Discipline to Challenge

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking... but not necessarily the good kind of thinking. Let me try to explain. Do you ever have chunks of time where you feel like all you are doing is worrying or having uneasy, not peaceful thoughts? I don't know about you, but I go through little spurts of this here and there. Usually I can recognize when I am feeling this way by noticing that I am especially anxious for no reason or just being really sensitive. And once I'm aware that this is how I am feeling, then I think it through, allow myself a little bit more slack and a few days later it wears off or something.

As of late, I have been struggling with this type of thinking for more than the typical few days. I have noticed myself being especially worrisome, self-conscious, sensitive, and definitely not confident. This is an uncomfortable phenomenon for me. Yes, these are things that I think everyone deals with daily. But we all have our ways of coping with them and feeling like we can conquer them, do we not? It has been starting to bother me that I feel like I am not reaching that place of peace where I feel like I have control over my thoughts. It makes me feel out of whack, like I'm somewhat of a crazy person.

Last night as I lay awake in bed, I was trying to sort through my thoughts and get to the bottom of this. And I feel there are many contributing factors that have brought me to this place of what I feel is not 'good thinking'.

1. I am not being challenged in my job. Taking a job at a boutique, I knew that it would be completely different from my past experience working as a Ministry Assistant with the college ministry. But what I didn't realize was how much it would affect me. I feel like my brain has slipped into a place of laziness because, well, what's the hardest thing I have to think about at a boutique... hmm what shirt will go with those pants? How can my boss operate that way, what is she thinking? Where should I put these scarves so they will sell faster? Yikes. Coming from a girl who loved developing a study curriculum for college students, and got really energized from writing and delivering a 25 minute message to students- feeling like I was in a place where I was constantly thinking about things that were challenging... this new place is really doing nothing for me.

2. I have not set aside time to do reflective thinking. As you can see based on the last time that I blogged, it has been quite awhile since I felt I had something to say. This is not okay for me. It really helps me to be processing out loud, via type or what-have-you. And to see that I have not done this, shows me that something is off, that I am clearly not myself or that I am disconnected for some reason. I have not given myself the chance, or Challenged myself to think deeper. To make my brain work in a different manner than what I have been doing in my 'working hours.'

3. I have not been digging deeper in my relationship with the Lord. This, above all else, is really what my 'funk' comes down to- I know that. Being in this new place in my career (can I even really call it that at this point??) I have allowed myself to become a lazy thinker. Not being challenged in my job, being pushed to challenge myself- I feel like I have become a more undisciplined person. Life is all about discipline, is it not? Disciplining ourselves to eat right, to work out, to study in school, to be kind to others, to spend time in the word. I'm digressing, but the point is... for me- I have let my disciplines fall to the wayside. I miss studying the word regularly. I miss being in a small group that challenges me, asks me hard questions. I miss reading books that push me to think outside my little box. I miss being self reflective. I miss feeling like I am making practical steps towards being transformed more into Christ's likeness. (Yes I realize God is the one who transforms us, but it takes our personal discipline too.)

What I think this all comes down to is this. I have gotten lazy. I have gotten complacent. I hate that word by the way because what good comes from complacent? I NEED to be CHALLENGED. That means first and foremost I need to really hype myself up, challenge myself to be in the word daily, to set aside time for reflective thinking, and to take a class, read a book, or do a study that is going to help me learn new things about/from the Lord. And secondly, I want to continue to ask myself- what am I doing? or- what can I be doing differently to challenge myself more? Maybe that will mean finding a new job where I am at least encouraged in my discipline of challenging myself.

I think I just figured it out. I think I finally put it to words... Discipline to Challenge. That's kind of an awkward title/phrase/whatever-you-call-it. But stay with me for a second. To challenge means "something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort..." The part that jumps out at me is the beginning - 'something that by its nature or character serves as a call." That's what I feel like I am missing!! I am missing the SOMETHING that is serving as a call for special effort.

As a disciple of Christ, He is the something that serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort. I have been called by Christ to be His follower, to share His love with the world- and it is by His love, it is His nature that "serves as a call", that Challenges me.

Forgive me for blabbing on and on and on. But apparently I've gotten so out of the habit of thinking in this reflective way that it took me this long to realize where I was going with this. But here it is...

1. What I have been missing as of late is the reminder that I am constantly being challenged- that I am constantly being called to put forth special effort by Him to follow Him.
2. I need to be continually finding the other somethings in life that also serve as a call for special effort, that encourage me in my endeavors of the first, most important challenge.

PHEW!  I did it!  Finally feel like I had some "good thinking!!"   

 As I leave you today, I am going to continue to process this realization that I made about myself this morning. I am going to take steps towards drawing nearer to the One who ultimately challenges me, serves as my call. And I am going to work on the practical aspects of my life, that help me build up that discipline to be challenged. May it be finding a different job, getting back into a work-out schedule... whatever it is- I need to make sure that the aspects of my life all come back to the Ultimate Challenge in my life- that is to Follow Christ as He calls me.

Let me leave you with a verse that God put on my heart today.  
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9 (emphasis added)

Taking a breath

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If there's one thing that I learned from my working days since college, it is that taking a breath every once in awhile is so important. In fact it is crucial- to both remaining sane, and giving ourselves the time to think, to reflect, to lament if need be, about where we are in life and what we have to be thankful for. 

Almost a month has gone by since I started my new job at the little boutique- and I feel like now is the first time I have had to just be on my own, have some Mindy time, and breathe. So that is what I am doing today. Yes, I have a list of things that need to get done, and an engagement this evening- but for the next 5 hours I am going to unwind, and think about where my heart's at.

I am definitely a person who highly values balance. Although I don't mind being constantly busy, having lots of fun things to do, with many plans - if I don't have a "down" day or a day to relax in between, then I will go a bit crazy. I feel like life has been like that lately. Just a bit all over the place, especially with me and my husband starting new jobs this month.

Maybe I should start there by saying that we could not be happier that my husband made the move to this new company. I feel like I have not meditated or given God the praise that He so deserves for providing this huge blessing for us. As you may remember, I've posted quite a few laments about his last position. He wasn't getting home until 3 in the morning, we never ate dinner together, he was working weekends, and the list goes on and on. But now it is like a complete turn around. My husband is home by 6:30 or 7:00, they do not email in the evenings, they don't email on the weekends, we have eaten many dinners together, and they even organize fun things like happy hours for their employees. It is in the world of Chris and Mindy- a dream come true.

With that said, I am still adjusting to this new place we are in. I have no complaints, because it is a good place, a wonderful place, a more normal, married couple place. But I am still adjusting.

Part of that adjustment is that I have re-joined the working world as well. To be honest, that is probably more of the adjustment for me. Not that I am having trouble having a desire to work, but I am having trouble balancing it all. Before, I was not working- I did all the housework, cleaned, laundry, dishes, etc. I made dinner here and there but he was hardly home. Now its a completely different picture. I am not home all the time, and he is home a lot more often. So we have started to share the responsibilities. This sounds great doesn't it?! Well for some reason I am having a hard time adjusting to this. I want to be able to cook him meals, to have him come home and smell the delicious concoction I am making in the kitchen. Overall I want to be a good wife. Call me traditionalist, which surprises me actually- but maybe I want to be a bit more of the traditional wife than I realized? That thought is weird for me. (I think I'll come back to that thought in a future post.)

This post is a bit all over the place, perhaps because that is where my mind is today- all over the place. I have a slight problem with over-analyzing everything. I have a hard time not over-thinking things. I think that's why for me, these days of "taking a breather" attempting to not think so much, are SO important to my sanity. With that said, I am having a hard time not over-thinking my new adventure at the boutique. Coming from a job where I worked at a church, in a position where I could really each day connect with my purpose, where I could walk away knowing, okay this is why I am doing this- to care for God's people and to better reach more people.... and now in a position where the purpose is to sell, to make the store look pretty, to encourage people to buy things, to tell customers how fabulous they look in the beautiful coat they are trying on, I am having a harder time connecting with my purpose in life. I know that my role as a follower of Christ, and my purpose in life does not change with me being in a "secular" job now. But it does mean that I have to be a bit more creative in connecting with that purpose each and every day, with being loving when my boss is being oh so critical of the way that I decided to arrange the display or the folded sweaters on the shelf.

This place in life is definitely a new one, and I am intrigued to see what God has in store. So for now, I think my challenge is to continue to trust Him, to continue to lean into Him as the one who knows All- especially when my little brain is trying so hard to figure it all out. So for today, I've done my thinking (as this blog often helps me do) and it is time to unwind, to relax, to breathe- and just simply be thankful for what God has provided for me.

A New Adventure

Monday, October 8, 2012

It has been about two weeks since my last post- and I can't believe how fast that time has gone by. If you recall, my last post was an exciting, joy-filled post about my husband finally being able to relax and enjoy himself because he decided to leave his last crazy job to move onto what we hope will be a better fit for us. These last two weeks have been SO GREAT. My sweet hubby finally had a chance to just RELAX!!! He was able to go shopping for the pants and socks that he really needed. We were able to go on a little trip to Florida (for a friend's wedding) with no concern of being interrupted by his work Blackberry. We made meals together; we made cookies together. He napped during the day! We really got a chance to re-connect and just BE together. It was seriously such a blessing.

As I sit here today in the quiet of our apartment, I must admit that it is quite lonely. Last night as my husband and I wrapped up our Sunday evening in our traditional way- watching Iron Chef on the Food Network, I started to feel a bit teary. Knowing that our special time together was coming to an end, I was reminded of the many times when he would have to leave on a Sunday night. For those of you who don't know- my husband and I endured much of our relationship as a long distance one. (Not just a couple hours, talking mid-west and east coast sort of distance). It felt like one of those sad days where he had to leave me again and it wouldn't be quite awhile until the next time I saw him.

I know that this obviously is not the case. Thanks to getting married, I now live with him and have the pleasure of seeing him everyday. But- with his old job, we were so robbed of the everyday pleasure of spending time together. Although we have hopes that this new position will be 60-70 hours a week versus the 90 he was doing, the fear still creeps in a little bit as I send him off to his new job today. It is hard not to be afraid that what happened in his last position is going to happen again here. But then I need to be reminded of how faithful God has been to us.

I feel a little out of whack as I write this post, as if its been so long since I've found my "blogging voice"- but the point of this post is just to reflect on and be thankful for the blessing of this new adventure that we have been given. The crazy thing, that I have yet to share in this venue, is that I too am starting a new adventure. A short two days after my husband left his previous position to accept a new one, I found myself a fabulous little part time job. I am sure there will be many posts to share about this one. But for now, the basics. I started last working last week at a fabulous little boutique only a few minutes away from where we live. I will have the pleasure of tapping into my love for fashion as I basically act as a personal shopper to any customer who comes in, helping her find some pieces that look great on her. This is SO completely different from my last position working in a church, but I am excited for this change- and I look forward to the fun (and I'm sure some frustrations) that will happen.

Well I must end this post, in a rather unpolished fashion (ick), as I need to go find myself some comfy flats or boots to wear for standing on my feet all day at the new job. Any recommendations for places to find these great shoes, send them my way.

Overall- I am so thankful. So blessed, to the point that I haven't even wrapped my mind around it yet. God is good. If you're in place where you don't feel thankful and blessed, hang in there. Choose to be thankful (even for the little things) - it changes your attitude helping you focus on the things that are good. God is faithful and will bless you in the best way He knows how, in His timing.

A Happy Husband

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I cannot begin to grasp how different the scene at the Larsen home is tonight. I have been lamenting for months about how my husband works a ridiculous job that requires him to be on the job 90-100 hours a week. It has made for a very interesting first year of marriage. After getting seriously screwed by the year end bonus in July, (he basically worked 2 years in a the span of a year and only got paid for a year and a half- yeah... try that out for size) and this past month hours continuing to grow without an end in sight- it was getting to be too much to keep tolerating. As a move of desperation and hopes of a better future and a happier today, my husband decided that it was about time to put his "feelers out" (what a weird phrase) and open his mind to a career change.

Without dragging this story out and telling every detail, I'm going to jump to the exciting conclusion. I can officially say that today my husband accepted a new job!!! We are SO BLESSED... so so Blessed. It's too difficult to even explain the pieces, to tell you the story of how my husband landed this new position. Or maybe it's for another time. But what I can tell you, is that we could not be more excited about this change. Being promised not only an increase in salary, less hours, the same job that he loves- and most importantly being treated with respect are just a few of the aspects that I look forward to for my sweet hubby in this new position. I realize it is still in the crazy field of Investment Banking, and for that reason this will by no means be a 40 hour work week. I understand that he will still work 60-70 hours a week and I am sure that I will again find myself on this page lamenting about feeling lonely or whatever- but of one thing I am most certain... Anything will be better than where he was. I hesitated for a moment there as I typed that last sentence almost in fear that if I say that then all of a sudden we'll find out this new job is worse than the old one. But not only is that just being silly and superstitious, I seriously don't think it's humanly possible. With all that said, I am beyond THRILLED to be able to say Farewell and Good Riddance to my husband's last position.

There are so many things I could say that I look forward to about this new position. But let me take you back to how I started my post and describe to you why tonight has felt so different. Tonight is the first time in months and months and months that my husband seems truly happy. I mean REALLY happy. I'm not saying he hasn't found happiness outside of his position but I'm saying there was always a catch. The buzzing cell phone sitting on the coffee table rudely jousting him out of his relaxed pose on the couch. Another email coming in, needing to be tended to. But tonight- it's just different. Tonight, the cell phone continues to buzz, issues continue to come up in emails, but instead of jumping, he sits relieved. Knowing that it is no longer him who is responsible to manage the page that needs to be adjusted, he sounds happier, he looks happier and he's RELAXING!!!!

I am filled with joy and so so thankful for this next journey we are about to take. I am so thankful for the breath that my husband has been given in between jobs. I am thankful for the smile on my husband's face as he says, "man are we blessed" and "I'm excited about this change babe!" And I am excited that I am able to now look forward to more nights like this; where I get to sit on the couch and write, he can sit on the floor playing his video game and we can just BE together. This is indeed a different scene at the Larsen home on a weeknight, but it is definitely one that I look forward to getting used to.

God is good. He is faithful. He blesses us even when we don't ask for it. He SHOWS US that WE ARE LOVED. All the glory goes to Him.

Chalkboard Frame DIY

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It has been awhile since I have been my crafty wannabe self, but lately I have got the "crafty/re-organizey/wanna make my house cute- bug".  I've been visiting my favorite antique store in the area, looking for inspiration, to vamp up our apartment.  We recently looked at a house, quite randomly, and were seriously considering putting in an offer.  But then we decided that it wasn't for us.  So to get myself over my itch to buy a house, I've decided I need to be a bit more creative and re-decorate a little in here.  First project- Chalkboard Frame.  

I've bought this vintage frame from my fave antique spot and have had it hanging in our bedroom since.    When I decided I wanted a chalkboard in our entryway, I decided that the frame would be perfect for the project.  So I took a little visit to Home Depot, bought some Rustoleum Chalkboard Spray Paint, went to my handy Dad and asked him to cut a piece of wood that would fit in the frame, and away I went.  After several coats of Krylon gray Primer, probably way too many coats of the chalkboard spray paint, and 24 hours of dry time, my chalkboard was ready to use!  I went out and bought myself some chalk and thanks to other DIY blogs, I coated my chalkboard with a layer of chalk, using the side of the chalk, erased it and was ready to go.  *This is an important step that keeps your first use of the chalkboard from being permanent.  If you don't do this it will be really hard to erase the first thing you write on the board.* 

I am really happy with the way it turned out!  Chalkboards are underrated- I can't believe they aren't even used in classrooms anymore.  Oh how things have changed!  

Aren't my parents adorable?
Finished product!
My first attempt at Chalkboard Calligraphy
Chalkboards are a great way to bring personality to your home.  Use it to write love notes to your spouse, keep score of the latest game tournaments, or to channel your inner child and just draw!  There are so many unique ways to use a chalkboard these days, just check out Pinterest and you'll find a ton!  I also saw a really cute idea on sisterssuitcaseblog.com  Check it out- and have fun! 

Wedding Ring: Does it mean anything?

I am not sure where it came from, or when it started, but for the past several years I have had a passion for salsa dancing. Passion is a strong word, I suppose, but let's just say I really enjoy salsa dancing. I went for the first time with my sister and a group of her friends years ago, and had a blast! Sure it is a bit intimidating and you have to be quick on your feet, a quick learner and willing to trip over yourself, your partner, and willing to laugh at yourself a bit. But besides that, it's super great.

Overall, I LOVE dancing. I was always a huge fan of the middle school sock hops, high school dances, prom, homecoming, you name it- I was there. Wedding dances are my favorite! If there is an empty floor and a good DJ, you can always count on this girl to be one of the first ones on the floor. With that said, when I had my first experience with salsa dancing- I fell in love. I love the more organized aspect of it. The idea of having specific steps and dancing because it is a passion is something that I admire in the salsa communities. Now I understand that there are elements "dirty dancing" at a salsa club, but I appreciate that it's not the nasty 'grinding up on each other' sort of dancing. (Which really, is that even dancing?)  With salsa it's more about the dance, the culture of it all... I feel like I'm starting to sound like I'm straight out of Footloose defending dancing or something.

And now, I've gotten quite far away from where I originally meant to go with this post. I'll try to focus and pull it together. Because of this curiosity or intrigue with salsa dancing- I decided to try taking a Salsa dance class. Tonight was the night. I asked a friend to come with me and she was a great sport not having danced salsa before. I've been salsa dancing a few times before, so I caught on pretty quickly. Overall it was a BLAST!! There were about 12 of us there, a pretty good balance of men and women and we all took turns with different partners learning some advanced beginner steps, and then on to an intermediate dance. All in all, it was a great experience. I would definitely go back and do it again.

But then... there was a little part of the evening that tainted my experience. Long story short without explaining everything, one of the men that I danced with later proceeded to ask if I wanted his number. Ugh. Here is where the title of this post should start to make sense. What I don't get is, Does a wedding ring mean NOTHING? You danced with me, you held my hand (because you have to in salsa dancing), I was talking with my hands as I explained I wasn't going to be at the next salsa event tomorrow and yet somehow either you are blind and missed the rock and band on my finger, OR, you are just choosing to ignore it. No- I don't want your number! I'm wearing a ring that means I am MARRIED- off the market! And I know you're not just trying to be my friend.

It both frustrates me and makes me feel sad. Sure, there is an element of every girl, whether you admit it or not, that loves to be admired or wanted. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel nice to know that someone has interest. But does that mean that it is okay for you to be hitting on me when clearly I am wearing a ring on my left hand which has the role of being a physical reminder of the promise that I made to a man who is my HUSBAND? No- in my book that's not okay.

The reason it makes me sad is because it makes me wonder what this world is really coming to. Has our world really become SO corrupted that marriage means nothing? Therefore the physical reminder of the wedding ring on the finger also doesn't give the signal to not hit on me? Sad.

To me, my wedding ring stands for the choice I have made to be in a loving relationship with one man for the rest of my life. That doesn't mean that if you see me without him by my side, then I'm fair game. It means, if you want to admire me, tell me that I'm hot or whatever the heck you want- then fine-  go for it (like I said, I'm a girl, we all like it)! Go ahead and tell me my husband is a lucky man, or something!  I won't get mad at you for that.  But then cut it off there, don't hit on me.  Then I can walk away having respect for you because you respected the fact that I'm a married woman.

Point is- if you're single and you see that someone is wearing a wedding ring, or engagement ring, BE RESPECTFUL! Have the common courtesy to stick to the friend zone, just chat, whatever!! Don't be the fool who hits on a married woman.

Marriage should mean something these days. It does to me.

Careful Love

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today I am hung up yet again on a verse from Joshua.  Today the verse is Joshua 23:11, but to set up 11, I will share 10 too.  
One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised.  So be very careful to love the Lord your God.
It's that last part, verse 11, So be very careful to love the Lord your God,  that gets me.  What an interesting concept... being "careful to love".  When I think I love, I don't really think of something that is careful.  In the movies, all you see is crazy love.  The love that causes you to chase someone down in the airport to simply say I love you.  The love where two strangers meet and instantly sparks fly and a lifelong bond is formed.  The love that destroys marriages because two people figure out they were "destined" to be with someone else.  The crazy, irrational love where two estranged lovers run into each others arms to be caught up in a passionate embrace.  But is this really what love looks like?  Most often, no.  

It seems so strange to read the words be very careful to love, and yet the more I think about it- it's quite a wise instruction.  In fact, shouldn't we be way more careful in the way we love than crazy?  Sure it's great to do crazy things every once in awhile as a result of love for someone.  Like a spontaneous trip or silly love notes or a surprise visit. But overall, if I had to choose between a crazy love and a careful love- by all means, I would choose careful.  

Think about that for a minute.  A careful love.  What does that look like?  In my mind, that would be a love that is very thought out, well nurtured, well cared for, and never forgotten.  Being in my first year of marriage, I have learned quite well that it is SO important to care for your love.  It is so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life, the busyness of work schedules and lose sight of the great love that you have for each other because you are just too busy.  That is not a careful love.  

When Joshua says these words, he is basically on his deathbed saying his final words to the Israelites.  He is reminding them of the great things that God has done for them, that He continues to fight for them, and he is warning/urging them to "be very careful to love the Lord your God."  The Israelites have a bad track record for getting distracted by other idols and desires, so this reminder is quite important.  Joshua wants to encourage them to nurture their love for God, to truly follow Him, being ever so careful to not let their love be swayed toward another.

What a great reminder and challenge.  Be very careful to love.  I want to be careful to love.  I want my love for others in my life to be well thought out, to be intentional, to be a caring, nurtured love that I am an active participant in protecting.  And even more so, I want to very carefully love the Lord my God.  In this world we live in, every day is a struggle between what is good and what is evil.  I wish it did not have to be that way, but it is.  It is a struggle to stay grounded, to be continually focusing on the Lord in every single moment, to be a solid example of Jesus.  I like the words Joshua says "be very careful to love..."  To me, it is a good reminder that loving God with our lives is not easy, it is something that takes a lot of care, a lot of thought, and a lot of intentionality. There will be things that are going to try to distract us, take our focus off of our love for Him.  The evil one is a sneaky little bugger and we need to be oh so careful not to let him take hold of our lives in any way.  

Careful love. This is something I'd like to think more about. 

But for now, I will take Joshua's words to heart.  I will challenge myself to Be very careful to love the Lord my God; to protect my love for Him, and do whatever I can to keep from being distracted or swayed by the idols of this world.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sitting here at my breakfast table enjoying a late breakfast, doing some reading in my Bible, I have gotten hung up on a verse.  After finishing reading Deuteronomy with my friend, I moved right on to reading Joshua.  Here's the verse that I've been thinking about.
Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.  Joshua 21:45
 I've been thinking a lot lately about God's faithfulness.  About how He is always faithful, never fails, always follows through.  This verse came as a reminder of that faithfulness to me today.  And yet it also came as a challenge.  

It's crazy to think that God keeps ALL of His promises isn't it?  But the question that really has my brain cranking today is the question of- what promises has God made to me that I don't even think about or realize?  I think so often it's easy to get caught up in our human desires, thinking about what we want and how God should be faithful to us by blessing those desires.  But that's where we have it all backwards. It's not about us and what we want Him to be faithful to us about- or what promises we want Him to make to us.  It's about us realizing the awesome promises that God has already made to us in His Word- and thinking about how they impact the way we live our lives.  

When God makes a promise He NEVER backs out, He Always fulfills it.  I love that last line of Joshua 21:45 - Every one was fulfilled.  Every single one of the promises God made to the house of Israel was fulfilled.  In the context of what's happening, Joshua is referring to the promises God made to the tribes of Israel regarding the land they are to inherit.  It's awesome to think that God is in the little things like where people are going to live.  

I think maybe the reason this verse spoke to me is because I need this reminder that God is faithful in all His promises, that every one is fulfilled.  The promise that keeps coming to my mind today is the simple promise Jesus made- "Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age."  I am not exactly sure why that is the one that comes to mind, but I am so thankful that I know with great certainty that God is going to stay true to that promise and be with me, in the thick and thin, every single day no matter what is going on in my life.  

As I continue to dwell on this verse, I want to challenge myself to think of the other promises that God reveals to us in His word.  They are such good reminders and great revelations of what the character of God is like.  If you happen to stumble across my page and have a favorite promise of God that you cling to or that encourages you, please post it in a comment.  I'd love to see how others are encouraged by God's faithfulness too.  

Until then- have a great day and remember that Every one of God's promises is fulfilled.  

My Olympic Obsession

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hi. My name is Mindy, and I am an Olympic-aholic. 

For weeks I have been looking forward to seeing those rings on NBC and hearing the "Dum dum da dum dum dum da dum dum dum dum"(if you can't hear the song when you read those words, you need to watch some Olympic coverage). In order to prepare for and build my own excitement for the opening ceremony I painted my nails to start getting in the Olympic spirit.

Finally, the big day rolled around and I decided to dress accordingly for the opening ceremony; ready to cheer on my country. 

My sister made me pose for a pic saying,
"I need to capture this.  My sister in full swing.  Yup that's my sister".
She gets quite a kick out of my style sometimes.

Now that the opening ceremony is over and the events have begun, I'm not going to lie- I'm kind of like a kid in the candy store when the Olympics are on.  I get all sorts of excited at the idea of watching all the different events.  I was pretty excited today because I was able to bring a portable tv for my desk to watch the Olympics while at work.  No complaints here.  

I am not sure when it all began, but I definitely have an addiction to the Olympics. There's something extremely beautiful about watching the world come together in one place, even if it is to compete against each other in athletic events. Besides my love for sports, especially volleyball, maybe underneath it all it's the idea of a sample of all of God's people coming together in a peaceful manner. While watching the opening ceremony my sister commented, "I bet God loves the Olympics... I bet He's proud." Well wouldn't he be? I mean sure, competing against each other can end up getting a little ugly if people get upset or mean or something. But overall, it's pretty cool that people from all over the world are in one place. It's like a tiny sample of what heaven will be like right? A melting pot of every country come together for the same great purpose.

Regardless of whether it's my love for sports, or the coming together of all the countries- I am hopelessly in love with the Olympics.  There is something nostalgic or comforting about the voice of Bob Costas, or the sound of the Olympic theme song.  I'm quite excited for the days and nights left of quality time spent in front of the TV living vicariously through these athletes who compete to be the Best at what they do.  As the torch goes out in 2 weeks, it will be a sad moment until excitement re-builds and we come together again to watch the world compete in the winter Olympics in 2014.

So tonight... go home, spend some time with Bob Costas and join me in my love for the Olympics.

Formal Complaint

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm sitting on the floor in my bedroom with the "smoking porch" (as I call it, aka tiny tiny balcony fit for a smoker to stand out on) door wide open, just listening to the rain.  It's 1:49 in the morning and I am so so thankful for the sound of the raindrops hitting the pavement; the sound of them beating on the leaves of the trees just out my window.  It has been weeks and weeks since we have had rain.  Fires were starting all over the place.  But here again, God provides.  He knows exactly what our land needs, what we need, and he provides because He is faithful.  

Based on previous posts or the About Me section of my blog, you can see that I am a newly married woman (of already 8 months at this point).  And so you might think, "what are you doing up at almost 2 in the morning? Why aren't you in bed sleeping next to your husband?"  Well unfortunately you will find me, right next to you asking this same question; seriously why am I not in bed sleeping soundly next to my new husband?  

As I sit here listening to the beautiful sound of the rain, it is hard to, on one hand, feel so angry, and on the other hand, so appreciative and so IN LOVE with the way that God is providing this rain.  I have been doing my best to keep my frustrations at bay, and not publish them on my blog.  But at the same time, from the beginning, I told myself that the purpose of this blog would not be for the people who happen to stumble across my page, but for myself.  I started this blog as a form of creativity; a way to discover who I am in this new place as a married woman, figuring out what life looks like and what God has for me next.  With that said, I have to be honest and say that these past few months have been difficult.  

I am, what I like to call, a "work widow."  My husband works anywhere from 90-100 hours a week.  I know when you hear that you probably want to say, yeah okay miss exaggeration. And I wish I could say, "yeah you caught me".  But I can't.  I married a man who works for an investment bank.  Not the personal investment sort, but investments dealing with companies.  Basically what his company does is acts as the middle man between the companies who want to sell and the companies who want to buy another company.  In theory, it's a great job.  It pays really well, has good benefits, and good perks.  But as a newlywed wife who wants to see her husband, it is about time I file a "formal complaint."  

Now I wish I was filing a formal complaint with his company.  Trust me, there have been so many times where I have played over and over in my head the scenario of me telling off his boss, or pictured and planned out how I would write a book that would expose how ridiculous and how inhumane this position is.  There have been so many times, especially in the past month where I have thought- "I can't do this anymore, something has to change with this job or it is seriously going to start affecting our marriage."  Let's just say that right now is one of those times.  

So as I sit here, with the door open, listening to the comforting sound of the rain and the thunder, and the beautiful flashes of lightning, I wonder to myself- how is God going to provide in my situation?  I have so much pent up frustration and disgust with the way that the business world works today... it makes me SO angry sometimes.  I have gotten into many discussions about how the business world works, about the crazy demands that people have on each other, and how it must be SO FAR away from what God intends for us that it makes me CRAZY.  

All in all, I am not sure what the point of this post is.  I don't want to talk a bunch of crap about my husband's job or about the situation I am in.  I love him to death, and I am so thankful for what we have in our lives.  But in all honesty, I am so so frustrated.  I know that God loves me, that God loves us and that he created marriage to be a beautiful thing where husband and wife get to see each other and enjoy spending time together and love on each other... but I also know that this is a fallen world.  There are many things that mess up the beautiful picture that God created this place to be.  

And so the question I ask is, what should I do from here?  Just like God provided the much needed rain tonight, I know that He will provide exactly what my husband and I need.  But in the mean time, what am I supposed to do... sit tight, waiting for the clouds to form and the drops of rain to fall?  If so, then okay- that's all I need to know.  Sometimes all we need is that promise of rain- the forecast in the weather saying, "Yes, IT IS GOING TO RAIN" for us to hang in there and wait, even if it doesn't happen right when they predict.  

That's what I feel I need.  That simple encouragement that things will get better.  That it won't always be like this.  That my righteous anger, my "formal complaint" against the business world and the ungodly way that they conduct the industry, is not in vain.  God is good.  We have a God who provides, who is faithful NO MATTER WHAT- of that I am confident.  My prayer right now is that the rain would come quickly.  That I would have an understanding, an encouragement that this time of frustration would have a foreseeable end, and that I would have nothing but patience and LOVE to extend to my husband even in the moments where all I feel is sadness.  

To those of you fellow "work widows" out there- I am praying for you.  You are not alone.  God is good and He will make it right.  

A lil something for each nail

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Here's what happens when you're bored with a few hours to kill.  A little something different on each finger.  

What is your calling?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Today I was talking with a dear friend of mine about the infamous question "What is your calling?" I don't know about you, but I feel like it is one of those questions that you are asked a ton- especially right around college graduation and into your twenties as you're still figuring life out (and this could be longer, but I can only speak for the twenties so far). Yes, sure- this question could take many forms... What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do with your life? What kind of job do you want? What is your "blue sky" dream? (That was my favorite version of the question- like if you could do ANYTHING what would it be?)

I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with that question. When I am talking with a good friend about this question it can be a bit more fun. It's like an opportunity to think about your dreams, about what you might want to do if there were no limits. But when that rando person, way extended relative asks, so "what is your calling?" Sometimes I just want to roll my eyes, give a heavy sigh, and maybe even punch them in the face. Okay not really- but still. That question is such a tricky one isn't it?

When I graduated college- I had no idea what I wanted to do. I chose a major and minor that I loved. I was a Religion major and a French minor at a private liberal arts college. Put those two areas of study and what do you get? Well- other than me, I'm not sure. It definitely doesn't lead directly into a field like a teacher or a nurse does.

But there is one aspect of that infamous question that I have known my entire life, and that is living my life to love the Lord. When I was really little and people would ask the question "What do you want to do/be when you grow up?" I would always answer- well, I want to do something for God and I want to help people. To be honest, I'd like to (and still do) respond like this today. Really, nothing has changed in that answer. The only thing that has changed is, well I've grown up a bit, and my understanding of what living for God looks like has grown. 

The one calling that I know for certain is a part of my being is, being called to follow Jesus. After this, everything else comes second- or at least it should. In the midst of my weird place of transition, I think I have somehow allowed this understanding to become a little cloudy. Following Jesus is one of those things that in theory is "simple". Our goal is to seek the Lord, understand Him more and learn to love like Him- sounds simple (in theory). But then you throw in the icky ways of the world that tempt us, that we get sucked into and it all gets jumbled; we get confused, we get distracted, lazy, or just lose sight of what our first goal in life must always be.

So then what is my calling? Yes, it is to live to love like Jesus- and to share that love with others so that they might learn to love Him too. I understand that, I really do. But the beautiful thing is that we can do that with with any profession; so that's where I get confused. Straight out of college I went to work for a church. I worked with the college ministry and LOVED it. It challenged me, it made me take my faith super seriously, it made me who I am right now. But now, here I am, in a new place in life and asking that question all over again.

Over these past months, I think I've been too busy being either in denial or just plain lazy, afraid to admit the fact that I have no idea what's next- no idea where I'm being called. I haven't thought about the question seriously, haven't sought out the Lord's direction for me. Sure I've had some random thoughts, kind of out there ideas like starting my own Nail Art business (as you can see I have a blast with nail art), opening a shoe store, etc.  Besides those ideas, I'm a bit clueless right now.  So this is me, admitting to you that I think it's time to start asking that question again. I don't expect for immediate answers- definitely not, but I think I'm willing to start the adventure, to allow myself to dream big, and to trust that God will be right here with me helping me figure out what's next, whether its a big step or a small one.

Have you found where God is calling you for now? Or are you searching, just like me? Hang in there. God has a plan for this world, and He wants us to be a part of it. We just have to be willing to ride out the wave while we figure out what's next.

4th of July Mani

Monday, July 9, 2012

All a blur..

Monday, June 25, 2012

When I was little, I remember older people telling me- enjoy every day now, because as you get older time just goes faster and faster.  I always thought they were crazy.  Yeah right- time goes so slow, school is so long... sure summer went faster because we were on vacations etc.  But now I am in complete agreement with those older, wiser folks who warned me saying that time flies when you get older.  Why is that? Obviously it's not speeding up, but it sure feels like it!  

I cannot believe 7 months have gone by since my wedding.  Us newly married people are probably pretty annoying because everything is in reference to our "big day."  I apologize to those of you who aren't married yet, and hope that you'll not get too aggravated by us- but it's the easiest way to measure time at this point.  With such a big life change like that too, it's hard not to measure everything from it.  

It is crazy to think how much has happened in the past year.  Time has been flying by so fast lately, that I haven't had time to sit down and think about what's happening in life, where I am, or how I feel about where I am.  I think this is super important in helping us stay grounded, to see where we've come from and what we're moving towards.  Well... in the last year I lost my job, got married, moved in with my husband, thought I found another position that would be a perfect fit (but God has other plans in mind apparently), and I am now working for my dad's company; filling in for his assistant while she is on maternity leave.  It's been almost a full year since I lost my job working at a church and I feel like so much has changed since that point.  

I am so thankful for this year, what God has been doing- and yet I feel like I can't remember the last time where I felt I had my feet planted securely on the ground.  Although there are clear things that keep me grounded, like now having a husband, and trusting that God has a plan for me... I really feel like I've been floating about in some sort of way not sure of what I am doing or what is happening next.  

I haven't decided if I like this feeling, or if my "super organized, planner self" is about to snap one of these days when my dad's assistant comes back and I am once again in a place of "what the heck am I doing with myself?"  Life is so strange, isn't it?  We think we have it figured out in one moment and then the next it's like wait, what?  A couple months ago I declared myself in a place of "proactively waiting."  I came to terms with the fact that I did not know what I was up to, or what was next, and decided to just wait on God and seek Him for what was next.  I loved that place, it was great!  Then an interview popped up, my proactive waiting period turned into waiting to hear back regarding this position, and my happy, care-free waiting turned into a disgusted, frustration with the icky way that so many job interview processes are handled (even by the church unfortunately).  With all that said, I feel like I have once again found myself in a place of uncertainty.  I picture myself as one of those characters in a movie, where the scenery, the people around, cars, everything is whirring by, so that everything is a blur- and yet there I stand right in the middle watching it all go by in a blur.  I haven't really moved, I haven't changed and yet everything else continues to keep moving.  

So the question is, what do you do when you are in a place like this?  Sometimes I think our society gives people who are in the place of unemployment way more crap than they deserve.  Yes I understand that there are people who maybe deserve a kick in the pants to get motivated and find a job that they so obviously need.  But at the same time, why are we SO DEFINED by our places of employment?  Yes, money is a necessity to live- that is obvious.  But if it wasn't would we still define each other by what we do?  

Right now, I am in a place where my husband makes enough money to cover both of us.  Praise the Lord, I am so blessed.  So I don't have to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out what's next.  But I still feel weird when people ask me, "so what do you do?"  Having had a job straight out of college and keeping that same position for 3 years, it is weird to be in this new place- not having a secure job (outside of this temporary position I now have) and being asked that question.  And what's sad is, whenever I am asked that question and respond- with "I really don't know what's next"- it's like people are floored, shocked, almost as if they are judging me for not having it all figured out yet.  

So here I am saying, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS NEXT- and yes, right now, I am okay with that.  There's tons of things I want to do.  I'm having a blast trying new Nail Art creations.  I'd LOVE to open a shoe boutique.  I want to work back in ministry.  I want to make a difference in people's lives.  I want to be an active participant in growing God's kingdom.  Maybe I'll do it all- maybe I won't be doing any of that- I don't know. All I know is, I am going to try to soak up each minute knowing that time continues to fly by in a blur.  

Sparkle tips

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Here's my latest mani!  My sister bought me this awesome Holographic Sparkle polish from Sephora and I am already in love.  The beauty of it is that you can put it on any color and it picks up the color of the polish you are using.  So fun, and so sparkly :) 

Dandelion Manicure

Monday, June 18, 2012

It has been awhile since I have posted anything on the good ole blog, so here is a fun new manicure that I just did for my friend Megan.  She found the idea on Pinterest, which then linked us to a tutorial via a blog called Mad Manis.  It is such a cute manicure and actually quite easy to do!!  Here is the link for you to check it out.  Turned out really great  :)


Color Run Nails

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A friend passed on a picture of some nail art titled "Dippin' Dot Manicure" and I decided that it would be the perfect manicure to do in honor of the Color Run. I started by painting my nails white with the Essie polish. Then I proceeded to make colored dots all over my nails using many different polishes and the dotting tool I bought from Sally's Beauty. I did one color at a time, putting a few dots on each of my nails. By the end I had quite the artist's palette of colors on my paper plate, and a beautiful white nail with multi-colored dots. Super fun to do and super easy as well (even using my left hand)! 

Try it out :) 

The Color Run

Friday, May 25, 2012

Last weekend I decided to take my first crack at a 5K. I must first point out that I am not a big runner. I would much rather bike or Zumba for exercise or pretty much anything else. I don't necessarily hate running, just wouldn't be my first choice. But when my friend mentioned The Color Run to me a month ago, it sounded like a blast! It took me awhile to finally get the push and courage to sign up- but I am so glad I did.

If you don't know what the Color Run is, feel free to check out their website thecolorrun.com. Basically what it is, everyone starts out with a white t-shirt. As you run through the course, there are 4 different color stations where volunteers throw color at you. It's a chalky, powdery substance that splats on your shirt and powders up in the air. It was a blast!

Before the Run

What was really awesome about it, the color stations throughout the course were such a motivator to keep running! It was a super relaxed 5k- lots of people were just walking the entire thing. But my group decided that we wanted to run as much as we could. We took brief walking breaks if needed, but for the most part we ran! [I was super proud of myself for this, not being a huge runner!] Seeing the clouds of color up ahead, indicating that we were about to reach another opportunity to get covered with color, gave us the push we needed to keep running! Last but not least, once you reach the finish line- this is not the end of your color. When you register for the event, you receive a color packet that you are told to save for the end. At the finish line, everyone gathers in a massive group of color runners and on the count of 10 each person throws their color packet into the air creating a beautiful cloud of color! So if you possibly come out of the run without much color, no need to worry, you will be coated after the color cloud.

It was an awesome time, totally family friendly, so anyone can do it. I can't wait to do this again in the future! Be sure to check The Color Run website to see if it is coming to a city near you!

Go. Do the Color Run.

Zebra nails

Monday, May 21, 2012

Here is my first use of the awesome Stripe Rite nail polish that I got from my friend a couple weeks ago.  There are so many fun ideas on the internet; so after a bit of searching I decided to try out the Zebra Nail.  It was a lot of fun to do and actually pretty easy!  I even managed to do my right hand as well, and it didn't look too shabby!  Lots of fun to do and got lots of compliments too.  
Here are the polishes that I used.  The Stripe Rite has a thin
brush that works really well for striping!

This is the best Top Coat!  It dries super fast, makes your nails feel
strong, and gives it a nice glossy finish.  Found at Sally's Beauty.

My Zebra Nails :)

Tissue paper flowers

Crafted these pretty tissue paper flowers for my friend's wedding reception coming up.  They were pretty easy to make, and I like the way they turned out.  

Bow Mani

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lately I have been on a nail art kick, as you can see from my new Nail Art tab on my blog.  For my birthday, my friend Audra gave me a bag full of nail polishes!  She gave me a bunch of fun colors, and two nail stripe bottles- that are just awesome and allow me to be more creative with stripes and like in the image below, I can make bows, etc.  I was totally stoked and of course had to paint my nails almost immediately.  I tried out a zebra stripe look, (which I will show you in another post) and then I tried this manicure that I found on Pinterest. It was from a tutorial featured on thebeautydepartment.com.  It is actually a pretty sweet site, put on by Lauren Conrad and a few other ladies.  It has a bunch of hair tutorials, nail tutorials, and just really great fashion sort of stuff.  I love the site.  Anyways, thanks to their tutorial, I gave this manicure a try on my sister's nails.  It took a little while, with all the colors and layers, etc.  But I think the result was pretty cute!  

Baby blanket

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

One of the projects that I have been working on was crocheting a baby blanket for a friend of mine. I knew I wanted to do a Granny Square pattern, but wasn't sure whether I wanted to do patchwork granny squares where you weave them together or a giant Granny Square blanket. As you will see in the pictures, I decided to go with the giant Granny Square blanket. I picked out yarn colors that I wanted, watched a few youtube videos on how to start the granny square and went from there. I had a rough pattern in mind, drew it out on paper, and pretty much winged it! I am really happy with how it turned out. It is about 32" which is hopefully a good size for a baby? I can't wait to hear how my friend likes the blanket. Word on the street is she already received a few homemade baby blankets :/ but what can you do. I made it with love and will hope that it gets some use!

Now I must come up with another crochet project. Have any new ideas of what I could do for a project? Comment and let me know!!


St. Patrick's Day Nails

My nail color happened to match my purse perfectly.

Grey French Manicure

Heart Nails

Painted my sister's nails from a little Pinterest inspiration.

Triggered Memories

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tonight I am blogging from what used to be my bedroom for 3 months, at my sister's place. We decided that it has been awhile since we had a sleepover, and a random Wednesday night was what we picked. My sister and I have a really special relationship. She is not just my sister, she's my best friend. She knows me inside and out, makes me laugh when I'm cranky, let's me share her clothes, pretty much everything you could want in a sister.

For the past 3 years, I had been living on my own. I had a cute 1-bedroom apartment, in a brick story-book apartment building, that had great character, and a perfect location- just a block from the nearest Alterra. I loved it! I had never lived alone prior to this and I absolutely loved it. It gave me a great opportunity to really get to know myself, and experience what living on your own is like. You can make messes wherever you want, when you want, you can move your bedroom around just so your bed is in the perfect spot to watch Avatar on the TV in the living room while falling asleep (yup I did that), heck- you can even walk around naked if you want. :) Overall, living alone was great.

This past August, life turned into a whirlwind of change, and my time of living alone was up. My position at work was eliminated and I was preparing to get married. I personally did not believe in living with my fiancé before getting married, so I knew that I was going to figure something else out. As this was all happening with me, my sister was in the process of moving out of her old place into her own super cute, 2-bedroom apartment. So what ended up happening worked out PERFECTLY. In the process of ending a lease and starting a new lease, my sister ended up in my joint for a month. Picture this: two queen beds and two dressers in a one-bedroom apartment. May sound cramped, but thankfully I had a big bedroom and really it was great. It was like a sleepover with your best friend for a month- we had a blast. At the end of that month she moved into her place, and 2 weeks later my lease ended and over I came to her house. Unlike my place she had two bedrooms- so I had a separate space to call my own.

Living with my sister for the 3 months prior to getting married was one of the biggest blessings that I experienced in preparing for the next stage of my life. As I was sitting here tonight, with my sister having already fallen asleep I walked around the apartment and the familiar scent filled my nose. I stood there for a moment in the darkness of her living room and let the memories flood back in. So much happened in this place in the 3 months that I spent here. Putting together wedding invites, wrapping bridesmaid gifts, putting together seating charts, fabulous dinner and sleepover for my bachelorette party, what had to have been the best bridal shower on earth (really I must tell you about that another time- I had a cake with the most adorable shoes on it, as a gift from my bridesmaids), and primping and putting on my wedding gown, all took place in this space.

I look back on those 3 months with the fondest of memories. I could not have had the best experience in preparing for my wedding. Besides all the fun that happened in this apartment, the ultimate reason that these memories are so great is because of the blessing of being able to spend so much time with my ever-so-loving sister. I am thankful for a wonderful sister who even though we don't live under the same roof anymore, welcomes me into her home no matter what the hour, who runs over to my house when I'm having a hard day, who buys me a bottle of wine and bubble bath after a stressful interview, and who still wants to have sleepovers even in the middle of the week.

I am thankful that the simple moment of breathing in the aromas that fill this space triggered such fond memories and reminders of how blessed I am.

Interview attire- is it really necessary?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Here I sit- watching all my favorite Monday shows (It is such a good TV night!! Gossip Girl *i'll admit it*, Dancing with the Stars, Castle) and thinking how all I should be doing is prepping for the interview I have tomorrow. I don't know who decided that interviews should be intense, but I am pretty sure that I am not a fan of such person. I must be honest and say that I have not had an interview in 4 years. I was blessed to find a job straight out of college, so I have not had an interview since my first job out of college! And now here I am 4 years later... with an interview tomorrow- and feeling like a fish out of water. Unfortunately I realized that not only is my brain a bit out of it's element- but so is my wardrobe!! I worked in a church for 3 years- in a laid back environment, working with the college ministry. So my college wardrobe, rolled right into my working wardrobe. I'm talking jeans, nice looking t-shirts, mixed with leggings- long t-shirt dresses- you know, college attire. It was great!! But... now, as I am trying to put together an appropriate outfit for an interview tomorrow- I realized that my closet was seriously lacking. I found out I own 1 pair of pants that fit right and could be appropriate for the occasion, and maybe 2 shirts. Yikes. Needless to say I had to make a trip to my teacher, much more mature dressing, sister who was gracious enough to provide me with a full outfit with several options. I am so thankful for her! If it weren't for her- I would have been at Gap scrounging the sale racks to find something that would make me presentable and a desirable candidate. With all that said, as you can tell- it definitely took me 2 plus hours to figure out what I was going to wear to my interview. I really would like to know who decided that you needed to be all fancied up for an interview. Think about it. Teachers are required to wear a full pant-suit sort of thing when they go for an interview, and then if they get hired, do they wear them? no no- they dress nice of course, but a full pant suit- no way! That's how I am feeling- if I get this position, working again with a college ministry- am I going to wear fancy pants and a fancy shirt all the time? Not unless I am seriously required.

Overall, I have decided that interviews are a pretty frightening experience. (This all said before the interview- i'll keep you posted after tomorrow). I'm not quite sure how to prepare- just hoping that the prep I am doing will allow me to be myself as much as possible and keep me from freezing up. That's the best I can hope for right?

I still think my theory - that we should just be born into the position we were designed for, like the good ole family businesses, is a better idea, but who am I to say. Guess I'll just go to my interview, pray for God's guidance- and do the best I can!

just a thought

It has been a bit since I have last blogged.  I have been somewhat busy, but really my brain has been overloaded.  I will take time in the next few days to expand on what's been going on- but for today I just want to share a scripture passage that spoke to my heart.  A lot of what's been on my mind has to do with the struggle between fear and faith.  It's basically the story of our lives fighting between allowing the fears we have to dominate our thinking, or allowing our faith to be the ruler that guides our life.  Without expanding much more right now- this verse in Deuteronomy put me in my place this morning as I think about the fears that plague me.  
"Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies.  Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.  For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."
Good words that I need to let penetrate my heart today.   

Practicing Thankfulness

Monday, April 2, 2012

In my Bible reading this morning, Moses is talking to the Israelites about Passover, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of the Tabernacles. Several times he mentions that they must give a "freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you." What an interesting statement. It jumped out at me the first time I read it, but then I continued reading in the passage and he says it again..."Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you" (Deuteronomy 16:17). This verse has got me thinking this afternoon, wondering how bad am I at keeping track of or being really aware of the blessings God has given me?

The last time I got together with my old bible study group, we talked about the positive impact practicing thankfulness or positive thinking can have on your outlook on life. When I was in college, I took a one credit, once a week course called Positive Psychology. The purpose of the class was to explore the effect of thinking positively. It was a really interesting, laid back class. One of the assignments for the week was to, for every day of the week, write down 25 positive things that happened that day. It could be anything. "The sun is shining." "I had lucky charms for breakfast." Anything that you viewed as positive. The purpose was to help us think about all the positive things that filled each day- emphasizing that although we sometimes find it hard to believe, there is much positive in each of our daily lives. If I remember correctly, the professor who taught the class had written a book or done a big study about Positive Psychology and the class was an experiment because it was the first time he had studied it in class-format. I honestly don't remember what the goal of the class was, or what projects we had to do or anything like that, other than the overall emphasis on the idea that thinking positively can in fact positively affect you. Go figure. Sounds so simple.

But I remember LOVING that class, and LOVING those activities that we had to do because it really made me appreciate the little things that God had been blessing me with throughout each day. Maybe I appreciated it a little more as a believer because I was able to use it almost as a journal/prayer time where I took the opportunity to really thank God for even the little things he blessed me with? I don't know. Either way, it was a good experience.

With all of that said, going back to my bible study get-together... most of us decided that we too wanted to join the others in thinking more positively, being proactive about being thankful basically. The verses that I read this morning really convicted me of the fact that I have not been very good at this lately. Think about the verse. It says, "Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you." I think that verse is incredibly convicting because it makes me ask myself the question, have I been aware of all the blessings God has given me, taken good note of them, been thankful for them- kept track of them enough to know what kind of goodwill offering would be in proportion? Maybe I am reading into the verse too much, and maybe he didn't mean literally bring a gift that matches in one way or another the blessings you have been given. But regardless, I know that I need to be way more aware and way more thankful for the daily blessings that the Lord has given me. Sometimes I realize that I have not expressed thanks for what He has given me and I become ashamed because it's such a selfish, human thing to do. We are blessed in SO many ways. I am in a really good place in life- I have food on the table, I have a warm home, a loving family, and friends. And this just scratches the surface of what I have to be thankful for. Perhaps it's about time I got out a notebook and went back to the daily assignment I had from Positive Psychology. I know that there are definitely so many blessings to be thankful for.
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