Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Disappointment to Redemption

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our lives on earth are often tainted with disappointment. People disappoint us. Things disappoint us. Circumstances disappoint us. And sometimes, it seems, that even God disappoints us.

How many nights do we sit up waiting by the phone for that one phone call or text? How often do we face the scrutiny and discouragement of others telling us we can't? How frequent do we anxiously hope for circumstances to change? And the disappointment continues and we find that our constant companiion is despair rather than hope. Depression rather than joy. And we wonder where God is in the midst of our pain...

He's in the middle of it and the truth is: God is love. Though it seems that the world around us is falling apart or we have no idea what we are doing - He's there and He's aware of the struggles in our lives. God is a God of mercy and grace, meaninging He wants what's best for His children - and sometimes what's best for us are the disappointments of life. Over and over In the Psalms and Proverbs we see that parents who discipline their child are actually blessing them. God is doing the same work in us, His children, each time we face adversity, struggles, disappointments, and confusion. He's calling us back to His amazing grace, and hopefully we'll hear His still small voice through all the noise around us.

What's got you disappointed today? A failed relationship? A loss of a job? A hurt from a loved one? Or just plain life in general?

Choose today to surreneder that hurt to Jesus - allowing Him to invade your heart with peace that transcends all understanding. Let Him into the disappointment - be honest with your frustration. And ask God to give you ears that hear His voice amongst the chaos and His eyes to see and differentiate His plan and His will for your life.

He meets you where you are. No matter who you are or what you've done- Christ loves you. And more than anything He desires relationship with you. Just like a lover longs for their love, even when the love disappoints them, so does Christ love us even though we run from Him. God is writing a love story for our lives and He's the lover chasing after His love - won't you let Him in?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SoCal is my home

Well fans, as of 3pm today, I'm officially a Southern California resident. CRAZY!! It's been a fantastic few days of driving and seeing the beautiful coast of California. Mom and I came down in good ol' tenash... and drove Hwy 1 most of the way. One of the most gorgeous drives I've ever been on- and if you ever have the opportunity to take it, I highly recommend it! Yes, it will take you several more hours to get here taking that route, but it's definitely worth it.

Mom and I actually got along pretty well on the drive. There's always exceptions, like yesterday when I was tired, cranky, hadn't showered in 2 days, and was downright ready to quit for the day when the woman wouldn't stop for anything. But - we got through it and laughed much of the way down. Praise God for safe trips and great adventures! I'm blessed to have such a wonderful mother who I'm able to get along with every step of the way.

A few highlights from the trip:

A. Starting off 3 hours behind schedule - I mean, why not??

B. Seeing my dear friend Jackie in San Francisco, whom I haven't seen in over 3 years. She's an absolute doll and truly a blessing to see, even if only for a brief time.

C. My mom driving Hwy 1 on the "roller coaster" ride that is Northern California. That woman is crazy and loves her corners... we had many a laughs. My favorite part of the trip was coming around a corner and nearly decapitating some peacock looking bird... to which both of us yell... "Oh crap!" and start hilariously laughing because we weren't sure what the heck just jumped out in front of us.

D. Me actually surviving going over the LONGEST bridge I've ever been on in my life... driving into San Francisco. I'm from Seattle and I hate bridges... don't ask me why - but Praise the Lord that it was actually a fun venture. A city completely connected by bridges... such incredible handiwork!

E. Monterey. Oh dear, where do we even begin? After hours of driving mom and I finally decided to stop for "breakfast" at 12pm (Our iced coffees from Starbucks were not doing us justice 4 hours later). So we stop into the quaint town and find a Cafe - enjoy a meal, and head down to the Bay. Beautiful town - so much character running through it. And when I say character, I mean random characters walking up to me and hitting on me with my mother standing right next to me. The interlude went something like this:

Me: waiting for the cross walk to open, minding my own business
Random guy: Hey, how you doin'?
Me: thinking to myself "just ignore him"
Random guy: Hey, I'm talking to you!
Me: Oh, hi.
Random guy: You want to hang out tonight?
Me: Nope.
Random guy: Can I have your number? What's your name?
Me: Nope.
Random guy: Can I give you my business card?
Me: Nope, I'm not from around here and I won't be coming back.
Random guy: Really?
Me: Pointing to the "protection from creepy guys" ring on my left hand saying "I'm taken"
Random guy: *silence*


Really the whole trip has been amazing and such a blessing to be a part of! My roomies here are hilariously sweet and I'm really excited to get started on this new phase of life. I'm in shock, and probably will be for weeks to come... but one thing at a time, one day at a time, and I'll get myself settled.

One thing remains true throughout it all: God is my strength, Jesus my constant companion, and the Holy Spirit my guide.

Here's to the new adventure beginning!

Friday, March 26, 2010

2 days til everything changes

Oh My Lanta... how the HECK did it go from July to April so quickly? I'm officially leaving for my new home in LA Sunday morning, and am excited and nervous at the same time. WHOA there!!

Let me just start off with saying that God is so incredibly good! He has paved the way before me in more ways than one... and I can't even begin to expresss my gratitude for His care and provision. Amazing! And the plan has changed at least 4 different times since the beginning of March. I was going to start off living with roommates, but couldn't find anywhere to live that a. didn't have pets, b. would let me work from home, or c. wasn't too expensive. After searching for what seemed like years for fun, quality, like minded roomies, I gave up the search and decided to go another route and get my own apartment.

Well, apartments are definitely plentiful and I wanted to be sure to find the right place that was close to work, close to church, and, of course, close to the beach. I found a place and was really excited to get all moved in. I started shopping for furniture and packing all my housewares from here to ship down. It was then that my job plans changed... after talking with a trusted industry leader, I found that the position I was considering taking wasn't legit and didn't really match my values. After lots of prayer, I decided to decline the position and look for something else. That's when I started getting a bit worried about the  cash flow situation.... "Lord, how am I going to pay for this apartment now?". Well, let's just say he answered again...

The next day, I got a phone call from a friend of a friend who had a room for rent in her home. She's a certified CPA who was looking for a roomie, and seems super chill and like a great place to live. We talked on the phone for about an hour, and I just decided to take the room - and it was more than half the price of the rent for the apartment - Thank you JESUS!!! Seriously.... He just keeps showing up.

The other great news is that the furniture I ordered wasn't supposed to be to my place until late April/early May. Well... I just got a confirmation email saying it's ready for pick up, the day I arrive in LA. This whole situation seems surreal...

And the best part is that God keeps openning doors of friends and people that I haven't seen or heard of in years. People keep passing their relatives info onto me or connecting me with people they know in the area. I even have some friends from High School that have gotten back in touch with me and have offered to help out in any way they can. God is gracious and generous... and Praise Him for providing me a way.

I leave Sunday for a new adventure - a whole new playing field. I sit here with the blank canvas of life sitting before me, and now we just have to decide what to do with it. I miss my California friends like crazy, and I'm realizing that those roles are going to switch pretty quick as I say goodbye to my Seattle friends and family and start my new life.

Oh dear.... it's starting! This crazy adventure we call life. YAY and WHOA all at the same time!

Happy weekend everyone! :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wide Awake

First off, I can't believe the pending move that's been talked about and planned for months is actually here. In less than a week I will make my home in California - crazy! The time has flown by and I can't believe I'm actually taking this risk to get out of my comfort zone and move into new horizons. There's this great phrase that I heard recently that goes something like this: "Don't be afraid to leave something good in order to find something great." Here's to the something great that awaits me in the unknown - here's to a new chapter, a new adventure. Here's to the future - may it be directed by the One and Only in every step of every day.

Now, onto the latest book to grace my reading collection. It's by a pastor in the Southern California area of this church called Mosaic. Erwin McManus wrote "Wide Awake" to inpsire his audiences to start living our lives wide awake, ready for the callings on our lives. In the few chapters I've read thus far I find myself captivated by his use of words and how in the first few pages he's already pushed me to look beyond my world of comfort to listen and find the distinct calling God has placed on my life and to run after it as if my life depended on it (and it does!).

I'm reminded of a verse in Hebrews 12 that says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

How easy is it for us today to lose sight of the goal at hand, to forget what we're working for the second things seem to go off course? Why do we find it so much easier to give up than to push forward to finish the race we've been put in? Whether it's maintaining relationships, starting and building a business, working within the local Church and sticking with them through the thick and thin, or just waking up each morning and enjoying some time with the Lord before we start the day - we FAR to easily resort to our human nature of just getting by.

But, as McManus reminds us, "You can't just sit back and hope that the life you long for will simply come to you." What he's saying and what God is calling us to is that we need to fight the good fight towards the dreams God's placed on our lives, we need to hear the Voice of the Lord and run the race/path He's placed us on with perseverance - facing every obstacle along the way with grace. Bringing our struggles to Him for guidance and strength and allowing Him to refine us, even when it hurts.

So I wonder, what are you being called to? What are the things that are so uniquely you that you can't ignore them any longer? Who are you called to love? Where are you called to go? And what in the world is stopping you from doing so?

I can say with full clarity that I'm called to go to California. I'm called to get into community there. I'm called to write what the Lord lays on my heart, to share love, grace, and joy with those He places in my life. I'm called to speak. I'm called to listen. I'm called to be the best representation of a forgiving, loving, gentle, grace filled Savior that He can make me. I'm called to take risks, to push myself beyond my comfort zone. To speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. I'm called to speak to the next generation and all who are to come before my time on this earth is done.

And I'm terrified of all of it. It seems too big for me to do. It seems too outlandish, too overbearing to face. But the truth that we all need to realize is that it's not by our strength that we do what He's called us to. It's by His strength that we overhaul the impossible. It's through Him that things change, paths meet, and revolutions are born.

What do we have to fear? Nothing... for His peace overcomes fear. His love overcomes evil. He is bigger and stronger than any force of anxiety, fear, or lack of confidence. For we're not to be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presenting our requests to God. And His peace which passes all understanding will rest and abide with us now and forever. How incredible!

Dear friend, I leave you with this.... what have you always wanted to do? What is it that God's specifically placed on your heart to do while you're here on this earth? And when are you going to stop living the mediocre to accomplish His best??

Let's start living our lives Wide Awake, instead of sleeping our way through...

"Is it possible that the most self indulgent thing you can do is to do less than you are capable of?" - E. McManus

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sentimentally Yours...

"Say what you need to say" by John Mayer has me in a sentimental mood tonight. The simple song brings to light the very things that we so often overlook or push to the side because we're too scared of the outcome of our words. Yet, what if each of us took the chance and spoke our true feelings to everyone we loved and cherished? Why be paralyzed with fear when the very things we so badly need to say may be the very words someone vitally needs?

To a mother who's sacrificed near everything for me, I say, "I love you more than you know and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting other's interests and desires above your own. You are the epitome of grace and kindess, the very reason I'm where I am today."

To a brother who's been my lion heart in the midst of the tragedies, I say, "thank you for loving me beyond the responsibility of a brother and to the extent of a father. Thank you for protecting me and shielding me from the pain around me. I love you more than anything and look forward to just sitting silently by you once again."

To a father who's been distant, abusive but is now redeemed, I say, "I forgive you."

To the best friends who know me better than I know myself, I say, "bless you for your prayers, encouragement, wisdom, and support through the years. Thank you for sticking by me even when things seemed so distant. Thank you for trusting me with your hearts and for allowing mine to grow with your friendship."

To the teachers and leaders who've invested time and energy into my wellbeing, I say, "Thank you for your time. Thank you for instilling into my life the lessons I needed to learn. Thank you for pushing me beyond what I thought I could do; cheering at my successes and encouraging me through my failures. Thank you for your wisdom - may you be blessed for the sacrifice you give each day."

To the one's I've had the opportunity to lead, I say, "thank you for allowing me into your lives. Thank you for showing me who you are and trusting me with the things you hide from others. Thank you for teaching me how to love, and thank you for letting me learn as you grew."

To the family members once close now distant, I say, "We are blessed for the memories - let them never leave. But let us remember each other in everything, praying and encouraging as we face life's challenges. May we stick close to one another throughout our lives."

To those who've made a home in my heart, I say, "I love you. You will always have a special place in my heart and I thank you for allowing me into yours. May God shine His grace and glory into your life forever, and may He make His grace and plan known in everything you face."

And to the One and Only who's completely saturated my life with grace, I say, "Praise your name, for you are worthy of praise. Thank you for the sacrifice and the gift of life you so freely give. For without you I am nothing, and with you I have strength beyond my wildest dreams. You're the reason I breathe, you're the reason I dance, you're the direction I follow, and it's by your grace, your encouragement, your presence, your peace that I know I'm abundantly loved. Thank you, thank you  for your care and provision."

Sentimentally yours,


Friday, March 12, 2010

Let's start today!

Today, a friend of mine, and a woman with the biggest heart of love and care, lost the love of her life at the age of 31. As I heard about the progress of her husband's condition throughout the day, I sat in prayer for peace, comfort, grace, and provision. My heart bleeds for this friend of mine today, and I can't seem to stop crying. This is the first close friend I've lost at such a young age, and I'm reminded that life is short... finite. We're only here for a blink of an eye, and then we're gone. There's got to be something more to this life than the daily grind....

As I'm looking at the table of papers around me, at the stacks of to do list's I have, it's just all meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Our lives are not meant to be wasted with selfishness, they're not meant to be hollow shells where our free time is spent in front of televisions and on video games. Our lives are meant to be a means to glorify Him who created us and to love on those He's placed around us. Community... we're made for community.

Yet day in and day out we're innundated with societal pressures to be bigger, richer, better, smarter - but what do we really gain from it all? Often it's more stress, more jealousy, more frustration, and more feelings of inadequacy. The thrist of the human nature is a deep, dry well that is never satisfied, it never says "enough". But the wellspring of life, True Life, comes from the One and Only.

The news of my friend's death put things into perspective for me. Life is not about the next big thing. Life is about others. Life is about God's grace shining down on His children. It's about the callings He's specifically placed on each of our hearts - and each calling is God created, God orchestrated, and different than the next person's. So why is it that we push the deep yearnings and desires of our souls to the side for the creature comforts of a limited life? Why not take the risks, take the chances, press on towards bigger things? Why don't we have millions of world changers walking around instead of only a few thousand? Why do so many people walk around as zombies instead of seeking to help the lost?

And I'm reminded at this time of the callings God gives to all of us in His Holy word:

"Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn." - Romans 12:15

"Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless, widows, orphans, and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world." - James 1:26-27

There's SO much more to life than the stuff. And maybe, instead of buying the new TV or the latest Prada Purse or the latest Techno gadget - we should find the orphans and widows around us that need clothing, shelter, and care - and use the funds God's given us as a blessing to enrich the impoverished. Let's find the bigger calling in life and go after it... seeing needs and meeting them.

And let's start.... Today!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Compassion, Mercy, Grace

Convicted. That's what I am today. After listening to a sermon series on money and power, and after reading a few books/devotionals on how truly selfish our society is, I'm frustrated. What ever happened to the mantra of helping others? What happened to showing true, genuine care fot those around us? And how is it that we've become so busy that we don't see anyone else's needs other than our own?

Charles Swindoll wrote, "Truly compassionate people are often hard to understand. They take risks most people would never take. They give away what most people would cling to. They reach out and touch when most would hold back with folded arms. Their caring brings them up close where they feel the other person's pain and do whatever is necessary to demonstrate true concern."

Why is it that compassionate people are so few and far between? And why do we always take advantage of and walk all over those who are trying to help us by trying to squeeze more out of them? I hate that we've become such a self-centered society, and I'll be the first to admit that I need to work on my own attitude towards others.

After reading the above quote, I was rocked to my core. Truly compassionate people take risks that most wouldn't take. That alone is a huge statement! How often do we make our "castles in the sand" living our comfortable lives in our safe little bubbles, only to be washed away by one or two of life's devastating events? The fame, the fortune, and everything that comes with it, won't make us better people, often leaves us wanting more.

Oh how true this in in my own life. I've been that girl that's determined to succeed, pushing myself through college and getting good jobs, networking with talented people, working towards making the "big bucks". However, I've found that no matter how much I make, no matter what I do, I'm never happy.  I dreamed of making a fortune and having 3 cars, and a huge house, a vacation home, unlimited travel expenditures. And then this verse in Proverbs woke me up to the reality of what was around me, "When you're kind to others you help yourself; when you're cruel to others you hurt yourself". All the stuff in the world can never satisfy...

Kindness to others is more than a smile and a "how are you?" It's genuine concern for the wellbeing of our fellow man. If he needs something to drink, why not buy him a bottle of water? If she needs a listening ear, why not sit with her for a hour and chat? If he needs a coat, why not give him one of your 15? If she needs a job, why not connect her with contacts to help in the search? If they need a visitor while in the hospital, why not bring them flowers and encouragement? If they need a hug, a dollar, a home, anything, we're called to help them in their time of need.

And the funny thing is that the more we help, the better we feel. Because all of a sudden our world isn't just about us. It's seeing beyond the borders of our own kingdoms to the needs and interests of people all around. And I'm not just talking about the foreign, poverty stricken countries (although they do need our support and we're called to help them). No, even in our own back yards people are SCREAMING for help, but we just walk by, refusing to meet the needs that are so evident in their lives.

So what do we do? How to we break the desire for worldly riches, fame and fortune? Simply put, we ask for more grace, more mercy, more compassion filled lives. We ask to see the needs of those around us. We ask for the ability to give beyond our comforts to bless those in need. We push the desire for more from our minds/hearts and focus on giving more. Instead of buying the new car, maybe we should buy one for someone who needs one. Instead of taking the extravagent vacation, maybe we should send someone else on their dream one. Instead of filling our already bursting at the seams houses with more "stuff" that moth and rust destroy, maybe we should fill the stomachs of the hungry and clothe the naked.

"'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" - Matthew 25:34-36

Friday, March 5, 2010

He who has ears, let him hear

Happy Friday! I get these little devotionals each morning from "Insight for Living" and Charles Swindoll... this morning's was amazing, so I though I'd share. Enjoy!

                                                        Things that Strangle us.
"While reading through Mark's Gospel recently, I was drawn into the scene of chapter 4. You remember, it's that time Jesus sat down in a little boat by the seashore and talked about a farmer who dropped seeds into the dirt. Same seed, different soil, different results. Four to be exact.

Some seeds fell beside the road . . . the birds gobbled them up. A few seeds fell on rocky ground . . . the sun scorched the rootless growth, and they withered and died. Other seeds fell among thorns . . . which choked out the growth so severely there was no crop to harvest. Still other seeds fell into good soil . . . bumper crop. Then Jesus explained each point.

First, He said, the seed represents "the word." I believe we're safe in saying that "the word" refers to truth. God's truth. Second, the different soils represent people's varied responses to that "word." All four "hear," but not all reap a harvest. That's significant. Hearing guarantees nothing. Next, the results are directly related to the condition of the soil . . . not the quality of the seed. If you look closely, you'll see that the first two groups lack roots. Only with the last two groups does Jesus mention fruit.

I think it's obvious that the first two groups of people are without spiritual life. No roots, no fruit, no growth, no change whatsoever. The third group hears, but only the fourth group "hears the word and accepts it," resulting in strong, healthy growth. It's the third group that intrigues me. These people hear everything the fourth group hears. But those truths are not really accepted, allowed to take root, and grow. Instead, the thorns "choke the word and it becomes unfruitful."

Thorns that choke? What are they? Jesus doesn't leave us in the dark. They are "the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things" (Mark 4:19).

The term "worry" is derived from the old German word wurgen, which means "to choke." By extension, the word came to denote "mental strangulation" and, finally, to describe the condition of being harassed with anxiety. Worry begins as a thin stream trickling through our minds. If entertained, it cuts a deeper channel into which other thoughts are drained.

But the third species of thorns is the killer: "the desires for other things." It's the picture of discontentment, the plague of pursuit: pushing, straining, stretching, relentlessly reaching, while our minds become strangled with the lie "enough just isn't enough."

Jesus closed off His brief talk with that familiar line, "He who has ears, let him hear" (Mark 4:9).

When the thorns of life scratch us, we need the pruning shears of the Word."

Talk about conviction. It's such a difficult society to live in when we always are striving for the next best thing... if only we could be content with the blessings we've already been given. I guess that's where I'm a work in progress.. slowly realizing the vitally important truth that Jesus needs to be 1st in everything, then out lives will make more sense, and have more peace while we're on this earth.

Enjoy your weekends all!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A New Adventure

How do I even begin to explain the prayer, arguments, bargaining, and petitions I had with the Lord on this one. I guess I'll start when it all began... July 2009. After a visit to Southern California for the 4th of July, I flew out of the city nearly in tears. For some reason, this area, was breaking my heart.I don't know how to explain it, but on that Sunday evening I knew that I had to live there - someday.

Upon returning to Washington and getting back into the "groove" of things, I realized that I was very comfortable here - this is my home, my place of safety. My family and friends all reside within a few hours drive of this place. Everything I know, everything I've known and learned throughout my life happened here. I've built myself a pretty impressive "castle on the sand" (Casting Crowns 'American Dream'). I had everything I could need or want: wonderful friends, amazing family, incredible job, and a great ministry. But there was this call, in the back of my mind/deep within my heart that wouldn't go away, "Go to grow".

I pushed the call to the side for awhile, ignoring it and arguing with Jesus about it, "how am I supposed to leave everything I love and start over?? I can't and I won't!". And again He'd show up, this time through His holy word, "'Leave you country and your people' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you." - Acts 7:3 Now me, being the wanna-be Biblical scholar that I am, just put that whole idea to the wayside thinking, "no, that's not what he's saying here... this is a story about Abraham, not me!".

And again, He starts prompting my heart during another visit to LA - giving me an even bigger heart for that city and feeling more and more at home and at peace there. And I start thinking, "Ok God, if you really want me to be here, it has to become something I desire too." I came home only to find a sense of unrest about "home" and a sense of urgency to get to California. And for a little while I was overly confident, "I can move to California, I mean, why not?" But then the doubts would loom again. So I put the Lord in His place again:

"Lord, I have committments. I have people relying on me. I have responsibilities that I can't just ignore. How the heck do you expect me to up and move to a whole new place?"

"Trust me" He said.

My prayers slowly turned into negotiations, "Okay Jesus, if you want me there, then I'll leave once I pay my debt off." Guess what? He helped me pay it off at the end of January... but that wasn't good enough for me.

"Jesus, I'll go once I've saved up X amount of dollars".

God comes through again...

"Okay, I have a committment for work until the end of the basketball season, I'll go when that's done."

Guess what? Basketball season is over.

My prayers slowly went from me resenting the Lord for placing a calling to leave everything I know and start over, to prayers of, "Show up, pave the way before me. Provide a church, provide a home, provide a job and I'll go tomorrow."

Funny thing - He showed up. He found me a church (an incredible one if that!), he's provided for me financially (keeping a job while I find a new one there), and has provided me a home close to the beach. This is one of the most obvious times in my life of Jesus showing me and directing me down a path, he's crossed the T's and dotted the i's in this circumstance... and I have to go.

No more excuses, no more sitting around aruging with Jesus. No, it's time for me to start listening and trusting the Lord's calling on my life. And I'm going...

Even though it may seem like an easy decision, it's been on my heart for over 8 months. 8 months of prayer and gaining wise counsel. 8 months of wrestling with my own pride. 8 months of my life dedicated to trying to compromise with the Lord in some way. But the fact is, we can't compromise with Him. We can't push Him to the side, His will always wins.

So I'm moving to California at the end of this month. I have no idea what awaits me there, but I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it's where I'm supposed to be. Yes, it will be an adventure and is so exciting to think about. But at the same time, I know that personal growth often comes with trials along the way. I'm nervous, at times terrified of the unknown. But praise God that through/with Christ I can do anything.

California here I come...

Monday, March 1, 2010

CA Dreamin'

NOTE: I wrote this blog back on July 23rd, 2009, right after I returned home from a trip to California. I never posted it because I didn't know what God had for me, and was unsure if this desire for California was more me than Jesus... a follow up blog on the past 8 months to follow.... until then, enjoy. :-)

I've had this ongoing vision of sorts that has been on my mind and heart since I was a kid. It's of me, in a place of sun, a place of beaches, a place of neverending activity. This place is a place I visit often and truly has a sense of "home" for me. I just can't get any of it out of my head these days. Recently, on a visit southward to this particular destination, I remembered something I told my mom many years ago on one such visit to this place, "Mom, I'm going to live here someday." To which she laughed and said, "okay honey."

After I returned home from my most recent visit to the sunny coast, and on the way home from the airport, I sat in my car contemplating life and again I told my mom, "I'm going to live there someday - and it may be sooner than you think." Her answer this time? "Go - do it, you only have so long before life gets in the way of your passions, dream, and goals. You need to do it."
So, dear reader, I bet your wondering, "what the heck is this girl talking about?" Well, this place that has been so dear to me for so long, and this is going to sound ridiculous, is Southern California. I know, I know... crazy. But I really feel this call, this direction, this push to Southern California. And I realized something... I've never done something like this. I've never stepped out in faith before - out of my comfortable little bubble, and into the unknown. And I think it's time for me to give Jesus the reins and take the plunge on the next great adventure of my life. This is not going to be some overnight change, it will take time, careful planning - but I already see the work of the Lord in the situation.

It's time for me to stop worrying about what everyone else wants me to do, and start worrying about what God wants me to do. It's time for me to step out of the comfort shell that I've made my home for in for so long, and go experience life in a completely new place. It's time for me to stop fretting over my self induced "responsibilities" and push through to something more, something different, something God orchestrated.

I feel like I have SO much to do, so many things to work on, and so many people to meet and love on that I feel stuck when I'm unable to reach those goals and meet the desires placed on my heart. There's gotta be something more! And maybe I'll find it on a great adventure half way across the country in a land of beach and sun- who knows?
California. It just sounds so right.

Philippians 3

Reading through the book of Philippians, I found this incredible passage that speaks exactly to what I desire more than anything. The only frustrating part is that so often I get distracted, too sidetracked on the stresses of life, to remember what the one and only focus of my life on earth should be. SO good!

“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness.

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” – Philippians 3:9-11 The Message

Giving up the ways of the world, the calls and the wants of society, so that we may grow and fall more in love with Christ is no easy task. It requires diligence on our part. It requires daily choosing to pick up our crosses and follow Him. It means having the faith and the hope to continue on in the midst of dire circumstances. And it means asking and praying for His direction, His will to be done in every area of our lives. Let’s embrace Christ, allowing Him to illuminate every crevice of our souls, and then let Him embrace us as we seek Him more.