Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve :)

Well, I write this post with a smile that has not gone away since it first appeared last night. I can't help it. I can't not smile. My heart overflows and I can hardly believe that this year can get any better.

Why all the happiness? I'll let you figure that out, unless you are one of those people I told last night!

Today is a day of celebration, as well tomorrow. Unfortunately, this time of the year is almost always about the gifts. Don't get me wrong, gifts aren't bad. But sometimes we forget that Christ is the center of the reason for our celebrating. Christ came and lived and died and lives again, all for us. We shouldn't forget that, and yet sometimes we do.

We cave into political pressures, and say, "Happy Holidays." I understand the reasoning behind this, but I also know in my heart that I will say "Merry Christmas" to each and every person who says "Happy Holidays." Because without CHRISTmas, this world would be nothing.

Obviously, Jesus did not come on a cold and snowy night in December. But just because His actual birthday isn't known doesn't mean we all can't agree to celebrate on December 25. It seems like Christmas is the one time of the year that everyone puts their differences aside to visit with family and friends. Christmas is the one time of the year that we can all be of one accord and celebrate God's gift to the world, even if some do not believe.

Maybe some would argue the whole gift-giving. Why give gifts to each other? When the Wise Men found Jesus, they gave Him gifts. Maybe the gift-giving wasn't a big part of Christmas till a couple hundred years ago, but it has become a tradition now.

I think the sad thing is, is when giving gifts becomes something you "just do" because it's Christmas. Giving gifts becomes old, and almost mechanical, boring. Some rush around the stores and try to find the "perfect gift" because that's "what Christmas is all about." In reality, it never started that way. I encourage you to find the reasons behind your gift-giving and get back into the heart of Christmas. :)

Have a great day today! And Merry Christmas to you and yours!

A couple pictures for you all!


My nieces :)
The proposal :) 
And the ring :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Random and Christmas

Sometimes, I get so caught up in wanting that I forget to look around me and pay attention to others. Or I get so caught up in thinking others know what I want that when those same people fail to bring what I thought they knew I wanted, I get upset.

I might not be the only person to be guilty of it, but every time I do this, I'm immediately hit in the face with how selfish I'm being. How inconsiderate I am. How un-Christlike my actions and feelings are. I immediately feel like I should apologize. But some of the time I don't. I know I was wrong. I know what the right thing to do is. I just feel like it's someone else's fault. They weren't listening. They weren't paying attention. They're making excuses like always.

But what I have to remind myself is that no matter what the other person's issue is, my reactions are never right if I get mad, upset or irritated. And these are the reactions that make me realize I need more of God in my life. Some days, I get so busy in the rush of the day that I forget that I haven't spent time with God, or that I have gone through a complete day or two without reading my Bible or speaking to God.

Especially during this season. It's even worse, as we're all consumed with getting the "perfect gift." And advertisements, store offers, store windows, or coupons just shout at us to get the "perfect gift" at 50% off. We rush around, buying this, buying that. And we don't realize that we're completely forgetting the reason for the season.

That might be an oft repeated phrase, but it remains the same. Christmas would not exist if not for Christ's birth more than 2000 years ago. We look past the true story behind "Santa Claus" and just give gifts because that's what Christmas has become.

I'm not saying that giving gifts is bad, but are we giving them for the right reasons? God gave the Ultimate Gift, and yes, we continue to give gifts in that spirit. Or at least we should be....

What are your reasons for gift giving at Christmas? What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Oh, and posted below is a website I found on Nicholas... the person who became "Santa Claus."

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/home/

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Favorite Time of the Year

It finally snowed this weekend. Minnesota will have a white Christmas, and I'll have a knot in my shoulder from shoveling for a couple days.

I love the snow. I always used to say that I wanted to move away from Minnesota, and the cold. It obviously never happened, and now I'm glad I stayed. I'd miss the snow, and as much as I hate to admit it, I'd probably miss the cold as well. Christmas isn't the same without the snow, or the cold in Minnesota.

It's starting to feel like Christmastime. Yes, the stores have had Christmas displays up for at least a month now, and Christmas music was playing right at Thanksgiving time. But for me, the best time of the year is when there's snow on the ground and a chill in the air. As much as I love the sun and being outside during the rest of the year, I definitely look forward to winter. Snowballs, snowmen, writing messages in the snow. Even shoveling. Hot chocolate, curling (and sometimes cuddling) under a warm blanket, watching Christmas movies, decorating the tree, wrapping presents.

No joke. This time of the year is probably my favorite. I get to see how pretty it is when there is freshly fallen snow. I see the sun reflecting off the snow. I see icicles. I see kids sledding. Yes, there are downsides to winter... cars sliding into ditches, accidents happening, maybe even not being ready for the snow and realizing your boots are too small or you don't have the right clothes for the weather. Maybe having to shovel while all your neighbors around you have snowblowers.

I think this time of the year has become even more special to me in the last year. One year ago on Wednesday, my boyfriend became my boyfriend.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. I, along with several other coworkers, were upset with him because he was supposedly moving to Utah. Why Utah? Who knows. At least two of my coworkers expressed themselves at work, but I told him he had to wait till after work. I remember our conversation starting out with how upset I was with him, I told him he couldn't go because I thought of him like an older brother and I just couldn't see him leaving. Somehow in the course of our conversation, the truth came out. It had passed midnight when we were completely honest. He confessed he really really liked me and that I'd be the only reason he'd come back. He told me when he came from from Utah, he wanted to give me roses and take me out to dinner.

At this point, I could not help but smile. I went to sleep with a huge smile on my face. And honestly, I woke up the next morning and the first thing I did was to check to make sure what I thought I'd dreamed was real. All those texts between us were still there and I had to read through all of them just to confirm it. Then I promptly texted him and told him that I thought I'd dreamed it all. His response was, "No, definitely not a dream. It's all real."

I don't know when we decided we were boyfriend/girlfriend. I do know, however, that he let me know that night at work that he really wasn't going to Utah. He was going to Nebraska with our boss. He said he couldn't leave without letting me know. I also know that he talked to my mom after he got back from Nebraska, and asked if he could date me. Which was a more official thing. We texted constantly while he was in Nebraska, and I kept the secret that he hadn't gone to Utah. But I had the hardest time keeping a smile off my face when I heard coworkers talking about how upset they were.

The day he came back, we had a staff party at work. One of my coworkers came to pick me up since I didn't have any other way to get there. The second we walked through the kitchen, I saw him. And I couldn't help but grin. The other servers soon found out that I knew that he hadn't really gone to Utah. But all the while, I just couldn't help but laugh because the bigger thing was that we were dating.

So yes, this time of the year has become my favorite time of the year because of him. I can't help but remember last year. I can't help but remember all that we've done in the last year together. Yes, it's been a bumpy journey with all the drama and maybe a little shine of a new relationship. Even as I look back at the last year of my life, a lot has gone on. And I'm so glad God had His hand in all of it and watched out for us.

I cannot wait to see what is in store my boyfriend and me! A year ago, I wouldn't have imagined that I would  date a coworker. And if you had asked me, I would have told you, absolutely no dating coworkers! But what a difference love makes. I could not imagine not saying yes to dating him. I could not imagine not falling in love with the man. And I not only praise God for the gift of love He sent 2000 years ago, but I also thank Him for the gift of love He sent to me in the last year.

Have a great week!



Monday, December 3, 2012

Our Future.

I've been blessed. By what? Well, let me backtrack a little to explain.

I just spent the last two days with my boyfriend. Yes, this isn't an odd occurrence. We see each other a lot. But what happened was a little change in me. I saw things a little differently the last two days.

Yesterday started out pretty much like any other Sunday. Get ready for church, get my boyfriend from his apartment, go to church. At first, I was a little cranky. Maybe it was lack of food. Maybe it was lack of sleep. Maybe it was just because I'm a girl. But as I listened to the worship music, I felt that all melt away. It came back with full force, as we were going into our life groups. Our life group did things a little different yesterday, and we spent several minutes in prayer. As I sat next to my boyfriend, soaking in the sounds of prayer, I couldn't help but think that this is what I want for my life.

I was still a little cranky, which is kind of how I get when I need food. But instead of eating lunch with my family when we got back to my parents' house, my boyfriend asked if we could go for a walk. In complete honesty, I was irritated with him. I mean, I'd told him I was hungry, and I needed to eat. How dare he ask me to take a walk with him when it was supposed to be lunchtime?! By the end of that walk, I was smiling and giggling, and I had lost all sense of crankiness.

When we ate finally ate lunch, it was just the two of us eating. And again, the thought flew through my head, "This is what I want." We spent the afternoon figuring things out for Christmas stuff. I had gone out on Saturday and gotten a bunch of stuff for Secret Santa for my bank job. And he helped me plan out gifts and what day. Then we watched a movie together. (If you have not seen The Heart of Christmas, I recommend it. It might make you cry, but that's one of the best movies I've seen!)

Today, I got up ssssssuuuuuupppper early, and caught the bus to downtown St Paul with my boyfriend. We had decided to go see if we could find gifts for my family together. And honestly, it was another picture of my future with him. I can't imagine where God is leading us, but as we wandered from store to store at the MOA, I marveled at how far we have come. Again, I couldn't help but think of the future with my boyfriend. For the rest of my life, I want to shop wisely with him for little gifts for our families.

Maybe I'm only 21, and maybe I have my whole life ahead of me to fall more and more in love with this man that God placed in my life. But as he pointed out yesterday, God was moving in this direction FOUR years ago, when our mutual boss asked him to come work for him in Cottage Grove, a place he'd never heard of before. Maybe this wasn't what I had in plan for my life, but for reasons only God knows, I stayed in St Paul Park and got a job at the senior living facility where I met my boyfriend, and the man who I am head over heels in love with.

I can't help but smile, and at the same time tear up as the love for this man overwhelms me. Especially when I see his faith and belief in God. When I hear him pray to our Heavenly Father. When he smiles his silly little smile that makes me grin in return. When he points out that we haven't given up even though people said we'd never last. When he says stupid little things that only I understand and giggle about. When he cares so much about my family. When he gives my little sister a hug. When I see my family interacting with him.

Father God, I never saw this coming. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you for this man. Thank you for blessing me with this love. Help it grow. Help it stay strong. Help us to lean on you.

This post wasn't supposed to be totally about my love. But I can only write what's on my heart, and honestly, my heart is overflowing with love. Maybe you can see that, maybe you can't. I can only hope and pray that each and every person who reads this blog can find the type of love I have found because of God.

Have a good week!


Monday, November 26, 2012

A Little Christmas Letter :)

It's time for Christmas music, right?! This is probably my most favorite time of year. We bring out the tree, turn on the Christmas music, start or finish gift shopping. We wish for snow. We wish for those things we want, maybe even need. We hang the stockings, trim the tree.

And then there's the little things that fill this season. The laughter. The love. The family togetherness. Simply just being together. The delight on each other's face.

This blog will most likely end up being kind of like a Christmas letter. I want to share with you what this last year has brought about for me. And who knows, maybe something new will pop up.

January was pretty uneventful. Nothing really stands out in my mind as a big thing. I worked not too much. My boyfriend and I had just started dating back at the end of December, so I guess January was spent getting to know him more.

February brought around Valentine's Day and more work. I actually spent Valentine's Day at work all day. So my boyfriend and I celebrated Valentine's Day the night before, and oh goodness! Was I surprised at his gifts. I guess I never really thought about how a boyfriend would want to spend Valentine's Day. Also in February, my dad lost sight in his right eye because a blood vessel burst. That was extremely scary for my mom and I. The significance of possibly losing my dad because his blood pressure was so high. My mom and I spent a couple hours crying and praying. And then suddenly, Mom was pretty much rushed to the hospital. Her blood pressure had skyrocketed. All the stress of a high-pressure job and my dad had gotten to her body. Both mom and dad were put on blood pressure medication.

March was pretty quiet. Basketball tournaments for my sister and brother. Medically speaking, my dad was getting injections, and still is, in his right eye to restore the sight. Trying to cut out salt for my dad since sodium can definitely be bad for high blood pressure. We've tried to change his diet, but like everyone constantly told us, we can only cut some things out and hope he gets it as well.

April and May. Oh the stories I could tell. The trips I took to downtown or the MOA with my boyfriend. He took me to Raspberry Island in St Paul and I absolutely loved it. I might not like to be there during the winter, but the day we went was GORGEOUS.

In June, I lost a couple hours at my job. And it prompted a search for a new job. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you're working 18 hours a week and suddenly lose 3 of those hours, you kind of panic. I spent June and the beginning of July applying EVERYWHERE. I had a couple interviews, one at Ruby Tuesday's, the other at Wal-Mart. Then a link for the job at the bank was emailed to me. I applied, had an interview, and was offered the job that same afternoon. I started July 30.

Also in June, I turned 21. No big blow out party. I spent the day with my boyfriend. And it was probably one of the best birthdays I've ever had. We went bowling, did a little shopping at the MOA, finally tackled my fear of the Ferris wheel. Then I opened some presents and had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. My boyfriend also surprised me with a small cake. I actually had tears in my eyes...

July. My boyfriend and I bought a fish, a betta. :) Our pastor of 13 years left to move to Ohio to a "new adventure.", a new church. We celebrated my boyfriend's 26th birthday. Small. Nothing too exciting. But we were together and so I think that's all matters. My family went on vacation towards the middle of July. My mom hadn't wanted to go because my dad had this horrible cough that the doctors thought was pneumonia/bronchitis. The first day they were on vacation, my dad ended up in the ER because he couldn't breathe. Soon they realized he had whooping cough.

August was relatively busy. I spent most of my days working every day, except for Saturdays. I spent time with my family, and I hung out with my boyfriend. Then I started this blog with some of the time I realized I gained because of the different hours I was working. I can't believe it's been three months since I started writing. I may not know what to say every week, but sometimes I'm blessed with words. Also in August, I saw my close friend for the first time in at least a year and a half.

September and October flew by pretty fast. School started again for my siblings, and the first two months after the summer were done. It was shocking for it to suddenly be Halloween! I don't feel like I did too much. I spent some time with my friend and boyfriend. And of course I worked pretty much every day.

November came with some surprising news. The other part-time teller had accepted a full-time job elsewhere in the banking community. Which meant that I was going to take on all her hours after a certain day until we found a new teller. My manager found a new part-time teller pretty quickly, but I still ended up with a bigger workload at the bank, reducing me to virtually nothing at my other job. Tomorrow will be my first day away from the bank in about 3 weeks.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last week, of course. I think we had 17 people in our house, 5 from Kansas, 3 from Wisconsin, 2 from St Paul, and the rest are the ones who live in this house. It's been awhile since we had to extend the family table AND borrow a table and chairs from our church. In November, my church unanimously voted in Pastor Paul and family.

December, of course hasn't started yet. So I have no idea what it will bring. But I am definitely excited for it, and I hope you are as well!

May this find you all well!

 My boyfriend and I, Thanksgiving 2012

Charley :)



 Merry Christmas! (a little early!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving... Thankful For....

We are fast approaching the time of the year for the holiday season. Thanksgiving is THIS Thursday! Soon it will be Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and then the New Year.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I probably say that every year, but every year God blesses me with more than I would have thought I deserved. Isn't God wonderfully amazing to bless us with such gifts?!

First and foremost, I am thankful for God. Without His love and grace, who knows if I'd be the person I am today. He reached His hand out and touched me in ways that I never imagined. And again, He also blesses me daily, although sometimes I question why I have those gifts.

The thing is, I shouldn't just take this time of the year to thank God for all His miracles and love and grace. I should be constantly thanking Him every second of the day. And that's not to say that I am not doing that. But think about this for a second. How often do we just wait till Thanksgiving to thank Him for a handful of gifts He gives us? How often do we wait till Christmas to remember that He gave His son? Are we thanking Him for doing that for us as well? Or is that something that gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and family and turkey and let's not forget Black Friday?

I am thankful for my parents. Although I am 21 years old, my parents have not kicked me out nor do they require me to give them $500+ a month to live in their house and use their wireless internet access or their washing machine and dryer, or even the one shower in the house. They take time out of their busy schedules to drop me off at work, or drop me at my boyfriend's house. They give me love. They give me a chance to see what marriage and family is supposed to look like. Sure, there are times where I wonder why my mom had eight children. But most of the time, I am glad she did. I love you guys!

I'm thankful for all of my siblings. I'm thankful for the friendships I have with them. I'm thankful for the big family. I love that I am so close to most of my siblings. Do I wish I had better contact with a couple of those siblings? Of course. But I know a lot of people around my age envy the closeness, the way all of my family interacts with each other. I'm not saying my siblings and I don't get into fights because fights are what make us, us. We aren't perfect and I thank God for that. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes we don't use that to the best of our abilities. I love all of you!

I am thankful for my boyfriend. He's been such a huge part of my life for the past two years. And he became a bigger part when we started dating a year ago. I never saw our relationship coming. I am thankful for the stability he brings to me. Yes, we have our moments, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Our strengths complement each other's weaknesses. And I love him so so much. We started out just coworkers, became friends, and after months of waiting, he confessed how much he liked me. Here we are a year later. How God works when we stop searching and chasing and doing our own thing. I love you!

I am thankful for my close friend. She has been through so much in her young life, and I can only hope some of the things I say impact her. I can only hope I help her. I am so amazed, again, at how God works. Here I was searching for a good Godly friend, and then through things beyond both of our control, she's closer than she was. I am thankful that I can share my thoughts with her, and fill our conversations with my life experiences, without her getting upset that I'm using my life to help her. She is in my prayers daily, and I can only hope we can maintain our closeness. I love you, dear girl!

And as strange as it sounds, I'm thankful for Pandora and Netflix. If not for Pandora on my iPod, I'd probably drive people crazy with my diverse taste in music. From a group named Escala to The Fray and everything in between, I love my music. If not for Netflix, my family and I wouldn't have a way to watch shows that are either no longer showing on cable. Although even if they were, we wouldn't be able to watch them. I'm honestly thankful for my parents disconnecting the cable. Some of the shows they are putting out now are just... not what I want to see.

I'm thankful for my jobs. They could not be any different, but they could not be any similar. They're fulfilling. And I love seeing a smile on older people's faces. I love being able to recognize bank customers or hear their crazy stories about their weekends. I love making those birthday calls and hearing the surprise in people's voice when they realize someone remembered (haha, thankful for those birthday lists as well!) their birthdays.  I love seeing some familiar customers and chatting with them. I love serving.

I am thankful for my church. This last Sunday, we unanimously voted in a new pastor and his young family. The couple of minutes I spent speaking with the woman, I absolutely loved her. He is a great fit as well. I can not wait to see where God leads us with Pastor Paul as our church's shepherd. We can only begin to wonder  how God will move.

I am thankful for a place to share my thoughts. I am thankful for a place where I can express myself, no matter who reads it or not. I am thankful for freedom, and those who fight day in and day out for us to be able to keep it. I am thankful for those who keep us safe, whether that be our policeman or our military.

I guess my list is a bit longer than I thought, but I have so much to be thankful for! I don't have the time or the patience to sit here much longer, but these few thankful for's only scratch the surface. As we join our families this Thursday to indulge in turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole or whatever you eat for Thanksgiving, rejoice that you have the freedom to do so! Remember those families who are missing a loved one, or remember those who are not able to join their families due to a commitment to keep us safe as we eat and shop on Black Friday!


Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Boston, Colorado, Wherever



"You don't know me, you don't even care, oh yeah,
She said
You don't know me, and you don't wear my chains... oh yeah,

She said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California, I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly him out to Spain...
Oh yeah and I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice... oh yeah."
Augustana "Boston"


This week has got me tired and down. I'm trying to stay positive and smile, and occasionally a coworker will make me giggle over something stupid. But I'll be honest. I'm tired and worn down emotionally. I need time to myself, and I would love to be able to feel better. The last couple days have been a rollercoaster when it comes to my emotions and decisions. 

Because I've been so crazy with my emotions, I decided to leave Facebook. I deactivated my account today, and I don't know if I'll reactivate it. That's one of those things I can do without, I think. Maybe I'll reactivate just to get people's numbers for my phone, and to download my pictures but otherwise I really think I'm done. It's not something I'm interested in anymore. I don't think anyone can persuade me to reactivate it. I'm going to be making some changes in my life, and I really believe this is one of those changes I'm going to make and not change back.

I just want to disappear. Especially these last two weeks. I've been teary-eyed and upset almost every day. Maybe I just have too many hormones racing through my body, maybe I just need to take a break. But my day will come. I'm trying to save up for a trip to see a friend. Hopefully I will be able to after the new year. 

This post might appear to be just complain, complain, complain, and I apologize. That wasn't my intention at all for this post, but I need to clear my head. I think trying to stay positive and smiley and giggly all the time wears me down, and I just need to be sad. So I apologize if this isn't what you expected. This is was you're getting this week, and I can only hope you will continue to read after today.

No matter what I shut down, no matter where I go; no matter who I become, no matter how sad I appear, God is always there. And that is what I hope you take away from this not-so happy post. God is right beside you and always will be. He will always love you, no matter the choices you make. He knows all and will still accept you after silly mistakes.

Footprints in the Sand
 
 
        One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
             Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
                  In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
                       Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
                           other times there were one set of footprints.
 
                                  This bothered me because I noticed
                                that during the low periods of my life,
                             when I was suffering from
                         anguish, sorrow or defeat,
                     I could see only one set of footprints.
 
          So I said to the Lord,
      "You promised me Lord,
         that if I followed you,
             you would walk with me always.
                   But I have noticed that during
                          the most trying periods of my life
                                 there have only been one
                                       set of footprints in the sand.
                                           Why, when I needed you most,
                                          you have not been there for me?"
 
                                 The Lord replied,
                          "The times when you have
                  seen only one set of footprints,
          is when I carried you."
                                                   Mary Stevenson

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Views

It's the night before election day. How in the world the last year or so has passed by so fast, I have no idea. I'm not going to write about voting, or what's being voted on though. All of you have hopefully already made right decisions, based on your own views and not just the views of the world.

The thing is, homosexuality isn't a new issue. It's happened before and it will likely happen again. 

"What has been will be again,  what has been done will be done again;  there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say,  “Look! This is something new.”? It was here already, long ago;  it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them." (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

Let's face it. God's seen it all before. And He's watching it happen again and shaking His head at our silliness. We think we're so clever. We think it's not been done before. We think we're the first to come up with homosexuality. But what most people don't realize is it's all happened before. There are stories in the Bible and it shows that God pretty much shook His head then. 

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

All I can do is pray. And vote for the right way to do things.... God's way of doing things... And we shall see what the outcome is.

But never ever forget! "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a stream of water anywhere he pleases." (Proverbs 21:1)

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Past

I started thinking about my past a couple weeks ago, and I was going to write down some thoughts about it. Today, one of my coworkers and I were talking about the past, and I couldn't help but think that I have come so far in just a year. The girl I was when I graduated from high school is not the young woman I have grown into. 

I remember someone telling me that I was immature the year I turned 19. I can remember my disgust and dislike for that person because how dare they tell me I was immature?! I didn't play stupid twelve year old girl's games. I didn't flirt and giggle and do things immature girls did. I was furious with the person for making me feel stupid, and not good enough to be their friend.

Looking back at that girl, she was immature. That person was right, and their view of me encouraged me to get more serious. Yes, I still giggle and fool around, but that keeps me young. What made me wake up was looking at how I handled my relationships and how I handled myself. I realized I didn't like how I threw around my friends like they were nothing, and how I constantly put myself down. I'm not saying I don't have my moments where I put myself down now, but those moments are few and far between.

I think what the person was getting at was I didn't know where I was going in life, and they did. Why would anyone want to hang around a person who had no idea where her place was in the world, and what her purpose was. Their not-so-nicely-put view of me changed me. I started to take myself more seriously. I cleaned myself up. I found myself in the Word more and more. I sought God's direction. I didn't stop looking  and seeking and asking. 

But then I fell back into the same spot I was in the year I graduated from high school. I got desperate and ran after people who wanted a silly girl in their life. I ran after people who I thought were exactly like me. Directionless, immature, purposeless. They didn't know where they were going, and neither did I. I floundered for almost a year.

I found myself again a year ago. Maybe "found" isn't the right word. But I did lose sight of me for awhile. I lost sight of God. I would never claim to be perfect. In the almost year that I tread water, I made mistakes. I wouldn't say I have regrets about that time anymore, but it might turn out to be a lie. I learned a lot, I took two steps forward and three steps back. I dog paddled and almost drowned in the world and its lies.

I started separating myself from those childish people. I had a moment of clarity and knew I wasn't with the people I needed to be with. I didn't need to be around them. I remembered the words of my friend not that long ago and realized I was sinking back into the girl they knew. 

I won't say it hasn't been a two steps forward, three steps back kind of journey. I haven't completely grown up and lost who I was back in 2009. I try to make awkward conversations with people I knew back then. Sometimes when I talk to them, I think "wow, this person has really changed." But later on, I realize it isn't just them, but me too. There have been different life experiences for both of us, and we won't be who we were when we were seniors in high school. 

I might not be the same way I was in high school, and for that I'm thankful. But sometimes, I close my eyes and think of when I was in high school. Focused on school and not on silly boys or stupid drama. Focused on getting through the school day and not when I could get a break. Focused on excelling in schoolwork and not excelling at getting dozens of friends.

I am thankful, however, that I know that I've come so far since then. I don't want to be that silly girl, the one who felt like one person's rejection was the end of the world. Yes, that person meant a lot to me then, but I've grown because of their criticism. I've learned not to jump at every person's critique of me. I've learned to accept constructive criticism. They may never know that what they said sparked a change in me. But that's okay. They don't need to know. 

I may not know the exact direction in life I'm going, like they did when they were 18, but that's life. Different people, different timing. I never saw myself in customer service when I was 17, but now I can't imagine being anywhere else. I love it. I have a purpose, and that's all I need to know at this point. I have God, and He's the only One who will change my course. I have my close friends, I have my family, I have my boyfriend. And if my purpose and direction changes, God will be directing that change.

We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility.  If it wasn't for tomorrow, how much would we get done today?  Whatever your purpose... embrace it completely.  Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God's wonder.  ~Paul Vitale

Monday, October 22, 2012

Failure and Friends

I have a confession to make. A couple confessions, actually.

I have a very difficult time giving up on my friends. No matter what they've done to me or no matter how they are, I refuse to give up on them. I choose to be their friend, even if they don't want to acknowledge me. 


I wish I could pretend that that doesn't hurt. I struggle with being ignored by my friends, family or anyone close to me. It makes me feel like a huge failure. I feel like I've failed to make a difference in someone's life when I can't get through to a friend. 


I have a hard time with failure as well. In my jobs, in my relationships, in anything I do. I try so hard to not fail. And yet, every time I don't ask questions, or ask for help, someone else sees that as a failure. A failure to reach out. A failure to be right the first time. A failure to do something in a better way.


Sometimes for me, I focus so much on what others see of me. I choose to ignore what I see of myself. I hide behind a pretense of confidence. I hide between a smile that only I know may not be real. I hide behind a cloak of self-control. I have a hard time remembering who I am in God's eyes. 

I sometimes find my worth in my friendships. And when I get hurt or ignored by my friends, I feel like a failure. I feel like an idiot because I failed. Time and time again, whenever this happens, I still continue to try to seek my worth in an unstable relationship.

My friends might mean the world to me, but I honestly have five close friends that I would talk to about things, and only two of those five are even closer. I feel I can confide in those two and not get looked down upon. One of those friends, I've known for several years. I met them at a camp. And I adore them. :) I have my moments where I wonder why we're friends and then there's the aha! moments where I think, "This is why God has placed this person in my life."

I was reminded recently, due to this dear friend of mine, that I am not alone in my feelings. Everyone has their moments of darkness. Everyone has their moments of failures. Everyone has their minutes of success. But in those moments, who do you praise? Who do you run to? Who do you open up to? Who do you laugh with? Who do you cry with?

I was also reminded whose daughter I am. How often I forget! I am the daughter of the greatest Dad out there, the King of the universe. I am a precious jewel in His sight. And whenever I need Him, whether it be 3 am or 6 pm, He is there. Every moment of the day, in my failures, in my successes. In times of joy or sadness. And He has bestowed on me the blessings of some great and wonderful friends. I can only hope and pray that everyone is blessed with a great friend like mine.

Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things.  ~Author Unknown


Friends are those rare people who ask how you are and then wait for the answer.  ~Author Unknown

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Frozen in Time...

No movement, no sounds of your own. You can hear those around you, the sound they make, their movements, but they are faint, as if in the distance. Yet you seem stuck, unmoving. No breath passes through your nose, or your mouth. Is your heart even beating?

You stare into a mirror, gazing, looking. What do you see? Do you see yourself, or do you just stare blankly? The reflection never wavers, never changes. But do you even see what others see in that mirror?

Quietly, a voice speaks to you. You're still frozen, no movement, no sounds, no breath. A warm hand touches you. Can you feel it, or are you simply too frozen?

"My child," the whisper shoots a fire through you, straight to your soul. Do you hear your heart begin to race?

Still staring into the mirror, you begin to blink as life courses through you. The small voice continues to speak to you, opening your eyes to see beyond all you've ever seen. A warmth you've never known before race, pours through your veins like a river. You begin to feel real, alive again.

Slowly, you realize there's life around you. You hear all the sounds as if they were right beside you. You shift your sore body, as if you'd been dead for weeks and now can move again. What woke you from your dreamlike state? What moved you from your cold, hard world?

"My child, you are more. More than you can ever imagine. More than the world lets you believe. More than the mirror shows you. More than you will ever know."

I have my moments where I feel "frozen in time." I feel as if the world is passing me by and I just simply exist as a placeholder. I can gaze and gaze and lose who I am in the mirror, and yet I suddenly wake to who I am in God.

Don't you ever feel worthless. I'm not going to tell you to not feel like you're not really existing. But I will tell you to open your eyes and see what God sees. Never forget that you ARE more.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Excuses, Glory, GOD

Sometimes its hard to want to write a post. Maybe I feel like I'm too tired, or maybe I just don't feel inspired. Maybe I struggle just like everyone else when it comes to writing. Maybe I just got into a fight with a family member or a friend. Maybe I just feel drained because of a friend or family member. Maybe this, maybe that. 

But in the end, all of those are just a bunch of excuses. Just a cop out. I might feel lazy, I might be tired (I've been out of my bed since 5:30 this morning since I had compliance training for my bank job.) I might be sick, I might be lonely. 

Then I look at my reasons to not write until the next day. And I realize, in a small way I'm reaching out to anyone who reads this blog. Maybe you live in Mexico. Maybe you live in Germany. Maybe you live in good ole Minnesota. But wherever you are, I hope I lead to you to think. I hope I inspire you and maybe make you smile. I hope I show you the good side of writing.

I'm not saying I'm perfect. Far from that. I'm not saying I might never complain. I am saying that deep down, I can only picture the outcome of anyone reading this blog. I can only imagine what work God is doing in someone's heart and life through my simple little blog. Maybe I use too many "but's" or "maybe's" or whatever else. Maybe I focus too much on "I." 

I can only close my eyes and pray that God uses silly little me to accomplish big things. I sometimes laugh at how I view life, how I do everything I do. Sometimes, in the midst of my running around in circles, accomplishing everything yet doing nothing, I have random, big thoughts. Most of the time I wish I wrote them down to come back to them and look later, maybe expand on those thoughts, see what God's Word says about them. 

Then I realize, God's thoughts, ways, and everything about Him, are nothing close to my ways or thoughts or anything about me. I might be made in His image, but I struggle to see what He sees. He sees Christ, I see a big mess. He sees beauty, I see ugliness. And I thank Him daily for His constant, unchanging love. 

May we all focus on the positive, and not the negative. Focus on the small miracles every day, not the huge mess this person is making, or that person is making. May we open our eyes and see His glory in everything around us. The changing leaves, the changing seasons, even the chilliness of the days and nights, the heat of the days and nights if you live somewhere warm. May we bless His name, and not view the darkness of the world no matter how much it is thrown in His face. Because in the end, the war is already won, and let me clue you in a little secret. God wins it all.

Have a great week, guys. See you next week with some crazy and random post!

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:8-11

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Surrendering

Surrender: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand; to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another. 

Submission: a bending to the authority or control of another.

Obedience: a bending to the authority or control of another; a readiness or willingness to yield to the wishes of others

Surrender 
BarlowGirl
My hands hold safely to my dreams 
Clutching tightly not one has fallen
So many years I've shaped each one
Reflecting my heart showing who I am
Now you're asking me to show 
What I'm holding oh so tightly
Can't open my hands can't let go
Does it matter?
Should I show you?
Can't you let me go?

Surrender, surrender you whisper gently
You say I will be free
I know but can't you see?
My dreams are me. My dreams are me.

You say you have a plan for me
And that you want the best for my life
Told me the world had yet to see
What you can do with one
That's committed to Your calling
I know of course what I should do
That I can't hold these dreams forever
If I give them now to You
Will You take them away forever?
Or can I dream again?

Just think about this. What are your thoughts? What do you need to surrender to God? What do you need to obey God about? 

I know this post is different. I wasn't sure what to write about, but I was listening to "Surrender" by Barlowgirl so I decided to just go posting the lyrics and definitions... May God lead you in your thoughts!



Monday, September 24, 2012

Honestly, Honesty

Sometimes I wonder if I try too hard to think of something to write for this blog. Maybe I should just let my fingers type and not even think of what I'm saying till later. Maybe, just maybe, God can use my silliness to reach someone, to touch someone's heart, touch their lives.

I haven't been called to write and point out things that I know people in my life need to hear. I've been called to be ready and willing to do whatever God wants me to do. I've been called to love wholeheartedly, no matter who I am loving. I've been called to pray without ceasing. I've been called to serve the Most High God.

I may not be who others think I should be, but I have seen what would happen if I were to be who others think I should be. I've been there. And that's not where or who I want to be. I want to be me. I want to be the person who adores her nieces and nephews, who brags about how athletic her sisters and brothers are, about the talents God has placed in their lives.

I want to be honest, and admit to the world that I fell in love this last year. I'm shy about it, but I no longer just feel it, I know it. It's among the first things I thank God for every morning and every night. The man I fell head over heels for knows it, because I unwittingly let him know. I shared with one of my friends about how deeply I love this man. It was uncontrollable, and I didn't see it coming. I never saw anything about this man coming. He continually surprises me.

I no longer want to be shy about it. I may not know how to express myself sometimes face-to-face, but for whatever reason God decided to bless me with the gift of writing. One of the many things I struggle with is being open. I know my writing can most often be a shield, a guard against those who may potentially hurt me. God's been working on me in that area. He wants me to be open and honest, no matter if I'm speaking face to face, or if I'm writing. And if I open myself up to hurt, then God is right there by me.

Another thing that God has been showing me a lot, is that its never been about being connected on Facebook but connecting with others. It's always been, and always going to be, about connecting with others outside of Facebook. I'm not a shy person, and that's always been evident to my mom. My relationship with God, and my face to face relationships with my friends are something I'm trying to work on. I want to be able to meet my friends' needs, whether or not they know that I'm seeing what they need.

Honestly, I would love to be able to see what God would love for me to be doing for the rest of my life. My desire would be to be able to connect with others on a one-on-one basis. My whole working career, I have been in customer service, and I love connecting with customers like I have been able to. And that is one thing I've always known I love to do. I have a gift when it comes to connecting with certain people. Sometimes I see the fruits of that gift, and other times I never even know about it.

Maybe I'll never know if I'm supposed to head off to college. Maybe I'll be me, the me God wants me to be simply by being open, willing, and available. What if I don't need a college education to see that I should bloom where I am planted?

But for now, I will grow in knowing I have a Heavenly Father who holds me in His hand. I will watch as the love that He has placed in my heart for a young man grow into something marvelous and lasting. And who knows? Maybe, and this is another desire of mine, I will find myself announcing to the world who the young man is.

I only need to keep trusting and praying. And holding onto His strong hands.



Monday, September 17, 2012

The Three D's: Destiny, Determination, and Desire

"Some succeed because they are destined to, others succeed because they are determined to."

Destine. To decree beforehand; predetermine; to designate, assign, or dedicate in advance.

Determination. The act of deciding definitely and firmly; the result of such an act of decision; firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.

Desire. To long or hope for; exhibit or feel desire for; to express a wish for.

I found this quote on the homepage of the site I am required to have up for information at my bank job. It made me think while I was working and during the quiet times. Am I destined to failure or am I destined for success? Am I determined to succeed or am I determined to fail?

That might be a funny question. Of course, you're determined to succeed, you might say. Why would anyone determine to fail? But think about it seriously. How many times have you given up because you're tired of losing or getting hurt? Isn't that determining to fail? Or is it just determining to be done? How many times do you think to yourself, "This isn't worth it?"

Success isn't only in the work realm. It could be in regards to schooling, or relationships. Yes, if you're successful in the work area, you'll have money and maybe a certain authority. Look at the definition of success. It means the result, the outcome, the favorable or desired outcome.

Don't you desire to have the best schooling possible? Or don't you desire to have the best relationship? You have to work at it. You have to DETERMINE to be the best. You have to use your strong desires to attain certain goals. Because like it or not, we all have certain goals we want to get to, we want to fulfill. And we all have a fierce desire to complete most of the goals. 

To be open, one of my goals is to get a car of my own. I can not do that UNLESS I work and work to the best of my abilities to earn enough money to find the best car for me. I am not saying I want a 2013 Ford Mustang. My goal is realistic, as in a car that will run for awhile, a car that won't require tons of repair before I even get to drive it. But also to get to the point where I can have a car of my own, I need to get my license. I'll admit, my desire to get my license wasn't that strong until this last year when I wanted to go places on my own, without depending on others or the bus system, especially since I live in an area where the bus doesn't come or return that often. 

Maybe one of your desires is to be in a relationship. Relationships take work, no matter how long you're together. If your desire is to be in a relationship to simply "be in a relationship," take a second look at that desire. Because I've been there. And as soon as that relationship got rocky, the guy and I both ran. It was an awful relationship, and one I learned a lot from. Maybe I needed that. But I determined after that to not be in a relationship only to have a boyfriend. 

I want us all to be in the place that we are determined to succeed for Christ. Let us be determined to put our desires behind those of God's. Do we ever pause to think, "What are God's desires?" Do you realize that God desires each and every person on this earth to be saved? How do we determine to show those who do not believe that God exists? 
What do you think your destiny is? Are you determined? Use your desires for good... Do you believe in destiny? Don't let your fears determine who you are, instead you decide through  God's eyes who you should be.





Monday, September 10, 2012

Stars and Miracles

"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." Isaiah 40:26

Last night I was lying on my deck and staring up at the night sky. There are so many stars, and I only saw a portion of the sky. Then I remembered this verse. My mom found this verse several years ago, and I cling to it. I have most of it memorized. Don't ask me to quote you the reference because for the life of me, I can never remember the reference. All I know is "He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

It makes me realize I am only one of several "stars" and yet God knows little old me by name, and I'm not missing, I'm not invisible. He sees me. He sees me every time I cry, every time I laugh, every time I fall, every time something happens. He sees. Maybe that could be scary but for me its hugely comforting. I am not alone. EVER. He knows my needs, He knows ME.

Don't ask me why this verse hits me every time I see it, or why I think of it every time I see the stars. Maybe it's simply awe of God. He knows EVERY one of the stars' names. There are billions and billions of stars, and He watches every single one of them. He knows all the constellations. He put them in place. He holds them in place. He brings them out every night and takes them away in the morning.

As I was lying on my deck last night, staring at the sky, I asked myself, "How in the world are there people who don't believe in God?" Look around people! There are little things all around us that speak of His glory. There are the trees. The ones whose leaves turn amazing colors every year without fail. There are the trees that don't change. Or sunrises and sunsets. Why can't people just open their hearts and believe without having to have all this proof of God? I've heard several times that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than in creation. And I have a hard time not believing that.

I guess I just know what I believe and I don't want to be in the place where I don't know what I believe. I am stubborn when it comes to my beliefs. Maybe I don't know why I believe it, but I am working on that part of me. With God's help of course. I just refuse to accept anything other than the truth when it comes to God and His creation.

I have a quote on my bedroom wall, along with a little picture, that says, "God sends miracles everyday. We just have to train our eyes to be aware of them!" The picture alongside is of a small child on a flower watching a ladybug crawl up another flower.... I believe in miracles. They might not be what I expect, or like what was in the Bible. I see miracles every day. I watch the sun set, I see stars pop out. I see newborn babies. I see love. I see faith. I see my dog, little rabbits, squirrels, birds, fish. And I know there are miracles. I am watching, I believe, and I hope I never think I don't see miracles.

"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Being Like Daniel

Our guest pastor today talked about how everything is sacred, everything you do, and everywhere you go. Any honest work is sacred. He based his sermon on Daniel 6:1-9, 19-28. Daniel 6 is the story of Daniel being thrown in the lion's den. Everyone knows this story. But the pastor today pointed out that the people who caused Daniel to be thrown in the den couldn't find anything against Daniel because Daniel was such an honest and exemplary person. There was nothing corrupt or dishonest or deceitful about Daniel because he sought after God. Those who hated him had to make up something. They attacked his faith, because they KNEW Daniel wouldn't alter his life if it went against God. 

I want to be like Daniel. Yes, even to the point of my faith being attacked. I want to seek after God wholeheartedly. I want people to find nothing wrong in me, about me. I want God to shine through. I want to just be His, and His alone.

I know this might take a while, because I know I'm not anywhere close to where Daniel was when he was thrown in the den. I'm not as strong as I would like to be in my faith. I'm not as obvious when it comes to my faith as Daniel was. I sometimes have a hard time opening my Bible, especially if I've had a long week. I might be able to write in my journal but I get distracted. Facebook, my cell phone, my family. Facebook isn't as much of a distraction as it used to be because I've cut it out for most of my day. I'm not trying to see what everyone's status updates are. I'm not constantly checking it.

But my phone and my family are big distractions. I've tried to tune out my family, with music. I think sometimes about getting up earlier to read my Bible and write in my journal, or waiting till later in the day when everyone is in bed. Unfortunately, music tends to block out God. And if I get up earlier, all I can think of is how tired I am. Same for later at night when everyone is in bed. I'm tired, and just want to relax. God still deserves the honor and glory, and no matter how tired I am, I need to remember that.

Which is why I know being like Daniel would be hard. I'm sure Daniel wasn't perfect, and I'm sure it took years for his faith to be what it was. Being pretty much a prisoner in a foreign land must have doubled, tripled his faith, especially when he and only a few other guys stayed true. God blessed their faith, if you read on into Daniel. I want to stay true to my faith even if no one else is standing with me...

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

"What will people think
When they hear that I'm a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it's true 
I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain't no disguising the truth
[There ain't no disguising the truth]
[I don't need to hide it... The truth]" Jesus Freak DCTalk


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breakups, Ben&Jerry's, and Communication

I am currently going through a difficult breakup. We've been "broken up" for almost three weeks, and yet it's hard to get it through my head, and his head, that we are done. I even sent him a link to Taylor Swift's song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." I regret sending that song, even if it is eerily similar to what I was going through with the guy. 

Trying to get by day by day after a breakup like mine isn't easy. I've had at least two pints of Ben&Jerry's ice cream. And I have a pint of Chunky Monkey sitting in the freezer right now. I'm sure I'll eat it soon, before any of my siblings. I can see why people advise eating Ben&Jerry's after a breakup...

Food has never been my escape from reality, has never been something I turn to for happiness. Instead, I always turn to writing. I don't know why I can sit for hours and pour my thoughts out on paper, or even type out my thoughts. Words just come naturally to me. I can sit with a pen and paper in hand and words flow. Most of the time it's just my random thoughts, bouncing all over the place, kind of like they are now.

Sometimes, I know words are my barrier. I hide myself from the world through the written word. They're a natural guard. I know I'm not the only one, but I can get down on myself for not being able to communicate as well as I'd like to. Especially when it comes to various relationships, like the one I just got out of. Communication, or lack thereof, is a big factor in relationships. You actually have to talk, actually have to have conversations instead of just eating meals and watching television together.

I was always told when I was younger and am still often told I have a big mouth. Most people laugh if they ever hear that, since I am a small person. But it's true. I talk a lot. I communicate a lot. It might not be with just my words, but also with my face. My face is pretty expressive even when I try to keep it from showing anything. 

I've been blessed with the gift of words by my Heavenly Father. Maybe that's why it's so easy for me to turn to reading my Bible or to my journal when I need an escape. Some days are harder for me when it comes to reading my Bible or journaling, but I always find myself running to my journal and Bible after a long and stressful day.

Breakups, Ben&Jerry's, and communication. Yes, an odd topic for a first blog post. But that's who I am; random, odd, weird. My thoughts cross, and the natural way they bounce around make sense to me. 

"Good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs. It isn't about slickness. Simple and clear go a long way." ~John Kotter

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9