Their reservedness made them more noticeable to me.

The only thing that you can be specific about in a person is how uniquely different they are.  Don’t try to understand someone on your level.  They won’t match up to everything you are and everything you want.  They’re perfect in their own way.  Their specificity is specifically about who they are.

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'For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour.  What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment.'
- Viktor E. Fankl

6.14.2014

[Friendship] knows no bounds


What do you do when you've warned someone about something? You knew that the direction they were going in would only lead them to heart-break and pain, yet they continued to choose that path. You're always right there with them, they agree with your warnings, but never decide to turn the other way.

And then, one day, the call comes. They made a stupid mistake. Their life will never be the same. They went 'too far'. And you're left wondering if there's something else that you should've done, something else you should've said.

What do you do now?

1)  Pray for them.
Regardless of if they want your prayers and if they’re a believer or not, pray that the LORD will work in their heart, open their eyes and that they would be willing to change their ways.  Your love for your friend doesn’t always equal accepting their behavior.  It’s important to have boundaries, to know when to say ‘what you’re doing is wrong’ but speaking out of love for them as a person, and because you genuinely care for their heart.  And also, sometimes our worst mistakes are based on unmet needs, hurt feelings, unrealistic views, etc.  Maybe that’s what your friend is experiencing right now too.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach them the truth.  Sometimes He’s the only one who can get through to them.  Not us.

2)  Be their friend.
Don’t shun them.  But sooner or later, you’ll have to come to realize the fact that people learn from their mistakes, and they will suffer the consequences of their actions.  And hopefully, learn something in the process.  That is how we all grow.  None of us make the right decision every time.  You can’t hold their hand the whole way.  You can’t make their decisions for them.  But you can walk beside them and gently remind them of the truth, of God’s Word, and that you are praying for them.

3)  Be there for them.
Sometimes you need to take a step back, stop casting your pearls before swine and trust your friend (and the entire situation) to the LORD’s hands.  And don’t be afraid to tell them so either!  Be honest and share with them how you feel that they don’t appreciate your advice, your willingness to help them and because of that, you’re stepping away.  No, not shunning them.  But yes, letting them go the direction they want.  Remind them, though, that you will always be there for them if they ever decide to turn around.  

It’s not easy to have a friend who ignores your advice, doesn’t listen to you, and thinks that everything you say is just ‘passing judgement on them’.  But remember that once you’ve done all you can do, the rest is in God’s hands.  Just continue loving them, never turn against them, or hate them, or be angry at them for messing up.  All you can be sure of is that God is always in control.  Rest in that fact, because you won’t be strong enough on your own.

6.10.2014

Unwavering Hope


‘Hope.  It’s the only thing stronger than fear.’

I’m sure many Hunger Games fans caught that reference as a quote from the book.  I felt that it was perfect for this post.  No, Hunger Games isn’t ‘Christian’.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the said quote is true.  Very true.

Without hope, this life would be full of depression (moreso than it already is).  Without hope, you couldn’t dream.  You couldn’t pursue anything you love or would like to have or accomplish.  Because hope is the oxygen that fuels the flame of desire.  If you didn’t have the hope that you could somehow reach your goal, there would be no point in even trying.  

Hope doesn’t have to be felt in an overwhelming way.  Sometimes even a speck of it is enough.  Enough to keep you going.  And even just that little speck is greater and more overcoming than fear.  Amidst life’s crazy twists and turns, when we feel beaten down, worn out, and spinning in all sorts of directions, hope is what makes us stop.  And think.  And breathe.  And remember that not all is a lost cause.  Sure some things may not work out, but does that mean we are to give up and give in to the thought of it never getting better?  Or maybe, just possibly, could it finish in our favor?

While there are different hopes for different situations, by far the greatest that we have is the hope promised to us in Christ Jesus our LORD.  Someone we can’t see.  Someone who does not live here on earth any more.  How then can we hope in something unseen?

‘For in this hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.’ 
- Romans 8:24-25

What a blessed thought!  Through our faith and trust in God’s Word, we have hope in eternal things unseen - mainly our Savior, Jesus.  And even while suffering hardships in life, we can continue to have hope in Him and His promises - that He will never leave or forsake us, that everything works out for our good because of His great love for us, that He cares for each of our worries and burdens.  Our hope in this life is to live it for His glory and thus, spend eternity with Him in heaven one day.  That is a blessed hope.  The most blessed hope you could ever have.  

‘For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is in Him.’
- Psalm 62:5

‘...and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’
- Romans 5:5

‘The goal of everything God takes us through is hope.  He wants us to feel unwaveringly hopeful through all tribulations.’
- John Piper

6.06.2014

The Most Relatable Post


Everyone wants to be understood.  Everyone wishes that there could be at least one person who knows them well enough to see past their tough exterior and care for the soft, broken pieces of a tired heart.  Someone who knows when to talk, and when to listen.  Someone who can relate to certain things that are happening in their life.

But sometimes being real with people is hard.  Sometimes we’re so worried that they won’t like who we really are.  Some of us are big people-pleasers.  Some of us feel that we have to be different around certain people.  Now there’s a difference between faking who you are and just adapting to who you’re with.  For example, if you’re hanging out with someone who loves talking about the business and marketing class that they’re taking at school, you’re not going to be talking all about the latest coffee drink at Dutch Bros.  You need to learn to relate to others as you would want them to relate to you.  Be interested in what they’re learning, what they want to talk about.  There should be a healthy balance, of course, but learn to relate to others so they can learn to relate to you.

Part of being understood is learning to understand.  When we are genuinely interested in what someone is trying to tell us, it’s easier for us to relate to what they’re saying because we care about how they feel.  Learn to be relatable.  Learn that being yourself is the best way to go about getting to know anyone.  Friendship can only be built off of honesty and trust that the other person is honest with you.  And through that, you will learn to be open and understanding and relatable.

Wanting someone to relate to you and your circumstances is natural and a part of every day life.  Don’t feel that you’re being picky or seeking attention (well, be sure to examine your heart and intentions because that may be what you’re doing).  Remember that everyone you know, meet, and come in contact with is going through something.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to them.  Who knows?  Maybe you’re just the person they need...and maybe you need them.

6.02.2014

10 Tips On Winning a Godly Woman's Heart



Disclaimer:  Every woman is different. These are not guaranteed to work for every guy on every girl, but these are guidelines that are definite suggestions and may help you.  And of course, just 10 of them.

Oh and the obvious first one is: Be a Christian man who loves the LORD more than he’ll love his wife.  And if you don’t meet that qualification, then don’t bother reading the following list because a true woman of God will turn you down right from the start if you don’t meet that criteria.

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1) Remember that she’s not only a woman, she is a lady.
She may have a beautiful face and a beautiful body, but physical attraction is common.  Be attracted to her personality and genuinely interested in her as a person, and by this, you will gain her respect and she will know that you’re not just a pig looking for a one-night stand.  This is rare.

2) Respect her.
If you know her standards, respect them.  Don’t make her compromise.  You will gain more respect by your desire to help her guard herself than you possibly know you can.  For example: If she has a boundary with physical touch, make an obvious effort to refrain from ever putting her in a situation where that rule could be jeopardized.  A true gentleman knows how to respect a lady.  And respecting her also calls for keeping your promises.  A true man never goes back on his word.  And because of that, he won’t make any promises that he can’t keep.

3) Don’t play with her heart.
This includes talking to her for days on end, flirting with her, leading her on and then bam.  It’s like you dropped off the face of the earth.  That only labels you as a ‘player’.  And a godly woman will know to point you to the door if you come crawling back to her for the next round.

4) Push her closer to the LORD.
It’s not your duty to ‘lead’ her (yet), but while being friends, it is your responsibility to encourage her in her faith and push her closer to your heavenly Father.  He should be such a part of your life that your presence alone should bless her and make her see His grace and goodness in your life.

5)  Flirting isn’t bad if there are intentions behind it.
Flirting is a very easy and convenient tool to use to show someone you’re interested in them.  And to many women, we’ll accept it as such.  If you flirt with us, it’s like you’re saying ‘hey, you’re cute and I want to date you’.  But of course that’s not enough to go on, so don’t expect us to make the first move.  Flirt, see if it’s reciprocated, if it is, then move on to the next step.

6) Never ask her out via text or email.  If you have a phone, call her.  If you live nearby, drive to her house and ask her to her face.  (Most preferred?  The latter.)
This is very important because if you don’t have the guts to tell her to her face, it’s because you aren’t man enough to look her in the eye and let your affections be known.  And that’s just a turn off.  I’ve had guys tell me they liked me and/or asked me out via the phone/text and I was just like ‘Dude, if you only knew how not cool this is, you wouldn’t have taken this chance’.  And it’s not just me, either.  Every single girl I’ve talked to has said that if a guy would communicate his feelings or wishes in person, it would give him 95% better of a chance that she would say ‘yes’.

7) Ask intelligent questions.
Be interested in her and what she does, what she loves, what she hates.  Remember to listen to her answers.  And try (as hard as you can) to remember them.  A man who remembers is a man who gets points.  You have no idea how much a woman will be impressed (and feel special) when you remember things that she’s told you.  Especially things about HER.

8) Smell good.
Dress attractively, style your hair nicely, and smell good.  Those are pretty much three of the first things a woman notices about a man when they first meet.  (I promise you there are more, but disclosing them here would be major breaking of the Girl Code).  But you’re welcome for me telling you those.

9)  Find out what her love language is.
Very, very important.  Every woman is different (I’d say ‘man’ too but we’re focusing directly on the ladies here).  Some love to be showered with gifts, others prefer words of encouragement, while still others are more of a spend-time-one-on-one sort of person.  Whichever one she is, that’s your cue.  Work hard at loving her through that language (all within boundaries, of course)...and she will melt.

10)  Don’t try to impress her.
Be yourself.  If she truly likes you, the good will most certainly outweigh the bad.  And let’s face it.  No one wants to be with someone who can’t be honest around the person they like.  This will only cause trust issues and that’s never a good thing - in any relationship.

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Read the other half of this post (10 Tips On Winning A Godly Man's Heart) over at Jordan Kranda's blog.