Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentine

“Here are the central truths of this chapter:
The only way we can trust such a wild Lover is to know that his heart is good.

We see God’s heart only when we look at the Larger story with God as its hero.

What we discover when we do is a jealous Lover who has been pursuing us from before time began.

And life is revealed to be the great Romance we have longed for it to be.”

“He rescued me because he delights in me.” Psalms 18:19b

Okay so I’ll be the first to admit sometimes I can be a little slow to catch onto things, but sooner or later I finally get it. Sounds a little strange... but last night I realized that I am happy. I was totally prepared to be bummed out this week because once again I didn’t have a valentine, but instead I’ve had one of the best weeks ever. I guess lately I had been so caught up in worrying about how people had hurt me that I didn’t even think about all the things I was thankful for. Since I turned all those negative feelings to God on Sunday, I’ve felt like a completely renewed person.

All it took was me playing in my first soccer game last night to realize that God greatly loves me and knows exactly what is best for me. I know it probably sounds silly that a soccer game made me realize that but it did. Getting involved in soccer has been something that I had wanted to do for years, but out of fear I never tried to get involved with a team. Even last night before the game I was nervous. What if I didn’t do good and made a complete idiot out of myself; would the people on my team hate me? It didn’t take long for me to get into the game and the support of my teammates felt so good that all my fears quickly vanished. I had the most fun that I can remember having in a long time. I can honestly say that this is something I may totally get addicted to!

So I was driving home after the game all dirty from sliding across the field three or four times and smelling like grass and sweat and I had the biggest grin on my face and I was just thanking God for where I’m at today. I’ve gone through a lot in the past couple of years and I was having a hard time letting go of everything and moving forward. I wanted to believe that God had my best interest in mind but I wasn’t willing to let go of the pain I had experienced. All these years I’ve been longing for amazing romance and I’ve had this wonderful God pursuing me, yet I’ve tended to look right past it. Well last night a light bulb went on and I was just amazed at everything that I had accomplished over the past few months and I knew that it was all of God. Tears of joy came to my eyes and for the first time I wept out of happiness instead of pain or regret. Thank you, God, for being a jealous lover and pursuing me, and giving me the choice to love you back. Thank you for making this Valentine day the most special one I’ve ever had. I love you!

(Okay quick update I'm on cloud nine..... A girl from my team asked me to play in a game with her tonight on another team she is on..... I'm having a great day!!!!!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Please God open my eyes even though I try to keep them shut

“I don’t really see what God is up to. It just seems that I’m experiencing trials. Yes, I often feel like that too. But if you’ll look a bit more carefully, you’ll see that the trials in your life have a pattern to them. And when you look at your smaller story, the way in which you try to arrange for life, you’ll make the connection. May I suggest a simple prayer?

Dear God, I know you are up to something in my life. But all it feels like right now is just hardship and difficulty. Open my eyes. Show me what you are after. Show me the way you are trying to redeem me. Amen” The Sacred Romance

Today I randomly read some verses in Psalms that dealt with the same issue that I was learning about in the chapter I read today. Mmmh I wonder if God is trying to tell me something??? Yeah, I think so……

“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:12-14

It’s kind of crazy how God speaks the same message to you thru all different sources. As I was sitting in church this past weekend, I couldn’t keep the tears from rolling down my face because I was convicted of bitterness I was holding onto in my heart. Even though I know that God has big plans for me, I still get caught up in creating the smaller stories that I can control in my life. I realized today that a good part of my pain, depression and hurt may possibly have been avoided if I had relied on God in the first place. I’m looking back over my life and I’m seeing a very clear pattern: I make my own choices and then when things don’t work out I run to God for him to fix everything for me.

Praying that God will reveal your weaknesses to you, can certainly break your spirit but I know that it will be helpful to me in the end. I have orchestrated my own life up until now and I see that it has not gotten me anywhere. So I still wonder why it is so hard to let go and let him take control of everything. I know that Satan tries to creep in at any chance he can get and so I’m praying for extra protection right now. (He delivered me from my powerful ememies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was the weakest. But the Lord upheld me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because he delights in me. Psalms 18:17-19)

A few things that God has revealed to me so far this week are:

1. I am too critical of those who are close to me. I expect perfection and am too critical when I don’t get it. It is not my job to change my friends. I can encourage but I don’t need to turn into a nag. It’s not my place to try to judge others and unfortunately that is what I feel like I’ve been doing which really sucks because I hate it when others do it to me. Also it's easy to see sins in other people's lives and miss those in your own. Please God continue to show me my own faults and continue to work on making my life all that you want it to be.

2. I put too much faith in men. My whole life I’ve been looking for the one that is going to save me when in reality I don’t need saving I’ve got God for that. I let relationships come between my relationship with God and I believe that is why none of them have worked out so far. Then when those relationships end, I have to start all over from the beginning with God. This is not a great way to live; I get no where.

3. I am easily manipulated. I know what is right and what I want to do, but I let others convince me fairly easy to do otherwise. I am praying that God will give me the courage to stand firm to what I believe in.

4. I get trapped in the past and what could have been or how I should have done things differently instead of learning from my mistakes and moving forward. I continue to remind myself that everything has happened for a reason, but sometimes I still struggle with believing it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Guarding my heart

“The only thing more tragic than the tragedy that happens to us is the way we handle it- the choices we make, the person we become, the life we live (or don’t live) Jesus said, “Whoever shall seek to save him life shall lose it” (Luke 17:33). The things we do to protect and preserve our hearts usually end up hurting us more. To choose to shut your heart to love- so that you won’t be hurt- is to deny the very thing that you are made for. To demand perfection of yourself so that no one will ever critize you again is to lay an intolerable burden on your back.” The Sacred Romance

I’m reading a book right now that has forced me to look into my past and confront the very things that have hurt me the most. I have always had a big problem with dealing with the major issues of my life; I had almost convinced myself that if I ignored my problems long enough I would forget about them or make them go away. However, what I have found is that ignoring them just makes my heart more numb and less likely able to love again. For years I have been putting up walls that make it nearly impossible for people to get close to me because I thought that if they knew the true me, I wouldn’t be good enough to keep them around. So what happened is that no one knew the true me, not even myself. I let my low self esteem issues dictate how I lived my life and I was never happy because I always felt alone. I also lived out of fear that people would find out my past so I limited myself to jobs that did not do back ground screens. I let a stupid mistake I made at the age of nineteen affect my life for over ten years. I beat myself up for making an error in judgment instead of learning from my mistakes and moving forward.
I’m at a very pivotal point in my life right now because I am starting over with work and relationships and I know that until I deal with the issues of my heart I will never be successful in life or love. When I think of love, at this point it seems easier to revert back to my old ways of controlling relationships so that I don’t get hurt, but I know that I will never find true love if I continue to guard my heart. I am continuing to pray that God will heal my heart and show me how to love with my whole heart instead of me trying to control it because I have learned that great sadness comes when I don’t listen to my heart. With work I’m praying that God will continue to open doors for me and give me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and pursue careers that I would have previously categorized as off limits. I am also praying that he will continue to reveal to me what is holding me back in life and continue to break down the internal scars I have from living with regrets. Once again I am thankful for all the second chances that he has given me and am hopeful to get things right this time. I know that “he’s still working on me” and so I don’t need to expect perfection from myself; instead I need to continue to make him a priority in my life and trust that he will lead the way.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I've got the big guy looking out for me.....

"The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous face many troubles, but the Lord rescues them from each and everyone. For the Lord protects them from harm- not one of their bones will be broken. Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. Everyone who trusts in him will be freely pardoned." Psalm 34:17-22

I will never forget the day I literally fell down on my floor and cried out for God to help me. I felt so empty, crushed, hurt, and alone. Since then he has totally changed my life internally and externally. I was suffering from a broken heart and he wrapped his big arms around me and let me know I was going to be okay. He was with me when the big wet tears rolled down my face and he let me know that unlike any guy on earth he would never hurt me or lie to me. He held me tight when I lost my job and he told me not to worry he was going to provide for me. He held my hand and guided me when I packed up and left Georgia bringing me back to Florida where I belong. He waited patiently for me to realize that everything that had been happening was a succession of events to bring me where he knew I would be the happiest. He has put me through small struggles since I've got here, but only to make me work harder and go after what I really want. He has helped me open my eyes to realize what most others around me already knew: I am a strong girl..... I have my battles big and small and I keep going. I make mistakes but I own up to them and work hard to try not to make them again. For years I've struggled with low self esteem, but he's been helping me work through this too. For too long I looked toward the men in my life to validate me, but he has got me to a point where I'm going to make it on my own and showed me that I only need to look to him for validation. He has me enjoying being a single girl, and I've never had that kind of peace before. He put me in a living situation where I have friends and family close by so I don't have to feel lonely anymore. I am thankful for all the changes in my life that keep evolving me into the person he wants me to be. I am thankful that he continues to heal my heart and make it stronger. I'm thankful for his guidance and compassion because I would be completely lost without his help. I'm thankful he listened to me that day I felt as though I had no hope and he spoke to my heart and told me that he loved me and was going to take care of everything for me. :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

A valuable lesson from two friends

"How often we simply admire and talk about the truths the Holy Spirit reveals to us in the word, whereas His primary purpose in giving them to us is that we might stand on them in faith, waiting confidently for Him to make them an integral part of our life."

"If you love me, obey my commandments." John 14:15

This past year I had two very close friends who greatly influenced my spiritual life. Although the two seemed to share the same core Christian values, they taught me a very valuable lesson in two very different ways. I learned that it is better to teach about God's love through actions and not from empty words.

Let me start with friend number one who I highly admired and I put on a pedestal because he talked such a good Biblical talk. He was always sharing with me what he had learned in his Bible study, latest Biblical book he read, or sermon he had listened to. We had many in depth conversations about his thoughts and feelings and everything he wanted from life. To say that I adored him is a complete understatement; I soaked up every word as though it came straight from God. I trusted him because he knew so much and I would go to him with my life questions and for advise on major decisions. He told me on numerous occasions that he would always be there for me whenever I needed him, yet when I needed him the most he was no where to be found. In turn, I was there at his beckon call whenever he needed me. He had pretty high standards for himself and also for everyone else around him. Although he seemed to know everything the Bible said, he often overlooked certain issues that cut into his personal life making allowances for himself. Many times he was also very judgmental and critical of other Christians and non-Christians. I thought so highly of him that I tended to overlook this and often times chimed right in.

Now for friend number two. When I met him, I knew he was a Christian and instantly I was completely blown away with how obedient he was with his life. For instance he consistently tithed, even when he didn't have the money, and he was practicing abstinence until he gets married. At first I thought he might be all talk because I had never met anyone like this, but time proved that his intentions were clear and his actions never showed anything else: he knew exactly what he stood for and did not waiver. However for some reason I tended to almost look down on him because he did not do a regular Bible study and he certainly did not read any extra books. Sometimes I would get frustrated with him and he would have to remind me that he was not friend number one. I hate to admit it but there were many times that I was mean, did hurtful things to him, and was not there for him when he needed me yet through all of this he stood by me and poured God's love onto me. He encouraged me to seek out help and to take time by myself to heal and grow stronger. He was always trying to protect me even though I tried harder and harder to push him away. His main concern always was for my well being and he told me time and time again he wanted to make sure that I was better off now than before he came into my life. Anytime I needed something, no matter how small or large, he was quick to jump in and try to help even when I showed little or no appreciation. He always expressed that his word was everything to him and his actions spoke loudly that this was the case. He never made a promise that he did not keep.

As time went on, I though more and more highly of friend number one whose words said everything and actions showed nothing. I feel foolish now because I realize I got caught up in a big facade, everything I believed about him was a lie. I'm ashamed that I thought friend number 2 was any less of a Christian because he didn't know as much about the Bible and didn't talk about it as often. I got so caught up in hearing friend number one's words that I never really stopped to realize his actions showed a completely different life. Because I put him on such a high pedestal, I was blind sighted by what everyone else around me saw through. As far as him being there for me when I needed him, that was a big lie too. In the end he was very dishonest and proved that our friendship was only important when he needed it. I have been deeply hurt but also highly convicted of our friendship. I believe that God took him out of my life because I used him as a crutch for my own Christianity. Many times I took his word as truth instead of searching for it on my own. Other times I put his feelings, wants, and needs over what I knew to be right or what I knew God wanted me to do. What I learned from all of this is that it is easy to say that I trust in God and that I believe in him and that I know about him but I don't want to do that anymore. Instead I want to live like friend number two and let my actions shine brighter than my words. I also learned that instead of listening to someone I need to look at their actions. In the end I've been hurt and hurt others through this experience but I've learned from it and God has definitely been working on my character. I'm thankful for both friends and have learned a great deal from what they have taught me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


"Come, let us return to the Lord! He has torn us in pieces; now he will heal us; now he will bandage our wounds." Hosea 6:1

This verse works with this one:
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

Then also leads into this one:
"And I am sure the God, who began the good work withing you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus comes back again. Phil 1:6 (He's still working on me!)

God uses need in our lives for us to grow. We go through tough situations whether it is finances, relationships, loneliness, doubt, or health problems and he uses all these to bring our focus back to him. I have learned that anything I obtain on my own and put before God will eventually be taken away from me. With this loss comes deep regret, grief and pain but looking back it is during these times that I've had the most growth. Over the past few years, I've had times that I felt completely lost and lonely when I was put through various trials. These trials deeply hurt me but caused me to cry out to God for forgiveness and healing. I have learned in the absolutely hardest ways that neither God nor I will be satisfied or happy until he is first in my life. I failed in my marriage, I failed in my finances, I lost a very close friend, and I was treated wrong by an employer but God used all of these situations for my own growth. Lately he has been teaching me about keeping him first and also forgiveness of those who have hurt me. The lessons I have learned have changed the way I deal with people on an everyday basis and now I can see the necessity of everything I've gone through. I lost everything that I put before God, but it has been well worth it because I've gained spiritual freedom and peace which is absolutely priceless. I know that God continues to work on me daily and I am thankful that he never gives up on me instead he pushes me to be stronger.


"For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him." Phil 2:13

I'm learning not to get frustrated when I have no clue what I'm suppose to be doing with my life because God is using my failures (yeah, there is lots of them) to bring me closer to him. My main purpose in life is to bring God glory and please him. So how do I a girl whose made so many mistakes bring someone so perfect glory? I'm realizing now that it is not a complex formula it is actually quite simple in theory. All I am suppose to do is make God first and obey him. Sounds simple enough, right? So why do I always make it so hard? Why am I constantly making the same mistakes over and over again? I guess it goes back to my stubborn self dependent attitude. Here are a few things that I've been trying to focus on that keep God first in my life and makes him happy which therefore helps me fulfill my purpose in life.

First, I've been really focusing on making my bible study a daily part in my life. I can't please or trust a God I know little about, so I've got to study his word. It is so easy to put it off or find other things to do to fill my time, but until I make it my first priority I know that I won't be happy or make him happy either. When I think about all the time I waste doing nothing in one day, the least I can do is to devote a half hour or hour to learning more about him. It is during this time, that I receive the knowledge that I apply to my own life and grow from. I always feel so much better and focused once I get through with my bible study and so it is definitely a positive influence on my life.

Second, I have really been trying to focus on my prayer life. Until the last few months, my prayers were very rote and definitely were lacking in passion. They were a one way conversation from me to God. I rushed through them because I knew I was suppose to be praying. Lately though, all that has changed; now I like to spend more time in prayer. Instead of me rambling about all my needs and wants to God, I am spending more time listening and meditating and asking him for answers and direction in my life. I have seen how powerful prayer is and I feel like I've gained a new friend. Lately anytime something is bothering me I try to go right to God and pray about it instead of milling over it myself and asking others what they think.

Third, I know that in order to please God I must be obedient to him. This has probably been my biggest struggle because I don't always like what he is telling me to do. For example it is not always easy being nice to someone I don't think deserves it, but I continue to try. Also I struggle with my self dependence and doing what I want to do instead of what I know he wants me to do.

Fourth, I know that it is important to keep Christians around me so that I can have others hold me accountable for my actions. It is crazy to think that we can hide our actions or intentions from God because we absolutely can not, however, sometimes I still make justifications to myself for my actions. When I have other Christians that believe the same things that I do around me, it is not so easy justifying my intentions when they know I'm in the wrong. They also encourage me to grow closer to God and put him first in my life. There is no replacement for strong Christians around me. I need them for my continual growth and encouragement.

Fifth, I know that it pleases God when I show his love towards others. I was involved working with a group of high school girls in Georgia and it forever changed my life. Although it may have looked as though I was helping them, they actually helped me in my growth with Christ. I tried to be completely honest with them about my life and God showed me that he could use this girl who has made so many mistakes to help young girls who are dealing with a lot of the same emotions and problems that I had in high school. He used this experience to teach me that I need to stop listening to the devil when he tells me I've done too much wrong for God to use me. God used my honesty to bring me close to the girls and this made me want to set a better example for them and brought me closer to Christ.