Sunday, November 3, 2013

Confession Time: I Can't Be Alone!


I once heard that being in a relationship is like holding a giant mirror up to your face. Flaws you didn't realize you had suddenly appear and you realize that you need to start working on you in order to make the relationship work!
We are complex people and we all have different ways of thinking, living, doing, and reacting. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have problems.
Time to confess.
The biggest problem I have.... I can't be alone!
I feel I do alot of life alone which is why every moment I know I have that isn't planned... I panic.

I feel the need to keep busy, to meet with a friend for coffee, to go out and run. I can't just sit, be still or just relax!

I feel that if my Saturday consists of me sitting at home "Relaxing", that it means I don't have a social life. That I am not good enough. I am a waste of space and unwanted in life.


Now this issue has risen in my relationship lately (and I admit, it has been a growing concern in the past). I need to work on it. But how?

I guess the first step is to identify WHY I can't be alone.
1. I feel I am constantly alone.
2. I get bored
3. I don't feel useful
4. I over think when Im alone
5. Im worried im missing out on something

Since I became a Christian (and since New York) I've adopted this new drive that I've never had before in my life. This drive involves me being useful/busy/productive at all times. Now you'd think this is a good thing, correct? Well.... not really.

Step two: Identify WHY having alone time is good
1. Spend time with God
2. Reflect on life, think decisions through without outside influence
3. Get comfortable with who you are
4. pamper yourself!
5. RELAX/reward

I love relaxing... but with someone... not alone...
I can't really explain how this issue came about but I know i need to work on it.

Step THree: things I can start doing to get comfortable with alone-time.
1. Spend time with God every day that involves being alone - reading the Bible
2. when you don't have plans, relax and read a book/watch television/do my nails
3. Pray! Thank God for all the blessings and people in my life. Reflect on how blessed I am and understand I am never alone.



A big part of being a Christian is constantly working on yourself to become a better person. The first part of that is acknowledging you're not perfect and you need help.


Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I fail every day but by your grace I can stand again. Help me to find flaws in myself that I can work on. Help me to understand issues I need to face today and grant me the strength to work through them. Thank you for your mercy and grace and I pray that as I continue on this journey of becoming a better person, that I find my purpose in you, not within myself or the approval of others. Thank you God for the cross, and for all you have done for me. I am abundantly blessed, help me to be comfortable within my own skin, regardless of what may be happening around me.
I pray in Jesus' name.
Amen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall into Change

OCTOBER



Well It's fall, all the leaves are changing and what better season than Autumn to bring forth some MAJOR changes in my life!

Not only am I in an incredible new relationship with a wonderful Christian man,
Loving my job,
Stepped into a new role leading my small group at the church,
Running my first 5km and did a 25km charity bike ride,
but I am also in search of a new home for December!

Now as overwhelming as that may seem at times, I love when I live my life with purpose instead of sitting at home with nothing to do but sleep.

I was recently in bed with a cold and was SO BORED that I went to my parents house and cleaned their kitchen.... I felt better about myself.

My faith has not been as strong as in the past... but it is definitely being challenged day to day!

I have been asking God for wisdom lately about my living situation and I truly felt He gave me guidance in which I am very excited for.

As much as we feel we don't measure up, that things aren't going to work out, that we arn't enough... from what I've learned, God never fails me. He has always gotten me through my circumstances regardless of my lack of faith in Him.

I know I am where I am today because of God's saving grace.

Now sometimes we see things as setbacks or step backs... but what God is trying to reveal to me, is that HE can use these to fulfill bigger purposes.

In Luke 5, when Jesus tells Simon to go back into the water to fish, Simon basically says "we've been fishing all night and haven't caught a thing!..... but.... if you say so, I will trust you, and do this again".

This is what I feel is happening in my life right now. "BUT GOD i've been around this tree once before!... but if you say to go back.... I will trust you and do this again"

That being said, I am going to be moving home for  a short amount of time, leaving the security of living on my own and being on my own watch and entering into a very different dynamic...one of frustration, of anger, of insecurity....  But one where I know God will be with me.


I want to fight this choice will all my might, because I've fished before and no luck... But if He is asking me to go again... I am willing to be obedient... to trust.... and to go again just as Simon did in Luke 5.

oh by the way... they caught so many fish their nets began to tear!

And Jesus said to them "Don't be afraid, from now on you'll be fishers of men"


Prayer:
Thank you Father that you have placed me in a position of influence.
That you love me enough to grant responsibilities to me in this life.
forgive me for not seeing or being in tune with your will, but I pray that I am granted wisdom and see your hand in my circumstances, either tough or good. Thank you Jesus for sacrificing for me, that I can choose to follow you and live a life of abundant joy, for I am not defined by my circumstances or material things, but instead defined by who I am in your eyes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Of Bugs and Loneliness...

Job is a book in the bible about a man... named Job. Job was a rich and blessed man who was blameless, upright and avoided doing evil. One day, Satan appears before God in heaven and God boasts about the goodness of Job. Satan tells God that Job is only good because God had blessed him abundantly. Satan challenges God that, if given permission to punish the man, Job will turn and curse God. God allows Satan to torment Job to test this bold claim, but he forbids Satan to take Job’s life in the process.
In the course of one day, Job receives four messages, each bearing separate news that his livestock, servants, and ten children have all died due to marauding invaders or natural catastrophes. Job tears his clothes and shaves his head in mourning, but he still blesses God in his prayers. Satan appears in heaven again, and God grants him another chance to test Job. This time, Job is afflicted with horrible skin sores. His wife encourages him to curse God and to give up and die, but Job refuses, struggling to accept his circumstances...

When people refer to a "Job season" in their lives, it is usually a time where so many things seem to be going wrong that they feel completely under attack or are being consistantly tested.

It is safe to say that today, I felt I had fully entered into my Job season.

I have been trying hard to fight the feelings of loneliness in my life after my last relationship ended. I've been going out with close friends, really pressing into God's word, going on hikes or runs to kill time, learning to cook, and really anything to avoid doing nothing. But to be completely honest, I feel more alone and scared now than I ever have been before. However, at the same time, I feel so abundantly blessed! 
(that doesn't make sense does it?)
I LOVE my career and feel so abundantly blessed God has lead me to this career at my age. I know I would not be there without his guidance and favour. Also, I feel abundantly blessed that I have a new vehicle and an incredible place to live.

So why am I struggling?
I am afraid to admit this fear, but I truly am scared that I'm going to have to do life alone. I am scared that I am not strong enough to handle the speed bumps of life on my own. 
Growing up, I've always had my friends and family, and hitting the teen years it was always a boyfriend that was there for me, protected me, comforted me and was able to kill the spiders for me.

But now, it's just me.

I had an incident I'd rather not re-live right now, but let's just say it involved extremely gross bugs in my kitchen. With no one to help kill them with me, I had to deal with the situation on my own.
After a failed call to my dad to try to get his assistance, and an hour of crying, I braved the circumstance to kill them while praying the entire time.

There is nothing worse than bugs. 
I hate them. I don't know why they exist. They make me really uncomfortable, squeamish and i get scared. Every guy I talk to says "They are just bugs", but any girl would understand that even though they are tiny, they threaten our very existence.

There is a reason why men don;t have the same fears. They are supposed to be able to take on the more difficult things like this to assist us damsels in distress.

Regardless, I braved it on my own and was somewhat successful (with the help from my Heavenly Father).

Two weeks later.... we now have a fly problem. 

After a long day at work, and feeling the effects of a bad cold coming on, I came home to a house with too many bugs for my stomach to handle.

Am I being tested?
Am  I being punished?
What is happening?!

At the very moment in life where I am feeling the most alone, I am facing these circumstances I feel much to weak to face on my own.

But maybe that is the point I am missing.

It is possible that God allows us to face circumstances to make us stronger.
It is possible that he allows us to go through situations to give us no choice but to depend on Him.

I don't really know what is happening, and it seemed Job couldn't explain his pain either, but the bottom line is that I need to TRUST God over anything and anyone else in this world, including myself.

I don't know why I am facing these trials in my life, I don't know how long I will feel alone, I don't know how long I will feel 'stuck'... but I do know that I can Trust my Father in heaven. He knows what He is doing and I am looking forward to looking back to these valleys once I've reached the mountain tops and have a better perspective on why I went through it all.

Trust is the hardest thing when you feel you are treading in dark waters. But I know my Father gave his one and only son to die for my sake, so that I can be blameless in his eyes. that's enough for me to understand the Goodness of God. Enough to understand that He is not out to get me. Enough to understand that God is able to build my character, discipline me, test me, and comfort me when I need his strength.

This blog wasn't planned, nor am I sure it served a purpose. Sometimes when you go through something tough (which may seem like nothing to other people) it's good to formulate your thoughts and talk yourself back into understanding your purpose.

My purpose is not for this earth, but instead for my Father in Heaven. I was created to praise him, to show his love to others, and to be in relationship with him. At the end of this life, these moments won't matter. These fears will pass away. But the most important thing will be my relationship with Christ. And if going through these awful trials of bugs and loneliness bring me in closer relationship with Him..... then I will Trust Him and praise Him in this storm.

And so I stand reminded that through my Job season.... every season changes when it's time has served a purpose.




Prayer:
Thank you Father that I can trust you. Please provide me your strength, as it is made perfect in my weakness... and boy do I feel weak right now. Heavenly father, please help me to rely in you more. Give me strength to face my fears when I have to, and help me to not blame my weakness on the absence of someone else. I may not always understand why I have to face the things I do, but I will trust you and worship you knowing that Jesus was sent to die on the cross for me, a sinner. And that your love covers all my wrong. I know you are not punishing me Father and so I trust that what I face comes from either the broken world, a test, or a way to build my character as a Christian.
I praise you in this storm Father and trust you.

S.
xoxo


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In Case My Heart Fails Me...

In Case My Heart Fails Me...

I've been feeling these really bad chest pains only on the left side of my body where my heart is. I've gone to the doctor several times and they have assured me my heart is healthy and these pains are "normal". I can't explain the human body or why mine chooses to do this, but it is a nice reminder every time I feel it that all of this is temporary.


It sounds morbid to some, I know, but feeling that gives me redirection to live for the things not of this world but to submit to a higher power. The Father of creation and the saviour of my soul, Jesus Christ.

When the world feels like it is crumbling around me, I will be found in You. And the things of this world will fade, but only God remains. When I regain focus on who matters, the struggles of this life just fall away.

I've been feeling strongly on my heart I need to write down what I would want people to know if I were to ever leave this world early. Now I am in full understanding that my days are counted my by God and he will decide when the right time for me to be with Him is and I take full confidence that whenever that is, His timing is perfect. Whether 70 years from now or 70 minutes from now, I TRUST in Him, fully...




My parents have taught me a lot of things. What to do, and what not to do. Every person makes mistakes, and I have understood this in my parents from a very young age. Their relationship has never been strong, but regardless of the circumstance, they continue to plow forward through the hardships and remain together. We never really say "I'm Sorry" in my household, and that is something that I am learning to now do in my life, but regardless of how much we hurt one another, the storm always passes and we are back to loving one another.
My parents taught me the benefit of little detail.
Let me explain.
As I grow older, I realize that my parents dealt with things that they kept from their children. Whether it be financial issues they are dealing with, or a recent bug issue they discovered. Regardless, they chose with discernment what to keep from us, and what to share.
I am quickly learning in my own life, and my career, that sometimes even if you want to speak about something you know, its more beneficial to keep it to yourself and let it be.

My mother has this passion and excitement for certain things like her TV shows (Y&R, Amazing Race, anything Justin Beiber) but no matter how much I make fun of her, she stays true to who she is and doesn't let it bother her. As much as it bugs me, I admire that in her. She doesn't let others decide who she is going to be. She has had some major struggles in her life but has managed to bounce back from them with a joy and a new ambition. No matter how many times we fail, we need to get back up and try again.

My father has always made a point of making us laugh. Even as children, he would make the same jokes over and over, yet they wouldn't get old. Of course there were times where we rolled our eyes at him, but I still remember him moonwalking across the doorway when hanging out with my friends, or sharpening knives at the table the first time I introduce my boyfriend to him. My father is a very intelligent man and knows way too much trivia for his own good. I have come to understand him more and more over the years. He once explained to me why he enjoys time alone and away from everyone so often. Growing up with 8 brothers and sisters, never having your own room, you get crowded. To finally have opportunity to go out on your own and just do what you want, it was his safe haven. He's always loved trivia and to this day I know I can find him at any restaurant with a trivia game, glued to the television screen.
His love for his grandchild is very evident. He lights up like the sun when he see's Jay and turns into a little boy again. There is a special bond between a grandfather and grandson that nothing can compare and to see it in front of my eyes gets me emotional. To see my dad smile like that from a innocent little baby, is one of the most wonderful things in this life.


I have always looked up to and respected my brother. I never understood how he ended up being cooler than me in high school but he always had a good group of friends and managed to stay out of the drama. He has a good head on his shoulders and has a very different way of looking at things than I ever did. He was calm, straight to the point, and very blunt. I still remember to this day as a teenager I was on the phone to a boyfriend that I found out was lying to me about certain things. I was crying, and being the weaker version of me back then, I was letting him talk me into understanding his side! My brother was in my room with me writing on post-it notes of what I should do. I still remember seeing those words and thinking "I would never think to say that!". He helped me through these emotional times when nothing could console me. He understood me when no one else did. And although we were never that close growing up, I knew he was always there.

My sister-in-law (which I may as well just call my sister) is one of the most fun-loving people I have ever met. She has this joy to life that matches none other. I don't know if it's her Brazilian culture or what, but she has this huge laugh that fills the room and is just contagious! I hope my nephew has her personality. She is so beautiful and her faith in God is woven throughout her life. Her commitment to family and understanding of others faults makes me want to be a more patient person. She also has a different way of looking at things, which is why I believe she is perfect for my brother. I know they have had their difficulties (distance, war, failing visas) but they have made a decision to make it work. I admire and respect both of them for the effort they put into one another. They invest in each others souls and protect one another. After hearing my brother talk about protecting his family, I realized that his love for his wife surpassed anything we experienced growing up in our family. We didn't really have a good example of what a marriage should be. I remember my parents kissing once in my life and that is it. But to see my brother and sister-in-law where they are now.... I am beyond amazed and feel there is hope for that in my life as well. To love someone with an outpouring of love that is recognizable to others.


My Grannie. She is so independent. She takes the dogs on walks and loves them like none other. I'd hate to admit it, but I get jealous when my dog is more excited to see my Grannie than me! They truly see her heart and know the time she invests in them. I think she has it right. Dogs are man's best friend! They don't judge you, they are always excited when you come home, and they don't expect much from you. They comfort you when you are sad, and they are always fulfilled with the littlest effort on your part. I wish I could be the type of person my dog thinks I am. My Grannie is very wise. My sister pointed this out. When everyone was trying to decide who my nephew looked like and what he was going to be like when he grew up, my Grannie in the background just said 'He will just be him'. Something so simple, yet so comforting to my sister and so right on the mark to settle the argument. Her independence is scary sometimes, I remember my mom calling her in the morning to tell her "Don't shovel the driveway, its too slippery!".... one broken arm later, my Grannie still insists she was "Just pushing the snow with the shovel!". She knows more about what is hitting the news and the Toronto Maple Leafs than my brother does and that says A LOT. She is always up on the current headlines and you can always count on a phone call from her when big news hits!

What I have learned in life:
Well this is a loaded question.... however if I were to write one last thing to leave with those whose lives I would HOPEFULLY touch, it would be this....
- when you are in an argument, listen. Stop yelling and just listen to the other person. Stay calm. It is incredible the peace and control you will feel when this happens and things get resolved a lot quicker.
- on the same note, stay humble. It is one of the most difficult things to admit when we are wrong, but once we do, we can learn from it instead of making excuses or blaming others. Take the shot and move on. Commit to being a better person and admitting you aren't perfect. Others will look up to you for your honesty.
- If you are going to cheat, you may as well cut loose from your relationship first. Don't waste my time and I won't waste yours. We are all in this life to find true love, and that kind of "love" is cheap and easy and is not worth a cent, or a minute.
- Take chances. If you have a desire in your heart to go to New York, find a way and GO! You have one life and limited seasons. If you are old enough, GO! Even if you don't have the resources, find them and take a chance. You never know what one experience can do to alter the course of your life and passions!
- Never hold money too closely. Be compassionate and sponsor a child. You don't need all that anyway. The more you tithe and give, the less attached to money you will feel, and the more God provides.
- Unconditional Love. As much as you want to give up on someone. Don't. No matter how much you want to just ream them out and scream at them and tell them you hate them, Don't. Show love. Chances are the people who have screwed up, know that they have screwed up and what speaks louder volumes is acknowledging that we are all fighting a battle and everyone needs compassion. Everyone needs the Love of Christ in their life regardless if they believe or not.
- Give people a second chance. I'll be honest, I've NEVER done this with romantic relationships, but I've opened the doors of communication to those who've hurt me a lot. It's not the easiest, but I know the anxiety of being in a room with someone you feel doesn't like you and has a bad temper. Don't be that person. Show love. Show forgiveness. Let go of the small details and just know that everyone has a heart beating inside their chest that will run out. No one is indestructible. We all have insecurities. And even if you get hurt again, turn the other cheek and continue to show your love. You will shine like the stars and they will feel dumb haha
- Take time for God. Read the Good Book. Pray. Fast. Talk about things bigger than yourself. I know way too many people who are full of themselves with no room left in their hearts for someone else. Always make room in your heart for Jesus, for your family, for friends and loved ones. Put others before yourself and stop worrying about what others see you as. Stop trying to build up this reputation that just ends up failing you anyway. To God, you are good enough. That is all you need to know.
- Always be a student. Strive to learn new things in life. Whether it be with finances, relationships, careers, faith, etc. Choose to pick up books and open your mind to a new world.
- Travel. See how others live. You will accept that we are very very spoiled here and are living like royalty.
- Breathe and stop over thinking. Sometimes in life you can't make everyone happy when you are stuck with a decision. Accept the things you cannot change, do what you can without fighting back, listen, and acknowledge you understand. Sometimes in life there will be things that we just can't fix. But it's not our job to make everyone happy, it's our job to make the best decisions for our lives and that most benefit those around us.
- Ask people questions. I've learned this much too late in life. Take the time to understand someone by asking them questions about their family, career, and social life. What are they struggling with, what are they celebrating? Next time you hang out with them, reflect on those things and ask for an update. I feel so special when I feel like I have been heard and someone was thinking about me. I hope to do the same in my relationships.
- and finally.... GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE!!!!!! You never know until you actually TRY! Go to a movie on your own, go to a new hiking trail, purchase a ticket to the first flight out. Be spontaneous! Live life and explore what this world has to offer. Don't get sucked into the gated world you grew up in. Spread your wings and fly!!!



xoxo S.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tell Me What You Want... What You Really Really Want!




Pinpoint Prayers.

Have you heard of these?

Recently a coworker of mine told me to "try praying pinpoint prayers". Be specific about what you want in life. What do you want in a husband. What do you want for your family. What do you want help with. 

I think sometimes we run the risk of being too scared to do this because we don't want to overstep our bounds with God. Well... why would I pray for a new car if it isn't God's will. 
The bible says: 
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" - Psalm 37:4

Here is the key. If we are delighting ourselves in the Lord, aka running after him, pursuing him, putting him first in our lives, then our desires will ideally line up with his will - so these pinpoint prayers should essentially be things that God wants for us anyway.

Before praying these prayers, we first need to make sure we are right with God.


Repentance for our sin.
Why should we repent?

Falling humbly at the feet of God acknowledging him as our Saviour and recognizing how much he loves us allows us to understand that we fall short. We miss the mark. We really don't deserve the love God has for us (and we only get this when we fully understand his love). We sin daily and just verbally asking for forgiveness for these sins even does something for us - it reminds us how much we need Jesus. At the end of the day, come to Jesus in prayer about what happened in your day. First thank him for every breath, and every opportunity that came your way. Remind yourself that you got to and from work safely, that you have food in your belly and a roof over your head. Then ask for forgiveness for the things that you have fallen short of. Maybe you were short tempered. Maybe you took advantage of your work time and procrastinated. Maybe you didn't keep your word or you complained a lot. Maybe you gossiped or complained about a coworker or acquaintance. Whatever it is, bring it to God. He already saw you do it anyway.


Then chase after Him.
Read the word and what he says about the things you are struggling with.
Is it fear? Anger? Empathy? Distrust?
Find the concordance in the back of your bible or find a reading plan on the YouVersion Bible App on that topic and study. Find out what our God has to say to you about the very thing satan may be abusing you with. 


Finally, seek wiser counsel.
A friend who has gone through it and growing in spiritual life. A pastor who is easily accessible and that you trust. A parent or grandparent who has strong faith. Seek this counsel and ask if what you desire, what you specifically want in your life lines up with what God wants for his children.




When I decided to write down pinpoint prayers for my future - and as a single 20 something, of course a lot of my prayer life is for direction in current relationships with my family, friends, coworkers, and more specifically about my future husband. 
When I say "I do" to someone, it is going to be the biggest decision I will make in my entire life so you best believe I will be praying for guidance for this one.

Deciding to no longer shy away from these pinpoint prayers, I created a list for the IDEAL MAN, a list of what I want in a husband. It was fun! I quickly found myself writing one, two, now three full pages of specific things I desire in a man. Trust it the number one thing (and always has been) and once that trust is compromised or broken, that person is not attractive to me whatsoever so I wrote down things such as trust, respect, love, compassion, drive, and heart for Jesus, strong convictions, spiritual leader, prays, reads daily, isn't prideful, etc.

But I also wrote down "idealistic" things such as plays sports, has a good career, dog person, perfect heel height, eats well and stays active, stylish, clean record (how sad is it I have to include that), loves movies, extravert, handy around the house, etc.


Now my list, as I mentioned, was over three pages long and very quickly you can already tell which things I want because thats what I find attractive, and which things God would want for my life (things I desire because of my relationship with Christ).

I desire a spiritual leader because of how God has placed man head of the home. I want someone I can look up to, trust, pray with, and respect in the home because that's the example Christ has set for my life. 


I do know that this entire list is far above and beyond and I do not expect one person to fulfill all of it however it is freeing to put on paper what you want out of life. Who you are looking for and why. What is important to you and what isn't important to you. I do believe that when I meet him, that this list could probably burn to the ground as long as he is pursuing Christ and consistently trying to be a better person and humbly falling to Christ's feet.

Pinpoint Prayer Benefits.
This list allowed me to recognize what kind of man I wanted to be with and made it easier to wait on him.
This list also pushed me to really consider who this man was and what kind of woman he would go after. I therefore had to make a second list - a list for the ideal woman (who would hopefully be me!).

THIS was humbling.
I studied Proverbs 31 - what a Godly women looked like in the bible, and I can tell you I don't even meet half of those requirements.
It made me realize how much work I have to do in order to become a woman of God who is "Clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future" - Proverbs 31:25

So instead of posting my "Ideal Man" list on here for the world to see. I thought I would humbly and hesitantly put the list of the "Ideal Me" on here which developed from the pinpoint prayers of my perfect future husband. 

Here it is:
- Heart for Jesus
- Reads and Prays daily
- involved in church and ministry
- loving/caring/gentle/nurturing to others
- can cook (really well!)    [i have a lot of work to do on this one]
- cleans without complaining [ahahahahaha]
- well dressed/put together
- modest / pure
- loves her family / family oriented
- considers others first before self
- good Godly group of friends
- outgoing and willing to try new things
- is fit and takes care of her body (eats well/exercises)
- loves to travel/plans trips
- smart with money / can budget
- disciplined/driven/passionate
- optimistic
- can follow sports!
- loves music and surrounds herself with positive faith-driven music
- can host a party/get together
- reads books / intelligent 
- guards her heart
- heart of gratitude
- invests in others (even those who can't give back)
- desires to be a better person daily
- humble
- trust worthy
- brings good, not harm, to those around her
- gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for the household
- energetic and strong - a hard worker
- extends a helping hand to the poor
- opens arms to the needy
- is clothed in strength and dignity
- laughs without fear of the future
- speaks with words of wisdom
- instructions of kindness
- watches over the entire household
- is not lazy
- Fears the Lord. 

Needless to say, whoever he is, he is already making me want to be a better person.
I see the kind of man I want to be with, but I know that I am far from the kind of woman I want to be. Through my desires, my pinpoint prayers, i discovered that just waiting around and praying isn't going to get me very far if I am not willing to make some changes and desire to become the woman God created me to be.

This was an interesting exercise and one that will be keeping me busy for a while now. Both prayerfully and physically! 
**Goes for a run**


xoxo S.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Four Things While Waiting


Have you ever had that feeling that something incredible is just around the corner?

Lately I have been told by many people that they see God preparing me for something great to come. I didn't really understand and I felt they were just telling me that because I went through another break up and they wanted to encourage me. Thinking back now, I truly feel they were planting a seed in a way.

Lately I've been feeling anxious... to anxious to stay. I've been wanting to get in the car and drive and just keep driving. Just leave and see where the Lord leads me.

Do you remember in elementary school when you used to run races against your classmates? You would walk up to the start line, standing next to the runners faster then you, your heart racing while you prepare. Your eyes focused on the ground, noticing the other shoes around you up to the line.


"GO!"


That feeling. The heart racing. The feeling of preparation. The feeling of readiness. I feel that now.

I know anxious is not a good thing and you may feel "that's not of God" however, I know what Im feeling within my soul and I feel he is preparing me. Preparing me for something incredible. He is calling me to something bigger and I don't know how to describe what that will look like or what that even entails.



What can I do while I wait?

4 things.


1. Pursue Him

At this time, where you are at a crossroads in your life, it is vital that we draw closer to the one who offers direction. The author and perfecter of our faith. The more I pursue Christ, the more I will be in tune with His voice and therefore the more I will be able to understand when he signals/calls/speaks to me in a specific way. Discernment. One of the more important things a Christian can have that allows us to understand if something is truth, or flesh. of God or of man. Discipline or the enemy attack.  Discernment is something I have been praying for like crazy recently and need to continue to do so.


2. Reach out

Mission. What is your mission? what is your purpose RIGHT NOW? God has us all in different seasons for different reasons, but we can all serve where we are right now. Are we consuming our time with pointless activities? What is it right now we can push aside to make room for God. What can we do to serve His kingdom RIGHT NOW? Take the time to write to your sponsor child. Get involved with the youth group at your church. Take someone out for coffee/dinner. Call someone you haven't talked to in a while and encourage them. Reach out. Take that extra movement, that extra intention to serve others and remove focus off yourself for once.


3. Focus on the Promise

God is not too concerned with our comfort. We face breakups, loss of loved ones, rejection, pain, isolation, and complete anger. Some of these are results of our of our own disobedience, some are just life circumstances beyond our control, some we didnt even see coming. I do know that God says to "consider it PURE JOY" when we face trials.
PURE JOY..... really?! because I believe that is the LAST thing we FEEL when we go through trials. We feel down, not joy! But He has something else: GOD has a purpose for the trial. And even if He did not necessarily CAUSE the trial, it may have been of your own decisions, He will still use that trial, that circumstance for a purpose.

We need to understand that trials (regardless of God provided or self inflicted) do test our faith. They push us to question things, it pushes us to reconsider what we believe, reevaluate who we know God to be. Trials test our faith BUT that develops PERSEVERANCE. 

Perseverance:
Verb
Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty 
or with little or no indication of success.


Little or NO indication of success?! Doesn't sound good! But isn't that what FAITH is? To the world, there is little or no indication of success in relying in God. But FAITH is perseverance. It's continuing in the course of action (trust, prayer, love, relying in God) when we feel things are difficult and when we can't see the whole picture. When we feel there is no indication that the trial will end any time soon - we TRUST our Father in heaven, that he has a purpose for our trials and can make them into something beautiful.


 Perseverance MUST finish its work so that you may be MATURE and COMPLETE - not lacking anything.


Mature: Fully developed in mind and body

Complete: Having all parts or elements, lacking nothing; entire; whole; full.
Trial:  state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief

These temporary moments of discomfort should be something we can see from a different perspective based on this one verse. I have seen first hand how God, my Father, can turn a complete heart break (one to the point where I didnt know when I would ever be able to stop crying) into something so incredible and beautiful. If it wasn't for that trial, I know I wouldn't be where I am now, working for an incredible ministry in my dream position at 25. Based on that first trial I experienced as a Christian, I can see hope in every circumstance I face now.


So I know this one is long - but we need to see our trials in the perspective of the God we serve. When we are facing our giants in life, we need to stand up, and press on. Because the promise is on the other side.

(Please watch the video I posted earlier of the frontman of Tenth Ave North who experienced a near fatal car crash which lead him into God's purpose for his life)

4. Get Uncomfortable!


I know that sounds weird, but God called many people out of their comfort zones and through that, he was able to move mountains and rescue people out of slavery, etc. Moses didn't feel comfortable speaking with his stutter, and so he was uncomfortable when the Lord called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jonah didn't feel "comfortable" with the mission God gave him to go to Nineveh so he ran. Yet as soon as he got there, they believed the message he had from God!  



When we are willing to step out - in faith - and get out of our comfort zones, the Lord can use us in tremendous ways. 




We need to check our hearts and ask ourselves what we are willing to do if God calls us.
Move?
Quit our job?
Break up our relationships?
Reach out to someone we don't want to?

I believe there is at least ONE thing we are all facing right now that we can acknowledge that God may be asking us to do... which would require stepping out our comfort zone.



So I believe, as I wait, these are the four main things I can do right now while I am in this season. I believe the Lord has purpose for every season as I have seen in my own life so i will embrace my hardships and praise my Lord as I walk through my trials, as I know His plan far exceeds my understanding and my Trust needs to be fully in Him. <3 nbsp="">
xoxo

S.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

God's Will

I've been doing a 40 day commitment where I commit to turn off the radio and TV during the week for 40 days and challenge myself to read one chapter, watch one sermon, and pray daily. It hasn't been easy but I did hear it takes a certain amount of days to develop a 'habit' and this is what I am hoping to integrate into my daily life - God - and being dedicated to knowing him more.

Appropriate to say, I started in the book of John again and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

At first, I didn't acknowledge why I chose 40 days, but I later understood the connection to Matthew 4, when Jesus went to the wilderness for 40 days and was tempted by the devil.
I feel I'm in a season of being in the wilderness, Seems fitting. If I can get through these 40 days, I feel that my faith and trust in God will grow stronger in the end. Right now, his strength is being made perfect in my weakness because I am at my weakest I have been in a long time.

ANYHOW...

Have you ever driven a car without a working radio? Well, it's very easy to start praying when you are driving in silence and the only thing you can think of is how your car is on it's last legs and you arn't sure how long it will last.

So recently I've been praying on my car rides. To work, to home, to church, to my parents, wherever, Im praying.

On my way home last night I felt led to pray something specific... now this doesn't always happen. In fact, very seldom do I feel the spirit that strongly to lead me in one direction. So I did, and my prayer was as follows:

 "Father, if there is something of who you are.... something theologically or something in doctrine that I am misunderstanding..... something important that I am just not getting..... please reveal that to me. Please help me to acknowledge what I am misunderstanding and lead me to the proper understanding of it."

Now at the time I had no idea what I was praying, and to be honest I didn't really think anything of it after that.

I got home, and of course doing the 40 day challenge, I opened up an app on my ipad to listen to a sermon. More specifically, someone I was talking to at my pastor's house had mentioned a sermon he was listening to and that striked my interest.... which landed me to this sermon:
http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/gods-will-is-whatever

I've been putting alot of pressure on trying to find God's will for my life. I'm trying to figure it out through work, through church, through relationships, and of course failed relationships. I'm trying to figure out where God is leading me, what he wants for my life, what he expects of me, and what he wants me to do. I am constantly looking up and saying "What do you want of me?". I know I don't want anything but HIS will, but I've gotten to a place where Im stopping where I am, afraid to make any decisions in fear that it may be out of his will and I'll be missing his voice. What does God want me to do? Where does God want me to go? When is God's timing?

What is God's will?!

Well... here comes another redefinition:



Yep. That's it.......Whatever.
When I first heard this in the sermon I was like... "huh?" because everything Ive been learning is that God has a specific calling on us and it seeming like our entire purpose is to just try to figure out this mysterious secret that God is hiding from each of us about what His will for our lives is.

Here is an overview of what I learned:

Truth One:
GOD WANTS US TO KNOW HIS WILL 
It's not this big secret that he is keeping from us and he's up there laughing at us trying to figure it all out for ourselves. He wants us to know His will for our lives. However, small problem: YOU CAN'T DO GOD'S WILL UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND GODS WILL. 

So how do we understand God's will?:
THE CENTRE OF GODS WILL IS TO KNOW HIS WAYS
His will for us is for us to understand His character, his ways, who He truly is.
Understand who God is. Know God's ways! Simply reading His word is the easiest way to understand God's ways, specifically through the life of Jesus.

WHEN YOU KNOW GOD'S WAYS, HE WILL LEAD YOU TO HIS WILL.

When we have a better grasp of God's ways, his character and who God is, we will have a better idea of what his will for our lives is. The more you get to know someone, the more you can understand their attitudes or opinions on certain things without even having to ask. You understand them as a person, and same here, we are called to understand God, SEEK HIM first - being seek his ways.

understand His ways = understand His will.


It is important to note that God is more concerned with HOW you live your life. 
The WHY is more important than the WHERE
The WHO is more important than the WHAT.



Truth Two:
And we know that in all things 
God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose - Romans 8:28

WHATEVER YOU HAVE DONE OR HAVENT DONE, WHATEVER  YOU KNOW OR WISH YOU KNEW, THE MOMENT THAT YOU TURN TO GOD AND SEEK HIS HEART TO KNOW HIS WAYS - YOU ARE IN THE CENTRE OF HIS WILL

Regardless of your circumstance no matter in the valley (dark, rough times) or on the mountain top (rejoicing, happy times), seeking God's presence and His heart is the best thing you can do in your faith walk. Why? Because His word stands true that he created each one of us, with a purpose, he came so that we could have life to the fullest, our God is a good God with love so deep, no human love can ever match. Jesus was sacrificed for our sins, God's one and only son was given because he LOVED the world. THIS is why we can trust. THIS is why when we feel lost, when we feel confused, when we feel we don't understand our path, seeking His ways, seeking his heart, his presence is the most important thing we can do.

He loves us. 


"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" 
Psalm 119-105



Truth Three:
God shows us His will through the situations He placed us in, good or bad.

 In order to understand this point we must first understand that What the enemy means for evil, God can use for good.

We can't underestimate the way that God can use the right people to lead us to the right place. We must exalt our view of God's word. We need to look to and through the word of God in our situations to understand God's presence in our circumstances.


So really, we must ask ourselves this question:
Why would God give His son, allow His son to die, raise His son from the grave and send His Spirit if He didn't want to bless us? If he didn't want us to be joyful. Didn't want our lives to be fulfilling, lovely, purposeful. 


Discovering the will of God for our lives is the most important objective we could ever pursue. But after we discover it, it's important that we "Do" the will of God.

There are 43 shades of orange. There are all kinds of orange. We can get so caught up in picking the "right" colour for our lives but the Word of God is like any can of paint, it's value is in its application.

Delight ourselves in the Lord, 
not so that He will fulfill my desires 
but so that He will INSTILL His desires


TRUTH FOUR:

When you want what God wants 
for the reasons God wants it... 
you're unstoppable.


And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, 
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him. 
- Colossians 3:17



"Alot of people live imprisoned within preconceived 
notions about how God's will works"


God HAS spoken to people specifically in the bible, however, most of us won't experience this. We are to listen to what God has done throughout history and study His ways to understand what he may be speaking to us over our lives and situations.


He will confirm His will through multiple sources if He is trying to tell you something specific.

He isn't telling us to get up at a specific time - That's our responsibility.
He isn't telling us to talk to a specific person - We are called to honour Him in everything we do
He isn't telling us to marry a specific person -  We look for relationships that bring us closer to the Lord

When Jesus called the disciples, they were out fishing, not searching for the meaning of their lives. They were busying themselves with living.

We must stop seeking for a quick answer from God and just start trusting in Him. There may be a reason why we don't know specific paths we are going to be taking in life (who we are going to marry, what job we will have, where we will live) because God just simply wants us to TRUST HIM and HAVE FAITH IN HIM.

Again like mentioned above, What the enemy uses for harm, God can use for good.

No matter what path you have gone down, God can lead you right back to the path he needs you on but we must prepare our hearts, we must be putting God as our priority and we must put our faith and trust in him ABOVE our fleshly doubts, laziness, insecurities, and worldly desires.


Therefore.... is it really His specific will for our lives that we should be meditating on?
No. We need to first be seeking God for who He is. Because He first loved us. Because if we are passionately seeking Him, we are then already on the path of His will.

Trust. Faith. Hope. Love.

<3 br="" nbsp=""> xoxo S.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Working All Things for Good...


This is one of the most powerful videos and testimonies I have heard in a while. This is the lead signer of Tenth Avenue North (incredible band that I had the opportunity of working with/interviewing for work).
This is something I need to keep in mind for my own life. That God can take any situation, no matter how horrible, and use it for something so far above and beyond incredible that we cannot even imagine.

Thank you God.

http://crossroads360.com/watch?v={EC74DF25-648C-436B-A1DC-9E502CB63025}&s=1#.UcuxdaV97-Y



Pursue Christ - Don't Chase After Boys



"So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, 
and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you" 
- 1 Peter 4:19 


"God will often use the things and people we love most in this world to break us the hardest. 
If He doesn’t have your full attention now, He will demand it from you later. 
Even at the expense of great pain and heartache, God is far more 
concerned about our holiness than our happiness." 
  


I recently read an article in RELEVANT magazine about "Making the Most of a Breakup" and I was finding truths shared there I had to write about... mostly to remind myself where I am and why. First and foremost, I should probably explain some simple truths about what led me, personally, to this point of stepping back from a relationship that meant a lot to me.


I met this incredible guy.
He's made me smile from the start.
I noticed him before we even started talking. He dresses really nice and has an incredible sense of humour which I tend to need in my life. He is driven and has a successful career. Oh and did I mention he is perfect heel height? (Lets be honest here, for a girl who is 5'10, you have to see some sort of God orchestrated moment when you meet an incredible single guy who is perfect heel height)


We began talking at church, and then in the parking lots, at volley ball, and we were texting each other every day and well, before the end of the week, we were dating...

I wouldn't say I really thought it was wrong. I mean a tiny bell went off in my head thinking everything was happening quick... but we were both ready for a relationship. We had a lot in common. We had both been praying for someone like this to come along. It seemed so perfect and so God-orchestrated and so....right. I made sure that God had everything to do with us meeting each other that the moment I saw him, and after me turning to my friend and asking her who the hot guest speaker at church was, I asked God to please not let any man come on my path unless it was his will. I made a promise that I would not go over there and talk to him... that I would continue to trust in God and refrain from pursuing any man like I had done in the past. My faith and trust in God had never been so strong. I had gone through a really bad season but had come out the other side with a stronger faith than ever. I was ready to accept any plan God had for me, even if it meant I had to let that cute guy at church go. But he came over to me. He walked across the church and shook my hand. 

My heart smiled at that point.

Only a week before this, I had a serious conversation with God about meeting that guy. You know, the one you dream about when you are little. The man who is supposed to sweep you off your feet, treat you like a princess and promise you that he will love you and care for you unconditionally for the rest of your lives. I think they call them husbands these days ;)
It was probably the very first serious conversation I had ever had with God where I was asking for something from the depths of my heart. I told God that I was ready. I was ready to meet this man and that my faith in God would not waiver. That because I know God would bring this man into my life, I could only see my relationship with God improving, getting better, my trust and faith growing even
more because we would do it right. This man of God and I would dedicate our time to God, we would honour God with our actions and God would work with us and teach us his perfect love so we can show each other. We would get it right.
Well, I met him a week after that conversation.

We did really good the first three months but after that..... boy did we fail.

It's like we were tripped once and just kept stumbling from that point on. There was no stability, there was no unconditional love, there was no understanding, there was miscommunication, there was stubbornness and just complete frustration with one another.

What was happening?

We were both just exhausted at the end and decided the best thing to do was to get together and make a decision. And for the first time (from what I can think of) since we met, I believe we both were on the same page with God's will. 
God really prepared both of our hearts to come to this conclusion that our biggest mistake in this relationship was not that we have different schedules, or that we don't go out on enough dates. Our biggest mistake was that we took the very foundation we were relying on for everything and completely removed it from under our feet. We acknowledged the foundation. We talked about the foundation. But we weren't being built on the foundation.

We took God out of the relationship. 
Looking back now, I can see the holes in my prayer life. I keep a prayer book and it was FILLED at the beginning... but near the end.... it's been empty. I took the very thing God provided to me, one of the biggest blessings he has ever provided and I took it as my own. I pointed out it's flaws, challenged it's limits, and tried to make it into what I wanted it to be.... what I expected it to be. I turned my back to God through this process, not allowing him to have any part in the moulding process. It was my way. It's always my way...

I didn't look at how God was looking at him.
I wasn't encouraging him. I wasn't loving him. I wasn't speaking faith over his life. I would become exhausted complaining in my head how he didn't take the reigns of our spiritual walk together but it was never his fault.

I realize now that the best gift I could ever offer my significant other is a pure and dedicated heart for Christ. Because when i am seeking God with everything in my soul, I am working on being a better person. I am learning how to Love as God does. I am seeking patience, kindness, selflessness, gentleness and all things biblically speaking on love. I am living in joy and I am relying on my God for my direction, for my acceptance, and for my value in life.

How could I be so blind...

I was seeking after this idea of a comfortable life without seeking after the will of God.
I am so thankful that he pushed on both of our hearts to stop where we were.
My faith (even in just this past week) has regained it's strength. I feel closer to God now than I have in a long time and things are just more clear. I'm hearing his direction. Im feeling his comfort. and I'm seeking him every moment I've got.

Im working on being a better daughter to my King. 

I came to realize a few things about my faith through that process:
1. God is a jealous God and WILL do anything and use anything to help his children regain focus back onto him even if it hurts. (thank you God for this)
2. He is faithful. And even if I don't see it now, even if I don't understand, from my past I can say with confidence that he can use anything for good.


My God can move mountains.
My God can turn any situation around.
My God is the God of miracles and healing and he's the one who spoke the world into motion.
Not one hair will fall from my head unless it is my Father's will.
And I will Trust in him through the storms and through the sunshine
because he is faithful..... even when I fail.

The truth is.... My God is good. My God is faithful. And I am still learning to wake up every day and say out loud "I Trust You Father". I know his plan has always been better than mine. I see the incredible blessings he's provided in my life that I am not one bit worthy of. He takes care of me. He shows me incredible love through other people. He embraces every bit of dirt I offer to him and welcomes me as one of his own. No love any man on this earth could ever offer me would ever measure up to the unconditional love of my saviour. If it took a break up for me to remember this.... then I will praise you in this storm Lord. 

So going back to the article I mentioned above, Joe Terrell (the author) says the following:
"Even though I claimed to be Christian and was involved in multiple ministry organizations, for over three years my life had revolved around my relationship with my girlfriend. Pouring a majority of my passion, time, creativity and money into our relationship, I had elevated it above my relationship with God. It had become my idol, and I based my identity around the affections of another person. I was pursuing what Tim Keller refers to in his book Counterfeit Gods as “apocalyptic romance.”
  
Now although I cannot say that my experience was that of an overwhelming obsession with my person, I still managed to put the dream of a perfect relationship above God.... and when my person didn't "measure up" to my standards, I would get upset, frustrated, and feel as if that "dream" of my would never happen. I think everyone pictures their wedding day and who will be standing at the end of that aisle. I guess I was just thinking too much about the idea of what my life will look like in the future, and spending too much energy and thought into trying to make it "look good" than actually working on the relationship. Than actually appreciating the man God put in front of me.
This mistake was in turn, putting a dream or idea or a "want" above my relationships with God.

I need to get to a point where I am so faithful to God, I am so trusting in him, I am understanding his character and following Jesus that my heart will be content with what he has for my life. Even if it means I have to wait 10 more years to see that "dream" happen.


I don't want anyone without God's permission.


And so.... I'll wait.... with the bible in my hands, a smile in my heart, and a spirit of thankfulness because I know I am still beyond blessed in this life and my God owes me nothing.
  
xoxo s.