Friday, May 22, 2015

Twenty-Something Chronicles: Loneliness

Loneliness.  I feel like it's a taboo word in today's society.  Why should we feel lonely?  We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, email, text, calling, FaceTime, Skype, and many more avenues to connect with people.  Also loneliness doesn't have anything to do with relationship status.  I'm not feeling lonely because I am single and the solution won't be to date.  I'm sure everyone at all walks of life have felt lonely no matter how many people surround them.

I think loneliness stems from trying to fill a God-sized hole in our hearts with anything and everything.  I once belonged to the Devil.  Maybe you have too.  I tried to fill that hole in my heart with friends, boys, partying, anything to stop the lonely feelings.  None of them worked.  Only when I truly gave my life to God, did that hole begin to fill.  

I realized that I am not alone and that there is a reason why I have felt so different my whole life.  The truth was that God had set me apart for His work from the moment I took my first breath here on Earth.  He has been waiting for me to ask Him into my life.  Since the moment I did, more than five years ago, my life has completely changed and I love it.  However, sometimes I can't shake off the feelings of loneliness.  

The root of those feelings are still the same.  I am trying to fill the cracks in my heart with humans but there is only One who will fit.  Just because I now follow Jesus, won't mean that I will instantly feel loved all the time.  Feelings are part of our finicky flesh, they can change like the wind. I need to root my trust and contentment on my Lord and Savior.  I need to go to Him when I have these feelings so that I can deal with them and replace them with Words to nourish my soul.  The Spirit lives inside of us, we don't need to go far to reach God!! Isn't that so amazing.  We have a built-in best friend right inside of our hearts when we let the Spirit take up residence.  

So I will feel content in the season of life that God has me in.  I am here for a reason.  I can cultivate the relationships that I have already established and wait on His good timing to bring others into my life.  God gives us a choice: to fill our hearts with the garbage and unsatisfactory material things of this world or to fill it with The Holy Spirit.  If you aren't sure how to fill it with the Holy Spirit or have questions, go to God in prayer and ask!!

In His Love,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Value of Your Life

As I have been reflecting this Easter Season (the time between Easter and Pentecost), the theme about the value of my life keeps cropping up in my thoughts.  In the world, there are all different values on a human life.  Some insurances companies may say your life is worth $100,000 or more, that's a lot of money.  I guess you pay for that coverage but still, why do we get money when people die?  What does God say the value of our life is?  

I can assure you that it is not so valuable that it is priceless, there is a price for your life and Jesus paid it. God wanted us to be with Him forever, that He sacrificed, the most valuable possession He had: His Son.  Jesus came to Earth with the ultimate goal to pay the price for each one of us.  That price you ask? Death.  We are all sinners.  God cannot be near sin.  If we are not with God, then we have no life.  So then we all deserve death.  

When Adam and Eve sinned for the first time in the Garden of Eden, God killed an animal to clothe them.  This is the first of many animal sacrifices that were to come to cover the sins of God's people.   For the Israelites, animal sacrifice could satisfy the wrath of God and cover their sins for a little while.  However, God knew that it would just be a temporary solution.  Jesus is the permanent solution. 

I tried to reflect on what Jesus truly went through those few days, thousands of years ago.  The entire time He was thinking of me and you and everyone one of His creations.  The prayers of anguish, the betrayal, the beatings, humiliation, and the nailing to the cross.  All of this done by those He had created and knit together.  He not only endured physical pain but also emotional and the worst of all spiritual.  Separation from His Father.  I can only imagine if I had as deep of a relationship with God the Father as Jesus did and suddenly that was ripped from me and God turned His back on me, I would be broken. 

Jesus endured all of this and more than we could ever understand to pay the price to keep you and me forever with Him.  He loves us that much to not just die but take on all the sins of the world and be treated as if He was a sinner, separating Himself from God even though He had never committed one sin.  That is true love and the best gift we could ever receive.  God's grace and mercy runs so deep, it's unfathomable, how much He values my life to pay for it.

So what does this mean for us?  Well since Jesus paid the price for our lives, we belong to Him.  "He has bought us back from the marketplace of sin" (phrase credit goes to Jackie Cagley, the teaching leader at my BSF class).  But we can also live now a life that has been paid for.  What do I mean by that?  All of our sins are forgiven because Jesus died for them.  How do you ask since Jesus died 2000 years ago?  Well since Jesus is fully man and God, He possess the qualities of infinite and eternal.  Since God has no beginning or end and cannot be measured, Jesus can be the sacrifice for every person and every sin committed, even into the future.  Isn't that awesome?!  So He was thinking of you and me on that cross and all the sins we would commit and will commit.  

We can live free from the burden, knowing that we don't have to die for our sins because they were paid for, a long time ago.  That doesn't mean we can keep sinning, it means we need to try our hardest to change and become more like Jesus.  We are works in progress but the goal is Jesus and we have His example in the Bible so there are no excuses.

Will you join me on this imperfect journey of following a Perfect God?  Please let me know if there is anything I can be praying about or for you!  God didn't create us to worship and learn about Him alone, He created us for community and communal worship.

In His Love,

Friday, May 8, 2015

May 8th 2015: 2 years since my life changed

Brain Aneurysm.  The words that I didn't know much about until 2 years ago today.  My mom had suddenly been diagnosed with one.  Last year I wrote a post all about her first year through hospitals and recovery.  You can visit that post if you want the back story and more information on her recovery. 

I can't believe that she has still been here on Earth for 2 years after we thought we would never hear her voice again.  God is amazing, awesome, wonderful, healer, provider, and so many more attributes.  I have been learning all the different characteristics of the God I serve more in depth over the past two years.  He has a sovereign plan and we are each part of it.  All of our circumstances fit together like pieces of a puzzle.  That is the first lesson that I have been learning through my mom's recovery.

I still am her primary care-giver because Sam still works full-time, however I have a part-time babysitting job and I am earning my Master's Degree in Teaching to teach Chemistry!  This last year has been difficult to learn how to balance coming back to a busier schedule.  The first year my mom was home, she needed me just about every minute of the day which was why I was there but as she regained many skills and ultimately her independence she needed me less and less so I was able to add things to my schedule.  

Then I was too eager to get out of the house after feeling cooped up for too long and socially inept, that I would overbook myself with classes and activities.  God doesn't want us to be rushed and overbooked each day.  That was lesson number two that I learned.

The last lesson I learned is that nothing is wasted with God.  This applies to the past two years but also to my entire life.  When I gave my life over to God and really started to live a life pleasing to Him just about five years ago, I felt shame and regret about my past.  I had lived almost 20 years without following God's plan for me, instead living for myself and not living with any rules or boundaries.  This left me feeling guilty for all those sins, even though I knew I was forgiven.  So over the Study of the Life of Moses with BSF, that was the major lesson that I learned: Nothing is wasted with God.  Those years of unbelief just fuel the fire of why I need God.  I tried it my way and I never felt whole.  Now I feel so complete with Jesus guiding me.

The second part of that lesson was about the time spent not working or just staying home these past two years.  God used those times to grow me and get me ready for the next thing.  Even though I applied to almost 10 jobs, all those doors stayed closed.  He put the desire on my heart to go back to school, which I don't think I would've gone if I was working.  I now have a part-time babysitting job which is close and flexible.  He also is showing me that time isn't wasted with my mom.  Those physical therapy sessions are paying off, reading each afternoon helping improve her speech and most importantly the time I take to read a devotion or Scripture to her is growing her faith too. 

So my mom is still continuing to improve each day in her mobility, speech, independence, and her faith.  She is starting to realize that God still has plans for her.  I remind her that Moses didn't stop serving God until he died, so neither should we.  God may not reveal to her why He has her here or even what work He wants her to do but I know that she has helped me grow.  Taking care of someone really helps develop your Christ-like qualities.  I need God's help with patience, compassion, and gentleness each and every day.  

There you have it.  The three lessons that I have learned this past year: God has a reason for our circumstances, don't overbook yourself, and nothing is wasted.  

Here are some pictures of the last year.  We try to go places and always bring my mom.  We go to dinner (tonight we are going to the Greek Food Festival in Oakland as a yearly tradition that we started when we were going to the hospital two years ago), Phipps Conservatory, or just walking around.  I always try to take pictures to document our adventures!  We even got to go to the beach last year :)

Got her makeup all done! Spring 2015

My Cousin's Wedding in March 2015

Graduation 2014

Beach Trip 2014

Phipps 2014

Cuddles with Layla and the twins

Thanksgiving 2014

My Friends Shelly and John's Wedding December 2014

Christmas 2014

Still cherish every moment you have with the people that God has given you in your life :D Renew the love you have for them each and every morning.

With His Love,