Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Praise You in Advance

My time with God is so different everyday, because everyday brings new things and I don't like to get stuck in a rut where I forget why I'm praying or reading God's word. I think that spending time with God is more about motive than procedure or accomplishment. My desire is to BE with God and for me that has to be approached afresh everyday. The moment I start getting into a "devotional" routine, I start feeling ridiculously prideful, yet distant from God. So, instead I try to wake-up every morning with a blank slate and ask God how He would like for me to meet with Him today. Sometimes its reading the Bible, sometimes its reading "The 31 Days of Praise," sometimes its journaling, sometimes its just spending time in silence and solitude, and still other times its all of the above or completely different.

I don't like to put God in a box and I would really like to get better at making a strong daily habit of spiritual response. Meaning that all day long I seek to hear God's voice speaking to me, so that it is no longer ME working, but CHRIST working through me! I want to be weaker in my own strength and broken in spirit for the things that crush God's spirit. I want to live out of a faith that is REAL and honest, but not solely based on my feelings at each moment.
I read this the other day and I liked it, so I'll share it: 
"And so, though I may not feel grateful, I give thanks... by faith, trusting Your goodness, Your wisdom, Your power, and Your love..." (31 Days of Praise)
This post is a bit skattered, but... oh well : )

Monday, April 6, 2009

to fear God and to know Him

It's now been a little over 11 months since the fire, so I thought I would try to write about it. Actually, this is my seventh attempt to write about it, so we'll see if I can do it this time. Where to begin... I have no idea.

Everyday, multiple times a day, my attitude toward the event changes. There's really nothing like a fire to put the fear of God in a person. When I think back to the night, standing across the street from our house, watching huge flames fly up from the roof of our house for 4 hours, I think... wow! What would it have been like to see that fall from heaven as a sign of God's wrath? No natural reason for it, no chimney, no accident, just plain unrepentant SIN! I wonder what it would have been like to be a neighboring city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Or even worse, what would it have been like to be IN Sodom and Gomorrah when the Lord rained down burning sulfur on the land (Genesis 19:24). What a dark and heavy place to be! What if God still did this sort of thing? Does He? Are all natural disasters signs of God's wrath? I don't really think so, but they are an incredible display of his power.

I had to write a paper on the sublime once for a Lit class in college and it was incredible to me, how things like fire, the wind, the rain, the size of mountains and the strength of the ocean show the HUGENESS of God and the smallness of us! It's always a little scary to remember how little control we actually have over life. Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that we make our own choices. I just think that we overestimate our personal power over, in and throughout circumstances.

It's funny how I feel SO in control of my situations sometimes and how I even get prideful about how well thought out my plans might seem, but truthfully... I AM RIDICULOUS : ) and like I said, there's nothing like a fire to put things in perspective...

When I got the call from my sister it was so weird! I was housesitting and I just stood there for a moment as she told me the details on where to park and meet up with the rest of our family. When I got to our house things only got weirder. I could see the flames from the freeway and it still didn't feel real. I parked about a block away, down the street and walked past 50 or so strangers that somehow knew about my house before I did only to turn the corner and see more fire trucks and fire fighters than I could count. I later found out that there were 52 firefighters and 15 firetrucks!!! Holy moly!

In the weeks leading up to this I had been re-decorating my room and that still makes me laugh : ) Long story, but we had 10-12 foot ceilings and I had refused to use a paint roller, so I had painted my room with a medium hand brush over the course of a few all-nighters, which is typically when I do this sort of thing : ) AND I had just bought a HUGE load of purple fabric (10 YARDS) at a hole in the wall place in santa ana with which I made an awesome overflowing curtain. AND I had just finished making a quilt with which I lined the inside of an adorable burnt orange leather luggage tote of my grandma's and had it sitting in the pile of dark purple fabric at the bottom of the curtain : ) AND I had recently bought some new bedding to tie all this together. All this to say... Ecclesiastes 1:2, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" hahaha : )

I loved my room, but it's gone now... along with my grandma's cute leather luggage tote and most of that purple curtain. Fortunately, my current temporary room has a much smaller window and I was able to use the remainder of the curtain and sew pieces together to make a swooping side curtain with buttons to hold the strips together : ) I sound SO Sound of Music right now : ) I'll post pics of the new temporary room soon. I completely revamped it over the course of a few alnighters with a couple buckets of paint, my sewing machine, some modge podge and some maps : ) Maybe I'm still plenty vain even after the fire, but I realized something about myself. It doesn't really matter where I'm living. I just have to make my space my own to feel at home. I will always love fashion and decorating, but I don't think that has to be bad. I do feel slightly bad however that I wasn't too sad about my closet burning... aside from my floral print, pin stripe diesel jeans (a one in a million thrift store find!), because this means I was able to start over... which is kinda exciting : ) I think half my wardrobe is now from Buffalo Exchange : ) THEE most TOTALLY awesome buy, sell, trade thrift store EVER ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hardly a real thrift store, but still SO cool! And I've decided that my style is some sort of explosion of Anthropoligie's classy-ness, Urban Outfitters' quirky-ness, the Gypsy Den's artsy-ness, an antique store's wear of time and a pinch of Betsy Johnson's girly-ness. I've also come to the conclusion that although I'm not naturally a clean room sorta girl, the effort to do so is fully worth it to me, because I really enjoy coming home to a clean room with a bed that's made, carpet that's visible and walls that scream: THIS IS WHO YOU ARE AND IT'S PERFECT BECAUSE THIS IS YOUR SPACE TO BE YOUUUUUUUUU ! ! ! ! ! When my room's clean, I can think... but I wouln't be able to think if my walls were white and didn't have maps cut in the shape of birds flying across them : ) My head is a crazy tornado of creativity, ideas & chaos, but when I look at my room, I see all my chaos sorted out, but still FUN : ) This has nothing to do with the fire, but it still brings me to where I've come since the fire and the things that have become a priority to me... having a space that is my own and finding God's goodness in everything in and around me : )

Monday, March 30, 2009


I take a deep breath

and meditate on God's goodness

and now I can start my day,

knowing that nothing can happen today

outside of God's will and plan for my life. 

Psalm 34:8

"O taste and see that the Lord is good..."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Learning CS4 : )

So, I've just entered my VERY last semester of school EVER and I'm lovin' it! I started off as an art major and took a darkroom photography class that I really enjoyed. I had planned on following that up with a digital photo class, but when I switched majors that class had to be put on hold for awhile ...and awhile has FINALLY come! This is my first photoshop collage using CS4 with my friend Danica as my perfect little model : )

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blessed with a Burden

I meant to write this post a few weeks ago when one of my dear girlfriends was home for a surprise visit, because her overwhelming passion and burden for those involved in human trafficing was contagious and intense and got me thinking about the blessing in all that! Not the blessing of being involved, but rather the blessing of being used and affected and moved with God's heart. 

My friend Pam is on a year long mission's trip around the world with an organization called the World Race and she has been exposed to some intense situations and environments these past few months that were outrageous to even hear about. We were all just sitting around the table eating a wonderful dinner and catching up and hearing about her travels when suddenly in the middle of one of her stories, just as all the parents were coming out of the room that they were eating in to join us, Pammy just broke down completely! I mean like the kind of helpless brokenness that completely silenced the room and made us all feel like we were suddenly sitting in the audience, watching from a distance, as God revealed to us what He was REALLY doing in her life. The mood in the room had taken a dramatic plunge and her parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles were all semi-jokingly asking us what we said to her to make her cry.  She was talking about all the women, girls and boys who have been pulled into human trafficing without a choice and how she just doesn't understand why we're here and they're there. She was balling as she said in desperation "what did we do to deserve this and why didn't they get a choice in the path that their lives have taken? It's just not fair!" As she was crying and talking between deep breaths to the crowd that now surrounded our table, I looked around at her family and I felt like I kind of saw a piece of what God was doing and how he was using her to impact her family and everyone in the room and I realized that God was in the middle of blessing her with an incredible burden!

It gave me another perfect picture of how the body of Christ is working today. Most of the people in that room will never get the experiences that she has had, but will still have the connection to those experiences through her and will support her, not out of obligation, but out of an understanding of how God is using her and a desire to be a part of what God's doing.

It reminded me a little bit of the movie Freedom Writers and that's where I got the term "blessed with a burden." If you haven't seen the movie you should! There's a scene in the movie where Hillary Swank is sitting in her house packing with the help of her father and she breaks down, because her personal life is in shambles. She has poured every ounce of herself into her students and it has cost her a hefty personal fine. She's crying as she talks to her dad and he says, "you have been blessed with a burden my dear" and then something about being the proudest father in the world or something like that : ) He says that most people don't ever get the chance in life to impact people the way she is doing and to make a real difference and that he was so proud of her. So, this got me thinking about something, which is totally going to give the movie away, so don't read any further if you haven't seen it yet : ) It got me thinking about how God uses single people in incredible ways that married people could never be used. Basically, she was so involved in teaching that her marriage fell apart and ended in divorce. Now, I kinda liked this picture. It was completely depressing, because you don't ever want bad things to happen to good people, but it was realistic and made sense. I'm not at all saying that marriage is bad or that single is better than married, but just that there are benefits to both, but in completely different ways. No married woman could pour her heart into something like Hillary Swank does and expect to have life outside of that.

I think that sometimes God gives people a burden that allows them to experience him in an incredibly unique and powerful way and could best be done in singleness. Not completely alone, but without the responsibility and necessity of time that is needed for a healthy marriage. Again, I am not putting down marriage, because I believe a healthy marriage is a STRONG witness, especially in America where the divorce rate for Christians and non-Christians alike is about 50%. I am just saying that I think singleness is a blessing that comes alongside the blessing of many great burdens. 

Which brings me to my last thought: What is my burden? What gets me crying out in desperation for God's presence? I may get married one day, but in the mean time how could I allow God to be using me more in this present time of singleness and complete freedom of spontaneity? 

hmm...  I'm not sure that I have one overwhelming burden, but give me MORE Lord! Teach my heart to beat with Yours and open my eyes to move with YOUR impulses. Thank you Pam for sharing your heart with us and for leading us with how you are following the Lord's leading in your life. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bring it On!

So I was sittin in church today and thinkin bout how sometimes God teaches me the same truth over and over again, but how each time he takes me deeper and teaches it to me on a different level. Now, this isn't exactly a new discovery : ) I've thought about this a lot lately. It's like I think I've experienced God in the greatest way until the next time around He takes me deeper than I knew existed and I think "Wow! God, what is this?!?! What are you doing? How did I get here? Don't let me leave! Please, Lord don't stop the music!" I think I have a lyrical soul. I don't even exactly know what that means, but God uses music in my life... A LOT! He quiets my mind and my soul with music and speaks to me with this gentle and strong whisper that sort of sweeps me away for a bit.

So, anyway, I've been working on continuing the conversation even when the song does stop. You know, like after church when you're all fired up about something and then the plans for lunch and the rest of the day just drowned out whatever you were thinkin about. I decided the past two weeks to intentionally continue the conversation with God by sharing it with someone right away and the past two weeks it's been one of my high school girls that's been sittin with me in the main service. It was so GREAT! God just danced in our conversation and it was like a little breath of life was brought back to the body of Christ as it was intended! We were talkin about how the same power that raised Christ from the dead is inside each of us, just waiting to be delved into and how we must be fools for not constantly asking God for big things! He is so powerful and He wants to use us and He could be moving mountains through us if we chose to ask for it. I forget how BIG God is sometimes. I forget that as much as He has been moving in my life this past year, I can ALWAYS ask for more!

I was taking communion and thinkin bout how the bread and the juice are symbols of what Christ did for us so that we could live FULLY for Him, not reserved and slow growing. I decided, "this is it! Today Lord, I will take this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of why you did what you did and how that power is ready to be used in and through me to bring You glory through a fuller, purer life!" 

The sermon that was going on in the midst of all this was the parable of the sower and seeds and the 4 conditions of the heart (soil). So, I asked God to bring on the pruning! To weed and prune and cleanse my life! To strip from my path anything that would hinder me from FULLY living for Him and anything that is diluting the Holy Spirit's work in my heart. It sounds kinda funny, but I left that building with butterflies in my stomach, because I knew that I had asked God to move and He would. I know that He wants nothing more than to take me so much deeper EVERYday! But... I also know that He most often uses pain to bring me deeper. Which brings me to the next thing.

In my high school life group today we went a little off topic and we were talking about God and his involvement with pain. Does He bring on the pain or does He just use it if it's already there? I, personally believe that He brings on the pain, because I do not believe that pain is evil. Pain is difficult to swallow most of the time, but it can also be so beautiful! There's something about emotional pain in particular that just brings me to such a raw and moldable place in my heart that I can't help but to think that God created it. I have the desire to be desperate and fully reliant upon God, but it just seems to usually be pain that actually gets me there. 

Okay, last thought : ) Before getting off topic, we were talking about Colossians 1:15-17 in my high school girls' life group and v. 17 really hit me. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." We were discussing what it meant for God to be before all things and it wasn't until after second service when I was talking to one of my girls that it really hit me. It doesn't just mean that He existed before all things, but it means that He goes before all things. It means that everyday He is not only 10 steps ahead of us, preparing the way in the hearts of everyone we encounter, but He is also with us as we walk through the path He prepared. So, I pray for God to do BIG things and to bring on the pruning. I believe that pain will come as I walk down a path that has been prepared, with a God that is fully ready to pull me deeper at my rawest, most broken moments into an increasingly more beautiful dance of falling madly in love with my Savior who will always love me more than I can fully experience, but needless to say, it is worth it! 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Two Times the Fun!

Almost 2 years ago one of my dear friends and wonderful mentor, Katie had a beautiful baby boy named Micah John (same as my brother) and she is now soon to have another! Along with this wonderful news she just moved into a new house. My friend Katy and I were able to visit her this week and help her settle in a little. While we were there we snapped a few photos of this handsome young man with my new camera and I just had to share these! 

He's such a little boy : ) He only knows a few words and his favorite by far is "car." He's hilarious!