Saturday, January 28, 2017

Lessons Learned

I wanted this piece to come before the new year, but alas, life happens and things don't always get done when you want them to, but they do get done when they need to (one of the things I have learned this year). It has been a while since I've written anything because life has been busy, especially with the holidays. But this past year I learned a lot- a lot more than I thought I would at the beginning of 2016. I wanted to share some of the things I learned because I thought that they were good lessons. So keep reading, or stop here. I don't really mind which. My brain has just been a little too cluttered lately so I need to pour some of it out.

In 2016, I learned about life.That God puts people in your life that will help guide you, and some people simply to come and to go, only to leave a lesson or two behind. We should not feel stupid for having let them in, nor should we feel hatred toward them. God put them into our lives for a reason, and we should try to find the good in that instead of dwelling on the bad situation.

I learned about death. That sometimes, it comes way too early, but even though we may not have been ready, God was ready to bring them home.
"The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness." Isaiah 57:1-2

I learned that weddings bring out the worst in some people, and you really have to focus on the good, not dwell on the bad.

I learned that time outs are for children, not grown adults. That you do not get to put a friend in a time out until you think they have learned their lesson. Chances are that by the time you get back to let them out, they will be long gone, moving on to bigger and better things.

I learned that you can hurt people with your words, and just as easily, you yourself can be hurt by other people's words and actions. Trying not to take things so personally or seriously can help ease the burn but still, the pain sticks around for a little bit. So watch your words, and guard your heart.
"Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge." James 4:11

I learned that everyone has a story and we should really get our faces out of our phones and start making an effort to get to know each other face to face. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

I learned that stubbornness can be one of the most annoying traits in someone. So I should really watch myself to make sure I am not acting that way. It can hurt others. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and admit that you did something wrong.
"But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward." Jeremiah 7:24

I learned that you should not let your pride get in the way of a relationship you have with someone, especially someone close.
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

I learned that doing what is best for you may not be selfish, but it may come with a cost. You have to decide if you are willing to pay it. You may think it is what is best for you, but where are you putting God in all of this? He knows what's best for you. So pray about your decision before really solidifying one.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

I learned that sometimes you have to forgive, even if there has never been and probably will never be an apology. Forgiveness will free your mind and heart from the bitterness and hatred toward the other person. We are called by God to forgive immediately. But that does not mean that you forget right away. You are not expected to allow them to continue hurting you. Taking the time to heal from the wounds is just as important as forgiving them immediately.
"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." Mark 11:25

So here is to a new year. To more forgiveness. To more life. To hopefully less death. To whatever God puts in our path-- because He will bring us through it.
2017, we are ready to find the joy in you. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dreams Vs Reality

When I was a little girl, of course I dreamt of my wedding, but I had a completely different view of weddings. You never pay much attention to the drama when you are little - Just the pretty, nice things. I imagined that getting engaged would be so exciting and that everyone around us would be so excited and happy for us. I imagined that I would get to pick all the pretty frills and thrills, no matter the cost. (The concept of money was a little lost on me at that age). Most of all, though, I imagined that there would be so much love and support from others because two people in love and have decided that they want to spend the rest of their lives together.

What I did not think about, however, is the drastic effect that sin had on happy things. We are all sinful, so anger, jealousy, and selfishness overtake some. It comes from all angles, even my side. I have found that selfish ways tend to cloud people's actions, and they do not even see it. In our reality, some people cannot seem to bring themselves to simply be happy for us. We fell in love, albeit quickly, but everyone is different. We knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and did not want to waste any more time being apart. We made decisions together on where we wanted to live and what we wanted to do with our life together because, as human beings with free will, we get to do that. Skepticism is understandable at first. It was a semi-quick engagement, But if you knew anything about us, or bothered to ask, you would know that we are taking steps with our pastor to ensure that we are ready for our marriage, not just the wedding part. And the details of that are no ones business but ours and our pastors.

I guess one of the biggest points I am trying to make is for those around the couples who are happily engaged. If you have an issue with them getting married, you can voice it (we all have free will), but there are ways to not be rude or bash people. Do not go assuming things left and right and accusing them of any wrong doing. I will never forget that when we first got engaged and announced our wedding date to be 6 months later someone accused me of being pregnant. I pride myself in my purity, and we both agree that sex is meant for marriage. And anyone who knows us should know that full well. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty offended. Please do not go around with your accusations. There are nice, pleasant ways to ask us why we are getting married so soon. The simple answer, we want to be married, why wait? Ultimately, those of you around and mostly those close to them have to make a choice. We only want to have supportive people in our lives, if we can help it. Life is too short for negative people and comments that tear people down. You can voice your opinion, we will take it into consideration, and if we do not agree, that is our decision, and we will all move on.

No one is perfect. I am sure that Jordan and I have gone about some things in a way that some people may not approve of. Forgive us, please. We are sinners and cannot be perfect and please everyone. But please, for the love of all that is good in this world, do yourselves a favor and do not be offended by every little thing. We make mistakes, it is a part of life. But is that really a life that you want to live- always having that anger and bitterness built up in you? I promise you, life will be much better off if you learn to let some things go - A lesson I am still learning myself.

In 55 days, the two will become one flesh.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." Mark 10:7-9
The two of us will "officially" become a we, even though we us that term to refer to us now because we are a team. We are partners in life. The decision making together starts now. We will be by each others sides for the rest of our lives, no matter what anyone else has to say about it. We are there for each other- to cherish and protect- as long as we both shall live. We love each other. So please, support the couples who are going about things God's way and trying to find their joy in life, together.

So, no, my wedding planning is not going as originally dreamt when I was 8 years old. I do not have an unlimited budget like I thought I would. There are stresses in life I had not calculated in. Being an adult is hard. What IS going as planned is that I found an amazing man of God, who guides me toward Christ and loves me as Christ loves the church.
Fairy tale wedding? I'd much rather have a biblical, God fearing marriage. And I am pretty sure that is just what I am getting. Thanks be to God for putting Jordan in my life when he did. I love him with all of my heart. And while I may have other accomplishments in life, I believe that being his wife and walking with God together is going to be my favorite and top accomplishment. He truly is the joy in my life that I was not always sure I would get.

"For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word." Ephesians 5:22, 25-26

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This is Our City

In light of the recent activities in downtown Dallas against our police force, I thought I would say a few words. Mostly because, it has come to my attention that some people have let their love for another city, or the battle between which city is "better" get in the way of having sympathy for the officers and their families that threw their lives in harms way to save others.

Two nights ago, around 6 o'clock at night, we heard that shots were fired at a protest in the city. We didn't think much about it, in light of the world today, we just hoped it was not worse than just "shots". Around 9 o'clock my sister texted us to turn on the news if we can. From then until about 1 in the morning, I was glued to the TV. Watching as the numbers who had been shot went up, as did the number of fatalities. Fox news continued to show a live feed of the scene, as well as some videos they had received from civilians there. My sister and I texted who we could that we thought could be down there, as an officer. That friend, thankfully, was safe. Another friend of mine just joined the force in April. All Fox news would tell us was that at least 2 of the officers down were young, as in, they were new to the force. I had no way of getting a hold of this friend, just the ability to worry. And I did, while Fox news showed a video from a civilian watching from above. The shooter, or at least one shooter, hiding behind a pillar, then snuck up on a cop. He shot the corner to distract the cop the other way and then came up behind him and shot him... in the back of the head. The video continued to watch the shooter run away while the cop laid there. It was a few minutes before anyone else showed up on scene. I cannot even imagine being those officers, seeing one of their own like that.

And THAT, that was the thing that needed to be focused on that night. Not that there is violence in Dallas so no one should come here. Not that it is a bad neighborhood. All that needed to be focused on was that we have a fantastic police department who put their lives in harms way to protect the civilians that were in the city that night. Civilians who were protesting the police. And the police escorted their march, to protect them. That is what needs to be pointed out. Five men lost their lives that night in the deadliest attack on police since 9/11.

Dallas is our city. And just like every city, it's not all flowers and rainbows. There is violence, yes, just as there was violence in Ferguson a few years ago when I lived there, just as there is violence in Chicago, Detroit, Denver, everywhere. There are blacks and whites, and we cannot stereotype an entire race because of things that some of them have done. That goes for all races. And in the same way, we cannot stereotype all cops because of things that some of them have done. I am not condoning the actions of those in the wrong, violence for violence is not the answer. It is part of our sinful nature. Hatred. People let it consume them. We are told to love one another. Hate the sin, not the sinner.
Now, if there is one thing I learned from living in St. Louis for the past 2 years, it is that I really love Texas, and people from St. Louis, they really love St. Louis. And having pride for your city or your state is totally fine, but you do not get to bash someone else's city for violence. You wouldn't like it if they bashed your city, so please do not get onto our city for having violence. This should bring this country together, not divide us city by city. All that we can all do is pray. Come, Lord Jesus.

"Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil tings in their heart and stir up wars continually." Psalm 140:1-2

"Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O Princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness. Cease your evictions of my people, declares the Lord God." Ezekiel 45:9

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Like" It or Not

Sometimes I just despise social media. I know, ironic coming from me because that is what I use to get my words out to all of you guys, but seriously, it is the devil. Ever since things like MySpace and Facebook were created, we were thrown into a world of "likes" and comments from behind a computer screen. Cyber bullying blew up more than anyone thought it would. And now. Now things have just gotten out of hand.

Society has become obsessed with recognition for anything that they put out there. They crave the "likes" and now, the "reactions". It comes down to "how many likes did you get on that picture or that post?" It has brought us into such a superficial world. The worst part is that people get upset when they do not get the recognition from the person that they want it from the most. Usually it is a crush, or something like that. No "like" from that significant person and their mind goes into "I'm not pretty enough" or "I'm not good enough".

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

Then they find themselves looking at who their crush "likes" the most stuff from. And then they try to be something they are not. I know, this sounds like an extreme case, but it happens. People get so caught up in everyone needing to "like" this or comment on that. They thrive off of others acceptance of them based on what they put on their wall. And it is not just Facebook, it is Instagram, it is Twitter, it is anywhere that someone can get their voice out there and hide behind a computer and wait for the followers and "likes" to flow in. (I know, that is what a blog is for too. I never said I was perfect.)

These things also lead to jealousy, pride-fullness, hatred, and coveting of our neighbors possessions. Comparing ourselves to someone else's picture they have painted of themselves to the world is tearing ourselves apart.

"Comparison is the thief of joy" -- Theodore Roosevelt

"And He said 'What comes out of a person is what defiles him, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.'" 
Mark 7: 20-23

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

Bottom line- "like" it or not, God loves you. He wants what is best for you. The only "like" or even "love" you should care about is His. These earthly things, they have nothing on what is to come. You can care for them, but do not let comparison to others and trying to put yourself above the rest get you upset or cause you to form a hatred toward someone or multiple people. Everyone has their gifts from God, some may look like more than yours, but God gave you yours for a very important reason. Trust Him. Find the joy in your life, and keep it there by not comparing yourself to others. God created us each unique and for a purpose- in His OWN image. No need for comparison. No need for "likes".

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."
Psalm 139:13-14

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:10-11

Monday, May 2, 2016

~ Being the Future Mrs.~

That's right blogging world, it finally happened. On April 17th, the love of my life took me to the place we had our first date, got down on one knee, and asked me to be his for the rest of our lives. And I said YES! I am beyond excited to start this next adventure with him! I'll let you in on a little secret, though: we have only been dating for 5 months and only known each other about that long, too. Yes, yes, I know, trust me, whatever you are probably thinking, we've heard it all already. Many people are very concerned that we are rushing into things or that we need to see each other through more seasons of life. Honestly, everyone's situations are different. People seem to judge seasons of life by time. Sometimes, hardships come all in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, we have had some hardships in the time of our dating. The good thing is that we've been able to see each other through those situations and to see how each person handles it. We've also been able to be that support that each of us needs. I am finishing up my senior semester of college, so he has definitely seen how I handle stress. He's seen me cry and he's seen me hit a wall that I think I can't come back from. I have broken down on him multiple times because graduating and heading for the real world is scary. And he has been by my side through it all, always reminding me that we can get through anything. "You, me, and God" he always says. And he is right. I don't know how I got so lucky to find a man who is constantly leading me back to Christ and who supports me in everything I do, even when I have no idea what I am doing. I only hope I have been able to do the same for him. So, you see? Yes, we have only known each other for 5 and a half months, but in that time we have both grown so much, and grown together so much. We have made the decision to love each other through everything. I honestly believe that when you know, you know. Other people don't get to tell you that you are rushing into things or that you are too young. We are two 22 year olds who have found the one whom our souls love. We know we want to spend the rest of our lives together, so why wait a year or more to start that adventure together? 

You know what another cool thing is? He comes from a family of 8 kids, and I come from a family of 5, both of which have more now because of in-laws. So we both understand the craziness of family get togethers, and are completely okay with it! I am so excited to be gaining more family members. Come November, I will have technically 7 more sisters and 3 new brothers (counting the in-laws)! Family is super exciting, and we are really excited to become one in November! 

I know that it has been a long road to get to this point, for both of us. I was definitely getting to a point where I wasn't sure how life was going to end up for me as far as relationships, and I was okay with that. As soon as I finally let go of trying to control my life and how it was going to go, Jordan stepped in. God has always had this in his hands, and will continue to, we know that full well. As long as we have each other and God, we know that we can withstand anything that life throws at us. 

 "I lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Psalm 121

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another." 
Romans 12:9-16