Friday, May 23, 2014

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Rest leads to refreshment

I started reading this wonderful book this week called "Finding Spiritual Whitespace" by Bonnie Gray.   It has spurred some thoughts about rest in my mind.  Often times in this crazy and busy world we see resting as a weakness however God doesn't see it that way.  Rest in God helps us grow in Him and nourish our relationship.  

God even rested.  

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." Genesis 2:2 (emphasis mine)

And He commands us to rest: 

"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work; so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed." Exodus 23:12 (emphasis mine)

Many of us do not have oxen, donkeys, slaves or foreigners living in our household but it could be related to our current things: cars, computers, cell phones, or paid laborers.  Even our electronics need rest from overuse or overheating but why don't we treat ourselves with rest? 

Then Jesus came and taught even more about rest:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30 (emphasis mine)

What an awesome promise.  When we give our burdens to Jesus, we no longer have to shoulder them alone, He will help us! When new oxen are learning how to wear a yoke for plowing and work, it is yoked to another more experienced ox.  Isn't that what Jesus is calling us to do?  We are new in experiencing life and He is seasoned.  When we are yoked to Him, He guides us and shares the weight.  Then the best news, unlike the oxen who will be released from the other, HE NEVER SAYS HE WILL LEAVE US!!  

When we are yoked to Jesus, He will give us rest.  Only when we are with Him will we find rest.  Isn't that convicting.  Often times we feel as if we have to earn rest.  That's not what Jesus is telling us: He will give it to us!  

So how restless is your soul?  I challenge you this week to take time (it doesn't have to be much) to rest in the presence of our Savior.  Read some scripture and let the Holy Spirit guide you to rest in the words and promises.  I bet you find some refreshment! 

With Love,

p.s.  I will be uncovering more truths that I am learning from this book so stay turned!  Also you can win the book through GoodReads! Then lastly if you want to learn more head over to Spiritual Whitespace

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Hey all, I have entered a contest for a trip to Rwanda this summer with Noonday CollectionInternational Justice Mission and She Reads Truth! Please read my entry and vote for me! The top seven with the highest votes will move on to the next step.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Twenty-Something and Scared of Thunderstorms

Last Night, God was roaring through the lands (well Oakmont) that He is Mighty, how did you respond?  

I can tell you that I've been scared of thunderstorms all my life.  I'm not sure why I am, perhaps just the loud thunder and the flashing of electricity lighting up the darkness of the night.  As I've gotten older, it seems to have gotten worse since The Devil likes to induce my anxiety with thoughts of terrible events occurring.  In Oakmont, we have manyyyyyy large trees surrounding each and every house.  We happen to live under the largest Oak Tree still standing in Oakmont.  Well you can imagine how I can feel anxious during each and every storm.  

Last night was no different.  There were two storms last night and the first one I mildly slept through only momentarily waking up but the second one was a monstrous one.  The cracks of thunder were not even seconds apart from the lightening meaning that the storm was right on top of us.  For one of the first times, instead of laying there awake and worrying, I began to pray.  I knew that I wasn't going to sleep any time soon, so I might as well make those minutes meaningful and talk to God.  Eventually the storm passed and I was able to fall back asleep.

Remember when I wrote about Jonah being swallowed by a whale?  Jonah tried to run from God and only when Jonah was obedient did the storm calm.  When he put his focus on God did the storm diminish.  I think we can take that lesson into our lives.  Sometimes our storms may not resolve immediately but when we focus on God, the severity lessens.  

So how do you respond to storms in your life?  Do you try to resolve it yourself, only to make it worse and put others in harms way like Jonah first tried to do?  Do you focus on God, ask for His strength to get through it, and take away your fear?  More importantly, have you praised God during a storm?  

From the storm that I have endured the past year, I praise God each and every day that He brought me through it.  I have deepened my faith and knowledge in The Lord and that was worth every second of agony.  I know that God was with me because He promises:

"Be strong and courageous.  
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, 
for the LORD your God goes with you; 
he will never leave you nor forsake you." 

(Deuteronomy 31: 6)

God is never far away, it might only seem like that because you pushed Him away.  You relied on your strength instead of the ultimate power of The One who created you.  Human strength will always fail, it was only when I turned to God that my storms seemed manageable.  So what are you going to do next time there is a storm in your life?

Comment, message or email me if you have a storm in your life that needs some prayers!  I would be honored to pray for you :D


Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8th: One year since my life changed

It was one year ago today that God started me on a journey.  It was a normal day like any other: I was in Knoxville, TN but no longer a student.  A few days prior, I announced my resignation from the Biochemistry PhD Graduate Program.  I wasn't admitted to any of the Education PhD programs I applied to, so I was just hanging out waiting for my lease to expire so I could move home.  I had dreams of lazy days laying by the pool, but The Lord shouted NO!  

Back home in Pittsburgh, my mom hadn't been feeling well with a headache for two days.  She normally had headaches so we didn't think anything was majorly wrong.  Since she was complaining of  such pain, my sister eventually convinced her to go to the ER.  Once there, our lives would change forever.  My mom was suffering from a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to an aneurysm on her intercommunicating arteries.  Basically the aneurysm (sack of blood) was leaking onto her brain.  This is really bad!! God carefully crafted our body for the brain to have severe protection.  Our blood is keep in vessels for a reason, it shouldn't touch anything else!  Blood touching our precious brain cells causes them to die.  

I was 500 miles away from home and I started to panic.  What if I didn't make it home soon enough?  What were my last words to my mom or her last to me?  Most importantly how was I going to get home?  I rented a car and packed up as much of my stuff as I could.  My cat and I started on the journey home around midnight because I couldn't wait til morning like my family advised me.  Her surgery to stop the bleeding was scheduled for the early afternoon of May 9th and I wanted to be there.

Those 8 or 9 hours to drive home were some of the trying moments throughout this whole year.  I sobbed and prayed the entire way.  Simultaneously questioning God and asking for His comfort.  By the time I got home it was time to go to the hospital to wait out the surgery.  Brain surgery is a 12 hour ordeal: there's prep, meticulous surgery, and recovery.  We didn't make it to the hospital in time to see her and I was devastated but didn't show it because I wanted to seem strong in front of my sister, aunt and grandma (my dad's mom and sister, who were by our side the entire time).  I should've let them comfort me but I let my pride get in the way and shallowed the pain.  

If you have every waited for someone to go through a long surgery you can understand the mix of emotions, adrenaline and exhaustion.  After about 9 or 10 hours in the general waiting room, we were informed she was out of surgery.  The wonderful Neurosurgeon stopped the bleeding with three minuscule titanium clips.  Most people don't survive bleeding aneurysms because they burst open and the blood rushes out but my mom only had a leaking one, so the damage wasn't as severe.

Then we moved up to the Neuro ICU waiting room.  By this time is was 10pm and all I wanted was to see my mummy.  Finally a nice nurse let us back to see her after we saw glimpses of her hooked up to what seemed like 20 different tubes and wires.  I was in shock when we finally got to see her.  She wasn't responding well after the anesthesia and wasn't waking up.  She was hooked up to the ventilator which made her breathing robotic and jerky.  Her face was so swollen from the surgery, her eyes couldn't open.

All I could feel in that moment was dread, I was going to lose my mother.  I cried out to The Lord for the strength to get through each second those days after the surgery.  I would call the Neuro ICU nurses  three times before I went to bed just so I could know if she was still alive.  I cried myself to sleep each and every night.  The Lord whispered to me in those times, "Let me hold you my child."  I fell asleep in the arms of my Savior so many nights during this last year and I will treasure those moments.  I continue to rest in His presence because He gives peace to my restless and anxious heart.

For the first week, we would receive calls in the middle of the night from the nurses for permission to go into emergency surgery if the pressure on her brain didn't subside.  Eventually she did have the surgery because the pressure was too high, lucky during the day.  That was the surgery that tested my faith because the nurses informed us she might not make it.  Every time she laid flat, her lungs collapsed.  By the grace of God, she made it through.  Each day she improved a millimeter at a time.

She eventually was able to breath on her own about 16 days after her first surgery and taken of the ventilator, but she still wasn't awake.  Her autonomic nervous system was working: breathing and digesting, however she wasn't there.  It was like her body was awake but her soul wasn't.  I wonder if during those months she was resting in the presence of God because there is no one else who could have brought her through this ordeal.  Slowly she did wake up, opening her eyes and responding to our voices.  It wasn't until July that she could remember and say our names.

She went to an inpatient rehab center where she learned how to walk, talk and eat again.  She is weak on her right side from the bleeding on her left side of the brain (remember the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa).  She was in and out of a nursing home and the rehab center during the replacement of the bone flap that was removed a week after the original surgery to relieve the brain pressure.  FINALLY on October 25th, 2013, SHE CAME HOME!  She was in the hospital, rehab center and nursing home for a total of 171 days.

I quit my summer job and cared for her.  She has improved each and every day, gaining back all her strength and skills.  She is walking with a only quad cane and is mobile around the house.  She is retiring from work but her new life is just starting.  I remind her every day how our new life is a blessing because it is nice and slow paced.  We spend so much time together and I love it.  After all the years of living at college and only coming home for short visits, I finally feel at peace living in one place and with those I love.  

Without God, I'm not sure who I would be today.  Every day I relied on His strength and patience as my mom improved.  We would focus on the positives and not feel as if this was the worst.  It could've have been way worse.  God also has provided me with an amazing support system: my friends and family.  My sister and I have grown up and so much closer this past year.  We have handled situations that I never could have imagined and without her by my side it would be even harder.  My aunt and grandma came with us to every hospital visit, supporting us and my mom the entire time.

Our little family has grown so much stronger and closer to The Lord throughout the entire trial.  I love where we have been taken on this journey and I thank God each day for everyone in my life because I realize how it can change in a moment.  There were days when I never thought I would be able to see my mom again let alone take another photo with her.  We never took pictures during her whole hospital stay and some days I regret it because I want to show her how far she has come but most days I am relieved because I don't have to have those images haunt me anymore than they already do.  But now I document everything!!!

Christmas 2013

Easter 2014

So my advice to everyone is to cherish each moment with your loved ones and thank The Lord for His provision and strength.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Making Disciples 101 #SheSharesTruth

I'm so excited that #SheReadsTruth has another #SheSharesTruth assignment! This week is about The Great Commission.  You might be wondering or questioning what that means, don't worry I was there only a few weeks ago and I'll cover it! 

After Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Morning, He met His disciples in Galilee.  This is His last teaching before His ascended to Heaven to reign:

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth
 has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely
I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 

(Matthew 28:18-20, emphasis mine)

As I was studying this passage this week, not only preparing for this post but also in my BSF class, I was feeling convicted and sad.  Most of us know to uphold the 10 Commandments, but do we take this command from Jesus seriously?  That's where my conviction came in.  Where my sadness came in was a misconception.  I thought in order to fulfill this instruction from Jesus, I would need to go to Africa or somewhere far from home.  I didn't think that would be realistic for years.

I AM SOOO WRONG!!! Jesus didn't instruct us to go x amount of miles from home and that's where we could make disciples.  He doesn't even say you need to go find someone who you don't know.  However if He is whispering those commands to your heart, then by all means, uphold them!  However I think most of us aren't called to the international mission field.  But that doesn't mean we can't make disciples!  

Are you a mom teaching your children about Jesus?  Do you bring your friends to church or a bible study?  Do you tell people about Jesus?  Are you open about your faith? All of these are ways to make disciples.  We don't have to go far: those you live with you (friends or family), your neighbor, that person in the grocery store or even someone online.  This is the most important truth I have learned this week: God has given me people in my life, I just need to trust Him.  Let's start small with the people we know, then they will go out to those they know.  Soon enough it will be a domino effect!! 
So guess who I can make a disciple…my mom.  Yep the one person I interact with the most during the day.  I have the duty to educate her more about Jesus and obeying His teachings and commands.  This is going to be my focus for the next few months.  Do you have someone in your life that needs Jesus?  I would encourage you to pray about it and educate them about Jesus.  But don't be afraid because not only did Jesus give us The Great Commission, but He gave us A Great Promise: He will be with us!!  

I pray that you won't be discouraged and overwhelmed with the Great Commission.  Remember we have Jesus with us! The Spirit will guide our words and actions.  So go, find someone, bring them to church to be baptized, and teach them all about Jesus.


p.s.  I'm starting a new series called Twenty-Something.  I was inspired after my previous post Twenty-Something and Single.  I'll be posting about troubles and truths I've encountered.  You don't have to be twenty-something to relate, it's just a catchy title that I like! So be on the look-out and you can subscribe to my blog by email so that you won't miss a post :)