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! 