July 18, 2016

Fighting from Victory, not for Victory


Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—

    you get a fresh start,
    your slate’s wiped clean.
Count yourself lucky—

    God holds nothing against you
    and you’re holding nothing back from him.
When I kept it all inside,

    my bones turned to powder,
    my words became daylong groans.
The pressure never let up;

    all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out;

    I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”
Suddenly the pressure was gone—

    my guilt dissolved,
    my sin disappeared.
These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
    when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
    we’ll be on high ground, untouched

~Psalm 32:1-6~


My first thought as I read this passage was GRACE. Oh, what grace is extended to us. My next thought was this...

Why do we choose to focus so heavily on the battles we loose instead of fixing our gaze on the war He has one?
My Dad is a history buff. I had this ruler when I was younger that had all of the presidents with the years of their presidency listed on it. I use to love calling out a random year and having my Dad tell me who the president was. {:not once was I ever able to stump him}. I also use to always have to weigh out whether it was worth asking a history lover like him a question for my history homework in high school or college because I knew it would probably come with a 20-30 minute lecture to answer the question - instead of the short one sentence I needed. 

What I learned either from history class or my dad's lectures was that while winning battles were important in winning the war, losing a battle didn't mean losing the war. 

This life is a war. And well, if you are a Christian this war got a bit more fierce. There is a war for your possession at this moment. Heaven has an agenda for you in this life, but so does hell. 

The good news is, if you belong to Jesus, the victory of the war has been sealed. Your eternity is secure through your belief in Jesus. One day there will be no more waring your health, finances, relationships, addictions, pride, and the list goes on and on. But, for now we are left to fight the battles on this earth.

In the war against our flesh to stop drinking, stop lying, stay in church, be committed to our spouse, to be the person we are called to be, there are battles that arise that we will have to fight. And I hate to be Bitter Betty, but in this war we are going to "lose some battles". It is ultimately because we are part of fallen and sinful humanity. When you loose a battle Satan would love to tell you that once you have lost the battler it is all over. You are done for. Toast. But, that's not true. You may have lost a battle to something you struggle against, but there is still a war to win.  

How do we wage this war? Through the Holy Spirit. He is your ever present help. Through Him you have been given authority and power to fight the battles. The power that lives within you, because you possess your helper, Holy Spirit, means you are stronger than any stronghold or temptation that comes against you {:1 John 4:4:}

We may not win every battle, but because of Holy Spirit in us we can win the war against the battles we face. 

Like I mentioned earlier, the victory is won. We have the incredible advantage of fighting our battles from victory and not for victory. The victory is already ours in Jesus because when he died and rose again he took the penalty of sin, shame, sickness, and death so that we could live with all of the benefits of Christ {:Psalm 103:}. When we get a revelation of fighting from victory and not for victory we can fight our battles with confidence and not condemnation. We have confidence not in ourselves but in the work of the Jesus and we are not condemned and written off because of the battles we lose. 

It is so much easier to fight the battles when you have the confidence of victory. What mindset will you fight the battles with you are facing? 



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July 14, 2016

In My College Kitchen - Sweet Potato, Apple Skillet {:Paleo, Whole 30, AIP:}


I mentioned to you at our coffee date earlier this week that dealing with my autoimmune condition since being in Australia has been a bit trickier to say the least. I have been dealing with chronic fatigue {:like two naps a day fatigue:} and inflimation, weight gain, foggy brain, hair loss, and all sorts of other weird symptoms that no one told me comes along with an unmanaged autoimmune condition. 
While going to school here I have learned that my body does not manage stress well. Due to the high amounts of cortisol in my body and my efforts of working hard and eating healthy just weren't enough. I am relearning my body and a huge part of that has been incorporating an Autoimmune Paleo lifestyle. At the moment I am still on the elimination process where the amount of foods I can have is quit limiting, but I have learned just what a valuable resource Pinterest can be! 
I shared with you my favorite lunch to take with me on the go. Today I am sharing my new go-to breakfast. It is easy, cheap, and I can usually make enough for an entire week in less than 30 min. 
Try it and let me know what you think below.
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July 12, 2016

Wild and Free - Book Review


When I downloaded this book to my iPad I had never heard of either of the authors - Jess Connolly or Hayley Morgan. The title intrigued me and the subtitle closed the deal. 

"A hope-filled anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and never enough"

Hello!

Who has ever been there? {:insert emoji with blonde girl raising her hand:}

This book had me at the foreword, and I don't ever read forwards. If you follow along with me on Insta you would have seen my post about how much I was loving this book before I ever even hit chapter one. 

Jess and Hayley have a very conversational writing style but a powerful message - a message that if applied to your everyday life could change everything about the way you see yourself and how you outwork the plans and purposes of Jesus in your life. 

Jess and Hayley write alternating chapters and while you can sense through their words how their personalities sit on two opposing ends of the spectrum, it brings balance and articulation to both sides. One states how her big personality feels overbearing sometimes but she is faced with the feeling of still never measuring up. While the other is more reserved and doesn't have the personality of what the world says is a leader and struggles to believe she measures up while still struggling with the idea of being too much for others to handle. 

These two authors touch on a topic that gave voice to a feeling within me I didn't know I had. I  devoured this book in less than a week. I am so glad that not knowing the authors of this book didn't stop me from pressing the download button. It is well worth the investment, because life is too short to live any other way than wild and free. 


**Disclaimer: 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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July 11, 2016

Coffee Date?


Hi friend! How are you? We have so much to catchup on!

 I feel like I have been so busy filling this little space of blogland with recipes, fitness inspiration, and all things faith that I haven't even taken a breath to let you in on my not so ordinary world over here on the other side of the pond. 

I cannot believe I have lived in Australia for two years now. The time has absolutely flown. As I look back on the two years that have been the most stretching, significant, difficult and life altering years of my life I am confident that they have also been the most life shaping. I know I have shared how this has been the most beautifully difficult thing I have ever done, but that statement still remains. 

The last six months have been filled with high and lows all the same. Highs of conferences, girlfriend giggles when we should all be sleeping, engagements, birthdays, and planning trips to Bali. And lows of health challenges, being faced with the reality of who I am at the deepest level, those nagging feelings or 'what if', moments of longing for the life I left behind, and plenty of 'can I even do this?' thoughts. But also realizing how near and faithful God is in every mountain top high and valley low.

{:A little down time fun at Colour Conference:}

{:She's engaged! #1down5togo:}

 {:The boys made us wait for dinner, sooooo we took mirror selfies:}


Through the highs and lows of the last six months I have grown closer to some of my amazing friends and made intention to adventure out a bit more to discover this unusually beautiful city I call home {:for now:}

{:This hike was intense. We hiked down and back up 101 stories!:}


{:This is the day we realized we are actually living 
our own real-life version of Friends. The boys just 
live upstairs in our apartment building.:}

We even got up and left at 4:30 one morning for a sunrise Anzac service {:comparable to our Memorial Day:}. Then we spent the day walking the streets and exploring some of the beach at the world famous Bondi. The morning was absolutely freezing, but watching the sun come up over the ocean as they played Taps as tribute was pretty spectacular and well worth the lack of sleep. We later made up for it in coffee consumption.


Then, the moment came where I needed to make some shifts in my life - both for my emotional and physical health. I've been battling a bit with my autoimmune condition since I have been over here and it was just time to start taking it into my own hands because the doctors were helping me ZERO! I spent almost my whole week off from school researching and reading countless articles and blogs on how others with the same condition took back their health. I was blown away by how many things doctors had failed to mention. I started seeing a naturopath, have adopted the Autoimmune Paleo diet and have seen significant improvements in my energy levels just within the last month. I am also now a huge fan of yoga {:just as a side note - since this is a coffee date:}

It was also time I cut some ties with my own horrible thought patterns. Patterns that I realized I often defaulted to without ever knowing it. Normally when this happens, I like to change something. It use to be when I would paint my house or redecorate a room...buuuuuut since that is no longer an option I decided this should happen.


So, yeah. I cut my hair. I needed an outward expression of an inward stance I was taking. And now that is done so I will grow it back out, I think. 


Then there are my housemates. If you ever would have told me that I would actually enjoy living with 5 other girls in a space smaller than the house I  lived in all by myself, I would have rolled my eyes and told you you were out of your tree. The truth is, every single girl in this house is so special to me. We are all pretty sassy and have strong personalities, but it just works somehow.  These girls have seriously stolen my heart. There will be a day too soon when I will miss Dez talking to me early in the morning even though she knows me responding isn't even an option before coffee and Des' belting of the classic Disney tunes. *Sigh* Yeah, I really love these girls.

{:They are seriously babes, though:}


{:And dressing almost identically without knowing it happens...often:}



In just a few weeks I start my third and final year of school here. Third year is lighter on classes and focuses more on internship - although I am really excited for this semester's classes {: Managing Leaders, Prophetic Literature, Platform Ministries, and Contemporary Theologies:}. My internship, more than likely, will be within college with the principal of the college. I have no idea what this year will look like practically other than I have been told it will leave me feeling like a fish out of water, yet again. But to that, I say bring it on. I didn't come over here for a vacation, I came over here for bootcamp {:remind me of the 4 months from now:}.

{: My not so Small Group family:}

But before I head back into my third year of ministry bootcamp, I am heading to Bali with some friends. To say I am excited would be an understatement. We have a personal chef, driver, and a masseuse coming to the house we are renting. This is totally not a vacation a college student should be able to afford, but you wont find me complaining. 




So yeah, I think that is it. I know this post was a bit all over the place, but so are coffee dates...and me, right? You just sit and talk about any and everything. We will have another coffee date soon so we can catch up about Bali, okay? Happy Monday!


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July 6, 2016

An Argument for Doing Over Being


I am sure you have heard the phrase "who you 'be' is more important than what you do." 
I agree with this statement on many levels. In a culture that says you are defined by your job, your looks, what you have or don't have, the kind of car you drive and just how close to the wedding band, white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and minivan you are - it is an important reminder to us Christians as to what really matters. Having an identity that is rooted and established in Christ is foundational in our walk as Christians. Being a person of character, convictions, and integrity is monumental. 

Today, I want to flip that thought on it's head and pose that sometimes, what you do is more important than who you 'be'.

The other day I was in a mood. I had no reason to be in a mood. But, after a week of non-stop peopling, my introverted self just wanted some "no talkie" time. I am sure you know how this story goes and you would be right. In walks the person who likes to do lots of talkie. She is a verbal processor {:which I am so not:} and she apparently had a lot to process. Lucky me. If we are being honest, the moment she invited herself in to my 'no talkie' time I was already uninterested in anything she might want or need to say. {:What a stellar example of a Christian I am. I know:} The truth is she was having an absolute crap day. And when everything in me wanted to tell SeƱorita Talks A Lot to march right back to wherever she came from I chose to pray for Holy Spirit to help me to be what she needed in that moments - ears of compassion and a voice of encouragement. 

There was not an ounce of my 'be'ing that wanted to hear what she had to say. Yet, I chose to 'do' what I should do.

Another honesty moment. I don't always feel like doing the Christiany things we are "suppose" to do. I don't always feel like reading my Bible. I don't always feel like going to church. I don't always feel like making a joyful noise. Sometimes I just don't feel like talking. Sometimes I just don't feel much of anything. But it is in those moments that I have to recognize that I am still a work in progress. I am changed, and changing still. In my 'be'ing I am not yet fully Christ like and in recognizing that, our doing then rises up out of our convictions. 

I may not always feel like being a leader {:because it's hard, remember:} but I have a conviction that I know I was put where I am to lead. I don't always feel like paying my tithe, but I do it because I have a conviction that I will build His house before I build my own. 

Sometimes it's not all about the doing. But, maybe, just maybe, sometimes it is.  
“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” 
Matthew 7:26-27 {:MSG:}
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July 4, 2016

The Yoke of Leadership


Leading is hard. 
You might say, "but Amber, I am not a leader." To which I would say that I don't believe you. I think everyone old enough to read this post, and even some that aren't,  carries some type of leadership. You may be a mother leading your new family. You may be the woman everyone looks to at your work place as "that Christian girl". You may serve on a team in church and argue that you don't lead there, but you are actually leading those in the service who are not serving. 

The majority of the people in our world lead in some capacity whether they are aware of it or not.
And let's be real. If you are aware of the leadership you carry, leading can be hard. It can be exhausting, overwhelming, lonely, and downright sucky at times. A blessing? Yes. A blessing with a high cost? Absolutely!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30
This verse is not actually a breakfast invitation from Jesus. He is not inviting you to eggs and bacon. Although, that could be fun, huh?
The yoke this verse is talking about is the harness oxen wore when they plowed the fields. It would be placed over a pair of oxen's shoulders and around their neck to keep the oxen moving at the same pace. 
To break in a new, young plowing oxen they would yoke the young oxen to a seasoned plow oxen. The seasoned plow oxen knew the pace at which he could sustain himself over the 10-12 hour day of plowing. The young oxen would often be tempted to go too quick right out of the gate, but because it was yoked to the seasoned oxen the yoke would jab into its shoulder. If the new oxen was lazy and took the plowing at too slow of a pace, the seasoned oxen's pace would cause the yoke to pull on the younger oxen's head. 
Friend, Jesus is our seasoned oxen and this world we live in is our field to plow. Jesus is seasoned at this whole leadership thing. He know's the pace that you need to go at to sustain you in this life. He knows the pace you need to be at to fulfill the promise he has given you. Choose to be yoked to him and you too will learn how to walk out this calling of leadership in your life. 

In our humanity and carnality we often want to get through a season too quickly and we feel the sting of Jesus telling us "not yet" or "wait". Sometimes we are hurt and burned out. We can't take the weight of leadership anymore and we are exhausted. That's when we feel the prodding "come on, yes you can. You're with me remember? I am right beside you. Walk with me. Learn with me. Let me teach you how to live and lead through my grace."
To be yoked with Jesus is to live within his grace. I love how the message says it:
  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Are you exhausted? Take on his yoke and learn his unforced rhythms of grace. The yoke of leadership puts you side by side with your King.

Selah.

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