Friday, May 29, 2015

Some of the Worst Advice I've Ever Heard

Follow your heart. Listen to your heart. Do what feels right. 
Do what your heart says. Do what makes you happy.

From 80's songs to pretty much every movie ever made to slogans that adorn clothes, jewelry and journals, the message to "follow your heart" is everywhere. And honestly, it sounds pretty true. What could possibly be wrong with following your heart? It sounds pretty good to do what makes you feel good.

Here's what gets me though: we are not supposed to follow OUR hearts, we are supposed to follow God.  The Bible makes it pretty clear that our hearts (or our emotions) can lead us to do some pretty bad things. That's not to say that emotions are always a bad thing. I think emotions can be very important in allowing us to connect to other people. Emotions also help to make our worship of God more powerful. BUT, emotion must not be the base for the important decisions we make. 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

I believe that Jeremiah is telling us that if we just follow our heart, we can be led astray pretty easily. We all know that we aren't actually following our literal "heart", we are following our emotions. Emotions come and go. They do what's best for us in the moment, but not always what's best for us in the long term. And emotions certainly don't help us do what's best for others.

My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways. Proverbs 23:26

Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

It seems like God is telling us: Don't do it!! You may think you know what's going on, you may think you have the answers, you may think you know the right thing, but you don't. From another human, that would be very irritating, but from our all-powerful Father, it makes me want to stop and listen. 

So what is better than trusting in your own heart? Trusting in God. When, like these verses suggest, we give our hearts to God and let Him guide us, we will have true wisdom. We won't be swept away by every wave of emotion. God will help us do what is best for us (and others!) in the LONG term. 

Next time you are faced with a decision, don't do what everyone else says. Don't focus on what is "right for you" or what "makes you feel good." Spend some time pouring yourself out in prayer to God. Ask Him to guide you. Tell Him you will follow where He leads. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hannah-- A Virtuous Woman

It seems that a common theme in the Bible is faithful women who couldn't have children. In those days, having children was extremely important. You don't have to look hard to find numerous places where God says that children are a blessing and a gift. So these women who struggled to have children were devastated. Hannah was one such woman. She is a woman whose faith should be an example to us all.

Hannah was deeply loved by her husband

Despite the fact that she couldn't give him the children they desired, it is clear that Elkanah deeply loves his wife. In those days, when there was much less focus on romantic love and marriage was more for posterity, Hannah must have been a very special wife. 

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. -Proverbs 31:11

Hannah kept her focus on the Lord

Hannah knew that no one could heal her except God. She doesn't lash out at her husband or Peninnah, who treated her so cruelly. Instead of blaming God, she turns to Him. She pours out her heart to Him. And when Samuel is finally born, Hannah says, "Because I asked the Lord for him." She never stops remembering that it is God who brings all blessings. 

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. -Proverbs 31:26

Hannah kept her promises

How often is it that you utter a prayer asking God something and then, when you receive that thing, you don't even stop to thank God? Maybe it's just me, but I find myself doing that often and I have made a mental note to always remember to thank God when things I had prayed for happen! Hannah was a woman who remembered to thank God-- and not just that, she acted on probably one of the most difficult promises she could have made-- giving up her longed-for son. How easy would it have been for Hannah to keep Samuel? At that time there was a lot of corruption in the priesthood so it would have been easy for Hannah to justify keeping Samuel. After all, who would really expect Hannah to give up her beloved son? But she doesn't make excuses-- she keeps her word. 

If you want to read more about Hannah's lovely heart, you can read her beautiful prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Her heart for the Lord is indeed a wonderful example for us!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer List

As summer approaches, I want to make sure to make the most of it. I've looked up some local activities that Daniel and I might enjoy going to. I also added some goals that I have set for myself. Most of them are free, which is an added bonus! What's on your summer list?

Gold panning + fishing on the American River

Sacramento Vintage night (July 31, September 25, October 23)

Go to the State Capitol

Swimming at the lake

Make my wedding scrapbook

Crocker Art Museum (Free on 3rd Sunday)


Bike riding

Go to Echo Lake (where we got married!) 

Go to the library a lot + read 5 good books

Sacramento Gold Rush days (Labor day weekend)

Find fun new workouts

Anniversary trip to Squaw Valley, the beautiful lodge we had our honeymoon at and where they once held the Olympics!

Take LOTS of pictures 

Visit my grandparents in Virginia 

Thursday night concerts in our community 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Turn It Around

I have a very type A personality and I have to confess: I get stressed about nearly everything. Daniel **very** often hears me say something along these lines, I feel so stressed and overwhelmed. I am trying to do well at things in my life but I feel like I am failing at everything. 

Does that sound familiar to you? Or does it sound crazy to you? Honestly, it sounds a little crazy to me. I am 23 years old with no real worries. When I think about people who have real struggles, I feel ashamed for being stressed about the things in my own life. But that doesn't make the feelings go away. So what can be done? Maybe I can turn my attitude around. Instead of trying so hard to measure up, maybe I can start thinking about how thankful I am for what I have in my life.

Instead of focusing on how hard life can be, I can thank God for the life He has given me that is truly full of good things (even including challenges).

Instead of being stressed about how hard school is, I can be thankful to have a challenge to work towards.

Instead of being stressed about being the perfect wife, I can be thankful for my amazing husband who loves me even though I'm not even close to the perfect wife.

Instead of being stressed about the chores I need to do, I can be thankful that I have such a wonderful place to live in.

Instead of being stressed about not getting to spending enough time with my family, I can be thankful that I live with my family and get to see them every day.

Instead of being stressed about my grandparent's health, I can be thankful that I still have all four grandparents, when many people don't get this blessing.

Instead of being stressed about not having time to write a blog post, I can be thankful that I have this hobby that I love and can pursue when I feel like it.

As you can see, I sure have a lot of things to be thankful for! What on earth am I worried about?

Ever feel this way? I encourage you to try to turn it around!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday... Beaches, Books, and Batter!

It's Friday! Today I'm linking up to share what's happening this week:

1. I know I already talked about it, but... San Diego! Loved having a mini getaway with Daniel. 

2. Yesterday was my last day of class for the Spring 2015 semester! Woo hoo! Now I just have to get through finals and then I have a whole week off before I have to gear up for summer school. Speaking of gearing up for summer school, there is the annoying thing called textbooks that I need to get. If you haven't tried getting your books at Campus Book Rentals, I would recommend trying it out. I have rented several textbooks from them and I appreciate the speed with which the books arrive and the free shipping (both ways!). I haven't tried it yet, but they also have an awesome program where you can actually get paid for people to rent your books. Check out more about it here

3. I'm sick... and no, that's not the good part. BUT it's so nice to have a sweet husband to help me out. He brought me my favorite Ricola cough drops to suck on constantly. I do mean that literally... I have eaten all 20 in 3 days. 

4. Rain! Rain! Rain! Twice in May we have had thunderstorms with a significant amount of rain. That NEVER happens. God is good! 

5. For our date last night, Daniel and I made sugar cookies together! It was really fun to do! We made our dough into three different colors and decorated with LOTS of sprinkles. The funniest one was one that Daniel made... a tadpole. I bet you've never seen a tadpole cookie before! (-:

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fun in the Sun

This past weekend Daniel and I did something crazy and went on a vacation! That's right... a vacation, right during the busiest weeks of school. Something else crazy? I didn't take one single bit of homework or study materials with me. Sadly, I hardly took any pictures of our trip. I need to get better about that.

We went down to San Diego to visit our friend Jessica for her college graduation! I must say, it was so nice to get away and spend some time NOT thinking about school. When I had some free time at the airport/on the airplane, I didn't have a thing to do but sleep, read, and talk to Daniel.

Our first flight together!
We left on Friday after Daniel got off work and our flight landed at 8 pm. Jessica picked us up and we headed to the cute beach house we were staying at. We just relaxed, ate snacks, and watched a movie. The next morning we walked to the beach, which took all of 5 minutes! I just splashed around in the water but Daniel jumped right in. Boy loves to swim!

Jessica gave us fruit roll-ups, so of course we had to give ourselves the tongue tattoos!
That afternoon we chilled at Jessica's house while she got ready for her graduation. Her family arrived and we drove with them to the ceremony. Jessica goes to Point Loma Nazarene University and the campus is right on the beach. The ceremony had a gorgeous backdrop to the beach (although I got a little hot sitting right in the sun). It was fun cheering for her walk up to the front! We went to a little family dinner with her.

On Sunday we went to church and afterwards dropped Jessica off at work. We had the afternoon to explore, so we went to the little town of Encinitas. It was really fun! We walked around, went to the beach, had Starbucks (of course!). We went out for dinner, my first time truly trying Indian food. I must say, it tasted good but my stomach didn't take it well. Oh well! Daniel certainly enjoyed his meal.

We were sad to say goodbye, but I was thankful for a relaxing weekend. The only bad part was our flight was delayed and we got home super late. :-( Oh, and I wish I had taken a few decent pictures!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Creator

Recently, Daniel and I have been going to the river to go gold panning. Yes, gold panning. Before a couple of weeks ago, I didn't even know that gold panning was something people did! But it's so fun! I have loved spending my afternoons at the river gold panning with him. We found a little stream that is secluded and perfect. The water is so loud you can't hear anyone else, so it's like being all alone. Ahh, perfection. 

Tip: wear rain boots!! 

When we were there last Sunday, I was thinking about how magnificent the earth is. It's amazing! God made such a beautiful place for us to live. Even after all we have done to destroy our earth, there is so much beauty to be seen. I can't even fathom how God could be so creative, but He is THE Creator, so I guess it makes sense! If I were to fashion the earth, I would never have been so creative. Each little bug, each rock, each plant. He made them so unique, so beautiful, so perfect. 

That afternoon was a wonderful reminder to me: God is not only a loving Father, a mighty God, but also a Creator.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Love Your Earth

We will pay lots of money for gold, jewels, oil and gas. But water is a far more precious resource! If you are a fellow Californian, you know we are in a serious pickle when it comes to water. We don't have much! Sadly, it seems like many are just ignoring that and using water like it will never end.

In my personal opinion, this isn't really a faith issue. Some people say we should just have faith that God will provide. And God DOES provide. But, that doesn't mean He is going to provide water immediately. I imagine God is tired of seeing us destroy our planet and the resources He has given us. We need to realize what a precious resource water is and stop frivolously using it! When God told Joseph there was going to be a famine in Egypt, Joseph didn't just have faith that everything would be okay if they used up all their food. No, he made a plan and saved food for the whole nation to survive the famine! 

I understand that one person can't make a difference by saving water. But I encourage you to start doing some of these things! If we all did them, we could really start to make a difference! Here some suggestions I've come up with. They might sound like a pain, but in the big picture, they are just minor inconveniences. 

Don't ever just pour out water! We have a big bucket outside into which we pour all the water that we don't use, like leftover water from our cups or ice cubes that fall in the floor. We even drain pasta water into it (as long as you cook your pasta without salt!) We use this bucket to water our plants.

Shower every other day. This one's tough for me because I have somewhat oily hair. However, I have been curling my hair or pulling it back on the second day so it's not that noticeable.

Don't wash your car! Or very rarely wash your car. I've also heard that if you absolutely have to, some car washes recycle water so look into that.

Follow your watering restrictions. Where I live there are water restrictions but I see lots of people breaking them. We followed them and our plants were fine AND it
cut our water bill hugely!

Don't use water to clean off your driveway or porch. Just sweep it! 

Make your showers LESS than five minutes. Better yet, turn on the water to get wet, then turn it off while you shampoo and soap up. Turn it back on to rinse off. Yes, it's not the relaxing shower that you are used to, but it saves a lot of water!

Get an electric razor. No more shaving in the shower or sink!

Instead of watering your lawn, get artificial turf. I get that it's not the same, but for those of you who just want a well groomed lawn, why not? It's expensive but it will save a lot of water. 

Be sure to fix all your leaks!

Pile up your dishes and only wash them once a day. It's hard for clean freaks like me, but instead of individually rinsing off dishes throughout the day, I fill the sink with a little water at the end of the day. I first wash the hand wash dishes and then rinse off all the others for the dish washer.

Don't flush every time you use the bathroom. It's a little gross but I've gotten over it. 

Wash clothes on a Quick-Wash cycle. Ours saves 10-12 minutes and our clothes still get clean! Also, wait until you have a full load and don't just wash a few items.

Buy a nozzle for your hose so that water doesn't just pour out when you are watering the plants. 

Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Come on, I learned this one in kindergarten. 

Make sure you aren't watering the sidewalk! I see SO many puddles on the sidewalk by people's houses. Fix it!

That's all folks! Whether or not it's a minor inconvenience, I hope you will help save this precious resource we have been given.