December 10, 2014

The Brave are Never Fearless



Brave (v.): to endure, face, or meet courageously; to defy challenge; dare.


Brave. I've been hearing this word a lot lately. It's a word that many people have recently used to describe me in this season, mostly because of my decision to say yes to the calling of God on my life, even when it means moving half way around the world.

But, Brave? Really? Me? 

They obviously did not see the numerous times I was alone in my house before moving and just started crying because it all seemed to happening so fast. Or the times that I would wake up at night sweating and in a panic because the reality of leaving everything I knew and found safe was more than I could handle. Or the times after moving when I sat in my room overwhelmed and wondering if I could really do this. If I could really even handle everything God was/is calling me to.

A wise woman once said "Do it afraid." {:Joyce Meyer:} That has been my mantra in this season of life.

To look fear in the eyes and move forward in the direction of fear is a choice. It is not comfortable and it is certainly not natural. 


Today in my quiet time God spoke something into my spirit that was too good not to share with you:

"The brave are never fearless."

The brave are not superhuman people with a backbone of steel. The brave are you and me. They are not people who are unknown to ourselves, rather they are ordinary people that take the fear they have that has the potential to paralyze them, look it in the face and say:

"I dare you to try and stop me from everything God has planned for me."

This is the stance I have chosen to take in this season and every season. Fear has the potential to cripple you or motivate you. The places you find fear are often the places where you also have the most potential. If it wasn't why would Satan try to replace the potential with fear? Some of the worlds greatest authors have never written because they are afraid no one will read their writings. Some of the best evangelist have never shared Jesus with anyone because they are afraid that they will be rejected. The greatest God calls on peoples lives have yet to be tapped into because they are often the places that our greatest fears hide.

Today is your day! Look fear in the eye and DARE it to stop you from everything He has called you to.

Don't wait until you no longer feel the fear, do it afraid and remember...

The brave are NEVER fearless!
  
 


The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. Deuteronomy 28:7

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December 1, 2014

Here's to you year 27


To My 27th Year:

You were quite the year. You were filled with bittersweet endings and brave new beginnings. You were the year where I encountered the love of Jesus in a way that was unlike anything I have ever experienced. You were the year that allowed me to leave the safety of my comfort zone to spread my wings across the shores of the unknown. 




27, you were the year I gave up trying to fit into a mold that I thought I was suppose to fit perfectly in  to and started uncovering who it is I was created to be. In this year, Jesus started to erase the things I have allowed to write on my heart and began writing his own name on my heart with indelible ink. 27, you have been marked with the word identity.



You were the most difficult and stretching, yet the most beautiful and triumphant year of my life. I believe one day I will look back and mark you as one of the most significant years. 


27, thank you for the lessons you taught and the memories you brought, but 28 is going to be even better!



Love the birthday girl,
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November 29, 2014

Ball Ready


I went to a ball. Okay, by ball I really mean like a prom for Bible college students...but, still it was totes fun!

Each year in November the school I attend has a "Grad Ball" to celebrate the end of the year and all the graduates graduating. They rent out this stunning venue that overlooks the harbor. All the staff of the college as well as many of the pastors attend wearing their best dresses and most fashionable skinny suits with bow ties. As if getting dressed up to go to a fancy place isn't good enough then we were served a scrumptious 3 course meal. 

Getting dressed up and going to a fancy dinner is always fun, but when you are in a season where you are spending your life savings to just survive and attend school and buying name brand TP is a luxury it was an extra special treat! 

I must say that I do love being a girl and making a day of getting ready with my girls. It was one of my favorite parts of the entire day.



Know what wasn't my favorite part of the day? Being so stinking excited for Grad and then being forced to sit in traffic for an hour.



But, the good news is we got there and of corse we celebrated with....a selfie!



And a few more as the night went on.










The dinner was massive. It was like being at a wedding reception with 2,000 people. Those poor servers working and trying to serve all of us. They did awesome though. Our poor server had to put my napkin in my lap 3 times because I kept getting up to talk to people. 

After the dinner we went downstairs to a separate ballroom and got our party on and danced the night away. There are no photos of this because it was a furnace in that place and no one, and I mean no one, was picture worthy when they were as messy as we were. I will say, we know how to party! There was live music and dance moves for days.

After the major sweat fest dance party it was time to head out on the town but not before a quick pic with my housemate who had just turned 23 at midnight. 


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November 13, 2014

Prison Break



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

What sort of words come to mind when you think of a prison cell?
Cold.
Dark.
Lonely.
Scary.
Limiting.

And what do the words "great cloud" make you think of?
Sunny.
Beautiful day.
White puffy goodness.
Good weather.
Blue skies.
Happiness.

These two mental images certainly conjure up different mental imagry don't they? In our minds they can hardly even simultaneously exist. You can't picture a "great cloud" and a prison cell at the same time {:even though I know you are trying to prove me wrong right now in your mind, just go with me:}. 

So why do we feel like these two pictures can coexist in our lives?

I had a bit of revelation today. 

Oh you want me to share? Well, if you insist...

These past few days have been filled with some pretty huge life decisions and situations that have played with my emotions. Big change often brings some stress, but making these big changes and decisions alone, in another continent, just seems to add another level of difficulty on top of it. I have been stressed and overwhelmed and just constantly praying for wisdom, guidance, and peace in these decisions and in the handling of new seasons. In short, my life just feels a bit heavy at the moment. 

Then I was reminded that I am choosing to live in a prison of my emotions and concerns. 

Emotions, concern, worry, and stress are all normal human emotions. The problem is we allow them to imprison us. The wrong is not in feeling these emotions, but rather living according to them. In Matthew 16:19 God says that he has given us the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven. 

In the Kingdom the there is nothing imprisoned because Jesus brought with Him freedom not constraint. However, concerns, worry, fear, and stress are not from Jesus and are weapons the enemy uses to throw us off track. So yes, your worry and stress and fear all belong in a prison cell, because they are not things of the kingdom, but you don't belong in there with them. So bind those fears, worries, and stresses, throw them in the prison they have tried to put you in and then turn the key. 

It's time to make a prison break and live the life we are meant to live outside in the "great cloud".
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November 10, 2014

The Journey to Here





Ahhh, an afternoon without homework, assessments, church services, practicum work, or an agenda. What shall I do? What shall I do?

 Oh wait, I think I had this little hobby that had something to do with writing once upon a time. Oh yeah, I have my own corner in blogland with beautiful, amazing, encouraging, incredible people! I think I’ll spend my afternoon with them!

Ready. Set. BLOG

The past 4 months have certainly been that, a journey. The journey has been so good, but if I can be real with my friends, the journey hasn’t always felt good. I am learning that there is a clear and distinct difference in the two.

God is doing some serious heart surgery in me. I’ve shared with you some about the journey of recreating my identity here, here, and here. That is a huge part of what God is doing in me at the moment but that’s not even close to all of it.

The best way to describe the environment I am in right now is a Jesus pressure cooker. 90% of my daily activity involves church. This isn’t a normal environment I’m in. People don’t normally have a Bible as the main textbook in every class. People don’t attend chapel or a church service every day. People don’t normally sit in college classes where every idea and topic is centralized around Jesus and His Church. Then, because of the season I am in, all my friends are from the church, and all but one is in college for the same reason I am. This means church and school is a common theme in our conversations too. Therefore, Jesus has infiltrated every sphere of my life and when you allow Him to do this, he doesn’t just decide to work on one thing at a time in your life. 

It is like he opens up the “closet” that is your life and just starts chucking things out that don’t belong. 

I don’t say that to sound ungrateful, because it is actually the exact opposite. My daily prayer is that even though attending school and church services at the most influential church in the world is my new normal, I never want it to become normal. It’s not. Normal people don’t get to take 2 years out of their life to study The Word, grow in their relationship with God, and learn about how to build His Church. Yes, it is a lot of Jesus. And yes, he is doing a lot of work in me, but I can’t help but find myself overwhelmed with thankfulness that I serve a God that loves me too much to leave me the way I came over here, the way I was.

Because life here is so uniquely different and quite impossible to explain fully to someone who hasn’t experienced it, strong friendships are built quickly. Frienships go deep quickly because you share this experience and also because of the deep need for relationship when you are this far from home. I have met some AMAZING people. How many opportunities do you get to make friends with people from across the globe? Many of my close friends are from the states {:we gotta stick together:}, but others are from South Africa, London, Zimbabwe, London, Switzerland, Indonesia, Brazil. 60 countries are actually represented within the college. It’s incredible!




One thing I wasn’t prepared for here was culture shock.  I mean I was going to another modern country who also spoke English so it couldn’t be that different, right? Well, in some aspects yes, but in many others WRONG-O. I never expected the language barrier I encountered when I got here. I am now convinced that they do not speak English, they speak Australian. I am kidding {:kind of:}.  They make up words and shorten everything.

Just an example of something an Aussie might say: Connect groups meet up fortnightly in the arvo. 

Um, excuse me….WHAT?

So fortnightly means every other week, and arvo is short for afternoon. 

Where do they get this stuff?

And the fact that people in Sydney do not us AC and Heating in their homes is beyond me. 45 degrees doesn’t seem that cold until you can’t go in your house to get away from that temperature and when nights are in the 30s. ...yeah, about that. Also, because they don’t use heat, if its 45 and sunny outside it is like 40 inside because you're not in the direct sun. 

And please, lets talk about this whole no AC or AirCon as they would call it. I definitely don’t know why they don’t have it because this is only the middle of spring and the temps are already pushing 100 degrees. And again, there is no relief when you walk in the house….YUCK. One hot sweaty, hair stuck to my head, makeup melting, clothes sticking mess...that will be me for the next few months.

I could keep going on all afternoon with you, but I won’t “blog vomit” all four months on you in this one blog. It is already pretty long, but if you are still reading it means you are the bees knees.

If you want to keep up with me I have been trying to be good about keeping my Instagram up to date. Just follow along there {:aemiller16:}

 xxxxx

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November 7, 2014

Nothin' but Net


The first disciples of Jesus', first reaction to following Jesus was to drop their net. It seems like a simple thing, but the net represented their livelihood, their past, everything they knew, their comfort  zones.

What net is Jesus asking you to drop to come and follow him?

The Safety Net

Are you carrying around your safety net? The net that will catch you if you fall. The net that always has a plan B in case God's plan A doesn't work. The net that keeps you from making any decisions that would push the status quo. 

I'm not sure who told any Christian that following Jesus would be safe, but they are a liar. Selling your home, quitting your job, and moving to Australia to spend your savings to go to Bible college is not safe. But, then again, who has ever done anything great inside their comfort zones? Who has ever done anything great inside the boat? Jesus called Peter out of the boat, but let's be reminded that he wasn't walking on calm water. It says he called him out among the wind and the waves. Wind and waves are not safe when you are in the boat much less outside of it.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the book Narnia. Lucy is talking to Mr. Beaver and asks about Aslan:

"Is he a safe lion?"

Mr Beaver: "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

The Addiction Net

A lot of us are carrying this net around and don't even know it. 

We  hear the word addict and our minds go straight to drugs and alcohol. Yet, I would argue that most of us are addicts. Some of us are addicted to relationships. If we aren't in a relationship we feel like we aren't completely whole {:If this is you, I have a whole bunch of post you should read, girlfriend. Just hit the singleness label over there>>>>>:}.Others of us are addicted to other's approval {:I'm working on this one:}. We seek other people's approval so desperately that we actually forget to seek God's approval first and even forget what He would have us do or say in a situation to please Him because we are to worried about pleasing other people. Then there is the social media addict...I'll leave that one there.

The Fear Net

Then there is the fear and worry net Jesus is asking us some of us to drop. We are commanded not to worry in the Bible which makes worry a sin. And fear means you have displaced your faith in Christ and placed your faith in the enemy. Both of these things ensnare us, and limit our potential to fully run after Jesus and the purpose He has laid out for us. 

The Past Net

This one is can get awfully tangled around our feet. We all have a past and some of your past would put other's to shame. No matter how good, bad, or indifferent your past is - we all have one. Some of us have been trying to escape and drop this net but we somehow always seem to get tangled up in it again and again. 

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." - Philippians 3:13

Some people define their lives by their past. Others even choose to justify themselves by their past saying it is the reason why they are the way they are. If you can choose to do that, cant you just as easily choose to not define and justify yourself by it? It is a choice.

Maybe in your past you weren't hurt by other people, but you were the one hurting others. You can still move past your past through the grace in Jesus. Paul wrote the above verse and he was part of the crew that was killing the first Christians. He was a murderer of Jesus' people. If he can push towards whats ahead I am pretty sure the same grace that covered Paul can cover you too.

Here's my challenge: It only takes 21 days to create a new habit. For the next 21 days make it a choice every morning to drop your net and follow Jesus.

xxxxxxx

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October 22, 2014

Meanwhile in Oz


Ah, I have found myself with 30 minutes to catchup with my friends. 

Things have been really good, but really busy. I cannot believe I have almost been here four months. People told me time would fly, I just had no idea how fast it would really go. Most days are jammed pack with classes, small groups, assessments, and serving. Thirteen hour days and the norm, and there are certainly no naps in the middle of the day this time around in college. I wouldn't change it though. I really feel like I need to pinch myself on a regular basis. I'm living the dream. 

Here are some pictures to catch you up on the journey thus far...

Yes I do have a huge bandage on my knee and here is why.

My first day an the Aussie beaches and I split my knee open pretty bad cliff jumping. 
That's what I get for being adventurous!





The Australian Family

She lives about 2 1/2 hours away from me in the States but I had to travel around the world to meet her.


I have really pretty friends...

...and one of them is crazy tall so we stand on our tip-toes.





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October 2, 2014

Identity - Paint the Wall


Created in the image of God.
~Genesis 1:27~

You're not just beautiful, you are flawless.
~Song of Solomon 4:7~

You won't be forever single.
~Isaiah 34:16~

You life has a plan that is bigger than your wildest dreams.
~Ephesians 3:20~

These are rarely the thoughts we think when we think about ourselves. 

Why is it so easy to believe these truths about other people, while our own internal commentary goes more like:

Wow, good morning zit face.

Too bad you don't have a body like hers.

You get married? There is a reason you haven't had a date in a year.

You'll never be as good at the job as she was. You're too forgetful.

Can you get anything right?

Nothing ever goes good for you. Just settle for mediocre.


We believe the Bible. Of corse! But, we somehow have a hard time believing what it says can actually be true of ourselves - especially when it comes to our identity.

Our identities have been so bombarded about what we should be, and how we should look, and how we are suppose to dress, and the way we are suppose to act that we lose sight of the one we were created to be. 

Every time we have these self deprecating thoughts we are actually insulting God. He is the one who created you to look and be like the very person you are {:I'm not saying we can't all do a little self-improvement, I am just saying overall:}. Not only did he create you, but He did so and then said it YOU were good. 

You are good!

So many of us have lived for years with this negative self-talk. We have to start taking those thoughts captive and replacing them with the Word of God. You don't have to believe it right away, but do it anyway.

Someone once explained it to me in this way: It is like a wall that has been painted red. When you decide to repaint it white, it will take several coats. After the first coat it becomes pink. After the second coat it becomes a softer pink and so on and so forth until coat after coat there is no sign of the red wall anymore.

Our thoughts are much like this. We have to repaint the walls of our brain with the white paint of the Word until the red paint of the world is no longer visible. But just like painting that wall, it doesn't happen instantly. It is a process, but a process that must be started to ever be completed.



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September 25, 2014

Identity-Rubies in a Diamond World


"A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman-who is he who can find her? 
She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies."
~Proverbs 31:10~


Oh that Proverbs 31 lady! She just has it all together doesn't she?

She likes to wake before dawn and is an excellent cook.

 I am still tired when I get out of bed at 9:30 and cook to the sound of a fire alarm. 

She is the quintessential woman. The woman all men want to marry and the woman we all wish we were.

I cannot talk about identity and not talk about this woman. I am 100% confident that she knows her identity in Christ and is unwavering in wonderment of who she is. Thus, giving birth to everything else she is that convicts us normal mortals to the core.

It is out of knowing her identity that she becomes this virtuous woman that men are lucky to find. And it is this woman that is worth “far more than rubies.”

Wait. What?

Rubies?

Why not diamonds?

We like diamonds God.

So why is it that a woman of good character is worth more than rubies and not diamonds? I actually came to this answer through my roommate and her search for all wisdom and knowledge through Uncle Google.

She found that a flawless ruby is more precious than a diamond of the same size.

So while the world searches for diamonds, God is searching for rubies.

The world places value on the diamond; God places value on the rubies.

The world would love to tell us what are value is. If we have more education our value goes up. If we have a successful career your value goes up. If you are a perfect size zero your value goes up. Perfect hair? You got it; your value goes.

We constantly hear that in order to be a diamond we have to do, say, and look a certain way.

God agrees. To be a diamond you do have to check all the boxes, but that’s why He is calling us to be rubies.

To be a ruby, we have to recognize that our source of value is the one who created us and planned our days before the formation on the world {:think on that one for a second-crazy:}.

We have value because when God created us, he breathed value into our being. He saw this time in history and knew that who He had already planned on you becoming was perfect for this time in history.

So many of us are walking around wishing and desiring to be a diamond, when you already are a ruby. Stop striving to be something you already are. Just be who you are. You are a ruby.

And when you realize what you are you are, then you can go fulfill all you were meant to be.

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