Monday, April 23, 2012

Yoga- good for the body, great for the spirit

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28 

Yoga has recently become one of my favorite hobbies. If you haven't tried it, I am telling you now - go do it!! You never know, maybe it will change your life the way it changed a few ways. Not only do I leave feeling physically satisfied, but recently, spiritually satisfied. I will be the first to admit, my priorities need some re-arranging. Here lately God has been way too far down on my list of priorities. Tonight, Jessie (my oh so amazing yoga instructor AND best friend) read the verse I have written above.  I have heard this verse a million times, and thought I knew exactly what it meant. But as I laid on my mat, completely exhausted from my workout and thinking of nothing but what mom was making for dinner...I breathed this verse in and it was almost like a lightbulb went off. (Don't you love those moments?!) When I am at the end of my rope, and I feel like one more move (in this setting, yoga pose) will break me, I can literally lay my burdens at the feet of Jesus and He will give me rest. In yoga, a well-known resting pose is known as "child pose." Ironically, you are brought to a position in which one looks as if they are bowing down and praying. As I took this pose, I began to pray and not only was my body stretching and healing, but so was my spirit. I want to thank Jessie for her willingness to share verses and spiritual words in her yoga sessions, because tonight it spoke right to my heart. Before I tried yoga I really thought it was for a bunch of tree-hugging hippies who thought of nature as an actual person....NOT TRUE, AT ALL! Some people go to church to feel spiritually fulfilled, for me, it's a yoga session. Not saying that it's ok that I've been to church once in the last 3 months (like I said, my priorities are real messed up) but I'm saying that we don;t have to find praise, prayer and worship in a building with a steeple. I found it on a monday night, sweating like a pig, face down on a yoga mat. I am so grateful that Jess showed me the similarity in Yoga and God. I am so excited to continue my yoga journey, but even more excited to see what God can reveal to me in these yoga sessions. Please pray for me as I begin to rearrange my priorities and make God number one, instead of number 20-something. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

There is Hope when My Faith Runs Out

God has humbled me tremendously in the last few weeks, I have been pulled to me knees and to the point where I must put my trust completely in Him. I am thankful for these low, dark points because it brings me to a point where I am looking fully into the face of God. I am stripped down to my most vulnerable self and drawn to the light at the end of the tunnel. God has a way of bringing our hearts back to him at just the right time. Granted, we should always be in a constant conversation with God but it's when we are at our darkest point that God shines His brightest down on us. My aunt always said "don't forget about God even when it's sunny and life is perfect," and that is something I have failed in doing. God longs for our attention, love and desire at all times, not just when things are bad. I have really been struggling with this idea of trying to please everyone and low and behold I open my devotional and that is exactly what it talked about...God is funny like that, right? The author described herself as a vending machine, every time someone different came to her she immediately changed to be who that specific person wanted her to be. She could not be more spot on with how I've been feeling lately. For once I just want to be real, and I've been putting on a show to please everyone for too long. I mean to the point where I can no longer tell someone "no," I just keep putting myself in these miserable situations because I am "scared" of making someone mad by telling them "no." I've dug myself into this hole and these people just keep throwing the dirt in on top of me! Well, enough is enough and God says He will give us favor with people if we ask Him to do so AND put our trust in Him. I don't have to beat myself up pleasing everyone, if I just seek God first He will create these wonderful relationships FOR me. I have always been the type of person who doesn't like confrontation, I don't like to feel like someone is mad at me. It bothers me when I cannot make someone happy, or can't make someone appreciate me. Well, I guess I've found the resolution to this problem, all I have to do is ask and trust. In closing, I want to quote my devotion tonight:

" If God can make a river flow in a specific direction, surely He can change someone's heart toward us. We wear ourselves out trying to do what only God can do. "

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Patiently Waiting

The link above is a song that has really meant a lot to me lately. It's called "holding on" by Jamie Grace. Lately, I've really struggled with holding onto what I believe when it's hard to believe; when everything around me is trying to lead me into another direction, away from God. This song gives me so much hope and she has such a beautiful voice, so I hope you guys can receive as much blessing as I have from listening to the words.

As I've already mentioned, it's been a rough couple of weeks so I felt that today was a perfect day to just lay it all out in a blog. Let me just start by saying that as a 22-year-old, single female it's somewhat normal to wonder "where is my soul mate?!" from time to time. However, I feel that this thought has consumed much of my thoughts for the past few weeks. Today I have realized that until I put God at the VERY top of my list of priorities, I will not meet prince charming. Not like God is punishing me, but he is asking me to hold on just a little longer and when I get to the place where I am 100% OK with being alone, then he will send my knight in shining armor. I can remember when I was 16, taking part in a weekend long bible study on making a commitment of purity to God. Without going into detail, I've broken that commitment along this bumpy road called life. But, the wonderful news is, I've been forgiven. In all honesty, I haven't given much thought to that commitment in the last 4 years or so. Well, God really surprised me when I came to the section in my devotional titled "purity of body." Everything I've read and re-learned as a 22-year-old, has taken on a whole new meaning in my life. What I have learned now is that I must not let Satan, the enemy, constantly throw my past in my face at every corner. I have been forgiven, and I must move forward. Having said that, I started writing letters to my future husband today. Many of you may think this is totally ridiculous and don't see how it pertains to me right now, even though I haven't met him. But the way I see it is, the more I think of him and write to him the less my mind is wandering away from who God ultimately has in store for me and I am less likely to stray away from the woman my future husband is praying for. I want to be purified physically, spiritually and emotionally by the time I meet my husband face-to-face. I began praying for him today and praying that God will begin transforming me into the woman He wants me to be so that I may be the closest thing to a perfect wife for my husband someday. One of my favorite verses I've found throughout this study comes from Isaiah: "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" -Isaiah 1:8 Because of this verse, I know there is hope for my future. What a wonderful, restoring day today has been! Dear God, purify my heart, soul and body. Show me how to live in accordance with your perfect will.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Women of God

I have some of the most amazing women of God in my life! Two women of God specifically ministered to me in a great way tonight. I was able to have dinner with my friend Nicole and we talked about some pretty deep stuff, some stuff I've really been dealing with this past week. I had been feeling really down spiritually and wasn't really able to take a lot away from my devotionals because I wasn't focused. I opened up and let Nicole in on what had been going on and she really opened my eyes to a bigger picture, what a blessing it was! Once I left dinner I was able to sit and talk with my Aunt Shebe for awhile about some of these same things. It seemed that I just needed to open up and talk about these things that the devil had really been shoving in my face all week. My aunt listened intently and reminded me that once you ask for forgiveness, it is COMPLETELY forgiven and entirely forgotten by our gracious heavenly Father. I knew these things that these women told me, but I just needed a little reminding and God specifically placed them in my day to speak to me through them.

As I was thinking of these two powerful, Godly women in my life I was thinking about women in the bible who were powerful...isn't it sad that I could only think of two off the top of my head--Mary, Jesus' mother and Esther. Out of nearly 200 men mentioned in the bible, I can recall TWO significant women in the bible. To my wonderful surprise, my devotion was about women of God (there he goes humoring me once again)! As women we are constantly faced with an overwhelming feeling to "measure up." Whether we feel we have to measure up at home, work or school we are faced with the devil saying "you aren't as pretty, skinny, smart, nice, etc." He is constantly on our backs falsely telling us we aren't good enough. The media is always putting this idea in our heads that to be beautiful is to be skinny...and I'm sick of it! God desires that we continue to grow in the truths He would have us believe about ourselves rather than taking cues from the world. In my devotion, she points out that unlike most men in His day, Jesus did not treat women as property. "Jesus placed a high value on the worth of women. He treated all women with respect, from His earthly mother, Mary, to those ostracized by society." We are those women ostracized by society (in some way or another)!! As daughters of our heavenly father He desires us to reject this world that lies to us and to know that He made us in His image, and that image is perfection. I was asked to read John 4 and John 8, one story of Jesus meeting with the woman at the well and the second is the story of the woman caught in adultery. And then, in one simple sentence, God spoke RIGHT TO ME: "He saw them not for what they once were, not as objects to be scorned, but for what they could become--women forgiven for their past and looking forward to a bright future." I am one of these women, I have made my fair share of mistakes and often feel ostracized by society for those mistakes but My Jesus has forgiven me and is revealing a future MUCH brighter than my past! My prayer is this: "God, what do you desire for me as your daughter? How can I use my past, gifts and talents to glorify you?"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Treasure and Pearls

For the past couple of Wednesday nights at church we've been discussing the parables in Matthew, specifically chapter 13. I guess I've always known the parables were there, but wasn't quite sure of how the related to my life here in the 21st century. Well, once again God proves me to be WRONG and showed me EXACTLY how parables relate to my life, and I hope they relate to yours as well. I want to focus on the parables we examined and discussed tonight, "The Parable's of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl" (writing that out it kind of sounds like a Pirates of the Carribean sequel). Anyway, so Matthew 13:44-46 reads:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
Now, when I first read through this I thought, "ok, simple...God wants us to give up everything to follow him." Well, it's soooo much more than that. Pastor May described this first man "stumbling" upon a treasure as a kid on Christmas overly excited about the new toys that he forgets about all the other toys he has- not intentionally or to the point where he has LOST anything but GAINED something better (the new toy). This has been true in my life. (Insert SHORT version of my testimony) I was saved at age 9, on my parents bed with my mom leading me through the prayer. I was baptized shortly after that and thus began my beautiful, Christian journey. Fast forward ten years and I'm in college, about 238923908 miles from God and all His glory. All along thinking, "I really should go to church more, read my bible more, pray more, etc. but do I really want to give up this 'awesome' life I have? The parties, drinks, drugs, friends, etc." See, I felt that in order to BE a Christian, I had to LOSE everything...or in terms of the parable "sell" everything. However, those materialistic things and people were not everything, so it wasn't a great price to pay at all for the greatness of my salvation. This is what I feel a lot of people say when faced with Christianity, "well, I don't want to give up my life." But, someone very close to me once said, "God will change your heart, those things will no longer be the desires of your heart." In the case of the first man, he went in "his JOY" and sold everything, because he had found something of much greater worth. I can definitely relate to this first man in the parable because I know how it feels to JOYFULLY give up things of this world (or desperately try to) in order to gain the ultimate hidden treasure--my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, lets talk about the merchant in verses 45-46. The merchant differs from the first man because he is out "looking" for fine pearls, the first man simply "stumbled upon" the hidden treasure. He was consciously searching for metaphorically "refuge from the darkness," or from material things...which explains why he also "sold everything he had." All in all, we cannot estimate the worth of salvation. But, Jesus gives us these parables to help us understand that we aren't losing anything in following him, but we are gaining everything--eternal life.
My prayer is this: "God, I joyfully rid my life of things of this world so that I may gain everything in you."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Walk By Faith

I understand that it is nearly impossible for someone with vision to pretend that vision is gone. However, have you ever thought about someone who was born without vision? I mean, as much as I try to imagine being without sight, it is still so hard to truly embrace it. They must completely rely on everything/everyone around them to get them safely from point A to point B. This is what's been on my mind- walking by faith. I met with an old friend the other night, and we were discussing what this meant to walk by faith, and not sight. I want to fully rid my relationship with Christ of vision, and replace it simply with faith. Now, the question is how do I do this exactly? Well, God hasn't gotten me that far yet....stay tuned for the answer to that question! However, days like today where I just feel like I'm wandering around the world without a specific purpose I am reminded that I can't always LOOK for God's answers but I must feel them, and have a constant faith that He will answer...someway, somehow. God says, we can move mountains with the amount of faith of a mustard seed.
Which takes me to my next point in today's quiet time, do you know how small a mustard seed is? TINY! Last night in church we discussed the parable of the mustard seed and yeast. (Matthew 13:31-35). Granted, this is a very short parable, but it's packed with a greater meaning. A mustard seed is known for it's ability to start out very small and grow into a plant that reaches 10-15 feet high. In this parable Jesus says, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in it's branches." What I took from this parable is that God's kingdom started out small a million, billion years ago. However, from his 12 disciples he began to build onto this kingdom and today this kingdom stretches all over the world. What does this have to do with being sightless you may ask? If my sight were to be taken from me, I think I would have faith the size of a mustard seed. I would be forced to literally walk by faith, and not by what I could see around me. Even though my faith would start off very small, the more I began to put my faith in those helping around me, the larger my faith would grow (sometimes 10-15 ft high). Along with my actual faith growing, the kingdom of God would grow as well. Now, I'm not sure if today's blog actually makes a lot of sense, but this is what God has placed on my heart to share with you all today.
So, my prayer today is this: God, rid me of my sight (not physically, metaphorically) and show me how to walk by faith alone. Allow me to close my eyes, be still and listen for your voice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

You Are More

I added a link for you guys's a song that I am currently obsessed with. It explains everything I have been feeling for months now. I have a tendency to believing that I have sinned to the point where God could not/would not ever forgive me and erase those sins...but this song reminds me that I'm far from the truth. What a wonderful God we serve! No matter how far away we stray, He is still there with open arms ready to tell you how wonderful, beautiful and pure you are in His eyes. Today while I was driving home, this song came on and tears immediately began to stream down my eyes because I know how unworthy I am of His grace and love...yet He still gives it to me unconditionally every single day. I was in an immediate state of worship and full of the was the best feeling I've had in awhile. 

Something that's really been on my heart is sticking this out. I've been through this before (unfortunately), repenting, worshipping, praying, seeking...and yet I find myself sloowwly but surely being sucked into things of this world. I don't want that this time! I want to come back to the Father, where I was before I became someone I hated. So, I'm asking you guys to pray for me. Pray that God gives me strength and courage every single day to follow Him. I know I'll make mistakes, we aren't perfect though we should aim to be as perfect as Jesus every day...but I have peace because I know God is here to help me in this journey. 

So, like I have been doing in my past posts I'd like to share a little bit about what my devotion was about today. It was called "Do Your Possessions Possess You?" This is something that everyone should be aware of, myself especially. We are on a constant search for the "American Dream;" big house, nice cars, expensive clothes, great jobs, etc. REALITY CHECK- the economy sucks and this will probably never happen to 50% of us. BUT, there's great news...we have a God that has reserved a wonderful mansion for each of His children in heaven. So, although I'm desperately broke here on day I will have that mansion I envy on Lake Norman! :) All joking aside, Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and destroy. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21) It's not wrong to have possessions, but it's wrong to be possessed by allow them to control who you are. For example: I love my cell phone, I generally tend to freak out if it isn't within arms-reach at all times. But, when I read this devotion today I reached over and turned it on silent so I wouldn't be bothered during my quiet time. I think it's really easy to get caught up in technology and the nice things I own, but God calls me to store my treasures in heaven...because nothing on earth will last forever. I feel that sometimes I'm so dependent on my possessions and I have no being crazy about where my phone is. I loved this quote from the devotion today: "Jesus calls us to seek Him and His kingdom first, then He'll take care of the rest." How reassuring is that?! As wonderful as I think my blackberry is now, I'm sure Jesus has a spectacular iphone 20 reserved for me up there. Another bit of scripture that I felt was relevant to this devotion was one we talked about in church last week, Matthew 13. It's the parable of the sower, definitely check it out...I won't ramble on here but I'll make ya curious enough to go read it (: