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.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Acceptance and Fear

"Often fear after a while produces only numbness, but love thrives on love."

I'm thinking back to last year when the fear of losing Josh made me completely numb to the world. I couldn't cry, I couldn't be angry, and I couldn't even be happy. It seemed as though I had tried for so long to make him see that he loved me that everything I did was done out of fear. So instead of "love thriving on love," we both began to operate purely out of fear this summer. Neither of us wanted to lose each other, but instead of showing each other love and thriving everything we did was out of fear. I was so numb that when he finally told me how he felt about me, I couldn't even receive his love that I had wanted for so long. The fear and numbness has taken over what had started out as purely love.
I think about how this relates to God and how I was taught about him. Growing up I was taught to fear God and that God hated luke-warm Christians. It was on a daily basis that we were taught about God's judgement and power and he became a figure that I was very afraid of. I often wondered why he even made us since he hated sin and obviously no one was perfect. After a while all the preaching and teaching about this big scary God began to go in one ear and right out the other. I realize now that is was a numbness out of fear that came over me. It was that same numbness I had this past summer only it lasted for years. I understand now how people can listen every Sunday in some churches and never experience a personal relationship with God. When your Christianity is based on fear, which mine was, there is no growth. I was more afraid of hell and being spit out of God's mouth as a luke-warm Christian, than I was concerned with his love and what he was like. At times I was sure that God must hate me because of all that I had done, and I saw no point in even trying to come back to him or even praying. I knew who God was, but I didn't know him as a loving God. I was empty, alone and yes numb to my feelings and myself.
I am thankful that I know a much different God now. I know a God who loves me and accept me even though I've made many mistakes. I know a God who I don't have to hide my past from; he'll take me as is. I know a God who continues to work in me and through me even though I still struggle to make him number one in my life. I know a God that continues to provide for me even though I don't give him back all that he deserves. Best of all, I know a God who is crazy in love with me and has been patiently waiting for me to be crazy in love with him!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pleasing God- Not People

"Our purpose is to please God, not people. He is the one who examines the motives of our hearts." 1 Thes. 2:4B

Wow, it amazing when you find a verse you feel was specifically written for you! My whole life I've been a people pleaser. I've had a very difficult time making decisions for myself because I worry about how the outcome may affect other people. I barley even knew myself because almost everything I did was to make someone else happy. Let me tell you this is not a great way to live at all. God has been working on me lately to learn more about myself and to worry about his feelings above anyone elses and it is the happiest I have ever been. I am thankful that God puts his word in front of us and speaks directly to our hearts. I am thankful that he did not give up on me even though I tried pleasing everyone else but him.

Relationships with Non-Christians

Growing up my parents always warned us about dating non-Christians and I have always thought this was purely for the Christian's benefit. Lately though I've been thinking that it may have more of an affect on the non-christian. It seems like today every action a christian takes is critically judged by the outside world and even by other Christians. I have experienced that the more I let others know that I am a born again believer the more I am judged by others. I think of my relationships with those that aren't saved and I wonder if they are seeing Christ in me. It's tough to admit but I'm sure that there are plenty of times they are not. If I let them down, which I more than likely I will, will they judge me for it as a christian? Even if I hurt them non intentionally, it may ruin their chances of coming to Christ themselves. I think about my past relationships with non-believers and I know that I did set a good example of a christian. I hope and pray that if I hurt them or did something negative to them that they did not associate that with Christianity or God. I would hate for someone to not come to Christ because of the way that I treated them.

Don't repay evil for evil

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it." 1 Peter 3:8-9

In this journey to become more like my maker, this could be one of the hardest requests to follow. We live in a society that teaches only the strong survive, and the strong would not let someone do something to them without some type of retaliation. But if you really stop and think about it, it takes a much stronger person to pay back evil with a blessing. I think of the anger that wells up inside of me when someone does something to hurt me, especially if I feel it was done intentionally, and it is hard for me to imagine turning around and doing something nice for them. Unfortunately my first reaction is rage and it leads me to do things I end up regretting, however there is hope for me because I can tell that I'm growing. I am starting to apologize for those outburst even when it is the last thing I want to do. Also I am really trying hard to avoid that instant action that I wish to take and instead praying about it or praying for the person that is hurting me. I am learning more and more everyday that everyone will disappoint or hurt you in some way even if it is a christian or someone you truly look up to. I am learning that instead of being bitter and angry the only thing I can do is give it up to God and trust that anything done to me is done for my own good and growth. I am also realizing that I am far from perfect and so I don't know why I expect others to be. I think about the things I have done to hurt other people and I wonder why I would not expect others to do the same to me. We all justify our actions and intentions and so we begin to rationalize within ourselves why it was okay for us to do something and not okay for others to do the same exact things. My goal for this week is to not act out of anger, but instead act with a tender heart, and pay evil back with a blessing even when I feel others don't deserve it.


"I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!" Philippians 3: 7-11

"It takes time to get to know oneself; it takes time and eternity to get to know the infinite Lord Jesus Christ."

Yes, God certainly takes his time with us; I am a perfect example of this. I've known Christ my whole life but I've taken a very rocky path to get to where I am at today. In the past four years, I've struggled with disappointment because I was trusting on myself to be a better person and christian. I am almost thirty years old now and I've learned more about myself in the past six months than I have in my entire life. I look back and I don't even know the girl I use to be. I wish I could go back and give her a hug or hold her hand and tell her that everything she thinks is important means nothing to her in the future. I would tell her to relax and learn more about herself and God and that happiness lies ahead. I have found love, lost love, gained possessions and lost them all. I have aimlessly lived my life without knowing myself or understanding the God that I serve. I have learned that I am a very Stubborn girl and God had to strip away everything I once thought was important to get me to realize it is not about me or what I want it is about him and his plans for me. I can honestly say that everything that I once thought was so important to me means little to me now. Even the one thing I held back from him for so long---Relationships. I was on this life long mission to find the perfect guy, get married, and have a family,but now it is not even a thought in my head at this point. I thought I had it a few times and my loving God saved me from relationships that he knew were wrong for me. He has got me by myself right now and is teaching me about his love and teaching me about myself. I am thankful that God doesn't always give us what we want when we want it, instead he allows things to happen to us to develop our character and bring us closer to him. He knew I would never be happy until I figured out who I am and who he is so he ended relationships that hindered my growth with him. Although much pain came from these broken relationships, a lot of growth came from them as well and now I understand why they had to happen. I have learned something valuable from each failed relationship that I have had, but most importantly I learned that if I have faith in God with my eternal life then I certainly should trust him with my life here on earth. As I learn more about him, I am trusting him more and am starting to rely on him for making my decisions. It has taken some serious time, frustrations, and tears to get to this point, and I am sure that it will continue to be a struggle. I am happy though because I know that God is going to continue to work on me, and he will only give me more in my life when he knows I am ready for it.


"Trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith."

"Faith is dependence upon God. And this dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self- dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness and defeat"

"I believe that the Lord allows many things to happen to us on purpose to make us feel the need of him."

"The more you find him in your sorrows or wants, the more you will be attached to him and draw away from this place where the sorrows are, to Him in the place where he is."

I readily agree that the Lord allows things to happen to us so that we know and feel the need for him. My Christian life has been a constant struggle with me fighting for my self-dependence. I go to to church and try to do my bible study daily but then I make all my own decisions. I say I believe in God and I want him to run my life, but then I don't tithe consistently, which shows him I don't trust him with my finances. I say that I want God to bless my relationships, but so far I've gotten into relationships that I knew were wrong from the start.

In the past couple months, my life that I planned out for myself completely fell apart once again and I was left wondering how I got to that "low" place again. However now looking back, I know that it was all of God because my relationship with him has grown tremendously. Even though there is absolutely nothing certain in my life right now, I have an incredible peace because for the first time ever I am solely trusting on him to guide me, give me answers, and show me my next move. I have always had major problems with making big decisions, I played toward people's emotions instead of listening to God's plan. Lately though I've been able to shut out those outside voices and go where I feel God is leading me.

Normally my mind is so unstable wondering back and forth about what I should do trying to carefully weigh out options of the outcomes of each decision. It drives me absolutely crazy! It is embarrassing to admit that for the first time I am finally relying on prayer and talking to God for the decisions in my life. I can hardly believe that through all the struggles and trials I have been through lately and all the hurt feelings that I have had that I am actually able to have joy...... but I honestly do and this is a peace I have never felt before. It is insane to think that after struggling for my self dependence for so long that peace of mind would come so easy when my self dependence is completely gone. I wish that I could have come to this understanding a long time ago and then maybe I would not have had to have everything taken away from me; it would have definitely saved me a lot of heartache. I am thankful though for broken relationships and fresh starts because God knew it was necessary for my own growth. He knew I would never be happy until I put my faith in him not myself or someone else. I wish I could make others see and understand how easy it is to rely on God, but I know everyone must get to this point by facing failure on their own.