Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year, A New Change

Dear Friends,

     I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful, blessing-filled New Year! I hope you all have some great plans, a great evening, a great year.

     The New Year is marked by most of us making New Year's Resolutions. I, like many others, tend to want to make about 1500 and seldom keep many of them. I think this year I will make a list of all the ones I'd like to make and narrow it down.

     But, apart from Resolutions, the New Year can bring some positive changes that are not necessarily "resolutions." With that, I'd like to announce a revision of my blog. I will now be hosting it through WordPress, which I believe has more beneficial features than for me at this time.

     You will still find me at, however, what this means for you is that if you are currently following my blog through Google, you will have to resubscribe on my new website. The easiest way to do it is through the email subscription option, on the top righthand side of the site. I will be looking for other options as well to make it as easy as pie!

     I have truly enjoyed sharing my life, my thoughts, and my lessons with you over the course of this year. Many of you have followed me the entire length of this year-long journey which has included many joys and miracles, though some hard days too. All in all, it has been a record breaking year, and I truly thank every single person who has followed me and supported me on this ride. Thank you to every single person who has sent me encouraging feedback about my posts. I am beyond touched and grateful that my words have impacted you in some way - that is one of the greatest gifts to me and always my goal when I write.

      I truly hope you will continue to walk with me on this journey, which will continue to be record-breaking this year, as I launch my business, Ink Box, LLC.

      I hope this year has been just as good to you, and I would love to hear about it! Feel free to continue sending feedback. I love reading your comments and emails!

      A Happy New Year to you and yours! I love you guys :)

      Don't forget to visit me at the same address,, starting tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Excess

For Christmas, I received my first Beth Moore Bible study. I was ecstatic. I've been wanting to do one for months - ever since I found out how good they are.

As I sat down to begin, I started by journaling a prayer. Completely unrelated thoughts started pouring through my mind. They went a little like this (taken from my journal):

"Our society tells us to focus on us and our happiness, our comfort, our contentment. Look at our blog posts, our businesses, our hobbies - they're all about the things we love, the things we enjoy... even I have been obsessed with those things. When I don't have them, I crave them desperately. It's almost like my soul dies. I go crazy, it pains me. I mean, heck. Aside from it being Your will, I moved to Colorado because of the spiritual connection and comfort I get from the mountains. I moved 2,000 miles away from home!

The minute something disrupts our comfort, we cry out. I even hold onto certain desires because...I don't dare risk the possibility of not obtaining them. Of course, the possibility is always there, but I don't dare entertain the thoughts because a future without them is too dismal. When I think about my future, I always include the condition of making enough money to afford these comforts, because I have placed such a high priority on them.

(Living for our comfort)... is what everyone does. It's "The American Dream." Its why X (name withheld) buys a 65 inch TV when he's upset, and why the majority of Americans have credit card debt (myself included). It's why we all have to drive nice cars and live in big houses when there are people in our own country who are starving. And then we turn our eyes aways when we are asked to give money to the poor."

Ok, so I was on my "soap box" when I was journaling - but it's a valid point.

And I feel that way very strongly. As I was writing that, the idea came to me to "give away the excess." 
Not to give away so much that you can't pay your mortgage or feed your family.... but give away the excess. Give away the extra that you would spend on going to a movie, going out to eat, or buying a 50th sweater. Now, I don't own close to 50 sweaters, so please forgive me if I buy one more. I'm not suggesting anyone give away so much so as to withhold from themselves the provision God has blessed them with for the purpose of provision. What I'm suggesting is that we give away the excess.

Because, hey - do you know what America is filled with? Excess. And even those of us living from paycheck to paycheck and classified as middle class have more than some people will ever see in a lifetime. And we are still filthy rich compared to the millions living in Third World countries. 

So, do you remember in the previous post when I said I had an idea for a nonprofit ministry brewing? This is it. Because I firmly believe that this needs to be a movement (if it's not already - maybe I'm not aware of somebody else trying to do the same thing, which is altogether possible).

Have you ever read the book "Crazy Love"? This kind of builds on that concept. Have you read the book "Radical"?  It's going to be my next book when I finish Love and War, but I think it's the same kind of concept. When you think about the the way Americans live, the standards of American society - consistently giving away the excess would truly be radical.

So this is it - my first of what I hope to be a continuous call to Give Away The Excess.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Down to Business

As the new year quickly comes upon us, I am resuming preparations to embark on a grand adventure starting in 2011 - launching my freelancing writing and consulting business, Ink Box, LLC.

I am super excited for this, as I have been wanting to launch my own business for three years now. I am an entrepreneur at heart - even dreaming up new businesses as I write this ;) There's an idea for a new ministry brewing in my mind as well these days! But more about that later.

Even though this is the fulfillment of a dream, I of course have the typical doubts any new entrepreneur would have. I worry about how I'm going to take a daytime meeting while I'm still moonlighting, how I'm going to drive the client relationship once someone wants to work with me, how I'm going to manage my time in order to stay on top of everything, and most importantly - what am I going to wear to networking events?

I am sure these are things many entrepreneurs worry about. I am sure I'm not alone in this. This is not a singular experience. And YOU can be sure that I'll be freely blogging about my experiences here on

Get ready to learn about the entrepreneurial experience from a first hand point of view!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to the Schedule!

Hey ya'll!

I hope you all had the most wonderful Christmas possible. Mine was quite fantastic. It was the first family Christmas I've had in 3 years, even if it wasn't my family by blood. Ever since my parents started going through rough times, I developed the habit of adopting families everywhere I go. It started with a family named the Austins in Virginia, and continues today with the Starkeys, the Aukers, the Semroskas.... :) I truly adore every family and every "parent" that has gone out of their way to make me feel like their own!

But, that's a tangent ;)

Today we continue our exploration of "Love and War," by John and Stasi Eldredge. I haven't listened to much lately, because I took a break to enjoy Christmas music instead. I love Christmas music. It just has a way of feeling so much more magical than regular music... and not just because it coincides with lights shining everywhere and snow on the ground. Well, snow on the ground for the East Coast, maybe. Denver has yet to see any of that =p

Another tangent!

The latest ingredient in the recipe for marital success that John and Stasi Eldredge have concocted through experience and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is a shared adventure. This is a term they use a lot. They believe that it is a part of men and women's DNA - the desire for a shared adventure. They claim that if a husband and wife don't have a shared sense of purpose, a shared mission - something they are working towards together OUTSIDE of raising children and making a happy home, then their marital relationship will suffer.

I find myself agreeing with this. The couples that I have seen partnering together in an endeavor (especially ministry) are also, coincidentally, quite strong couples. Additionally, a man who shares major dreams and goals in common with me is something I strongly desire in a future husband. I want a husband who shares in my mission and my life passions. A husband and wife whose callings complement each other or match, I believe - and so do Stasi and John - have higher chances of marital success.

Just add it to the long and ever growing list of qualities I'm looking for in that lucky man ;) Ok, it's not truly "ever growing." But sometimes I feel that the core items that mean the most to me are quite a few! And I know that God's the only one who can put them all together in one package... that's why God's supposed to be the one to write your love story.

If you're not currently betrothed, and even if you are - I believe you can still let God write your love story into a happy ending.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer - er - Christmas.

It's almost Christmas!
This Christmas season has definitely been an interesting one for me so far. At first, I thought the main issue I would have is the "first Christmas post ex" stuff, but that hasn't been an issue at all. Instead, my health has been the issue at the forefront, and I definitely wasn't expecting that.
I've discussed my health struggles on my blog a bit in previous posts. Basically, I have been getting frequent bouts of fatigue, dizzyness, and have had a nonstop headache (that no med I have tried takes away). These have been affecting me for about two months now, but I am finally getting to my breaking point - the point at which I can't take it anymore and I'm ready to do something about it. I'm not quite sure why I wasn't before - probably because tiredness and headaches don't seem like anything major. Until they bother you for two months!
Currently, I am exploring two possible causes: food allergies, which my dietition roommate specializes in, and type 2 diabetes.
Last spring, I endured two months of chronic dizzyness. At that time, they tested my blood sugar, and it came back a "little high," but that's all they said. It turns out that fatigue and headaches are also symptoms of diabetes. The pieces didn't really click for me until this past Saturday night, when I was at a Christmas party. My roommates and I prayed over ourselves before going to the party, because we all have our food issues - things we're allergic to and shouldn't eat. But, those can be hard to manage at events like Christmas parties. So, we prayed, and I trusted God. Well, since I was trusting, I allowed myself to have some sugar. In retrospect, not such a great idea, but the experience did benefit me later. I had a big sugar cookie, and no more than 5 minutes after finishing it, became dizzy and felt like passing out. I went upstairs and climbed in one of the beds, and I could have slept there all night from that moment on. That's when the connection happened!
So, Christmas parties are dangerous territory for me this year! And that's definitely making this Christmas different. I have been a sugar addict my entire life, and it's one of the hardest things for me to give up. I love my sugar. But it clearly doesn't love me just as much anymore.
I have not enjoyed the decreased functionality I have had to suffer as a result of these food struggles. And speaking from experience, nonstop headaches are NOT conducive to happiness. I'm at the point where I beg God for relief, beg him for a good day. There are days the headache is better than others, but it's still there. This past Sunday, the day after the sugar cookie, my headache went (mostly) away, and I felt the best I had all week - probably two or three weeks. I consider it a miracle of God, because I had a lot of church related events that day that I didn't want to miss (I've missed about every third week of church this fall due to my health). Monday went right back to the same old.
I am trying to modify my food habits and eat as healthfully as I can. I'm working with my dietician (roomie). I'm not perfect, but I'm improving. I'm starting to watch my total carbohydrate intake, since that is what diabetics need to monitor. I might be more in the practice of reading food labels than I ever have been before! And, I do have a doctor's appointment scheduled. However, I have something else that might conflict that day - so prayers that it wouldn't would be greatly appreciated.
I've heard and I've experienced that people don't really like listening to your food/health struggles all the time. I certainly hope I don't talk about it all the time. But the reality is that this is the "major event" in my life right now. I've never experienced long term health struggles before. I love Christmas, I am excited for Christmas, and this year will be wonderful. I've enjoyed all the Christmas parties, of which I've had many more this year than in previous years. But my current state of health has definitely made it harder. I would just love to feel good on Christmas and be able to eat whatever I want. It's Christmas!
Tonight I have another Christmas party that I will be carefully navigating, in terms of food and drinks. I can't withold from the good stuff entirely - this is Christmas and that's part of the enjoyment. If I did, I would only make myself more miserable, emotionally, than my health is already making me. But, I do plan on using caution.
I know I have eaten unhealthfully most of my life, and I look at this as at least a wake up call from God that I need to change my ways. I'm not sure what else God is trying to teach me - although I could list all the lessons one COULD get out of this type of experience, they might not be the ones God specifically has for me, though all probably very worthwhile.
I've had many people reach out to say they are praying for me, and I am so so appreciative. Thank you. It means a lot to me, because of how much this is a burden on me right now. But God has a purpose, and I believe that I will get to the bottom of the issue and start feeling better. Everything will be ok :)
Thanks again, guys. Sorry for the decreased bloggage over the last couple of weeks, but I plan to keep up as much as I can!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Off My Blogging Game!

I have been off my blogging game this week my friends! And after I had made myself so proud by updating almost every day. This week has been kind of a whirlwind. I feel like I've been off my game with everything this week.

On Monday, I had my 90 day review at work. The main problem with my job thusfar has been that I have not had enough to do. Now, I like my downtime at work. Wrong as it may be, I like having the opportunity to accomplish things on my own agenda. I just don't like entire days of nothing to do. As fate would have it, the minute the problem was finally aired into the open, I have had to scrap for downtime. Which, in terms of my job satisfaction, is great. In terms of my life organization, it's terrible!

Top that off with the health struggles I have been having these past few weeks and I feel even more disorganized and not "on top of my life." My health problems have given me daily headaches (whether I'm trying to eat healthy or not), and they have also caused me to sleep in more - meaning my schedule is off, I'm missing my quiet times...

Needless to say, I don't enjoy feeling like I'm not "on top of my life." I'm sure the spiritual lesson, now that I think about it, is that I should let God be on top of my life instead of me having to work so hard to do so.

The other way that this has been affecting me spiritually is that I've been crying out to God for relief from these health struggles, but the reality is that A) I don't know what it is that is bothering me and will not until I do the LEAP test (food allergies and sensitivities) that my roomie specializes in, and B) I need to make big lifestyle changes in the way that I eat if I want to see changes in the way that I feel. And, at 26 years of life, that is very hard because those habits are engrained in me. I eat everything I see that I want. I have no self-restraint. I have been a sugar addict since I was a child. And I'm an emotional eater. When I'm upset, I go for comfort food - which, coincidentally, usually involves sweets.

I told my roomie the other day that I almost went on a Facebook rant about how skinny people have food problems too, so "don't judge us." And it's true. I have had my skinny size commented on my entire life, and it is no less as uncomfortable as having one's obesity commented on. People don't seem to understand that though. They seem to think it doesn't affect us because we are blessed with the gift of slimness. Well, let me state for the record, that is just not true. I have often made note of this to people I trust after having my weight commented on, but it comes to light for me even more now as I struggle with legitimate food and diet related health issues. Skinnyness does not preclude a person from struggling with food.

My food struggles are far from over, but I hope they start to improve soon. I am praying and hoping that I can do the LEAP test as soon as possible and start to get things under control. Then hopefully the headaches, fatigues, and nausea will stop, and I will be able to return to my normal routine.

This is a blessing in the long run. I have long wanted to give up my unhealthy habits... this is just God saying, "It's time."

If you think of me, please pray for me.

Life is not all dandelions and roses, but I am still immensely blessed. It's the trials in life that draw us near to God, keep us humble, and transform us into the people we were meant to be for His glory. I think I'd rather be humbled than spoiled.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Health - You Don't Really Think About It Until You Don't Have It

This year has brought a few really frustrating health issues for me. I'm usually a pretty healthy person, so, now that I think about just how many issues have affected me for more than one week, or somethings more than a month this year, I feel a little stumped. They have really brought me down emotionally. Feeling bad days in a row can really affect you!
First, I struggled with dizzyness for two months. It debilitated me to the point that I needed to lie down at least twice during the middle of the day. Conveniently, I was unemployed during most of that time and had the luxury of being able to do so. By the time I finally had a doctor's appointment with a specialist, it had ended, but it was one of the most frustrating health issues I've ever faced.
Earlier this fall, I struggled with chronic fatigue for at least a month. I was thrilled when I finally found the cause and eliminated it, only to now be struggling with headaches almost daily and a little more fatigue.
All this to say that I feel terrible for the multiple obligations and activities these issues have caused me to miss. We clearly don't truly appreciate our health until we don't have it at 100% for days on end! These struggles have definitely had me crying out to God quite a lot. I'm just holding on and trusting that He will reveal the cause and bring relief in His perfect timing.
Don't take your health for granted, ya'll! If you know there are changes you can and should make to be healthier, I encourage you to make them now, instead of later. We are never promised tomorrow - tomorrow may be too late.

Friday, December 10, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

"To everything, turn, turn, turn."
~ I think it's the beatles, but I have no idea =p

Since my separation, I have been living in pure bliss. Yes, there have been rough times. There have been nightmares about the ex, times of being so broke I couldn't afford food, job hunts, working through issues of living with (beautiful) roommates... it hasn't been perfect, per say. But to me, it's been the happiest time of my life. I have NEVER been happier. I've had miracles happen and dreams come true. I've been given a second chance at the life I've dreamed of. I've made progress on pursuing my career dreams. I've had amazing experiences, I've served in ministry, I've made a boat load of new, wonderful friends... really, I couldn't ask for anything more. Well, ok, I have a wishlist, but it's in progress, and many of those things I could technically live without :)

The point is - I've been HAPPY.

And while I've been living in this bliss, I've thought a lot about how I never want it to end. When you're happy, blissfully happy - especially after a season of deep pain - you give in to all of those niave "Why does there have to be pain and hard times?" thoughts. I've definitely succumbed.

And then this week, I was given a life-changing announcement. One that interrupts my happily unwedded bliss. It's not definite yet... but the implications and possibilities have already hit my heart somewhat hard. These changes will have an emotional toll, but it will also have a financial toll, a stress toll... and I've been freaking out more, I realize now, than I should be.

Because if these changes happen, it will be because they are God's will, not just the person's will. And therefore, I can trust him with the consequences that might have some effects on my own life that I don't like very much at the time. I am having to remind myself that God is in control. That, if this is His will for this person's life, it is His will for MY life too - and He will take care of the consequences. And finally, that all things work together for the good of those that love Him.

I've thought a lot about suffering since I've been back in CO. Actually, moreso just these past few months. Mostly, because I after having gone through much, I was petrified of the thought of going through more (knowing it is inevitable), and was hoping to push it as far away as possible, ward it off. I thought about the two different kinds of suffering - the kind that you inflict on yourself through sin, and the kind that God allows to happen to you through no fault of your own. When the suffering you experience is the latter kind, you can trust God's intentions and trust Him to bring you through it no matter what. You can trust Romans 8:28. When it's the first kind, you need to repent before that is true.

This kind of (possible) change, and any sadness or stress or pain it might cause me, is the latter kind. So I've had to remind myself that I can trust God.

The phrase that God has always whispered in the bad times that I haven't been able to control (the latter kind of suffering or after repentance for the first kind), knowing when I've needed comfort is, "It will be o.k."

And He still whispers that to me now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love and War, Part 5: Agreements and Lies

"Love is not a fight, but it's something worth fighting for."
~ Warren Barfield

John and Stasi Eldredge would wholeheartedly agree with that statment. Although, I'm not sure they'd say it's not a fight: Based on the sound of chapter 5, they make it sound like love is one hell of fight. Excuse my double hockey sticks.

They officially start the discourse on all the ways the devil attacks marriages - but not before letting us know that most Christians are still niave to the fact that our marraiges are constantly under attack. If we're not living in defense mode with our spiritual armor on, we're going to fall for the "boobie traps" as they call them.

It starts with our thoughts, and the agreements we make with the thoughts that the devil feeds us. They told the story of a man getting into his car to leave for work and how even giving into the thought "She is such a nag," was an open doorway into the boobie trap. Giving into those thoughts create cracks, and the cracks create deep fissures.

But they went on to say that the devil doesn't just stop there and reminded us that he comes to "Kill, steal, and destroy." They told stories of a woman who had nightmares everytime her husband wanted to be intimate, and A woman who got a mysterious illness the doctors couldn't figure out everytime her husband traveled.

The summary: we have an enemy, and it is essential to stand against him, unified, if we want to see our marriages survive.

Their recommendation for a happy marriage was this: 1) Each person have a living relationship with the living God. 2) Each person deal with their own personal issues. 3) Stand continuously unified against the attacks of the Enemy. They guaranteed that doing these three things alone would make our marriage a freeing and joyous experience and relationship.

I believe them.

On another note, It made me think about the agreements I myself have made with the devil through my divorce experience. John said he had made the agreement that "it was just too hard." I confess, I've made the same agreement this past year. I agreed that being single is just plain easier. I get to do things my way, all the time, and have no one permanently disturb that. I made the agreement that marriage isn't worth it. That I'm better off alone. That it's only going to hurt me. That a man is only going to hurt me. I made an agreement many years ago that because I hadn't maintained my purity, I am "tainted." I agreed that divorce only made me more tainted. I made the agreement that any man who wants my heart is going to have to climb Mt. Everest to get it. I made an agreement against romantic love.

Those kind of suck, right? lol. I'm really guaranteeing myself some miserable loneliness if I stick to those, lol. Truth is, deep down, I know I want love - a Godly husband and a family. So I will wholeheartedly renounce those agreements. I'm just not ready for love QUITE yet. But I'm thankful for having those agreements pointed out... I really wouldn't want to live with those my whole life!

What agreements have YOU made about love?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love and War - Part 4

It's been a few days since I've continued the "Love and War" series, for a few different reasons. First, I need a mental break. Practically every paragraph or page of the book is chock full of valuable information, and it's hard to wrap my mind around even just 45 minutes of it enough to produce a blog. Also, because I wanted to break to write about some other issues I was thinking about.

However, we are back to Love and War today! Today I finished up chapter 4 and moved on to chapter 5. The main theme was basically "How we can avoid screwing up our marriage by taking care of our personal needs elsewhere," lol.

They said the greatest gift we can give to our spouse is to have a real relationship with God. Through our relationship with Him, we have someone we can always go to for unconditional love, support, comfort, strength, and help. Their message was that this frees up our spouses from having to carry an unnecessary emotional burden - that of being our all in all. No human can ever be your all in all, and it's unfair to expect that of even our spouses.

They also spoke of having activities that you each do apart, either alone or with other friends, as well as the importance of having other friends. They said that no matter what, a wife cannot provide what a guy gets in relationships with other guys, and a husband cannot provide what a woman gets in relationships with other women. This is simply due to the fact that we are wired differently (and if that's news to you, please go read "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus").

This also goes back to the point of working on our own personal issues. A lot of those personal issues that have nothing to do with our spouse result in us expecting things from our spouse that they either A) cannot provide or B) shouldn't have to be responsible for providing.

All in all, I agree on each of those three points. I agree based on my marriage experience, not just in opinion only. This portion of the book started to make me think that maybe with the right formula and fair and realistic expectations, marriage CAN work and be wonderful.

But, I still haven't been full re-won over to the idea just yet ;) All I have to say is that if any man ever wants to marry me in the future, he's going to have to read this book first! And agree with it! In fact, if he just wants to go get mentored by John Eldredge, that would be ok too :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Different Kind of Friendship

This evening has me thinking about friendships, rather than marital relationships. Time to switch up the pace.

I was discouraged by a friend this morning. It put a big downer on my day, which sucked. It made me think of other comments of hers that had discouraged me earlier in the week. I've been praying about it all day, asking God why I was so upset (I felt like I was a little OVER emotional about it), why I am more emotional over issues with some friends and not with others, how it might relate to past wounds caused by people I thought were true friends...

I keep reminding myself that the old adage about not being able to make someone love you is just as true with "just friends" as it is with lovers. Some people just don't love you the way you want them to and you can't make them. You just have to let them go. Some people do genuinely love you, they're just so busy and consumed with other things that they don't stop to think about how their actions are affecting you.

So that fills me with questions.

How and where do you find the kind of friends that go with you through anything and everything - the ones who endure the nitty gritty with you, the ones who endure your bad days just as willingly as the good days? Why are they so rare? How do you cultivate those friendships? What is it about a person that makes a friend WANT to be that kind of friend to them?

It seems to me that more often than not, "friends" just run away when things get too uncomfortable for them. The ones that stay through thick and thin are hard to find.

Also: If I want to be that kind of a friend, what do you do on days like today? Do you forgive and forget - or is that being dishonest? Is forgiving and forgetting really true love if you're not being honest about what hurt you - whether it's over-emotional or not? Do you take the risk that they will reject you if you put your feelings out on the line, or do you just let it go in order to not risk rocking the boat (i.e. the relationship)?

Relationships are complicated, romantic or not.

When I was a little kid (before I was saved), I used to lie ALL the time. I was a terrible kid. I stole cookies, I stole money out of my mother's purse, I snuck clothes my mother wouldn't let me wear to school in my bookbag and changed in the bathroom...and I lied all the time (of course - to avoid getting in trouble - which didn't work anyway!). But I came to a point in my childhood - I believe it was when I was 10 - that I decided lying wasn't worth it, and I stopped. I came to a different point, sometime in my teen or college years, when I decided that honesty was always the best policy - no matter how much it might hurt to hear it sometimes. And I still believe that wholeheartedly. Honesty is the BEST policy.

So, with the risk of hurting feelings or hurting a relationship, I'm going to have to choose honesty anyway. Because a relationship without any honesty isn't a real friendship, anyway. And I WANT the friendship in which we would do anything for each other, sink or swim, do or die - including going through the nitty gritty, enduring the good days and the bad - the days when I'm not the most awesome person and you kinda feel like punching me in the face. Knowing me, I can guarantee there will be some.

And I'm willing to take the risk of being honest in order to find it.

Update: We talked, and it was easy :) She is such a beautiful woman of God. Sweet, sweet soul, that girl. And definitely a true friend :) BUT, I still think those questions are ones worth pondering, and do-or-die friends are always worth it when you find them. I hope you have a do-or-die friend... and if you don't right now, I hope you will have the blessing of one in your lifetime... if not, I hope you meet the best do-or-die friend of all in Heaven.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Perks of a Party of 1

So, I've been writing about my thoughts, feelings, and reflections as I've been reading through "Love and War," John and Stasi Eldredge's latest and greatest. It's been incredibly insightful, and I recommend it to everyone, married or single.

BUT - for as much as I may be trying to work on having a heart that is open to the idea of a new relationship (in the future), I climbed into my bed last night - my incredibly comfortable bed - and thought to myself "I LOVE that this bed only fits one."

I believe that comes from the fact that I'm not just coming out of a marriage, but an abusive one. When the person who is supposed to treat you the best starts to treat you the worst, you begin to appreciate your safety a whole bunch more. So sleeping in a twin bed makes me feel safe. No one else can get in it and violate my safety. My room is MY room... no unwanted visitors! It may sound silly. But it means a whole dang lot to me.

Sometimes, the person you need to look after the most is you.

And I realized after I thought that, that even though I am working on my healing and desire to get to the place where I am able to open my heart again, I am still in a place where I have no desire for that right now - I'm working for it so that it will happen SOMEDAY, not right now. For the first time in my life (since blossoming into a teenager and having those desires for a relationship awakened), I LOVE being single. Might've taken a bad marriage to get here, but I am happy that I'm here! I'm content being single. I LOVE it. There's something about realizing the realities of living with a romantic partner that make you forever grateful for the blessings that come with NOT!

So, cheers to being single - my worth is not defined by being in a relationship, except the one I have with Jesus!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Love and War Part 3: It's Not them... It's Us. Individual Issues Affecting Your Marriage.

Today I finished chapter 3 and began 4 of "Love and War," by John and Stasi Eldredge, about which I am writing this blog series.

Like they had started discussing yesterday, the latter half of chapter three continued to talk about our "way of relating," or "our relating style." They attribute each individual's way of relating as derived from our "life story," our wounds, and our sin. They've also referred to it as our "way of dealing with life."

They gave examples of how a man and woman's individual style of relating is inherently different from one another's (each of ours is somewhat unique), and that these can cause a number of conflicts in a marriage - often conflicts that deep down have nothing to do with the other person or the marriage. Often they are inner conflicts whose roots lie in experiences and wounds from our pasts.

They spoke of how John and Stasi have both sought individual counseling at different times and what a benefit that brought to their marriage. It made me think that if each married individual did that, we'd all be better off! I think the success rates of marriages would go way up! In fact, I am of the opinion that everyone would benefit from some counseling. No one in this world is unwounded. But more than that, I think everyone who hopes or plans to get married someday should seek individual counseling, whether your currently dating the person you hope to marry or still single. Why not work on healing as many of those wounds as possible NOW, instead of waiting for them to blow up into a problem that hurts your marriage down the line? Letting that happen just seems stupid to me. I know I would benefit from further counseling, and after hearing it discussed from John and Stasi's perspective, I fully intend on getting some before I get remarried someday. I mean, after what I've been through with my first husband, my second will be thanking his lucky stars that I was that smart, lol. Which doesn't mean he won't still need to walk with me through different parts of my healing. I think there are still going to be certain things in which he will actually be integral to my healing - like providing a feeling of safety, exercising calm strength, and being a spiritual leader. All of those things will contribute to my healing process, and they're all very high on my list of what I'm looking for in my future hubby.

I think everyone would be wise to seek individual counseling before they get married, especially if they're currently dating the person they think they will marry. Even more so, I think it's doubly wise to get counseling when you're having a marital struggle that is really not about the marriage or your husband, but about you. When God shows you that something you're struggling with is something to do with you and not your husband, it's your responsibility to address that instead of taking it out on him - although he should certainly walk with you through it. A spouse should always be there for you and walk with you through your personal struggles, but they shouldn't have to suffer unfairly because of them.

That was only one half of what they talked about in the portion that I listened to today, but it's so chock full of things to think about that the second half will have to wait!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Love and War - Part 2

Marriage is God's divine conspiracy.

That basically sums up chapter three of "Love and War," By John and Stasi Eldredge. Doesn't quite sound like God to create conspiracys, right? Let's explain.

John and Stasi Eldredge use chapter three to dive deeper into why marriage is so hard. They start by explaining what it is about the other person that absolutely drives them crazy. After hearing the lists from each of them, I wondered how they even live with each other!

They then went on to describe the wounds they each brought with them into their marriage, and how those played out in their first few years of marriage, which led to their first close call with the D word. Stasi felt like nothing she did was good enough, everything was a failure. She would never be able to please John. If she ironed a shirt, he would re-iron it, for example. As I listened to that (I listen to books on mp3, by the way), I thought to myself, with an ache in my heart, "That sounds familiar."

Then John spoke, and he said that the theme of the wounds he brought into the marriage was "abandonment." He said he was almost a "violent" perfectionist. Now, my ex was NOT a perfectionist, but he was violent. And abandonment is DEFINITELY the theme of his wounds. I saw a similarity there. It was a little scary, but I feel like it helped me to understand him a little more, although it makes no excuse for his behavior. I was at least comforted by the fact that someone else has gone through that too (Stasi).

They went on to describe the natural conflict that arises in marriage. First, they noted that the old adage "opposites attract" is absolutely true. The kicker is that God does that on purpose. It is by putting two different people together that He is able to refine us. If we were exactly the same as our spouses, life would be A) boring, and B) too easy. But he puts opposites together purposely to make us more like Him. The spouse he picks for us is the exact person that is best equipped to help us become the person God has planned for us to be, and vice versa.

Part of what makes marriage God's refining process for us is that we all, as individuals, create a way of coping with life that best works for us that is a result of both our wounds and our sin. The problem is that even going into marriage, we never intend to give "our way" up. We all casually say, "Oh, of course I know we'll have to compromise," but when it starts to become uncomfortable, we have a problem with it. So, as part of the refining process that God has created within marriage, he created it to be a dynamic in which we HAVE to give it up if we want to succeed. John and Stasi noted that true love and intimacy is often lost or hidden through refusing to give up "our way." I thought that was a significant point to consider and in my opinion, definitely one of the factors that creates big problems within marriages.

I listen to this book on mp3 for about 30-40 minutes in my car every morning, and that covers about a half to a whole chapter. Regardless of how little that seems to be, I am gaining valuable insight from that mere 40 minutes a day. Each paragraph gives me insight either to my failed marraige, my misconceptions of marriage, or the realities of marraige. In addition, it reveals some of the areas most susceptible to leading to big problems in a marriage and ways to try to avoid them. In 3 chapters, I feel that I'm gaining information that will give my next (and final) marriage much higher chances of success.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Love and War - The Start of a Series?

"It CAN be done."

That's the opening message of John and Stasi Eldredge's latest book, "Love and War." It is largely addressed to those who have been married before or for some time, and it is addressing their skepticism. Their weariness from having tried and reached the point of wanting to give up.

Being a product of divorce and a soon to be divorcee, I have experienced my fair share of skepticism over the institution of marriage - especially within the last year of going through my own divorce. Books like "Love and War" and "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage," by Elizabeth Gilbert (of "Eat Pray Love" fame) appeal to me, because I can relate.

I want to know why we should even attempt marriage if it's so hard and how we can make it work. I want to know why it's worth it. I want to know why I should want to try it again. I want something to make me want it again, because I don't want to remain so scarred and bitter against it. I am starting to slowly soften and warm up to it again. One of the reasons this matters to me is because I feel a conviction in my gut that God doesn't plan for me to remain single for the rest of my life, nor does He want me to WANT to be single for the rest of my life and remain bitter. I truly believe He has a plan for me to get married again (to the right guy) and make a family. So I want to get to the point where I am open to that and have peace with it.

So, I am thinking that I will blog about that journey. My journey of studying the topic of marriage more deeply and how that helps me to become ready to try again.

And we start with "Love and War."

One of the main messages in the early portion of the book emphasises how marriage is a depiction of Christ's relationship with the church. They talk about how much God LOVES marriage. They point out something which many Christians don't necessarily notice - that the Bible begins AND ends with marriage.

It really made me think about how, just like every other aspect of our lives as Christians, life is not about us! So it only makes sense that neither is marriage! It's about God. It's about representing God's love for us, Christ's love for the church. It's about glorifying God. That's the point I really took home: It's not about us.

Yet, that's what most people, even Christians, tend to think - that it's about us and our happiness. That's why, when our happiness within a marriage starts to fade, many are so quick to give up. I've heard a handful of Christians talk about marriage being a representation of Christ's relationship with the church, but I'm not sure of how many actually live that way. And I've never heard of that being on anyone's list of criteria for what they're looking for in a mate - "Is this person the one best suited to represent the kingdom of God with me?" How would our standards and our relationships drastically change, if this truly was how we measured them? How would we handle conflicts in our romantic relationships if we were consciously thinking about how we, as a couple, could best glorify God and represent His kingdom on a daily basis? How would we treat each other differently?

This truly puts an entirely new perspective on my standards for a future husband and my mindset for when I'm evaluating someone against them someday. Something tells me that if more couples operated like this, we'd see a declining rate of divorce in our country.

Until next time - stay tuned :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green, red, and white

Lightbulbs. That's the theme of this post :)

Green, red, and white lightbulbs - ok, so - I'm over it. I LOVE Christmas. I am THAT person that pulls out the decorations and puts on the Christmas music as early as she can. And thanks to consumer America, I'm right in sync with every store and shopping center. After bumming over some difficult memories and feelings that I thought would loom around this Christmas to make it a little difficult, those have left my mind, and I am very much looking forward to the holidays. I will be with people I love and it will be the kind of holiday that I've always wanted. I can't wait. And I can afford to buy people presents this year! Not to mention, I cook now, and food always makes the spirit bright ;) As for Thanksgiving, I am totally psyched for that. Can't wait. Soo glad it's next week! This is going to be a great holiday season.

As for other lightbulbs - well, the lightbulb finally went on with ME! I have written previously about how God worked a series of events that led me on a journey I have been on this fall season in rediscovering my true passions and talents and finally incorporating them into my life. One of them is writing. I have been writing since I was 5. Well, long story short, I am in the process of launching my freelancing business. I'm so close, I can taste it - and that's amazing to me! The lightbulb going on wasn't just in realizing that I had permission to pursue my passions and talents because God gave them to me, but in realizing just how perfect a career in freelancing is for me!

So many things add up to a career in freelancing making sense for me:

- I have wanted to start my own business for three years.
- Um, I majored in journalism =p (A major I ended up having to create myself - showcasing my entrepreneurial spirit!)
- I hate the 9-5
- I hate having to GO to work. I want to stay HOME on snowy days!
- I hate working for other people!
- I desire and cherish being able to make my own schedule
- I am passionate about teens, have always wanted to write for teen magazines, and this allows me to do that.
- This will allow me to write for faith-based publications and organizations, which could lead to the writing/speaking ministry career I dream of.

Basically, a career in freelancing somehow magically puts together all of my dreams, preferences, desires, and goals in ONE. I'm not even quite sure how it all works out that well, but it does!

So, this was one big lightbulb week :) And I am so thankful for lightbulbs!

I have managed to put together all the pieces of the starting-a-business puzzle together in approximately one week - almost less than that. Now I am just waiting until Dec. 1st to determine what my budget will be so that I can afford the incorporation fees. And then I will be in business, baby!

I am so thankful and lucky! YAY :)

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Silver Bells

This past Friday, I had some extra time before I had to tutor. I quickly took advantage of the time to browse all of the new Christmas goodies at the Target around the corner of where I had to be in an hour.

Christmas is my favorite holiday by far. I love the decorations, the food, the music, the spirit of it, the family, the celebrations, and of course, the reason behind it. And Target is one of my favorite stores for buying half of that stuff!

As I was browsing the aisles, I came across a snowman mug that was reminiscent of one I had during my childhood, and then it started - a familiar sadness I have felt around the holidays during recent years.

As a child of divorced parents, the holidays have been discombobulated for some time now. My nuclear family is never all together; in fact, not even a majority of them are. Each member of my nuclear family is often in a different location for the holidays now. And since I have moved far away, I haven't been able to join my family for the holidays going on 3 years in a row. So the holidays bring a sad longing for the family togetherness that is supposed to fill the holidays with joy.

Additionally, this is my first Christmas after spending my last two with my ex-husband. Those were both of the Christmases that I was not able to see my family, and as the joining with my husband was the start of a new family, I worked hard to make those holidays memorable - even sacrificing my father's Christmas gift to put toward my husband's. So, understandably, these holidays are going to be doubly hard.

I am anticipating the difficult moments, but I am also looking forward to this Christmas as a time to start again and make new memories. Thankfully, though it won't be mine, I will have a family with whom to spend the holidays. As I move forward through the holidays this year, I am depending on the Lord to get me through the hard times and praying that it will be His son's birth that gives me the most joy of all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Love Music

Last night was awesome. Wanna know why?

Last night, I picked up a guitar while finally having a productive source to teach me how to play it.

Why is that so important to me?

Because I have wanted to play for YEARS.

Something not many people know about me is that I am incredibly passionate about music. I've been singing since I was around 4 or 5 (with grandpa's homevideos to prove it), but only where and when other people couldn't hear me - church not included, however,I don't belt it out at church like I do in my car, and you can't hear me above the instruments and everyone else anyway =p I wasn't confident in my abilities, I'd had people (my siblings - I'm not sure they truly count) tell me I was bad (though I've had others tell me that I'm good), and I was deathly afraid of being rejected over something I cared so deeply about.

Since about the end of August, I began babysitting for a woman who is a Christian lifecoach. Life coaching is something I'd been wanting to do for a few years, as I've struggled to figure out where I was supposed to be going with my life and career and exactly what God had made me for. So, I asked if we could do a service trade - babysitting for coaching - and she agreed.

Early in the coaching (using a workbook she had written filled with various exercises), I completed an assignment of creating a timeline filled with various experiences and events and also a story of my life 5 years in the future. The timeline made one thing very clear: I had passions and abilities that God had given me for writing and for music that I have not fully developed or even pursued. I was immediately struck with a conviction that this was dishonoring to God. It also made me quite sad that I had neglected things that were so important to me and inherently part of who I am. I had quietly tucked my dreams about singing and songwriting in a "not-doable" folder years ago, and while I definitely wanted writing in general to be part of my career future, I hadn't pursued it like I'd truly wanted to.

Instantly, I felt liberated to pursue these things and to be who I am. And that is exactly what I am doing now. I have purchased tools to assist me in developing a freelancing career as well as a songwriting career, and I am not withholding the truth about myself any longer. I am unashamedly pursuing the things I love no matter what negative things people may say about it. I feel that pursuing the talents, abilities, and passions that God has given us is our duty as children and servants of God, and I intend to do that. Where that will take me and what God's will for using those things entails, I do not know. I only know that I have formulated progressive and realistic goals, and I intend to achieve them.

My passion for music outweighs my desire to be a freelancer, but I desire both. Right now I am concentrating more on my music. But as I pursue it more and more, I am filled with even more satisfaction, excitement, and joy, and I just can't keep it to myself anymore - I LOVE MUSIC.

And as I indulge my true passions and pursue them, I am convinced that pursuing the things that God has put inside of us - our natural talents, abilities, and passions - is what leads us to live fully as ourselves and to glorify God to the best of our abilities - far better than if we lived our entire lives denying those realities.

I also have realized that if I had continued to deny these passions because of sheer doubt, I would have DEFINITELY arrived at the end of my life regretful. I am young, single, childless... besides the bills I'm responsible for, this is the ideal time for me to pursue my dreams, and whether I land a songwriting contract or a full-time career as a freelancer or not, I will be fully satisfied that I lived as fully myself and did my best to achieve my dreams.

And I encourage everyone to do the same :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Delicacies

MMmmmm, fall is HERE!

Some weeks ago now, as I was adjusting to my new responsibilities that the fall season brought, I was anxious that I would be so stressed out and struggling that I would miss the blessings of this season - that I would be unhappy instead of joyful. I am so thankful and give all praise to God that was not the outcome! I have already been SO blessed by this season, and it's not even half over!

Many of you know my heart for youth ministry. I truly feel, and know, that God's calling is for me to minister to hurting teens. Though I felt called to start my own ministry and think that might still be in God's cards for me someday, I wasn't sure what God's will was for me in terms of preparation for that and pursuing that during this new season, as I am so busy with work - two jobs, one full-time and one part-time after my regular job on the weekdays. (Praise God for both, for He is sovereignly providing for my needs!) God had that all taken care of, though. God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve as a youth group at Northern Hills Christian Church - my HUGE blessing of a home church. I am not sure I have ever belonged to a more awesome church! It's everything I was praying for and more. Though I haven't been involved with the youth group and the leadership team very long, God has already blessed me. The leaders are amazing sisters and brothers in Chris, and I immediately fell in love with them and felt like family with them. Youth group itself is so fun, such a throwback to high school which is fun in itself :) I am so thankful that God has called me to ministry in this season, because I felt like I was dying without it! I am so excited to see what He will do, in these children, in me, and through me.

As I have become increasingly busy, I have not had time or desire to cook on the weeknights. Nor, extensively, at any given point in my life. I've had spurts here and there, but they've never lasted long. To my own surprise, the Sundays of this beautiful fall have found me with the desire, the means, and the opportunity to begin cooking more homemade meals. I love the idea of a delicious home-cooked meal on Sunday :) The cooler weather makes me want to cook more than summer or spring do. And roasts are currently my cooking fetish. I have made roasted chicken and roasted pork. Now on to roast beef!

God allowed these two things, cooking and youth group leadership, to coincide this past Sunday in a wonderful way. I had again planned to cook this Sunday and had planned a meal I was excited to try. I wanted to bless a pair of leaders (married) and their family by cooking for them, and instead was blessed with two families! So I ended up getting to host them at my house and cooking for a total of 13 people. This was truly a blessing to me not only because I love to bless other people, but because I have wanted to be able to host my friends at my house for a long time and had never had the friends or the right opportunity! God has not only provided the new friends I prayed for, but the opportunity to bless them and host them in the home I love, and I was so thankful for that. Though it didn't go EXACTLY how I wish it had, it was pretty smooth nonetheless, and I'm glad I got to make their tummies happy!

Now I sit in my living room in front of beautiful fire and a lit candle and wrapped in a cozy blanket in the midst of a quiet house. These are more of the cold-weather blessings that make my heart SO happy. They also give me the rejuvenation I need to endure all the hours I must put in working. I am the queen of "cozy" - I LOVE all the cozy things... candles, fires, good food, blankets... fall leaves, or freshly fallen snow... they are my favorite things! Fall and winter truly are my favorite seasons, and Colorado is my favorite place to enjoy them. I am so thankful and so blessed to live here. This season has filled me with non-stop astoundment at how God has blessed me with the things I have longed for so long and how he has blessed me abundantly after I had been in such a dark place. It amazes me to see the differences in my life now and a year ago. God is SO GOOD.

Often when I think of these blessings and shake my head or smile in amazement and wonderment, I remind myself that this is a mountain top, and the hard times will come. But I know that the blessings God has given me are not only tangible. He has given me increased strength in Him, increased faith in Him, increased family in Christ... I know that the next time the serious trials come, I will be able to stand more strongly against them, thanks to the intangible things He has given me. Praise be to God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Speaking Words of Prophecy


After I finished writing my post from Saturday, October 9th, 2010, I began rereading some of my older posts. First, I found that I had been hearing the same word from God that someone else had heard God say for me in their own prayer time. That was pretty awesome in and of itself. But then, I found something even better :)

I returned to Colorado after leaving my (abusive) husband on January 29th, 2010 (please reference the January blogposts for details on my full story). On February 2nd, I wrote a post that described what I thought the upcoming season was going to hold for me.

I predicted that the upcoming season was going to be a season of listening and waiting. I predicted it was going to be a season of serving. I predicted it was going to be a season of living life to the fullest.

I've never claimed or asserted to have the gift of prophecy, but WHOA - EVERY SINGLE ONE of those predictions came true!

It indeed was a season of waiting and listening. God called me to spend the summer unemployed, and I spent 3 months of joy-filled mornings sitting quietly in the presence of God, listening to anything and everything He had to say and just soaking Him in. There was nothing I loved more than those mornings!

Thanks to being unemployed, I spent the summer serving by keeping the house clean for my roommates and doing the things they weren't able to due to working. I also served by driving my friend and former pastor Josh to either the train or his office every morning. That was a blessed time of fellowship every day that was sure to always wake me up with laughter and put a smile on my face.

Finally, I spent the summer living life to the fullest by serving on the leadership team with Heaven Fest - there is nothing that better qualifies as living life to the fullest than serving with a large team to put on an even larger event for the glory of God - what a rush!

To read that post that was written at least 3 months before that season began and those things came true absolutely BLOWS MY MIND. How amazing is that?! How phenomenal of a blessing is that?! I can't even imagine a blessing like that. I know for sure I'm not worthy! I can't imagine why God would have let me be right! I mean, My mom and I have had that "6th sense" experience on occasion, but that's crazy to me!

All I can say is WOW. And "God - THANK YOU!" Not just because I realized that it was a prediction that God allowed to come true - but that He actually did bless me with those things!! Oh my gosh... I'm just in HUMBLE AWE right now!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Light up the Sky

More than ever before, I have felt the Lord "Light Up The Sky" in my life.

The theme of the song "Light up the Sky" by The Afters is that God will go to any length, and always does, to show us that He is with us and to comfort us when we need Him.

Never before in my life, until my return to Colorado in early 2010, have I felt him "Light up the Sky" in my life every single time I needed him. Every single time I have become discouraged, every single time I have been in pain and tears from the difficult things I've walked through and the wounds that they've caused, every time I was in need - physically, emotionally, or spiritually... I felt God come to my rescue to comfort me, answer me, strengthen me, and provide for me. Every. Single. Time. And it has left me in unending awe, wonder, and amazement.

Today was another one of those days. I was struggling with my emotions regarding a certain situation and person. It has been ongoing for a while. I know the devil is and has been trying to destroy this relationship. He is trying to incite me to anger against this person so that I will not behave in a way that will glorify Him in the circumstances this person and I are in within our relationship at the present time. But still, I could not quite understand why the same feelings about this person and situation would come up over and over again.

So today, instead of just asking God to take it away, I asked Him for understanding. I asked Him to show me why I was having these feelings, where they were coming from. And the answer that I got today was that I still have a lot of open wounds from my ex. And all of a sudden, I felt the darkness from that time come up again. It was enhanced by the fact that I had a reason why I needed to go on a military base today - which was pretty uncomfortable for me in the first place but it also inevitably led to talking about him in order to explain things to the people who were with me.

Later that afternoon, when I had the time to do a quiet time with Jesus, I decided to go to the mall instead.

While I was on my way there I heard God say, "Why aren't you spending time with me? All you have to do is come."

And I realized it was because I didn't want to face the darkness again. I didn't want to go back into it. I didn't want to think about it. Didn't want to walk through it in order to find healing. Didn't want to look at it at all. I realized that I've been avoiding it a little bit since I've been back in Colorado.

On the other hand, while part of it may have been avoidance, I also realize that God has been giving me every ounce of strength that I've needed to get through this time. It's God's strength that's protected me from completely falling apart into a million pieces. It's because of God's strength that I'm no longer in a place where I am so vulnerable that I will give myself away to any man and thus will not get into anymore abusive relationships. I realize that the strength and love of God is what protects me from the hurts of relationships that are not His will for me and from the wounds caused by men who do not live to glorify Him.

Then I heard God speak to me the truth that Jesus is the source of true hope in this life... and that as long as I have him, I never have to walk into that same darkness again. And I will never face any darkness in this world alone.

Right after God finished speaking those words of hope to me, I drove out of the mall parking lot and saw the beautiful sunset...

God wholeheartedly lit up the sky for me tonight, and I am ever so grateful :)

Only in God is true healing found.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Ugly Things

Lately, God has really been bringing to light the amount of negativity that pervades my thinking.

I have struggled with anger for a long time. I’ve had plenty of things happen to me to be angry about. I’ve been mistreated by plenty of people, hurt by the people closest to me, and most recently that included being married to an abusive man. But in the past couple of years or so, I started noticing just HOW angry I became sometimes. It would rise up within me to the point that I could not calm myself down or talk myself out of it. Now, this partly just sounds like I need some therapy, lol. But I feel like God is working these things out in me without a therapist right now – or that God IS my therapist.

I’ve also begun to notice that sometimes when something upsets me and brings me down, I allow that to consume me as well. I become so blue and downtrodden that I again can’t seem to pull myself out of it. I refuse to be cheered up and let it go, even though I try – my mind just goes back to it over and over again.

After realizing these things, I’ve finally begun to realize that these are really, by and large, simply attacks of the devil. He attacks us in our minds by planting thoughts. If he can plant a seed of a thought and make it grow, it can lead to much larger and worse things. One negative thought can lead to another, and before we know it, we can be consistently consumed by negative thinking.

I had thought that my thinking was predominantly negative before, but I stopped seeing it as a big issue lately because I’ve been blessed with such joy and peace bringing circumstances – I didn’t have as much of a reason to be angry or down anymore… but God has been allowing to me to become angry and down lately as a way of reminding me that these issues do still exist and so that together we can uproot them and resolve them so that they are no longer problems that dominate my mind, my relationships, or my life.

I realize now that the answer is not only taking my mind captive, but in rebuking the devil’s attempts to fill my mind with negative thoughts. I need to refuse to believe negative things about events, circumstances, or people. Believe the best in everyone (as the Bible says (which convicted me yesterday) “Live at peace with everyone”).

As God has been bringing these things up, I have been asking Him to “take the ugly out of me.” I’m thankful that He is working these issues out, because I don’t want those ugly things inside of me anymore. It’s not an easy or a pleasant process, but it’s worth it. I’m much happier to be working it out than to be ignorantly or contentedly continuing in those negative ways. Just be warned that when you ask God to do something like that, He answers your prayers! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't Give Your Man Your Leftovers

I have lately been struggling to get over a previous love interest (from before my ex) as well as to break free from some sin related to him. Lately, God has put the following phrase/philosophy in my head concerning this matter:

Don't give your future husband your leftovers.

Your "leftovers" are all the things left after you giving away your body, heart, and soul to other men whom are not the will of God for you - therefore engaging in sin. When you're done, you don't have as many valuables to give to your husband - at least not as freshly new and pure. Yes, God can restore purity, and if you turn away from your sin, God will certainly restore you and restore the value to the things you will one day give to your husband. But every time I am struggling with sin and with my feelings for this gentleman who is not God's will for me, all I hear is, "Don't give your future husband your leftovers." Or GOD, for that matter. When you're engaging in sin in romantic relationships, you're not only giving your future husband less than your best, but God, too.

There is a philosophy/practice/lifestyle within Christianity that advocates purity on a level far more than just saving the act of intercourse for marriage. It practices purity in a way that keeps a person as reserved for their future husband as possible. This translates to not engaging in dating if it's not the will of God, in daydreaming about men, in lusting after men, etc. etc. because it robs your future husband of things that should be meant for him. In essence, every time you spend any amount of energy, whether it be mental, physical, or emotional, on a man that is not God's will for your or that you are not even legitimately dating, you are robbing those things from your future husband and robbing them from your purity - even from God, who should be your first love.

I feel that the words the Lord has been echoing to me reflect that lifestyle. In fact, I have felt God encouraging me to live that lifestyle ever since I separated from my husband. I have spent so many years robbing my future husband of many precious things time and time again that all I want to do is finally do my best to preserve what's left for him as God continues to restore me and the purity I lost.

I feel that this is a valuable message for so many women and girls today. I know from personal experience that giving away your purity just isn't worth it. I'd give anything to go back and preserve my purity for my future husband, but the best I can do is to make the best choices that I can today and preserve what's left. I know God will honor that and restore me, but of course I do still have those regrets. I hope that in spite of those, I can still know the joy of having worked hard to be fully devoted to him long before I met him.

I would also add that even when in a relationship that is God's will for you, you need to preserve your purity up to the point that he IS your legally wedded husband.

Don't give God and your future husband your leftovers!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Answers to Prayer and God's Faithfulness

A week ago or so, I wrote about how difficult this transition into a new season has been for me, more difficult than usual. Since then, God has been faithful to provide the answers and experiences and outlets that I've needed in order to ease the pain and overcome the obstacles.

Shortly after writing that post, God helped me to realize that I hadn't been exercising for the few weeks prior. Praise the Lord he pointed that out to me. I had been exercising (nothing impressive, mind you, but enough to get my heart rate up for a while) more than I had in a long time, but I had never noticed the severe drop in endorphins and its effect on me when I've stopped before. Well, there was definitely a drop this time, that without God's help, I might not have noticed. I'm so thankful that I did. Now I realize how important exercise is, not only for my body, but my mind and emotions as well. I've since reinstituted it into my schedule as much as I can (which still isn't much), but it's helped.

Then, God faithfully began giving me social engagements to attend again. The two weekends leading up to that post had been pretty uneventful, after a summer of "eventful," and that was kind of a letdown for me. These past two weekends have been much more friend and fun-filled, and I'm so grateful for that. Good times with friends is so essential to staying emotionally healthy as well!

Another thing that was affecting me was not having as much time to spend with Jesus within the context of my quiet times. I really go for like 2 hours when I'm uninterrupted and I have plenty of leisure time, so only having like 30-45 minutes a day was really hard for me - it's hard for me to feel like it was "quality time." These past two Sundays I have actually skipped church because it was the only opportunity for me to just sit at home with a quiet house and be with alone with Jesus... but thank goodnes I did. I kind of go insane if I don't have that at least one day a week.

This week God really dealt with me on some sin issues and other issues that had been affecting my relationships with my roommates since I've been back in CO that hadn't been addressed. We'd had a roommate night planned for Sunday night, same day He led me through those things, and praise God, I was able to talk about those things in a really good conversation with my roommates. It was freeing, and I felt so much better. I think those things had been affecting me these past 3-4 weeks as well, and I'm so glad they're out now!

So all in all, God has done a lot of work to help me get through this transition time and resolve all of the issues that were difficult for me. I went to bed last night and woke up this morning totally at peace and content about starting another work week.

The only thing that sucks is that I still have two of them before I get to go visit my mommy!!! It feels like forever! I hope they go by quickly!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A High Note, and a Sort of High Note

Well, let's start with the sort-of high note first:

I have really been struck and burdened by the reality of the "ugly" parts of me - those realities of who I am that are not pretty, that I do not like - I actually hate them. The parts of me that became consistent occurrences somehow that I despise and want to get rid of as soon as possible. It's been sobering. I really do despise them. We all have them, and no one can argue that. But the high note part of it is that I can rejoice that God is shedding light on them and leading me through the journey of eradicating them from my life.

The true high note is that I am sitting here preparing for my meeting this coming Thursday with a ministry professional to discuss the ministry I am working on founding. As I make a list of the issues affecting teens that I hope to reach out to, I am both burdened by them as well as filled with the desire that God has deeply instilled in my heart to minister and bring hope to the teens going through these things.

In short: I'm excited.

This new season of my life got off to a bit of a rocky start, but I am filled with a feeling that the word defining this season of my life is "Journey." It seems as though God is beginning to take me on several different journeys (within my overall life journey) that will be filled with both highs and lows, but at the end will be hugely rewarding and worth the hard work. Of course, all for His glory alone.

Thanks for staying tuned to my journey and supporting me as I seriously pursue launching a ministry that I pray God will use to impact the lives of hundreds... maybe even thousands, someday!

(I dream big!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bowen's Heart

Lately I have been posting a few status updates on Facebook about praying for baby Bowen. Baby Bowen is the newborn son of Matt and Sarah Hammitt. Matt Hammitt is the lead singer of the Christian band Sanctus Real, whose song "Forgiven" is a favorite song of mine and my current ringtone. It reminds me that I am free from all of the shame and guilt of my past because of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins and forgiving me... but that's a whole separate blog post :)

Baby Bowen, when he was still in the womb, was diagnosed with a heart defect. He had to have a risky surgery right after he was born... and sooner that expected (for that condition), he is already stable and doing very well - though he almost died.

I have heard stories about parents whose children were going through a medical crisis before, but I have never been moved as much as I have by this one. I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with the fact that Matt and Sarah were so transparent with their emotions and what they were going through. I have been touched by their strength as a couple and their commitment to each other as well as to their family throughout this struggle.

I think the great suffering that we experience as humans in this world is one of the most beautiful things about life - because I truly believe that without it, there would be no need for or any such thing as redemption or true joy. I am most moved when I see people holding tight together through a struggle and the joy of coming out on the other side. That's why I want to minister to teens going through their struggles - so that they can have the joy of coming out on the other side that is only possible with Jesus.

Matt and Sarah have been blogging about the developments with Bowen and their feelings/experiences on a website they created called "Bowen's Heart." Below is what I found to be a very poignant and beautiful passage from Matt's latest post:

"As I lovingly stared into Bowen’s eyes just before midnight, my face only inches from his chest, I thought, “this love is an awesome mess.” I know I’m not the first person to think or to say something like that. Many great works of art have titles that are reminiscent of those words. I believe it’s because tension is the place where the worst of life and the best of true hope meet to unveil our eyes to God’s artistic work of redemption. What a mighty and creatively loving God we serve. He allows us to know great pain, so that we can know the greater pleasure of trading it in for purpose."

To read more about Bowen's Heart and leave comments of prayer and support, click Here.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Well, I certainly haven't been posting as much as I wanted to lately. These past two weeks have been weeks of adjustments.

I started a new job, which is going well. I have been struggling, however, as I transition into a new season, with finding time for my quiet times with God in order to still get as much time as I need with him. I've also been struggling to define my priorities as I move into a new season of working and seeking to start moving forward on my ministry.

My weekends have ended up being much quieter, however, since Heaven Fest and No Excuses has ended, and that makes me unhappy. I don't like consistently quiet weekends... I like getting out and doing things and having social engagements to attend! So now I feel like I need to seek out more activities and more friends.

I've been adjusting to new terms within a friendship, and navigating those have been a struggle...I'm doing my best. I'm just waiting for a groove to be found and for things to calm down and just get into a consistent and comfortable pattern.

Overall... these have been a hard past two weeks. All the adjustments and things I'm struggling with have translated into me not really being a nice person to live with when I'm home... i.e., my roomies are getting the pleasure of my bad moods when I'm home - or my tiredness and thus me withdrawing quickly to my room. I feel bad about that.

I'm looking forward to, and already enjoying some, of the pleasures that fall brings. I'm thrilled to be enjoying Saints' games all season, thrilled that it's getting cooler, thrilled that cozy fall things like pumpkin spice drinks are back.. excited for sweaters/sweatshirts, hot drinks, fires, blankets... all my favorite fall things. I definitely have great things to look forward to, like finally getting to see my mom for a weekend (it's been more than a year, and usually is between visits). I am looking forward to visiting family for Xmas (that hasn't happened in 2 years). HOPEFULLY also going to a Saints game in person over the holiday.

But still... my heart has definitely been discouraged and suffering through this season transition, and I'm just longing for things to get to a comfortable place and a routine, a groove... so I truly CAN enjoy everything about this season instead of being unhappy the whole time.

Here's hoping, and DEFINITELY praying. God will be faithful to me.

Have a wonderful day, friends.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cupcakes, Sprinkles, and other Happy Things: Tough Topic Tuesday

Dear Friends,

This is one of the most moving, truth-filled, and sobering blog posts I have ever read. These are the people, the youth, that I want to reach. These kids are my heartbeat. This is where I want to go, why I want to do what I want to do. This is my calling, my mission. And Jenny from Addison Road puts it into words so beautifully. I strongly encourage you to read on. I hope it stirs you to move like it does for me. I hope it puts a burden on you to live a life filled with crazy love just like Jesus did. We are all called to live that life, and it's true that it's hard... but like Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost For His Highest for Sept. 2... (paraphrased) "We are not called to live a life filled with blessings. We are called to be holy... are we ready to pour ourselves out for him?"


Cupcakes, Sprinkles, and other Happy Things: Tough Topic Tuesday:
"There is something sobering about meeting students with stories that sound fictional. Their mom’s practice witchcraft and their dad’s and u..."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happiness is Contagious - Pass it On!

Hey guys! How are you this beautiful Tuesday morning? I am WONDERFUL. You know why? Because God is faithful... and he works in mysterious ways.

So I've been spending the last month in a time-crunched job hunt. I'd gone on several interviews that did not lead to a job offer. Then, I was offered a temp position with the possibility of it becoming permanent (pending an interview). It wasn't what I'd truly wanted, but it was a salary - and that's what I needed. So, I put my name in the drawing.

The week prior, I had submitted my resume for a position for which my friend had referred me. This job had more of the qualities I was looking for in a position, and I became really excited about it. Well, I didn't hear back last week about interviewing for it, so I assumed they weren't interested in me any further.

Cut back to this week. I interviewed for the position I'm temping at, and they want to make a decision today. Right after I interviewed with them, I got a call saying the other job - the one I was excited about - wanted to interview me - today (Tuesday). I had that moment of, "Whoa - what do I do?!" I would need the person I was interviewing with for the second job to make a decision asap, or at least give me some assurance one way or the other, in order for me to give job # 1 an answer.

After a little more excitement and nervousness, I ended up being able to interview for the position at exactly the hour I needed to, according to my schedule with the company where I'm temping. The interview went great. I gave him my elevator pitch, spoke about how genuinely interested I was in the job and why I was a great fit for it, and explained my predicament. He joked about how I was putting him on the spot - but then he assured me that he was interested in me for the position. I still have to interview with one other person, but I think it looks good!! This job is a sales job, which I never thought I would do or was interested in, but I think this is what God has for me. The job has the qualities, the growth potential, and the earning potential in which I'm interested. And higher earning potential means more money to put toward the ministry that I am starting soon :)

So, after much excitement and drama, I am declining position number one on faith that God is providing job number two. I am very happy and completely content with my decision, and so happy, content, and thankful with the way things have worked out. God is just so faithful! I thought this position was a no go, and at the last minute God surprises me and gives me an interview. Awesome!!!

In the meantime, I'll be moonlighting on my ministry. Just to put it out there, I am currently looking for web design and administrative volunteers who have a passion for ministering to teens! Preferrably in the Denver area :)

Oh - and just FYI - Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice contributed to my Tuesday morning happiness ;)

My main message and "moral of the story" today is to never underestimate what God will do... and "do not be anxious for anything" (Philippians 4:13). Even when it seems like God might not have your back... He does. And He doesn't forget and ignore your prayers and the desires of your heart :) He is faithful!

Have a GREAT day, everyone.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Yet" by Switchfoot

If it doesn't break, if it doesn't break, if it doesn't break
If it doesn't break your heart, it isn't love
No, if it doesn't break your heart, it's not enough
It's when you're breaking down with your insides coming out
That's when you find out what your heart is made of

The Real Story

'Morning, guys!

So, if you've been following my blog for the last 3-6 months, you've been following really only part of my story - the part that's been happening in this "season" of my life, which is the story about my marriage and divorce, and how that's changed my life for the better. What you DON'T know is the history that led me into that marriage. Now, for the record - I am not claiming that my story is any more dramatic or worse than anyone else's. I know it's not. It's just mine. And I'm giving you the succinct version, not the long drawn out one :)

My story really begins when I was 10 years old. That's when life started become real to me - when the hard things start to hit and you're not just going through your days as an innocent child anymore. My parents separated when I was 10. That was followed by my mom's severe depression and multiple suicide attempts over many years. My dad began a custody battle after the first one and other unhealthy situations arising, which my father won. My siblings and I moved to NY, which at that time was one of the hardest moments of my life. All I remember was looking out the back windshield and crying as we were driving away. Not as many children end up with their fathers in those situations, and I had an insane bond with my mother back then. We're still close now, but it's not the same. Her illness has forced me to keep myself at a healthy distance in order to prevent myself from getting too affected by it so that I could still function healthfully. Even though my mother was still alive, I spent all of my teenage and college years without her playing a pivotal role in my life, simply because of the fact that we were separated. That felt wierd to me, and it was sad.

The first few years after moving to New York were spent enduring some tough adjustments. My dad was a single parent who was working his butt off, and we saw him about 2 hours a night during the weeknights. He tried a couple of nannies, but we were largely independent. When I turned 16, I was responsible for being the family chauffeur in his absense. Turning 16 also marked another significant event in our family timeline. My father met and became remarried to my current stepmother very quickly. At the time, it seemed wonderful. We bought a new car, she redecorated the house, and we got a dog, a step-sister, and a step-grandmother to round out the package.

However, that happy picture quickly turned sour, as it became clear that my stepmother was emotionally abusive. She was mean to all of us (my siblings and I), but for some reason I received the worst of it. She broke me down till I could not have possibly broken any further. Also during high school, both my sister and brother went through times of cutting themselves. All of those experiences culminated in about a decade of painful and dark times for me.

It was during all of these other events transpiring that I began looking to relationships for the love and affirmation I wasn't receiving at home, and I began settling for any relationship that would come along, just to satisfy that need. - which eventually led to me settling for a man that I was never meant to be with, marrying him, and then finding myself in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage.

It was THIS that led me to dream of doing what I plan to do today... which is to carry out the vision God's given me of ministering to youth going through similar and other equally difficult experiences, because the only thing that enabled me to survive the brokenness I felt through that decade was believing that through God, I would find happiness someday.

And that's why my life verse is Psalm 27:13, which in some translations says it the way I felt it: "I would have lost hope if I hadn't believe that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

I'm living to give other teens that exact same hope - because that is what saved me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A New Chapter

Ok Friends, it's here. The first day of a new chapter.

In my last post I stated that I was no longer going to withhold the message that God has put on my heart - the reason He's created me, the purpose He's given me, the calling He's put upon me. Though I have been seriously lagging this week, I am sticking to that!

God even worked in some amazing ways this past weekend to reaffirm my calling, to open my eyes to some things I'd forgotten, and to give me fresh vision.

On Friday, my roommate and I watched the movie "To Save a Life." It is a faith-based movie about a teenage boy whose childhood friend commits suicide. It leads him to become saved and change his life and how he treats people.

It reminded me that my calling and my heart is not solely about talking about purity and relationships. That certainly is one aspect of my testimony and an area that affects teens that I DO want to talk about, but it's not the only one. God reminded me through that movie that my true heart is for ministering to teens who are going through dark times and places in their lives. That darkness could be related to family problems, depression, eating disorders, relationship issues, etc. - all of which I have dealt with in my own life. There are certainly many hard and dark things I have not had to deal with or go through, praise Jesus - but there are quite a handful that I have! My true heart is for sharing with them the one key thing that got me through all those years of darkness and difficult times - My relationship with God. I long to tell them that there is hope in Jesus, and a relationship with Him can bring them out of the darkness.

The second thing that God did this weekend was allowing me to meet a teenage girl at church who is going through her parents' divorce. I didn't get a lot of talk time with her, as she was very quiet, but I at least had the opportunity to give her my email address and phone number and express that I was available if she wanted to talk or hang out. I think it might have scared her a little, but I don't care! I was doing what God put me on this earth to do, and I was grateful for the opportunity, even if nothing ever comes of it. I was being obedient, so it won't be wasted.

Divorce is a special issue to me, because that's when the dark times in my life began. I had a distinct moment when my parents separated when I decided that I wanted to help "other kids like me." And 16 years later, that's what I'm setting out to do with the vision God's given me.

In the past few months, I've shared on my blog the part of my testimony and my life that related to purity and relationships. In the coming days, I'm going to share the rest of my testimony that more aptly relates to the entirety of what God's calling me to do.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tests and Blessings

A little while ago I wrote a post describing some of the difficulties I began going through immediately after Heaven Fest. Isn't that just like Satan to want to shoot us down when we're on a spiritual high? These past two weeks have definitely been a test of faith for me. I have been so broke that I didn't know how I was going to buy food. I have been heart broken that my ex would continue to deliberately hurt me even while being so far away and not immediately in his life anymore, considering all that he's already put me through and done to me. I've been applying for jobs, uncertain of when I am going to once again have a salary that meets my needs and allow me to pay my bills on time (and to catch up on the ones that are now late). I have interviewed for a job I seriously wanted, only to get rejected the next morning.

These two weeks have been HARD.

But God has been steadily providing for me and showering me with blessings along the way, reminding me that He loves me. He once again moved my roommates to help take care of me, which they've graciously done more than once this summer. He provided a single day temp job, money from babysitting.... He blessed me with a freelance writing opportunity that not only provided for my physical needs but blessed me emotionally. He even showed that He cares through the little things - like giving me a grande frapp at Starbucks when I had ordered a tall and lamented over how expensive it was (talls used to be 3-something, now they're 4-something) - on a day when I truly just needed a pick-me-up. Today, he blessed me with the possibility of a long-term temp assignment, which will at least give me some income while I continue looking for a permanent position.

God has been SO faithful to take care of me every day, even while the big questions and big needs are still to be answered. God always gives us enough for the moment. And while I've been doing my best to be strong in the face of adversity, He has seen me and blessed me. How can you not be in love with a God like that?

When I told my mom about the freelance assignment, she said, "Wow, Sara. God is really moving in your life." She was referring to the succession of the opportunities with Heaven Fest and the freelancing. That really encouraged me. I know He is, but it gives me continued hope that He is and that He will continue to give me such amazing opportunities. My life has honestly been better than ever and chock-full of blessings, opportunities, and growth since I separated from my ex, and I have been filled with a new love for life that I didn't have before. I just hope it keeps going in the same direction, you know?

However, I've had some sobering realizations in the past week regarding my blog and even my presence on Facebook. And that is that they are pretty narcissistic! Though my blog talks about God a lot, it serves as an ego boost when people read it. And let's face it, most of the posts are about my life. When it comes to Facebook. I realize that a lot of my posts are just talking about me! Or asking people to pray for me, asking for help in networking for jobs, etc... instead of reaching out to others and giving. That hit home a little bit. It was a little hard to realize, and the truth is I want that to change. There has been a lot of talk about how Facebook is all about our generation's narcissism, but that doesn't have to be the case... we can use it for worthy causes, for ministry, and for glorying God's name. It's all about how you use it.

Let's make it less about our name, and more about HIS.