Saturday, December 31, 2011

30 while 30

Ok, so I totally am stealing this idea from my amazing friend Tara, who posted her list on her blog a little while ago. I was oringally going to wait and publish my 30 goals in a post on my 30th birthday, detailing all the things I'd like to accomplish in that year, but I'm going to cheat a little bit for two reasons. 1- it's NYE and I'm supposed to be coming up with resolutions anyway and 2- some of my goals I need to start ASAP. If I wait until I turn 30 in May, I will be that much further behind.... so I'm giving myself 17 months to accomplish these things and will revise the list as necessary....

1. Walk Riley at least 4 times a week
2. Go to a fitness class (like Zumba or belly dancing) at least once/week (I'm so not a gym person)
3. Finish reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation
4. Have quiet time at least 4 days a week
5. Increase my financial giving to the church
6. Read two books/month not related to school
7. Volunteer my time at Trinity with the youth group and women's ministries
8. Visit Miriam in Boston
9. Visit Bethy in Maine
10. Try one new recipe a month
11. Write at least two blog posts/month
12. Learn to drink/like beer
13. Increase my fruit and vegetable intake
14. Decrease my fats and oils intake (less desserts after dinner)
15. write one email/letter or make one phone call to a friend who lives out of state/month (mass emails do not count)
16. Take a real vacation (one that involves sitting poolside somewhere in the tropics)
17. Learn to make macaroons
18. Believe I'm worth it
19. Go talk to friends at school about non-school related items once/week
20. Curse less
21. Hang curtains in my bedroom
22. Grow in my relationship with God (learn to trust Him more and myself less)
23. Visit a museum in Houston every other month
24. Take 4 cooking classes @ Sur La Table
25. Pay off my credit cards
26. Take more deep breaths
27. Have friends over for dinner at least once/month
28. Buy myself fresh cut flowers for no reason
29. Visit the farmer's market
30. Be more spontaneous/open to new experiences

Great is Thy Faithfulness

As I was doing my quiet time on this New Year's Eve morning, I noticed some common themes between my life and that of the Israelites- God's infinite provision and compassion/mercy. Back in August, I decided that I was going to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the past 4 months, I have only just made it through the first five books- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and barely begun Joshua. But already, there have been so many ways that the Lord has provided for his people. He provided Adam with a mate, He provided a sacrifice for Abraham to take the place of Isaac; He used Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery to provide for the family during the famine; He protected Moses from being killed by Pharoah; He plagued Egypt until Pharoah let His people go; He passed over the homes of the Israelites when the angel of death swept through the land; He parted the red sea so they could cross on dry land; He gave them commandments and created a covenant with his people, even specifying provision for the widow, the orphan and the poor; He fed them manna and quail in the desert for 40 years; He made water spring forth from a rock; He appeared as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night so that the Israelites would know He was present; He protected the spies who went into the promised land; He caused the Jordan river to stop flowing so the Israelites could cross; He destroyed Jericho only with the sound of shouting and trumpets; He gave over the cities of the promised land to His people so that they would be completely defeated (and I'm sure there are many more instances, these are just the ones that readily came to mind). Through everything, even their constant grumbling, complaining, unbelief and turning away from Him, God provided for His people because he loved them.

Of course, the biggest provision God ever made was sending His son Jesus as a perfect sacrifice for all of our sins. Through that sacrifice, God has provided a way for us to be forgiven, an everlasting and eternal relationship with Him and the assurance of a place in heaven. Despite all of our turning away, our grumbling, our complaining, and our sin, God has given us these things because He loves us. 

Romans 8:38-39 says "neither death nor life, angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Just as God provided for the Israelites, God has provided for me in many amazing ways. Seeing as how 2011 is about to end, here is just a short list that represents a much more encompassing list of the ways God has provided for me in 2011.

1. He granted me strength and courage to walk away from a 4 year relationship that wasn't Godly, fulfilling. or pleasing to Him.

2. He blessed me with many friends to support me in my transition to singleness and who continue to support me on a daily basis.

3. He gave me opportunities to draw closer to Him and several coworkers through Bible Study

4. In February, He taught me about putting the needs of others first by giving me my sweet rescue puppy Riley.

5. He renewed my sense of community and belonging by granting me a church family here in Houston like that of my church family in Allentown

6. He has brought new friendships into my life that are helping to develop different aspects of myself

7. He has given me renewed hope

8. He has kept me safe in all of my travels

9. He has provided me training in communication skills and is allowing me to use those skills to help others via Stephen Ministry

10. He has kept me from giving into temptation

11. He has renewed and restored relationships with family members.

As I completed my quiet time, I was reminded of one of my favorite hymns... Great is Thy Faithfulness...

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. Refrain

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Refrain

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Trust the process!!

Over and over again in my Stephen Ministry class, our leader has been saying "Trust the Process" in regards to being patient with out learning of all the necessary and required skills. As we were reviewing all this again on Tuesday night, God spoke directly to my heart, telling me that I need to "trust the process" in one particular aspect of my life. I have told more than a few people that I "just want to know" with regards to this issue.  I want things to happen yesterday- on my time and not God's. I want things to work out the way I want them to, not necesarily desiring God's best for me. I am learning, growing and enjoying my more regular quiet times with God to be sure. I am learning more about His character and His compassion to be sure.... but if I'm really honest with myself, part of me has started thinking that if I just start reading the Bible enough, or praying enough, or being good enough that God would reward me with one of the deepest desires of my heart, but at the same time, believing that I'm not quite good enough or loveable enough to deserve that desire. Author Fil Anderson says it this way, which really resonated with me: "my hopes for the future have been haunted by my blunders of the past. My desperate longing to get my life right has been dogged by the nagging fear that it will never happen, given the obvious fact that I am helplessly flawed."
Don't you just love when you read something or hear something in a song that puts your feelings into words better than you ever could?!

As I was reminded on Tuesday night, my role is not to always know or understand but to trust. Fil Anderson says "prayer is God's business and what is most necesary is my willingness to surrender to what God desires, trusting God with the results (apparent or otherwise). If I am wise, I'll wait on God and persist in prayer without being consumed or frustrated with thinking about what I might receive in reurn."  How easy to know, how difficult to practice!!!!

Gracious Father- you who did not even spare your own son that I might be redeemed now and in eternity, renew my hope and faith that I might trust you to bless me with only the best you have for me, instead of settling for something less. Remind me of your faithfulness in my doubt and be faifthful to complete the good work you began in me, even as my sin constantly gets in the way.

**** all quotes taken from Fil Anderson's book- Running on Empty, contemplative spirituality for over achievers.


I've always enjoyed being busy. I like to take on projects that make me feel needed and useful. Too often though, the busyness becomes overwhelming and I feel like I'm drowning. My friend Rachel from church lent me a book called Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers.  I Only 5 pages in and already I felt convicted; knowing that I need to let go of some things in order to have a more fulfilling relationship with the Lord. I need to learn to be still as Psalm 46:1 says- Be still and know that I am God."

Here are some quotes form the book that have helped me to put things in perspective...

P. 5- "I had perfected busyness but failed miserably at stillness"
P. 20- "the noise, busyness and hurry deliver nothing but a heart that's hard of hearing and a life of anxious longing, and weary disappointment."
P. 47- "with my mind, I can reason that God's love is true. But in day to day life, experiencing that God's love for the single thing that establishes, governs and maintains my personal worth is my greatest struggle...I must recognize that being 'the apple of God's eye' is not merely a nice idea, a worthy goal, or an inspirational thought. It's the one and only name by which God recognizes me and intends to relate to me. This kind of truth must make it's way into my heart if I'm to live in any meaningful and lasting degree of freedom."
P. 87- "Discipline means being intentional about preventing everything in my life from being filled up. The diligent watchfulness guards my soul from intrusions that crowd out God."
P. 96- "It's essential that I understand the health of my relationship with God is ultimately God's responsibility. My responsibility is providing space for solitute and silence so that God may attend to the needs of my soul. I'm just the innkeeper making room for the Guest."
P. 176- " Only when I'm listening to God's voice, and not my own, am I set free from having to prove to the world (or to myself) that I am worth loving, because God has already, repeatedly, affirmed his love for me."

Lord, help me to subtract all of the things out of my life that distract me from you. I want to serve you with my whole heart. Amen