November 19, 2016

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist - Book Review

Do you ever find books in your hands that as you turn the pages, you chuckle to yourself and think "God, you are a sneaky one?" Because it is as if the author has been sneaking into your quit time and listening to your prayers or reading you journal that hides itself safely in your nightstand drawer?

This was one of those books. They all seem to be those kinds of books these days. {:I am currently reading "How's Your Soul" by Judah Smith and it too seems to be one of those books.:}

I picked up this book because my best friend said she had started reading it. When I saw it and read the title, I quickly sent her a message to ask what she thought about it before I fully committed to who knows how many hours and late nights reading it. She said it made her want to slow down and enjoy life more.

Slow down? Enjoy life more? Um, yes. I'll take that, please.

This is the first book I have read by Shauna Niequist, daughter of Bill Hybels. 

As I read the title, "Present Over Perfect", it spoke to something my heart longed for - to be present and in the moment instead of obsessing over perfection. Perfection in my work, my appearance, my social media posts. My wardrobe choices. My coma placement in my blog posts. You get the point. 

Reviewing this book almost seems wrong. That is exactly what this book is proposing we lay down. In "Present Over Perfect" Shauna challenges her readers to stop being motivated by perfectionism and start being motivated by love. Through her personal journey of learning this she shares how it is she got to a breaking point of basically wanting to throw her hands up and say "I give up". And who hasn't felt like that before? 

Shauna's writing wasn't my favorite. Her chapters are short which I did enjoy because I could easily read a chapter while waiting in the car for a friend or as I am sitting patiently for my next class to begin. 

Though her writing style may not be my cup of tea, I found myself constantly highlighting throughout the book. There is no doubt she has some profound wisdom from this journey she has traveled on and is generously sharing it with the world through this book. As I read through these pages my heart definitely sighed a big "me too" as I read about her own struggle of wanting to live up to expectations and exceed them while trying to balance the jobs of daughter, wife, mother, and basically human being. 

I am with Shauna. I want to stop the whirlwind of living according to to-do lists, living up to the expectations of what others think I should be, and the perceptions of how big my capacity is as a leader. I want to be ruled by love and not perfectionism. I want to live an imperfect life and be okay with it. 

So three stars for this book style, but five stars on being the message I needed to hear most in my season. 

What are you currently reading? I'm about to be on school break for two months and totally okay with devouring some good reads!

**All opinions in this post are mine alone and are not reflective of the publisher or author. This is a post written in conjunction with BookLook Bloggers in order to create an authentic review of the above text.**

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November 14, 2016

When Discipline brings Shame in this Control Freak's Heart

Creating discipline in your life, serves you...until it doesn't.

A practical statement, but one that, I believe, has hidden layers of complexity within it.

If you don't know me well, allow me to enlighten you. I am an introverted, self-reflective, internal processor. Basically, I like to pick myself apart in quiet solitude - and no, I don't want to talk about it.

Don't let the vulnerability I show {:at least I hope I do because who needs another unrelatable writer in blogosphere?:} in my blog post fool you. Yes, I enjoy being vulnerable here because I believe it is how other people relate to you and in some way breathe a deep sigh of "you too? I thought I was the only one." And, thats what I desire. It's what we need. However, my vulnerability only comes after a lot of digging around in this head and heart of mine. I rarely share the things I am sorting through at the moment. I wait a a good week before pressing the "publish" button...

The other day I was neck deep in my inner world. I was thinking about one of my strengths: discipline.

My discipline serves me well. My world is pretty ordered. I like it that way. I like discipline. I like structure. Basically, I like control. For the most part, my discipline, structure, and controlled life serves me well. I go to church when I don't feel like it. I eat the kale instead of the french fries. I hit the pavement with my running shoes instead of hitting snooze most mornings. I can find all of my files easily because they are perfectly organized in files on my USB and I can juggle several plates all at one time. All these traits, and even dare I say strengths, serve my life well. Until, they don't.

What I found as I was rooting around in my inner world is that some of my greatest strengths have created some of my most significant and debilitating weaknesses. As they usually do.

I pride myself on being in control, disciplined, and structured. This means I have little time for chaos, slip ups, or the interruptions in my already very scheduled life. And wouldn't you know that life just happens to be filled with the whirlwind of chaos, the plethora of slip ups, and the frequent interruption.

I realized that these same strengths that have gotten me to where I am now in life, can no longer sustain me where I am going. My world is getting bigger and what I feel God is calling me into can hardly fit into a box, be scheduled into my iCalendar, or something even the best intended disciplines will allow me to control. But I want to go! I want to go on this adventure with God forward...but it dawned on me that shame is holding me back.

I had to dig around a bit deeper in my head and heart to see where this shame was coming from. Holy Spirit showed me that it was tied to my desires for discipline, structure, and control. So, I feel shame when I am less than disciplined with my habits. I feel shame when I cannot control a situation and find myself attempting to control other things, or worse, other people. I feel shame when I fail to miss this etherial "mark" I have set for myself of what a woman living in the center of God's will looks like. I feel shame because I love being the "have it all together girl" that I am actually not - no one is. But I like to be that girl. I want you to think I am even though I know I am not. I experience shame when I feel like I don't live up to God's expectations.

This is a misunderstanding of who God is though. He knows me. He knows my struggles and even on my least disciplined, unstructured day, when everything seems to be out of control - He still chooses me.

I came to the realization that day that the only thing shame does is breed fear - fear of other people's opinions, fear of how I will be perceived: Will they think I am a high capacity woman? Am I good enough? Do I live up to your expectation of what you think I should be? And it blocks me from Love {:aka God:}. The perfect love that casts out all fear. And here is the beauty of it, when discipline, structure, and control are in perfect harmony with Love they fulfill their purpose in my life and calling. They bring organization to chaos. They bring bring you to the safe center when the hurricane is swirling around you. They see a way forward when the weight of obligation and expectation press in. They serve me when they are centered in Love.

Our strengths only serve us, until they don't.
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November 8, 2016

And Sometimes, You Need to Eat the Chocolate - The Single Girl Diaries


A few years ago, in October of 2009 I decided I was going to give up chocolate. This was a massive deal for the girl who ate chocolate after every meal! I was an undiagnosed, non-meeting-attending choc-aholic. 

At the age of 22, I decided that I was going to give up chocolate in order to pray for my husband. 

This all sounds very spiritual and oh so "good Christian girl" of me. Except for the fact that it started a series of events in my life, that until late, I didn't realize was unhealthy. In theory this was a great idea - - as many of my ideas always are - - but it had a repercussion. 

I believe in the power of prayer and fasting. I believe what it says in John 9:29 {:this kind can only come out through prayer and fasting:}. I believe that there are times when the discipline of fasting unleashes things in the heavenlies when prayer alone will not. 

This is how this started off. But somewhere along the line it became less about a pure act of fasting and praying and more about pressing the pause button on my life until Mr. Put-A-Ring-On-It shows up.

To an outsider, the only thing I had given up was chocolate. And to most PMSing girls this is an act of sainthood. Unfortunately, it began a chain of events that caused me to put my life on hold until I dawned the white gown and sported a sparkly thing on my left ring finger. 

I realized that while I up and left my world in West Virginia to come to Australia and pursue the call of God on my life, it never crossed my mind that I would have to think about what came after Bible College. Why? Because I was going to be engaged or married and submitting to my man's decisions. 

There's also the Bible that sits on my nightstand {:well, did, until this revelation:}. It was a Bible I had been given as a gift from Colour Conference back in 2015. It was a man's Bible. I decided I was going to put it on my nightstand and pray over it each time I looked at it for my husband. Again, good thought but the problem is...What if God asked me to give it to someone else? Would I obey? Well, honestly, probably not. I was holding out again.

It started with chocolate, but unconsciously, it ended with a life of holding out on God to make sure that His plans for me were in line with his {:Mr. Hunka Hunka Manhood:} plans for us.

So on Friday, after this massive revelation I typed this into my phone...

"Today is a stake in the ground. If I am going to be 30 and single; I am going to do it well. No more putting my life on hold for a husband. No more living on an 'island' because I refuse to let anyone see how hard it can be for me to be single sometimes. The Church needs leaders in every sphere - and at least for right now, this is my sphere. So I will eat the chocolate. I will publish the book. And I will choose my own adventure. Without a man's hand to hold, but as a woman of God, on a God mission, holding hands with the Lover of My Soul. I'll be honest about the struggles, but I will not be the needy 'single woman'. I give myself permission to be a strong woman. Today, I eat the chocolate."

and ate this...

If you're going to go...I say go all in - - and the best part is, they were healthy...ish.

And now I am no longer fasting chocolate....I feel like fasting sex until mariage is enough. {:Did I just say type that??:}

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November 2, 2016

To Have and to Hold - Book Review (byBetsy St. Amant, Katie Ganshert and Becky Wade)

It has literally been two years since I picked up a fictional book. And probably almost five years since I chose to a read a sappy romance novel. I used to love me a good page turning chick flick. I couldn't put them down and I devoured them on a weekly basis. As I began to build a stronger relationship with Jesus, I knew that I needed to be more intentional in guarding my mind. This meant putting down the romance novels with scenes in that made me quietly blush.

I'm not really sure what led me to choose this particular novel, but I am coming out of a pretty full on season. I knew I needed a departure from the theology readings, the leadership books, and the soul searching texts that have consumed my mind for most of the past few weeks and months. I needed something mindless that wasn't going to leave me feeling guilty if one of my housemates picked up my iPad.

This book is a combination of three short stories. The first centers around a small town baker. The second story, a florist. And the third, a small town wedding planner and author from Texas. The stories do not interrelate but all follow their lives as they find love. Each story was sweet in its own way and left me smiling in my bed as I read rather than red faced. They even left me turning pages long after I should have been tucked into my bed with the lights off. It reminded me of a more pure version of Nora Robert's Wedding Quartet books.

Is it a life changing, you have to go buy the book right now type? No. Would I recommend it to the girl just looking for something mindless to read? You bet.
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November 1, 2016

The Hole Not Even Jesus Can Fill - The Single Girl Diaries

Well, if ever there was a controversial title to a blog post, this just might be it. It is not really meant to be controversial {:okay, maybe a little-sometimes I can't help myself:}, but it is more or less an ode to that thing we always get, as the single girlat the dinner table: "Jesus is enough to fill that empty void in your heart."

To that I say yes...and no.

If you are single, a Christian, and over the age of 27, I can almost guarantee you have been told something like this. It is the Christian verbal "band-aid" for singleness. I touched on it a little in my last post. It's the "God" answer when people don't know what else to say.

Is it true? Is Jesus enough? Yes.

Yes, He is the source of everything we need. Yes, He is enough to satisfy our longing heart. Yes, He is bigger than our lonely nights spent with Ben and Jerry. Yes, He is able to give us what we need. Yes, to all of that stuff that we know in our well saturated, church attending, small group sitting minds.

But what about when it isn't true?

In perfect theory, Jesus is enough. But that's just the thing. We are not perfect, and life is not a class in theory. What happens when what we are experiencing - our longing - doesn't line up with the theory we have been taught and pledged to believe?

We are human beings, living in a fallen world. So, in theory Jesus is enough, but in our human-ness, in our realities, in our singleness, sometimes He just isn't enough.

Is God mad about that? I don't think so. He knows us. He knows how he created us. He knows our limits. He knows our struggles. He knows our desires...because He put them there. Rather than fighting with us and fitting himself into a hole we long to have filled in a natural way, I believe He leverages what we have the ability to offer him.

As I started this post, God dropped Hannah in my heart. Hannah {:in 1 Sam. 1:} is clearly a woman of God. She loved God with all her heart. Yet she, like me and maybe like you, had a hole of longing within her heart. A hole that not even the immense love she had for her God could fill. See, Hannah was barren, and was crying out from a place of longing - longing to be a mother.

[Hannah] pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary... Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably.
1 Samuel 1:9,10

As I reread this story in preparation to write this post ,I  realized that maybe God doesn't fill our heart holes of longing on purpose. 

Sure He can. He's God. He can do anything he wants. 

But maybe, just maybe, God instead uses the hole of a desire not yet met to beckon us to Him - like He did with Hannah. 

I am rather familiar with this hole. This hole has left me "pulling myself together" in public quit often. It is the thing that leaves me crying at my desk as I write these posts. It is the thing that leaves me questioning if God will be faithful in this area of my life. It is this hole, this empty space, that leaves me no choice but to live in utter surrender to my Jesus. 

The words of the old hymn come to mind: 

All to the, my precious savior. I surrender all.

So yes. Jesus can fill the hole, but He hasn't because it's still there. It's just up to me if I will let the hole of longing, the hole of a desire not yet met draw me to Him. To seek His face in the place of my longing. It is my opportunity to dethrone my longing and enthrone the only One who is able to fill those empty spaces just as he did with Hannah through Samuel.

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October 21, 2016

What if the roses STINK? - The Single Girl Diaries

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I believe the girls in my house have an unspoken affinity for dead flowers. On almost any day that you walk into our apartment, you will find flowers - dead. They are on the kitchen counter, by the tv, sitting on dressers and nightstands, and taking up most of the old tomato sauce jars we use for cups {:poor college students, remember:}. Being the super-sweet, caring, servant-minded housemate I am, I refuse to throw out the dead flowers that were not mine to begin with. I just put up with the disgusting oder that hits you in the nostrils each time you walk past believing that the one who actually received the flowers will one day soon throw them away. 

I have learned that flowers do not always smell lovely.

That is kind of how I feel about being almost 30 and still living the "single dream". I find it almost comical {:as in the comical that if you do not laugh you will cry an ocean of tears that even Justin Timberlake cannot make sound glamorous in a sad song:} when people who are married and dating, while curled up next to their love, text you things like: "it will happen in God's perfect timing," "he's coming and he's going to be amazing," "enjoy the season you are in - stop and smell the roses."

To that I would like to say...I have stopped to smell the roses in the "garden of singleness" for quite a few years now and I have got to tell almost 30 THEY STINK! They smell just as putrid as the dead roses that have been sitting next to my tv for the past week.

I was sitting at lunch a week or so ago with a friend and her mom. My friend is in her early thirties and also single. We got to chatting about our singleness and how it is genuinely our "burden" in this season. Our talk got me thinking about how society treats people who are single in their late 20s and 30s. People don't know how to deal with it, or have answers to it, so they just try to put a band aid over it. It gets passed off as something like an annoying paper-cut - not that big of a deal, just annoying.

People would never dream of poking fun at a woman who is struggling with infertility, anxiety, chronic illness or anything of the like. We give them a sympathetic listening ear, squeezes when we notice that they are about to loose it in public, and love notes on the windshield of their car just to tell them that even though we don't understand we love them. Yet, when a woman is single we make jokes about their singleness: "third wheel again huh?," "you're just too picky," "enjoy the season". Would we ever tell someone dealing with depression to just "enjoy the season"? It's easy for people who are married and in amazing relationships to argue that these situations I mentioned above don't compare with loneliness and singleness. To that I would argue, that's because you aren't experiencing it. You aren't experiencing the emotional pain and weight this "gift of singleness" is when your absolute deepest desire is to be married {:not just have a wedding:}.

I guess my point is this...if you are single and you are struggling, you are justified in your struggle. Doing this journey alone while you watch all of your friends fall in love, get engaged, pick out their wedding dress, have babies, and build their families dream home - sucks. You are not crazy for not having the energy to constantly be around the couples in your world and "pull yourself up by your boot straps" and get your happy-clappy on for them. You are not wrong to have a sadness and loneliness in your heart that even Jesus cannot fill {:this is a topic for a whole 'nother post:}.  

If you are the girlfriend of a single lady who is not longer 24 and living the single girls dream, do her a favor and stop treating her like this singleness thing is "not that big of a deal". It doesn't help us when you tell us that you long for the days when you could just go out shopping on your own without discussing the budget with your husband or try on clothes without your toddler crawling under the dressing room door. Instead, maybe you could acknowledge that you actually have no idea how difficult this journey she is on is. Justify her in her pain. Acknowledge that this struggle is more than just a petty feeling. Any maybe you could agree that sometimes the roses just stink.

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September 14, 2016

Bali Part III

Guess what I did, friend? I left you with a cliffhanger in my Bali Part II post {:there is also Part I if you missed it:} and have been so busy lately that I haven't finished my scuba diving story.

Remember how I told you this was the only scuba diving picture I have...well, that would be because about 5 minutes after this picture was snapped I hopped my not-so-brave-wetsuit-clad-tooshie back in the boat. 

Why you ask? You see I was not panicking at all about this little endeavor. I was actually really excited. I was even calming down my friend to the right of me in this picture explaining just how fine we would be. 

Then, one-by-one the instructors let the air out of our life vest and sunk us to the ocean floor. I was the last to go. 

During the very brief training our guide told us how important it was to clear our ears once we were on the bottom. "No problem" I thought. Well....BIG PROBLEM people! I got down there, the instructor grabbed my nose to signal for me to clear my ears and nothing happened. I did it again. Still noting. The pressure was making my head hurt and I got light headed. The instructor was just starring at me as if waiting for me to have a full on conversation of what was happening a good 15 feet under water. UM HELLO - we cannot communicate we are under water, mister - re mem ber! 

I am freaking out, about to pass out, and I can not communicate. So I signaled to my friendly guide that I wanted to go back up. I reached the surface. Finally, I was able to communicate with him again and tell him what was going on. In his very broken English he said something to the effect of "okay and you want to go down" to which my answer was a strong and convicted NO! So I got myself back in the boat and watched all the pretty fishies from the boat. 

After hearing about how amazing the experience was, I was pretty bummed I didn't go. But, the sadness didn't last long when we arrived here only about an hour later.

Helllllo Luxury...

Welcome to Potato Head. This places was insane. It was an outdoor bar with cheap drinks, yummy food, good live music, and views to die for! The infinity pool overlooked the ocean and we stayed to watch the sunset...from the pool.

I definitely felt like I was living the dream that night. None of us actually wanted to leave.

The next day it poured rain all day. But we still had a blast spending a relaxed day reading in our open living room to the sound of rain and playing Monopoly Go. The rain didn't dampen the mood for a minute. It probably helped that I had a 90 minute massage that day for $10 too. 

After dinner the rain stopped so we decided to load up on our scooters and go to see the Uluwatu Temple. The sky was cloudy, but even with the clouds the views were stunning.

 Because we were going to a temple we had to cover our legs - even the boys. So this was a picture of the guys "modeling" their fabulous temple attire while still asserting their masculinity. I think they nailed it!

The last day we packed up, said our goodbyes to the amazing staff at the house and spent the last day cruising and exploring different restaurants, views, and the biggest, most amazing grocery store I've ever seen.

I have had some amazing vacations in my life, and I live in Australia for Pete's sake, but this trip will go down in the history books as one of the most memorable, relaxing, and fun vacations I've ever gone on. How often in life do you get to go on vacation with 11 of your friends? Take me back!

What's your best vacation sport to date?
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September 12, 2016

Heart Made Whole - Book Review

Where to begin with this book? I wish I could fill this post with quote after quote and how I continually found myself in its pages. But, you are welcome, I will spare you the 10,000 word essay. And...just so we can call this an "actual book review", let's get this whole rating thing out of the way and say this book was 10 stars out of 5 - seriously!

I am sitting here on my balcony staring at my blinking cursor on the screen. I am at a loss of how to adequately put into words how profound I found this book to be - not profound in its eloquent theological speech, but profound in that it has unlocked something within me. 

I finished it a few weeks ago and I am already wondering if it is too soon to pick it back up for a second read.

When I selected "Heart Made Whole" to read, I had never heard of Christ Black Gifford. I just saw the book pop across my social media feed being endorsed by some of the authors and speakers I love so I thought, "why not?"  

In short, the book is about allowing a Savior to mend your broken heart. It sounds like another great Christian self-help book, but I promise this one is so much more.

I was blown away by how vulnerable and transparent Christa was in this book. She shares some of the darkest trials and seasons in her life and doesn't pretend that she was all love hearts and kisses for her Jesus. She is honest! 

In the book, she writes about how our hearts regularly speak to us through our thoughts, actions, and emotions. Yet, we suppress these neon signs for the sake of "forging on"- our Christian duty, right? She goes on to share how when we do this, we are neglecting the very things that are keeping our hearts hardened to our Daddy.

As Christa shared personal conversations she had with Heavenly Father and Holy Spirit it revealed what an incredibly intimate and beautiful - yet raw - relationship she has with them. It challenged me and caused me to go running after that type of relationship. I am not saying this to beef up this post and make it sound better. I mean this as genuinely as I can and with a thank-filled heart to my Jesus that I found this book in my hands.  

Through this book I opened up wounds to Daddy that I didn't realize I had locked Him out of. I identified walls that were keeping me fully from His invading presence into my heart. And, I located where there were gaps between what I knew about Daddy and what I actually believed. Because of this book I have started journeying my on path of allowing Him to mend, restore, repair, and make my heart whole - as He intends it to be.

This book has been the launching pad for a lot of authentic healing and I am so grateful. Can I encourage you to invest the few dollars it costs to purchase this book and just watch what God can do to make your heart whole? Then, come back here and share because I really want to know how this book touched you personally.

What book has had this type of affect on you lately?

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September 6, 2016

Bye Fear-licia

Meet my friend, and housemate, Meg. She is from the big city of NYC. She looks like Sarah Jessica Parker, and you are in luck, because she writes just as good as Carrie Bradshaw! 

I mean, how good is this title alone?! I am pumped you get to meet her and I just know you are going to love today's post. Be sure to comment and show her some love too. 

Being almost 35 and in Leadership College around students in their early 20s certainly has its challenges.  Like trying to understand what’s happening when people are playing Pokiemon (how do you even spell that) GO as they look for small digital animals with names that sound like sneezes, or learning the lingo, or watching my 22 year old housemate inhale a whole pizza and a chocolate cake without gaining an OUNCE.  But I think the biggest challenge is that it makes me question what I am doing here, besides the obvious obedience to God thing.  
That’s just it though.  I am here in direct obedience to God.  So why do I let these things get to me?  One word…FEAR.  Fear is the enemy’s greatest weapon in getting us to doubt our calling, our identity, our purpose, and our ability to trust in our heavenly Father.  Fear is a thief. Fear is a liar.  In New York we call it FOMO… Fear Of Missing Out.  I am afraid that I am missing out on life by doing something that is uncomfortable and challenging and stretching and inconvenient, but is what I am called to for this season.
God has placed huge dream in my heart, and enourmous skill and capacity in my hand, yet I find myself paralyized by fear.  Fear of what you ask?  Fear of being looked at as a follower, fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, enough…the list goes on.  Today I had the reveleation that I have a fear of never finding a husband, of never being vulnerable enough, young enough to still have kids, confident enough to believe he wouldn’t cheat or leave me.  Fear is debilitating.  It puts up a blinder, a skewed projection of what we are actually capable of.  Am I still able to live out my calling and purpose without a husband?  Of course I am.  My purpose is tied to my Savior not my temporary circumstances.  Does that make it easier to watch all of my friends get new boyfriends and fiancees?  Hell no.  But who said that purpose was going to be easy?  Fear did.
Fear tells us that if we are working too hard for it, it must not be the right thing.  Fear tells us that if we don’t accomplish it in that small window of time, it won’t happen. Fear tells us that if we aren’t somebody, we are nobody.  Fear tells us that if we don’t do it as good as, or the same as someone else, it won’t work.  Fear tells us that if it doesn’t happen on our timeline, it won’t happen.  Fear tells us if we don’t see it, it’s not there.  Fear robs us of FAITH.  
But what fear DOESN’T tell us is that fear itself fears Truth.  Fear has a blind spot, in the same way that most of us have a blind spot.  Usually our blind spot is us.  So it is with fear, the root of fear is fear itself.  Fear of the power that the Word of God has in each and every one of us.  Here are some TRUTHS we know about the Word of God:
Jesus is the Word of God
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)
The Word is living and working at all times
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)
The Word is love, and love casts out fear
  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16-18)
We have the power to cast out fear in our lives because the God of the universe has given us dominion over fear.  I am learning to speak the Word over my life.  Sometimes I forget, and let fear get the best of me.  But I only need to remind myself WHO GOD IS (or let’s be honest, have someone else remind me) and remember that He is a good, good Father.  He is fighting for me.
If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
   whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
   What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 118:6)
My God is YHWH, The God of the universe, the King of kings, The Alpha, The Omega, Almighty God, Elohim.  I will not be afraid.  
Fear, you are a liar and it’s time for you to get lost.  Bye Fear-licia.  

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August 11, 2016

A Relationship with Benefits - Verse of the Week

Benefit :: an advantage or profit gained from something

About 6 months after I arrived overseas, I got my first job here in Sydney. It was as a primary tutor  at a tutoring centre down the street from where I lived. 

I hit the jackpot with this job. Not only did the job pay more per hour than my job of teaching back in the states, but my boss was a former employee of Hillsong Church and more than willing to work with what can be a very crazy schedule. 

One day she pulled me into her office and asked me what Super I had decided on. I tried to play it off for as long as I could like I knew what the heck she was talking about, but that lasted all of two seconds before I politely told her I was absolutely lost. She told me that as an employee, even though I was only working 8 hours a week, I was entitled to superannuation - or the equivalent of a retirement fund. 

I was taken back by this. You mean I work here for 8 hours a week and you want to pay me retirement? Like as in you aren't just taking this out of my hourly wages you are actually paying this into an account on top of what I am already earning? Where do I sign up?

My boss explained to me that this was a normal benefit of any type of employment within Australia. 

Holy Spirit arrested my heart a few weeks back with these verses in Psalm 103. The part that really grabbed me was the bit that says: "and forget not all his benefits."Benefits...those things that come free with the contract of salvation, much like the superannuation with my now job.

You see it grabbed me because in this moment I was up to my eyeballs in health struggles and was just over all that I was having to deal with because of it. I was suppose to be here at school soaking in all I could and putting my hand to the plow, so to speak, within church life and college. Yet, I was finding myself so exhausted that I would take up to three naps a day. I was frustrated that I was doing all the right things, eating right and exercising, yet my body was chronically inflamed and it left me feeling self conscious and unable to button my pants half the days.

Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the fact that while I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is real and that He is in personal relationship with the sinful person typing on the other end of this computer, yet, I do not fully know his benefits. I forgot the benafits to this covenant of life with Jesus. 

I had a revelation. I recognized that I do not fully know the words I read every morning in the word of God because they have simply been a textbook in my life and not a map. 

What I mean is I was using the wonders, the miracles, the revelations in the Word of God as knowledge, when God meant them to be a map. Because you see a map gives you a route to somewhere so that you can have an experience when you get there. A map is not the experience in and of itself. The map simply points you in a direction to have and create your own experience within the place it is pointing you to. 

Benefits of a crucified and resurrected King are not read in the pages of a textbook. They are experienced in the lives of the people who are bold enough to say "Jesus, that was great that you healed that lame man, but I want to see you heal me in my sickness. Because I know you are no respecter of persons and the same benefits that were extended to people 2,000 years ago are mine too if I will just step into them. Jesus I want to experience your benefits." 

I don't normally end posts with prayers, but I feel lead to today. So if you know you are a child of the most high God, if you know that the same God who performed signs and wonders years ago is the same God who is living and active today, and if you believe that His heart is for you then I encourage you to pray this simple prayer.

Daddy, I love you. I love that you are a good father to me. Thank you that your thoughts towards me are for good and not evil. Thank you that you desire to bring my life into prosperity and not destruction. Thank you that you are a good father who gives good gifts. Forgive me for not laying hold of all that you sent your son to die for so that I may receive. Today I lay hold of the benefits I receive as being a daughter of the Most High God. Thank you for the healing that is mine. Thank you for the forgiveness that is mine. Thank you for the redeeming grace that crowns my life. Thank you for your compassion and your good will for my life. Today, I live my life freely and willingly receiving the benefits that are mine through the name of Jesus. Amen.

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August 8, 2016

Bali Part II

Are you ready for the Bali recap part II? I didn't get to share all of the pictures in Bali part I because it would have been a bit of overload, but I still have to share them, right? So here are some more pictures from the waterfall, monkey temple, and rice terrace.

That sign to the left says "don't worry be sexy". How great is that?

These are some of the world's greatest guys and deserve their own little picture in this blog post as a shoutout. 

Can this baby monkey be any cuter? I wasn't super excited to hold a monkey but this one I would have happily held!

I got cut out of the picture but it's too fun not to post. The monkeys loved Jimmy,

Our new friend.

This is the picture you post on Social Media.

But this is the picture that shows how much I was actually freaking out.

The day after our excursions it was raining so we decided to hire a driver and have a girl's day.

This was our driver Pandi.

We went to a salon and had these fish eat the dead skin off our feet. It was one of those things you had to try. Those little suckers did great! They ate off all my dead skin and even made a callous that has been on my pinky toe for years go away! 

It felt so funny. It didn't hurt, but it was like little bubbles all over your feet.

We also had massages after this that were less than stellar. Then again, it was only 10 dollars for an hour so who can complain?

Sunday was sports day. We went parasailing, tubing, and scuba diving. The view while we were parasailing was pretty incredible. The ocean we were at was more than a little gross though. There was trash everywhere, but I didn't take a picture of that to share so let's just pretend it was as amazing as the beach the first day.

Flexing, to prove how brave and strong we all are...or just acting like lunatics.

This is the only picture I have scuba diving, but you will have to stay tuned for part III for just why that is...

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