Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Joys of August

 August has slowed down a little for me (compared to July). Although it's still been busy, it's been more relaxed and less stressful. In August, I celebrated my 25th (WHAT?!) birthday and our 2nd wedding anniversary. I finished my first clinical rotation and I started my last ever semester of classes. 

Daniel and I went on a weekend trip to Pismo beach for our anniversary. Of all the vacations we have taken so far, I would say this was probably my favorite. I don't usually take the time to plan out everything ahead of time (restaurants, activities, etc) but I was SO glad I did this time. We had some amazing food, kayaking, beautiful beaches, and a relaxing place to stay. We used Airbnb for the first time and it was really neat. 

Headed out! 
Delicious pizza, and Daniel was obsessed with the beer! 
Obviously, we had to have slurpees on our late night beach excursion. 
Do I need any words? 
I did this! I felt so adventurous!

Fat sandwiches at the Grover Beach festival.


Another great thing about August is that I had more time to spend working on our church's part in a campaign called "Jesus for King 2016". I have talked about it before, but it's a reminder to people everywhere to choose Jesus as King. It's particularly relevant this year in the midst of all the political turmoil and the lack of support (it seems) of both presidential candidates. #jesusforking2016

For September, I have made the following goals for myself:

1) Finish my doctoral project draft by the first deadline

2) Do an activity that Daniel wants to do (that I don't) every week

3) Run at least two days a week

4) Keep up with my blog posts, at least 2 a week 

5) Start (and finish) a new devotional book
What do you hope to accomplish in September?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Making Prayer Powerful

I've been doing a small devotional book called Making Prayer Powerful for the past weeks. When I started, I wondered how someone could possibly write a whole book about prayer. But the book has been wonderful and I feel that I have really learned a lot about the purpose and power of prayer. 

Prayer was a very important part of worship to God's nation of Israel, and so it should be to us. In His law, God designated specific times for prayer that His people were to follow. The priests trimmed the lamps in the Temple and burned incense while the people around the nation were to pray. 

While not all prayers must be at set times, I think there is something to be said by setting times when you pray. Whether it's a specific time or a specific event (for example: always praying when you are driving to work), it can help to get us in a rhythm. That is certainly not to say that we should only pray at these times! It's only a starting point to get us into a closer relationship with God.

God used incense to symbolize prayer. The Hebrew word for incense means to fumigate  or purify. So too, prayer is to purify us. How exactly does prayer purify us? It purifies us because it causes us to meditate on Him, to concentrate on the hope we have, and it leads us to confess our sins. These actions can transform us and purify our hearts. 

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Psalm 141:2

Another important and cool note about incense is that God required the people to burn specific incense made of very particular ingredients. It had to be a certain way and this incense was not allowed for any other use except worship of God. I think God is showing us the importance of prayer. 

It's not something we should sloppily piece together as a ritual every morning. Our prayers should be meaningful, emotional, thoughtful. For our prayers to be powerful, they must be deep and honest. The second that our prayers because rituals with habitual phrases and no emotion, they lose their power. We should not lose sight of the wonderful gift we have of being able to approach our Father in prayer!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

I'll end with one more quote from the book that I loved. 

Prayer can build us up, if we use if correctly. Our spiritual life should be a combination of listening AND speaking, just like any good conversation. If we only talk TO God but never listen to Him (His Word), we will never truly know Him. If we only listen to Him but never talk to Him, how can we show our love and appreciation? 

I hope that you are inspired to focus a little more on prayer this weekend! Happy Friday! 

P.S. If you haven't already, follow along on my new Instagram

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Marriage Has Given Me

It's hard to believe, but Daniel and I have been married for two years today. Our wedding day was just the most perfect day I have ever had. We had a small wedding (about 25 people) and I am so thankful that we did. I've heard so many brides express that their wedding day was horribly stressful, tiring, and overwhelming. Our small wedding was nothing of the sort-- it was peaceful and completely focused on our marriage. We both think back on it and often wish we could relive it. So.. there's something to be said for small weddings!

When I was trying to think of what to say about our second year, this is what came to mind: Marriage has transformed my life. So, I thought I would share how exactly marriage has transformed my life. 

Here's what two years of marriage has given me:

1. Knowledge that I can do tough things! 

Maybe for some it's not, but for us, marriage is hard. Daniel and I are two very different people attempting to mesh. It wasn't easy at first but thankfully it becomes easier as time goes on. We learn more about each other. We try harder. We make sacrifices. We make it work.

2. The best birthdays

I have always had wonderful birthdays surrounded by family and friends, but these past two years, Daniel has gone above and beyond to make my day special. This is extra lovely to me because he doesn't care all that much about birthdays, but he knows I do. 

3. A more adventurous spirit

Now, I would never be described as an adventurous person. But life with Daniel has pushed me outside of my comfort zone into doing things I never would have before. You might be surprised to find me taking long hikes, rock climbing, driving (occasionally) with the top off the car, camping, and kayaking.

4. A [[growing]] love like of dogs

Growing up, we never had any animals besides hamsters, fish, and birds. I was never instilled with much of a love for dogs, as my parents weren't particularly dog lovers. To be honest, I have mostly been scared/grossed out by dogs for most of my life, especially dogs that were big, off leash, or drooly. I'm not exactly dog-crazy now, but since knowing Daniel, dogs have grown on me a lot. He loves dogs. We have been doing quite a bit of dog-sitting and I've even taken my best friend's dog on runs. How's that for a change??

5. Closer to God

Marriage is from God, and it has tremendous power to bring you closer to God, if you let it. We encourage each other in our spiritual life, and we make time daily to spend time reading and praying together. We challenge each other to be better. 

6. Greater understanding and patience

I would say that it's impossible to have a (good) marriage without growing in patience and understanding. Sometimes the way Daniel thinks about things is just plain crazy, in my opinion. But that's just the way life is. 

Marriage has shown me some of the vast differences between men and women. It's taught me that my way isn't the only way. It's given me perspective into how men see things, how other people see things, and obviously, specifically, how Daniel sees things. 

7. Lots of delicious meals

Daniel cooks ALL of our meals (don't worry, I do the dishes and most of the cleaning). He is a really good cook and is always willing to cook whatever crazy meal plans I come up with. I really don't like cooking, so I feel immensely blessed that he is willing to do that for me every day. 

8. More games than I have ever played in my life

Those who know me know that I DO NOT like to play games. Yet, this handsome man somehow gets me to play game after game with him. I won't say that I am a game lover, but I do enjoy the occasional game of Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan or Cribbage. Monopoly Deal may also be growing on me, but let's keep that between us. 

9. Blown expectations [[in a good way]] 

Marriage and love is not really what I thought it was but in a lot of ways it has surpassed my expectations. I truly did not realize the power of having a partner in life. It's nothing short of wonderful. 

10. Far, FAR more love than I deserve

I'm a selfish brat and, boy, is he a good husband! Some days, most days, I really can't believe how patient he is. Yes, there are days when he isn't patient, but he is usually far more patient than I deserve. He loves me EVEN THOUGH he knows the real me, the icky me, the me who can be selfish and whiny and unkind. I am beyond thankful for this. 

Read more here and here.

Here's to many, many more years! 

P.S. How has marriage transformed your life?

P.P.S. I did it! I got an instagram... follow along here

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Somebody or Nobody

Have you ever had someone make you just feel like you were completely worthless? I have and I'm fairly certain most of you have. Sometimes life is just like that, and probably a lot of people don't even realizing that they are making you feel that way. Maybe they hurt your pride, don't care about your feelings, don't notice you, or forget your name. 

In some way, shape or form, they made you feel small and unimportant.

I'm ashamed to say it, but know I have done it in the past. To people who I think are rude or vain or selfish, I might give off a little "I don't care much for you" vibe. They might actually have been a mean person or I might have judged them a little too quickly, but whatever the case may be, it was just plain wrong on my part.

There's no reason to make someone feel like a nobody. It's not our job to decide who is worthy of respect. Wouldn't you rather be known as the person who made everyone feel a little better about themselves than the person who always "puts others in their place"?

We should look for the positive in others. This world is so focused on the negative-- and honestly, there is a whole lot of negative to focus on. Our lives would be so enriched by focusing on the positive in others. There is a lot of power in positivity, both for ourselves and others. Imagine the good we could do. Imagine the lives we could change. Imagine the love of Christ we could show. 

Don't be fake and silly. Don't act like nothing could possibly be wrong with the world. Kindness meets people where they are. Kindness is genuinely caring. Kindness isn't superficial, it is deep. It means that you make an honest effort to connect with everyone you come in contact with. 

So, what if it's you? What if it's you who makes the broken smile, the bullies kind, and the lonely have friends? It will change their life and it will change yours, too. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Every Time You Get Upset

Ask yourself... is it worth it? Some things are legitimately worth getting worked up about. Most things aren't. 

Ask my husband, ask my mom, honestly, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I get upset easily. I am on the verge of tears/in tears close to seven days a week. When things don't go the way I have all planned out, I tend to take it out on those around me. 

Not that I know much about the subject, but from my personal observations, it seems that people with higher levels of anxiety (read: ME) also tend to get upset much more easily. Sometimes I think that it's because I worry, worry, worry and plan every little detail out in my mind. When, as often happens, those details don't happen the way I planned, I might get a little upset. Or a lot upset. It's hard on my loved ones, and it's hard on me. 

Of course, there's not a simple solution. I don't think it's about telling yourself to not get upset so easily. It seems like that is just putting a band-aid on the real problem. Instead, I've tried to focus on ways to find inner peace. Obviously the number one way to find peace is to stop worrying but that's no easy fix. Some ways I find inner peace are by relaxation, by drinking a cool drink, reading an uplifting book. I might do a quite yoga practice or go on a walk as the sun is setting. It might be spending an afternoon at the lake with my family, not worrying about school or work. 

And of course, turning to the very Author of peace in prayer. I have found so much comfort on the days when I focus more on prayer. It really helps to center me and ground me, focusing on what is important and what is not. 

Do you struggle with anxiety and getting upset easily? If you do, apologize to the people in your life. Be up front with them and share your worries. Let them know why you feel the way you do. Don't make excuses for yourself, just be honest about yourself.  

I'll leave you with this blessing. God really is a God of peace. Amen to that! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

On My Day Off

I got a text last night saying that I didn't need to come to work today! Um, yes please! A surprise day off?? My mind started reeling with all the things I could do. I may be a little overly ambitious with the day, but I love having a day all to myself!

Here's what makes my soul happy!

//No alarm-- sleep in as long as my body needs! Hence, the reason this post is getting put up so late (-:

//Treat myself to a Starbucks... my favorite, a lime refresher.

//Do the first section of a study I've been wanting to start on "Making Prayer Powerful."

//Clean my house! Not the most exciting but I'll make it more interesting by listening to these awesome classes I've been listening to about salvation. You can find them here!

//Do a hard workout! I'm going to try this one because I've been trying to work on getting stronger. 

//Plan my blog posts for the rest of August. I am literally SO horrible about this but I really want to be more planned. My goal is to post twice a week, but often I get toward the end of the week and it's something like this... I have to write a blog post! What will I write about?! I hate writing!

//Send out two cards. I've been meaning to send cards to a bunch of people and I just keep putting it off for no good reason. Let's do this!

Okay, so I think that is about all (probably way more) that I can actually do in a day. Am I the only one who writes to do lists for enjoying a day off? I don't know, maybe. Tonight, we will be going over to my parent's house and enjoying some family time.

What do YOU do on your day off? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Lesson of the Caterpillar

I have been absent here because I spent the last week at a church retreat with my family. We spend the week sleeping in rustic cabins, having Bible classes, and fellowshipping with other believers! Despite being hot and dirty ALL the time, I always leave feeling very renewed! 

Anyhow, one part of the week that I always enjoy is the "Sister's Tea." There is always a short devotional and this year it was on Transformation. The example of the butterfly was used to remind us of the transformation we each go through as believers. The caterpillar goes through this amazing transformation to become a butterfly. It goes from a squishy little bug to one of the most beautiful things in the Creation! That's what God can do for us if we ask Him and let Him. 

Transformation is all about going from your natural self to a more godly version of yourself. Taking God's Word and letting it change you into the person God wants. The Bible isn't there as just some really nice story to read. It's there to teach you of who God is and who He wants you to be. As humans, we often get stuck in a rut, so we need to make sure that when that happens we focus on renewing ourselves. 

It might sound a little extreme, but the Bible is of no use if it doesn't transform you. Christ's death, his life, his resurrection, do nothing for you if you don't transform. If it doesn't change you, it really has no power in your life. God's Word doesn't transform you unless you let it. God doesn't just wave and you are transformed. You must LET Him transform you. 

Isn't the lesson of the caterpillar and butterfly just so perfect?