Thursday, May 24, 2012

7 months.

Wow. It has been 7 months since I last blogged. Unfortunately for you reading, this wont be long. Just a little recap of the last 7 months.

Best friend is pregnant --Due at the end of June, couldn't be more excited to meet this little precious jewel.

Done with first semester at a big girl school (CSU Dominguez Hills)

Got enough financial aid to cover the next 2 years of school. So the rest of my college career is paid for.

God provided a youth pastor for our youth group (as of two days ago) --I'll blog more about this journey a little while later.

Grandfather passed away :(-- First grandparent I've ever lost.

Made really wonderful new friends at work :)

Painted my room FINALLY.

I'm sure there are other things that have happened to me over this time, but its all my little heart could think about at this moment.

Right now life consists of working with my kinder babies, loving and mentoring my 7th (almost 8th grade) girls and reading.

I am SO excited school is over now I can read! Harry Potter and Hunger Games I'm coming for you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God in a box.

This past weekend I was able to head down to Murrieta with the women of my church to attend the Women's Retreat. I was very hesitant to go to say the least. Sure, I had friends that were going but wasn't entirely sure where I was going to fit in. My little hurt was stressed and began to get really nervous as I drove down the 91.

I have been feeling quite dry spiritually recently. Well, actually I don't know how to describe it. I feel like my relationship with Christ is thriving and I am connected to him a way that I haven't ever experienced before. What I mean by dry is that there isn't a lot feeding into my soul, I'm not gaining much. So knowing that I was going away to be fed this weekend was so exciting.

I was so excited knowing that God was going to show up in some huge way with the things we were going to be learning, little did I know that the major thing that I would learn wouldn't be directly from the teaching--more just correlated to it.

As I was debriefing my weekend over email to my sweet friend Nichole I came to the realization that I had put God in this box for the weekend. Granted it was a large box, giving him plenty of room to work and move, but a box nonetheless. I had given him the new information that I was going to learn and thought His work would stem from that, not even thinking that it might be some junk that I brought from home that He would like to deal with.

Saturday morning a dear friend of mine spoke on the necessity in fellowship for authenticity. She shared that we need to be honest with God, our self and others. The last section about being "real" with others in relationship caught me. It wasn't that I think that I am not being real, I feel like I have been taking big steps toward that in fact, but more that I don't have very many people to do that with. This idea of friends has been a big issue for me over this past year. The loneliness has begun to fade and I've got my game face on ready to tackle new relationships. But that is what God brought up in me, what is my next step? As I journaled sharing where do I go? Who do I seek? Do I seek? Will You send them?

As I felt these huge feelings of uncertainty and partial rejection of previous friendships I also felt a strange comfort. The feeling I got as a little girl when there was a HUGE crowd ahead of me at Disneyland. I was small and these  people were GIANTS. I saw my Daddy ahead of me stretch back his hand for me to hold onto and lead me through. Sure I bumped into a few people, may have stepped in gum, spilled soda or on an occasional shoe...but I made it. I trusted that holding on to my daddys hand would safely get me to the place I need to be.

This is a  trust I haven't felt in a long time toward God. I am beginning this journey ready. I have taken my deep breath, grabbed the hand of my Father and ducked in between the first two people of the crowd. I may not see the way or even how long it is going to take to get out, but I trust that the hand I am holding will lead me there safely and in the way that HE sees fit.

In addition to this journey's beginning I was overwhelmed with the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus for me. At some point through the weekend we were prompted to close our eyes and picture ourselves at the foot of the cross and envision what happened there. When I closed my eyes I saw a great giant gold throne and a man dressed in a white robe smiling down at me. I was standing there, feeling so dirty, wretched and small. All the sudden my viewpoint changed. I was no longer seeing Christ through my eyes, but seeing myself through God's eyes. I saw this beautiful transformation of my little body into the righteousness of Christ. It was such a beautiful moment.

This stuck with me the whole weekend. this idea that I am righteous, restored, redeemed and renewed. It is such a sweet, sweet truth that I was able to sit with over the next day or two.

We sang a song that resonated so sweetly with my spirit twice. It shares the feelings that I have about being redeemed and restored by such a great God. On the last morning we sang this song and standing all alone in the back, with tears streaming down my face barely able to speak these words I sang this:

I have not much
To offer You
Not near what You deserve
But still I come
Because Your cross
Has placed in me my worth

Oh, Christ my King
Of sympathy
Whose wounds secure my peace
Your grace extends
To call me friend
Your mercy sets me free

And I know I'm weak
I know I'm unworthy
To call upon Your name
But because of grace
Because of Your mercy
I stand here unashamed

I can't explain
This kind of love
I'm humbled and amazed
That You'd come down
From heavens heights
And greet me face to face

Here I am at Your feet
In my brokeness complete

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In the midst of life

God has me at a funny place in life.

I'm in this season of self-discovery and kind of hating what I am finding.
Hating all these things that I am feeling and hating even more that I have to sit with them.
Sitting these, sifting through and figuring out where and why it came about.

While I am single God chooses to do interesting things in my life.
He is preparing me I am sure, for hopefully one day a husband.
He is faithfully pruning my branches and I cling onto him with everything I have.

It's a interesting and beautiful place when Christ is the first one you turn to because there is no one else.
My tears, my hopes my dreams all laid down at his feet.
My unhappiness, my fear, my unbelief.

He is alive in me. I know that he is moving. I can feel a stirring in my soul.
I just kind of hate the way that He is choosing to do it.
Through pain and lonlieness.

But I have hope. I have hope that through this broken mess of my life, there is beauty.
I cling to the fact that I can trade these ashes in for beauty.

In my brokenness, I am complete at the cross.

My eyes, mind and heart have to be set on Christ in order to get through this.
I cant take them off or I fall and fail.
I dont want to be Peter, look down at the water and sink. My eyes must be fixed on Christ.

In Celebrate Recovery we say the Serenity goes a little like this.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.
Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting that you will make all things right,
if I surrender to your will.
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

This is truth. Even re-writing it right now I learned more what it means.
Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.

Monday, July 4, 2011

my special people.

I am grateful for parents who love me unconditionally. For a mom who has taught me more things in just her actions than I can count and loved so deeply I think it hurts. A women who has taught me grace and love and gentleness are all so very important in your life. A woman who has a never ending love for me. For a dad who is the most hysterical person I know. A man who loves me like no man has to this day and wont let anyone take me until he loves me more that daddy does.

I am thankful for a brother who snuggles me even when he doesnt want to. For a brother who lets me wake him up just to talk, or loves me with "two arms". For a brother who helps me be a better women and loves me at my worst. For the only man who will ever know what it was like growing up in this house of mine. For the person that I am the most protective of and who I cant talk about too much or I cry.

I am grateful for grandparents who stand behind me always. For a grandmother who has taught me to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, bake, cook and love. For a grandfather that taught me that hard work pays off and to never give up. For a couple who has beat the odds by giving love a second chance. For a grandfather who calls me "Amy Liz" and a grandmother who is one of my very best friends.

I am grateful for a cousin who has come out of a lot of things and has turned himself into an amazing man of great character. For a cousin who loves me like a sister and would never let a thing happen to me. For a cousin who has a quiet strength about him that provides comfort to me in times where I feel like if my life turned upside down he'd be there standing strong to provide comfort and love for me.

I am thankful for a woman that has become my blood. For a woman whose words of encouragement always are what I need to hear. For a woman who is my biggest fan. For a woman who stands beside me at a distance and provides support. For a woman who has never ceased to amaze me with her patience, love and mercy. For a woman who God so lovingly placed into our family. For a woman who over the years had become a place of safety and confidence. For a woman who loves me so fiercely that she doesnt even have to say it, I just know.

I am thankful for an aunt and uncle who LOVE me. For an uncle who is the most kind hearted, giving, selfless man I know. Who would give you the shirt off his back and his next breath if you needed it. For a man who has loved me so tenderly from infancy. For an aunt who holds me so sweetly in her arms to let me know that she loves me. For an aunt who loves in such a sweet way that you cant help but smile.

I am grateful for (another) cousin who lets me in. For a cousin who makes me laugh and in the next breath tells me how wonderful I am. For a cousin who has taught me strength and if life hits you, get right back up again and keep trying. For a cousin who is a strong, beautiful woman that is constantly growing and becoming  better and better. For a cousin who isnt sitting in the status quo when she knows she deserves more. For a cousin who fights for what she wants and loves hard when she gets there.

I am grateful for 3 kids from South Dakota. For their cute little accents you can hear here and there. For the love you feel when you hug them. For the smiles on their faces when you walk in a room. For teenage boys who in one minute are "too cool for school" and the next are playing intently with a 6 year old, doing whatever he wants. For a sweet girl who just wants to take a break and read, when sitting quietly sharing a warm afternoon reading books is her cup of tea. Seeing these three grow into strong people. Knowing that they are going to make something of themselves. For these three who I love dearly and wish lived in California.

I am grateful for the 6 year old who makes me cry when he tells me he loves me. For the boy who gets so sad when I cant jump on the "tramp" with him cause I have a dress on. For the boy who loves knowledge so much its inspiring. For the boy that is better at loving his enemies than me. For the boy who teaches me how to love better. For the boy who makes me melt when he smiles. For the boy who has learned so much about being a person of character in his 6 years of life it unreal. For the boy who is the center of my world.

I cant tell you how thankful I am for each of you, how you have each made me better. Thank you for loving me despite myself and believing in me even when I didnt have the strength to do it. Your support, encouragement and love does more than I could ever ask for and you could ever know. I love you all with an endless love.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

two roads

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I --
I took the one less traveled by
and that has made all the difference."

I often find myself in this tension. This tension of making the effort and choosing the harder road, or allowing myself to follow the easy path. Recently I have found myself distant. I have chosen to allow time, sleep, food, friends, family, tv, almost anything to get in the way..and in some way I was okay with it. I find myself weighing the options. Is the good feeling that good? Is that bad feeling worth it? I am here, sitting in this tension of choosing to be intentional in my relationship with my creator.

Sitting in the tension has forced me to think about my two options. Playing one versus the other, chosing to be intentional versus faking it. I see vividly what Matthew was talking about in chapter 7: 13-14, 
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
Sometimes I feel like I am just walking with my head down, only looking a few feet in front of me to see where I turn next only to finally look up and see where I am, on a path leading no where. I quickly run back to the intersection and choose the narrow road. Then again later I feel myself walking through brush  avoiding the path I was on and trying to find my way to the wide path again. It is a struggle. 

I once again come back to intersection. I take a moment to look at the two roads. I see one that is wide, beautiful, green, covered in flowers and sunshine. I looks easy, a nice stroll. No uphill or downhill, just a straight walk. I continue looking down and see the very thing I do not want, eternity away from my creator. No thank you. I rid myself of the desire for that for the moment. I bring my gaze to the other road. I sigh. There is a narrow, dark, rocky road ahead. I see a continual uphill road, a battle. I look further down and see my savior waiting there for me. Resting on a rock in the shade of a big oak tree. His arms our wide with the most genuine, joyful, loving smile on his face. I see him whisper something, I feel it in my heart, my soul. 
"Come to me"

This is my struggle. The continual walking through the brush  toward the easy road only to turn around and sprint to the ugly path.I do this knowing the outcome will be better than the other. While most times the wide road looks nicer, there is nothing to it. There is no joy, no true happiness. While the other may be scattered with hardships and struggle I chose this....because I chose Jesus.

Monday, June 13, 2011

a deep breath.

this sunday in church Ron spoke on sin. my heart has been stuck there for a while. this message was one of deep conviction and raw emotion for me. he explained that in order to rid yourself of sin, you must turn away from it every sense of the word. he then gave our congregation an opportunity to give those sins God laid on our hearts up.

we each got a small piece of white paper and had the chance to write down a sin that we struggle with on that paper. we then were asked to walk up to the stage and place them in various buckets and those buckets were taken outside to a live video. we watched as each of those pieces of paper were thrown into a fire pit indicating that sin being given to God, surrendered.

to watch so many people in my church body, my home walk up there and place struggles into that bucket almost moved me to tears. i know for me, that illusion was something that will stick with me forever. the struggle i placed in that bucket is something that i have been running from with a deadly fear and i feel like writing it down on that paper was my way of turning around, facing it and saying...."bring it"

i have been dwelling and processing here of what this looks like and where I go from here. Ron encouraged us to tell someone what this struggle was. i am not there yet. i am praying that God softens my heart to be at that place soon.

something that i have been thinking about and just tonight read in Romans 8, is the battle between our righteousness and our flesh, our new versus old self. i often times allow my old self to jump right back in and take over and allow myself to go places i dont want to be. speaking with a friend a few days ago she said, its like getting up and choosing to put on a different set of clothes in the morning. you have to get up everyday and chose the "new self" set of jeans and a tee vs. the "old self" set. this idea resonated so greatly within me.

i have a silly little thing i do when i am feeling overwhelmed in any way either good or bad, i take a deep breath. when i breathe in i say to myself "breathe in the Holy Spirit" and when i breathe out i say " breathe out sin and everything bad within me". although it may seem odd to you, it makes the world of a difference to me. its a quick reminder that i have a powerful savior on my team/side and being reminded that he dwells within me like that is such a sense of comfort.

i have found myself doing that a lot more within the paste few days. when i am tempted to chose sin, i take a deep breath to remind myself. not that this is the end all be all, because sometimes i still chose sin...but it has helped me quite a few times.

so this week, tomorrow, this hour, the next minute...i will be taking  breaths to be reminded that the spirit of an strong, mighty, living God dwells within me.