Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I apologize for my delay in posting part 3 - to be honest time really got away from me and I completely forgot.

Life picked up. Things started piling on, responsibility after responsibility. Assignment on top of assignment, task after task, test on top of test.... life was moving quickly, fast.

This evening I had the chance to go to a Brookside Women's thing where my sweet friend Amy Seiffert was sharing about this verse, and it reminded me that I needed to give my thoughts on part 3, thankfulness. But to be honest, my heart towards this topic right now are some what raw and vulnerable. I am thankful for many things in my life, and I understand the importance of being thankful always in all circumstances, however the posture of my heart right now is not thankful. Instead it's just kind of blah.... I'm finding myself having a hard time being thankful in all things.

I am VERY THANKFUL for the journey the Lord has me on right now with Ryan (we're now engaged! :)) However, I am not at all thankful for being in Grad School - not at all!

Tonight Amy encouraged us to read the book A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, because she believes that it will help us in our perspective and heart posture towards being thankful. Apparently the author of this book decided to write down a goal of finding 1,000 things that she is thankful for that God has blessed her with in her life. Amy encouraged us to not only read the book, but to also consider what it would like for us to being a list of 1,000 things - and to start being more aware of the small blessings the Lord  has given us in life.

So tonight, in the midst of my ugly heart posture towards Grad School, I am setting a goal for me to find things that I am thankful for in my journey towards Graduation. I want to specifically focus on how I am thankful towards being a grad student, and not how much I hate it right now. So between now and May 3rd (graduation) I am creating a goal for myself to find 177 things that I am thankful for about being in Grad School, because there are exactly 177 days left of my graduate career.

Here's to desiring a thankful heart, cheers. :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

never stop praying.

Part Two: Prayer

Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. 
Prayer: a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.
Thankfulness: feeling or expressing gratitude, appreciative.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 -  "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 

Never stop praying.  As I really meditated on these words I could feel the urgency Paul was trying to convey to us. 

It's easy for us to seek the Lord in prayer when we are troubled, sad or feel overwhelmed. For some people it's easy to praise the Lord when things are going well, and to pray with a thankful heart. But when it comes down to just living life in the in between, I feel like it's common to not think of where and how God fits into it all... and as sad as it may sound, it seems easy to "slow down" our prayers. The need to pray regularly seems to start to fade away, because we feel like life begins to get manageable. Not only does it seem to be manageable, but we also start to think we can control it on our own - so we take matters into our own hands, and eventually a downward spiral happens at some point - and where does that take us? Down on our knees. So, why do we ever even get up? 

How often do we sit and hear a loved one ask for prayer requests? We can hear the hurt in their cry, and the pain in their heart - and what do we say? Yes, I'll add you in my prayers. I'll put you on my prayer list. I'll pray for you.... all of these things are sweet, and they certainly speak care in those moments. But how bold would it be to show them that same love right there in the moment, when they are crying out for help?

I'm currently in my internship in my last year of Grad School, and I'm placed at BGHS learning the ins and outs of becoming a school counselor. As I continue to learn more about how the education world functions and what the highs and lows of the public school system offers the community, I'm also being reminded of how so many broken people are teaching and leading so many broken kids. It makes my heart ache for how desperately they need a savior, the Savior. So many solutions to the problem, but I think realistically there's only one thing we really can do. Pray continually.

Could you imagine what a marriage would look like without communication... it wouldn't exist. This wouldn't just apply to a marriage, but really any relationship. The only way a relationship has any shot at being healthy is by having communication, and healthy communication at that. Would you take a day off from speaking to someone? Or a week... or a month? A season? Probs not. The more you talk and the deeper your conversations are with that person, the closer you are bound to grow towards them. Prayer offers us that avenue to communicate with God. The more we pray, the closer we are going to grow towards the Lord. So, it make perfect sense that Paul urges us to pray continually, and to never stop. 

In your highs and lows and in-betweens... lean on the Lord with a prayerful heart. Don't stop.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Part One: choosing JOY

This is the beginning to my three entry blog about the impression 1 Thess 5:16-18 has made on me as I have continued to pray through it and memorize it in my journey walking with the Lord. I encourage you to read along and journey with me as I unveil some of my thoughts, feelings and beliefs about that Paul is really emphasizing to us through the Lord's word.

Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. 
Prayer: a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.
Thankfulness: feeling or expressing gratitude, appreciative.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 -  "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 

Props to for helping me out with those definitions - and kudos to "the Trio" Paul, Silas & Timothy, good job communicating God's will to us, guys. 

I really want to focus on the first part of that verse in this one.. Always be joyful. 

One thing that I really found interesting about the definition of the word "Joy", would be how the emotion can only come by the cause of something realllllllllllllly good happening to us. Then there's "the Trio" who encourages us to be joyful always - meaning, regardless of circumstances, regardless of the situation and what the outcome may be we are called to be joyful always. 

I'm currently at a stage of life where I am constantly banging my head up against a wall because I feel like I am continuously reminding myself to apply this verse to my life. I get caught in a  web of jealously and comparison. Over the course of this last year I have found myself in a constant stage of jealously over other people.... jealous of friendships, jealous of others in secure financial situations, jealous of graduating students, jealous of nicer homes, jealous of married people. It's kind of ridiculous when I list it all out like that, and really sad now as I am reflecting on it more... but that's been my life. 

I have not only chosen jealously over joy, but I have also chosen to not be content in where I am at instead of being joyful for the journey God has me on. Women friends - what is it about us? Why are we constantly looking for the next thing? Students anticipating graduation and a career (I'm guilty of this)... singles craving marriage (again - guilty)... newlyweds needing to buy a house (more than likely guilty eventually)... wives obsessed with getting pregnant (I assume to be guilty of this someday)... Don't get me wrong, I think these are great and even BEAUTIFUL things to desire in life... but what is it about our human nature that demands that our wants are filled immediately? Why can't we be content and joyful in the journey the Lord has us on right now - even when it is thick, ugly, dense and at times lonely. Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of this too. Right now I want the heck out of school... I want to be engaged... (yep - there it is, I said it)... I want, I want, I want. I NEED to be joyful in the journey, because this is God's will for me in Christ Jesus. 

There is such a STRONG NEED for us to be full of joy in the journey that we are in right now. Yes, a need - not a want or a desire, but a need. Did you know that Paul encourages his readers to be joyful (or full of joy) 16 different times in his letters? 16 times! In all of the different passages that Paul encourages us to be joyful in, I found that there are different avenues that we need to choose joy in life, four different ones to be exact... 

The first one would be in our suffering. Yes, we must find joy in the midst of our suffering. Did you know that each time Paul encourages us to be joyful (all 16 times) he was writing that from a jail cell? Paul was in jail while encouraging us to find joy in our suffering. I'm not sure what Paul's jail experience was... but I'm fairly certain that it more than likely didn't entail gourmet meals, pillows being fluffed... or pillows at all... based on the little research I did (in the last 5 minutes in a Google search), his jail experience was more like sleeping on dirt/stone floors, urinating on those same floors, trapped in a dark room with little to no lighting, and minimal food provided throughout the week. I would say it's safe to call that suffering. All the while being trapped in such harsh and disgusting conditions (which by the way - he was arrested for proclaiming the gospel), he was still joyfully writing to his brothers and sisters throughout the land, and spurring them on with the love of Christ. He was still moving mountains in his faith for Jesus Christ, and he was doing it with a joyful servant's heart. So, I think Paul can relate to finding joy in the midst of suffering. 

The second one would be in our serving. For some of us this may come easier than others, because you might have a heart that was gifted with the desire to serve. For others, it might be more of a struggle to really serve joyfully. I know for me personally sometimes serving is a true and honest joy... but to be honest, sometimes it takes some intense sacrifice. Dusting our house regularly or scrubbing the bathroom for my roommates - not that big of a deal. Offering free babysitting for a couple who really needs a date night - a little bit more of a sacrifice because I'm offering up my time, and time is precious to me these days. I'm sure you can relate, your time is probably just as precious as mine is. In Philippians 2:14-15 Paul encourages us to do all things without grumbling or disputing, including serving. Finding joy in our hearts as we serve one another is what puts joy in the heart of our Savior as He watches His children love and serve each other in His name. We do these things not for our own glory or satisfaction, but for the glory and satisfaction of the Lord. Something to mull over: If you find yourself grumbling while serving someone (whether that's a loved one or not), what is going on in your own heart that is holding you back from serving them with pure and joyful intentions?

The third one would be in our giving. I don't just mean in our finances, yes that plays a part in it... but to be honest, I mean in all of our resources I think we need to give joyfully. Resources meaning: money, time, education, wisdom, homes, ect... How can we joyfully give within the means of all of our resources? What would that look like? Sometimes in the midst of our giving there is an element of sacrifice (not always, but sometimes) and in the moments that we are sacrificing something are we still sacrificially and joyfully giving? When we pour into our wallets and drop the only milk money we have for the week into the plate as it passes by are we joyfully giving it away? Or are our hearts cross and stubborn? As we take on another responsibility within an organization that we volunteer for, are we giving our time and resources with a joyful heart - or are we banging our heads up against the wall about it? Even in these moments our character comes out - but not just our character but our character in Christ. "He must become greater, and I must become less." -John 3:30. 

The fourth (and final) one would be in our believing. I think there is nothing more beautiful and more powerful than what I am about to share with you... and because of that, there is nothing worthy of more joy than this...  there is nothing in this world more significant than the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact that the Son of Man came to this Earth to live, love and die just for you and me is something that I find tremendous JOY in. If you need any more reason than that to be joyful, then please give me a call sometime - we'll chat over breakfast or coffee and I'll tell you why that statement alone brings me abundant JOY. 

Joy is a strong need in our life. It's hard for me to believe that if someone is truly following the Lord and has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior that they won't experience JOY.. beautiful and abundant JOY in their life. Part of experiencing it is choosing it though. Sometimes choosing joy comes easily... and sometimes choosing joy is a little bit more difficult, and may come with an attitude check. Either way, joy is a need in our life - and Paul encourages us to choose it ALWAYS. 

Stay tuned for Part 2: praying in the moment.