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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