Friday, December 30, 2011

Seeking First in 2012

There are a great many things I could write about right now, but the one that stands out to me now is the concept of seeking the kingdom of God.

It says in Matthew 6:33: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

I've been praying for a greater dose of faith as I have approximately $1,500 left to go for Israel. It feels like doing the dishes-you turn around, and there's way more than you thought left to go! It has been a little disheartening to say the least. I have to admit I have been living from my mind and flesh recently, being consumed with how can i earn money and what did i do wrong and what if it doesn't come in...
Today I was struck in a new way this gentle demand of the Lord's, SEEKING FIRST THE KINGDOM. I was challenged by what that looks like in my life. Matthew 6:33 doesn't say, "If you're smart, all these things will be added to you" or "If you're more frugal, all these things will be added to you" or even "If you're good enough all these things will be added to you". NO! With Him, it is always about the relationship! He just wants to be sought. He wants to be worshiped, to be explored, to be the bigger dream than even the things you ask of. He wants to be loved. And He wants His kingdom reflected in your life.
In two days, a new year begins. I don't do this often, but I really want my #1 desire and goal for 2012 to be seeking His kingdom like I never have before. And not just because I want/need "all these things". I was on a walk today where I blurted out to Him, "I just want to do Your will." He responded, "You want to have a full life in Me. That's what you want--living in my will is part of it."
It's true, I do want a full(er) life in Him. I feel like recently I've just been scraping along, trying to find my joy in people and the holidays and the future, which can be all too easy for me sometimes. I have been realizing how my life here could potentially already be 1/4 of the way over (not to be morbid)....and while it seems I have a lot of time left, I do not want to live the rest of that time like I have this quarter. I want to live each day with purpose and seeking His face...not perfect, but choosing life and love more often than not.

There are a few things that stand out that I really want to focus on--

~Abiding in Him--whether I'm in the prayer room on my knees, walking to class, in class, doing homework, talking to a girl at lunch, in the shower....I'm craving that constant communication which has been lacking. I just want to BE in His presence, no striving.
~Eating His Word--I want His word to be tattooed on my heart and mind....I want it to consume me and to guide me! I want to prioritize it more. I want it to captivate me again in a new way. (Not to mention I'm going to Israel and I don't think I'll look at the Bible the same ever again!)
~Discipline--I need to be refined by Him...and I need to still myself so I can hear Him. I want my words and actions to reflect everything I believe about Jesus. I want to develop healthy habits and disciplines that will be life giving.

This year is also a neccesary time to be intentionally fixing my affections towards Jesus....I always figured that in 2012 I would get married (first comes college, then comes marriage...etc.). While I have been increasingly content with the timing He has for me, it is still hard, especially with "everyone" around me in that boat. And my desire for children only grows by the day. Please pray for greater faith in these areas too.

Lastly, on January 9th when we all get back to school I am speaking to the house about "guarding your heart". Please pray for insight & confidence for me as I pray about it/speak and that He would use me.

P.S> Not lastly! ;-) I am basically deciding the teaching route I am going next month--bilingual (a much larger leap of faith, scares me to death, exhilarating, what I feel called to) or ESOL (less stress, perhaps less of what I really want to do, the "easy" way out). Not a super big deal in the scheme of things, but still a decision that will carry consequences (not all bad) in the upcoming years. I've been feeling very unconfident in my Spanish as I haven't had a good place to use it and I just hear whispers of failure all around me for student teaching next year! Pray that He would reiterate my identity to me.

I appreciate every prayer, thank you!!!
Blessings to all in 2012, He is soo good and faithful!!

(my little miracle cousin Mia and I over Christmas :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Loving Our Kids

It may seem way too early for most people, but I have been wanting to read "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" (Danny Silk) for some time now, and I am finally getting the chance over Christmas break! (this 4 week break is amazing for a lot of reasons!) I figure being a mom is probably still years down the road, but I want to have as much wisdom as possible beforehand, since I feel it is one of my biggest callings! :-) Not only does it change the way to think about parenting, but it has been mindblowing, changing the way I think about how God the Father interacts with me. It has also allowed me to see how the way I was raised wasn't 100% a reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven (I already knew that--but it is good to see things clearly and to be able to forgive as they come up). It's good just to soak in truth.
I think so far the line that has gotten to me the most is "The way we live our lives shows Jesus the value we have for our connection with Him."
I long to have such a strong heart-to-heart connection with my Jesus above all else, and to have that reflected someday in my parenting.
Somewhere in these four weeks I am also finishing the last two weeks of Breaking Free (from summer), working with my dad in construction, visiting with family from Chicago, making Christmas gifts with as little money possible, just resting,and much more.
The last few days I have felt little injections of faith being shot into my heart, regarding finances, the future, etc. which is a blessing. Thank you so much for your prayers--pray that I will continue to rest and hear from the Lord over the break.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Dreams

Today in church we sang a song and part of it really got to me today.
"All of my ambitions, hopes and plans..I surrender these into Your hands.."

For a long time I had felt a little disconnected from the Lord and even feeling like He didn't want to fulfill any of my dreams or that He was going to withhold from me. I wasn't trusting His goodness, and was believing silly lies. Today I walked to Qdoba after my run, my favorite restaurant where I always have some of the best times with the Lord, and I clearly heard him say to me, "I want you to tell me all your dreams, every dream you've ever had, any hope or plan you've formed in your heart." I think at first I kind of rolled my eyes at Him (oops, sorry Lord! :-) and he said, "No, seriously, I want you to tell me!" It was interesting to verbally be able to express everything I have/have had in my heart. I heard the Lord say, "Ok...I want to surpass those."
I think that those times when we feel him "withholding" or "not answering our prayers" or "ignoring us" or "trying to punish us", he is really just saying..."I actually have something in mind that you will like far better!" ...or that will be better for me. Or that maybe my timing is imperfect.
Another thing I realized about my dreams is that they were all kind of surfacy. I mean, wanting a husband and kids and all are big things, but most things were circumstancial. I feel He is challenging me to ask for things that require more faith and that have more Kingdom value. Yes, He dearly loves my heart and all the things I have already asked--but He wants to do more work. He WANTS to answer more, and things that I think would never happen.

He is blowing my mind! I have four more days of school and then I'm off to a fall retreat with the Calvary college group in Sunriver. I'm SO looking forward to the rest and what God is going to do, as well as getting to know more people!

Also, my testimony went well last week, thanks for the prayers! He always uses the weak to lead the strong.
Well, I should get back to my schoolwork.....
oh, also, I will be fasting from sugar this week....feel like that's been controlling me a bit lately.
Have a great week!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

racing...peppermint hot future

This will be a somewhat random post...but then again, nothing too unusual ;-)

One of my new dear friends, Carissa, works at Starbucks and she often brings home drinks to surprise people. Today I was the lucky recipient and I woke up and walked out to the study room to find a peppermint hot chocolate on my desk (how did she know it was my fave?? anyways.:) I was about to go for a run (more on that later) but I saw this large drink and thought, "well, I better drink this now!" I heard the Lord invitingly call me back to my bed to have some good quality time with Him. "Come drink some hot chocolate with me, and spend time with me!" I definitely felt His extravagant love--of giving without expectations.
It had been a rough last couple days wallowing in my flesh, and I knew that I had been avoiding this time--but praise the Lord, He broke through that and spoke truth to me.

This same friend also inspired me to think about running a 15k race (9.3 mi) this March in Portland. I had started running regularly this summer but dropped it once school started. However, having this goal and challenge in mind has motivated me to start running again! I can now go up to about 4 miles. The Lord is using this so much already to teach me about my walk with Him. And not surprisingly, he has pointed out Hebrews 12 to me multiple times, about stripping off everything that hinders us and entangles us to run the race with perseverance. There is so much "stripping down" he has to do in me, and I feel I am so much more aware of that when I am running and I have something physical to relate to. He wants me to be able to run lighter, freer, longer, harder. My eyes are straight ahead, not looking to the right or left in comparison, but Ahead to the Author and Perfector of my faith.
And I can't tell you how many people I have told about this race in my excitement (there are around 15 or so girls that are also doing it now!) Yesterday when I was running, he clearly said, "The more people know, the less you can back out."
This is true in both senses of the word. I can't back out of this 15k, now that I have so many people keeping me accountable. In my community of believers, I couldn't back out of a relationship with Jesus if I wanted to; there are too many and they love me too much. (although yes, I still have free will--just like I could decide not to run the 15k).
Running is still very painful at times and I ask myself WHY am I doing this?! I would much rather just walk or bike. But the great race that we're in now isn't always pleasurable--sometimes it is hard and sacrificial--but it is always worth it, and our prize is glorious.

Jesus believes in me. He chose me first. He loved me first. This is a revolutionary truth when I am making decisions about the future--today for instance. I had an advising appointment so I could find more info about/apply for the bilingual endorsement (teaching in Spanish and English) or just the ESOL (helping non-native English speaking students). The last few years my gut instinct has been to teach in Spanish and English, but lately I have wavered due to my lack of confidence in my abilities to do so. When I am making decisions, are they based off of my flesh or off of faith? I hope today I made a decision of faith when I chose to do the bilingual endorsement, which scares the crap out of me but...does require a massive amount of faith in Him who called me. And since that meeting, I have felt increasing JOY and excitement. Though some obstacles do intimidate me, I am glad if this is the path He has chosen for me, because He wants to PROSPER me. (Jer 29:11)
 And I can't express how much I am in love with Hispanic kids and how I long to be their teacher--and their role model--someone they would visit in years to come, someone that whispered Jesus to them, maybe spoke into some of their giftings. Someone that quieted their nerves about living in a different country (or maybe just a crazy white woman that really loved them. ;-)
There is a good chance that I would get to stay and teach in Corvallis, as there is a need...and that thrills me, but really I could go anywhere...and that overwhelms me, for I want to go EVERYWHERE. Every time I look at a map my mind races at all the options. Lucky for me, Jesus is my Shepherd and will lead me to green pastures. He knows where I am to be, and He loves giving good gifts. Haha. How amazing! I am so excited for the adventure that is the future but trying to remember to keep both feet planted here for the time being as I love on 40-some college girls and read and study for copious amounts of time to pass classes I need to pass to be a teacher. My hands are open, and who knows what He will give and take away. I am not to boast about tomorrow, for I am not even promised tomorrow.

p.s. please pray for me on monday night, I am giving my testimony to the house!

Thanks for letting me spill that out...I have no emotions left now! ;-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughts from the Library

Here I am, on the 6th floor of the library, in a nice, secluded, quiet room (quite the opposite of Charis :) Lately I have been consumed with anxiety about my future and I wanted to get some thoughts out.

First, being in the house, especially as "house mom", you don't particularly feel the urge to go and study all the time..and in fact can be quite a feat if you get distracted as easily as I do :-) There are girls to talk to, fun to be had, etc...not to mention, I have SO much reading to do that I don't even know where to sometimes I DON'T, which makes me even further behind...
So that's been my life the past 2 weeks thus far!

I am going to start fasting and praying soon about why my motivation for school is lacking, if I am truly on the right path, and how He can be a bigger part of my studies, driving everything I do.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my education advisor where I turned in a packet of things to move onto the next level--get accepted into the double degree program. (education + Spanish). NEXT WEDNESDAY I will have a professional interview with a few staff members and a few other students and that will ultimately determine if I get in or not.
{I also found out I will be graduating Spring '13, which is almost 2 more years of school including student teaching. I will most likely be student teaching in an awesome bilingual school here..and who knows, maybe the Lord will let me stay here for a while to teach!}
I have been feeling super attacked about it and feeling that I am completely incapable, stupid, and unconfident, that they will think that I have no potential. I have realized that these are lies, but I'm finding it hard to really believe what He says is truth.
I had an 'aha' moment last year when He told me the reason I wasn't feeling super motivated in school/doing as well in school was because I had always thought it the back of my head that I was stupid, and that I shouldn't even try because I was so unintelligent. I think this is creeping back in again.
I do know there is so much I need to grow in when it comes to teaching--especially in Spanish, ahh! But I always think about how strongly he has placed this desire on my heart since I was 4 years old.
So anyways, if you could be praying for the interview next week and just that I will be believing His truth and that my confidence would be in Him. I just want His will to be done in this situation--and in the grand scheme of things, this is just a little blimp on the radar (yet something He cares about so much!)
Also continued prayer for balancing my girls and school. Even if I do do all the studying I need to, I want to appear and be available to them. I also need to do pretty well in the rest of my classes I take, so my diligence will only need to improve.

I want my eyes and heart to be focused on the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN above all else. Which can be hard to do in this environment where all are focused so heavily on careers.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I appreciate all the love and prayers! Time to get to studying now ;-)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Divine appointment in Newport

I have a fun story to tell. May God receive all the glory!

The last few weeks, up till yesterday, were kind of dry. Not super bad but just not super fulfilling. Not really spending that much QT with Him. Ya know.

Today I had my mom's car and I was gonig to drive back to Corvallis at some point during the day. So many possibilites of what to do, I never have a car! On the way there I just started being honest with the Lord and started pouring out my heart to Him. It's a blessing there wasn't a CD in the car, otherwise I would have just sung in auto-pilot. But it was just me an' Him.
He met me there, and he started singing songs over me, beautiful ones. My heart was being filled and places being healed. I knew that today was just supposed to be me and Him! Suddenly I had an intense craving to go to the beach, just the two of us. Had never done that before.
Then I suddenly decided to call a friend from Charis and see if she wanted to come. She couldn't, which confirmed it was just supposed to be us. I dropped in at Charis and threw some things together, and hit the road. {When I have a goal in mind, I get super impatient and hurry as fast I can to get there ASAP. It's probably a good thing I"m not married yet--I can't be waiting for people! haha)
Also, I was a little hesitant at first to go, because I had been feeling guilty about spending money, even for gas. The Lord was teaching me a load of things today, including the truth that He gives me permission to be extravagant in order to love Him sometime. The purpose of the day just reverberated LOVING HIM--and no one else. I actually kept thinking i was going to run out of gas on the way to Newport. He kept saying, "stop looking at the meter. I'll get you to the gas station." Even though I had to keep checking, He indeed got me there. I filled up, and because the traffic was crazy to turn left to where I needed to go, I turned right, then left into the Thriftway parking lot. As I was about to exit the lot, I saw nearby on the sidewalk an older lady in a wheelchair with glasses staring into space, holding a cardboard sign that I couldn't read because of the size. There was also a fellow a few yards away under a tree that looked homeless.
Instantly I knew I was supposed to talk to them, do something. I had given up more opportunities in my lifetime than I've liked, and it wasn't about to happen again. Besides, I was finally alone which gave me the freedom to stop, and i could easily park nearby.
I parked the car and prayed (a little frantically!) to the Lord. I just asked for boldness over and over, and the Holy Spirit. I asked for words and wisdom. Then I got out, approached the lady in the wheelchair and introduced myself. Her name was Louise. The sign read something like "An act of kindness or charity" implying that she needed some kind of help. As I talked to her, she pointed out her left leg that looked burned, and she explained she had gotten in a bike accident and it had become infected. "I'm out of penicillin, the doctors didn't give me enough penicillin..."
I asked her what she would like.
I first thought to ask her about food, and she agreed to me getting some for her. She mentioned she'd just been eating a lot of garlic and peanut butter. She motioned to Kenneth, the guy, and told me to talk to him and see what would be good for her to eat. I met Kenneth, a person rough on the outside but sweet on the inside.
Sandwiches, he said. And ice cream? I asked. Nah, you don't have to do that.
With a smile in my heart I paced around Thriftway stoked to be able to bless them. A few large sandwiches, apples and Haagen Daz bars later, I first went to Louise to give her the food. She thanked me and before I knew it I was declaring to her that the Lord loves her....that He wants her to know Him...that she has so much hope...(by this time I was sobbing..and that never happens)....that he is alive right now and listens to her....
Right away, tears were flowing down her cheecks, although she tried to maintain a straight a face. "I grew up Catholic..." was one of the first things she said. She didn't have many words, but I could tell something shifted in her spirit. I asked if I could pray for her, and there on my knees I prayed for her, not caring about the strange looks I must have been getting. :-) She was crying some more. I wanted to give her my phone number, and we had a good laugh as I tried to get a pen out of my purse and found melted chocolate over everything (typical). As I gave it to her I also mentioned I live in Corvallis, go to OSU, and her eyes lit up a little before saying she and Kenneth go there for doctor appointments and such. I told her to feel free to call me anytime, I'd love to see them again. We said goodbye and then I went over to Kenneth.
I gave him his food, and sat down next to him. In similar fashion, I started pouring out the truth about the Lord to Him. He also started tearing up and trying to hold it in. He says he talks to God every day. But that sometimes he wonders if He hears him. Yay! A lie detected that I would get to shine His light on. I honestly can't remember what all I said, but I trust the Spirit was talking :-) He was also very thankful and he seemed excited that he might get to come visit sometime. I waved goodbye as I drove off.
About 12 minutes later, as I pulled up to my favorite beach, I looked over and noticed the bag with Louise's food! I was immediately bummed--I was so excited I forgot to leave the food! :-) Immediately I sped out of there and went back to the store to return the food. As I turned into the place where they were, my heart sank as I saw no sign of them.
I told God I wanted to see them again and to please help me find them!
About 5 minutes later, I saw a man in a wheelchair by the Thriftway. Well, maybe at least I can give it to someone. My heart was already aching thinking about just taking off with the food and Louise being disappointed. As I drew nearer, I saw it was Kenneth! I got excited and he said she was just going to come out of the store. Excitedly I called her name when she got out and I handed her the bag. It seemed like a wave of hope had hit her, praise the Lord. "I just wanted to say hi to you guys again!" I said with a laugh. We said goodbye and I ran off to the car (of course I had left my keys on the seat :)
I arrived at the beach and my joy level was off the radar!!!! I was laughing, crying, yelling, singing and dancing to the Lord. Felt so joyful to be used by Him, especially because I was so weak and He helped me. Such a small thing, but in a big way He increased hundred fold my faith and joy!  He was teaching me so much today.
I enjoyed the {wonderful, Oregon, freezing} water and laid on my blanket as He taught me some more from the Word. (that's another post). Then I put on my running shoes and ran as the sunset joined me. It was exhilarating and the Lord was romancing me to no ends.
Here are some pics of tonight:

Praying that He sends some more divine appointments my way; they are way too fun to pass up! :-) He is soo good, may He get all the glory and praise.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Precious Vases

So Jesus has this beautiful light filled room in Heaven that has a shelf in it.
This shelf is chalk-full with a stunning array of different vases, each vase being a dream or desire or vision of my heart.
He doesn't forget about these vases, which is why the room is always lit with a warmish yellow glow.
He is currently working in the garden outside the room, tending to the vast myriad of flowers, multi-colored, of course. He joyfully and diligently prepares the flowers and bouquet that he yearns to fill the vases with. 
The shelf never lingers lonely enough to accumulate dust. The Father brushes it off, beams with pride. An angel visits the room, admiring the vases, which brings Him more glory.  

Sometimes I feel that he has forgotten about my many empty vases---but this is far from the truth.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
{Proberbs 13:12}

The last week or so it has been overwhelming at times to feel such longing, especially to get married and for kids. Sometime it aches in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes I am confused. Frustrated. Bitter. Envious. Impatient.
But lately I have been picturing my shelf, "Lily's Shelf" in the Lord's room where he has not forgotten a single thought of mine.

"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" {Psalm 139:17}

If you see this
Nollie Fe, Liv Sela, Kiam Bréde, Abel Jaem
Nollie, Kiam, Liv and Abel

on my computer screen, you know I have been dreaming about my future younguns! :-)

With that said, I have been enjoying basking in the Presence and Healing of my sweet Jesus. I know I have a long journey ahead of me, but today He wants to just enjoy the day with me! Ahhhh he has sooo much He just wants to bestow on me, let my heart be open to receive it in grace and faith!

Summer is going well. Busy but well. School, tree flagging, Breaking Free (Beth Moore), good friends, weddings and my banjo have been taking up a good chunk of my life.

Here is a little update of my life through pictures (some a little older :-)

The Lord is relentless.

Well, back to procrastinating! :-)