Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thankful.


Back again!

Whew. Took a long pause this November… and much of December.

I’ll give you the low-down of life since then:
Finished my last class needed for applying to the dental hygiene program.
Applied to the program (and felt darn good about it).
Got my job back at Joann’s (awesome because I never realized how much I love it there most of the time).

 …and that’s about it. I have no further excuses other than that I started watching The Vampire Diaries and got totally addicted. Team Damon. That’s all I have to say about that.

 I skipped Thanksgiving and the whole “I’m thankful for this and that” trend. Gosh, reading that back, I sound horrible. And it’s true- that’s a low thing to say. I felt like in everyone did it because that’s just what you do around that holiday, so it’s not really genuine.

But that’s just a load of crap-o-la. It’s an excuse for me to not think on all the great things God has given me. See, that’s kind of a huge flaw of mine.

 I’m not a very thankful person.

I take things for granted big time.

I don’t cherish what I have.

I don’t go to God and say thanks for the amazing comfy house I live in and the huge bed I sleep in every night. Or the fact that I have a desk in my room filled with tons of beading supplies, fun paper, cool stamps, and every ink color imaginable to keep me happily busy with my crafting hobby. Or that I have lovely friends. An amazing, supportive, encouraging family. A handsome, super nice fiancĂ©.

 I’ve got a King of Kings blessing me over and over again, and I often forget to turn around and say, “Hey man. Thanks for that one. You really got me covered.”

 See, what I really say to Him is, “I really need this.”
“I need help with that.”
“Seriously? Why did you just do that to me?”
“Can you be a little nicer to me?”
“Will you answer a prayer once an a while?? K thanks.”

 He needs to smack me in the face.

And He did.

But not in the “Get it together!” movie scene slap. It was a “check out how good you’ve got it. Watch this,” kind of slap.

I was sitting in a lovely Christmas service at Rochester Church of Christ just yesterday and I was squished in between my sister and Davy. If you are ever around them, you’ll see them poking, pushing, punching, pinching, etc., each other. They have such a brother-sister bond it’s not even funny. It’s scary. It’s too good to be true.

We sat there, singing wonderful praises in Christmas songs to Jesus (they were actually behaving at this time), when all of a sudden I feel my sister loop her arm around mine while Davy put his arm around me on the other side. Both gestures at the same time.

Oh, Lord Jesus.
So good to me.

In that moment, I felt so blessed I wanted to cry. I wanted to burst into tears and tell Him how thankful I am for EVERYTHING. And how sorry I was at my bitter attitude during Thanksgiving.

 I felt so much love in that moment between my sister and my fiancĂ©. I can only imagine how good it will feel when God puts His arms around me.

 You guys. He’s so good. He’s not going to hunt you down and haunt you if you lose sight of Him. He’s in love with you. He’s going to keep loving you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

 Accept it. Embrace it. Let yourself feel the joy.
You need it.

I'm going to leave you with some pictures of me and my friends having an awesome time over the summer. I'm going to thank God for these happy moments today.


So thankful for friends that will act totally rediculous with me.


I don't care about my face in this. Randy is on the ground like a rollie pollie. I must share it.


Blurry yet lovely. My sister. I love her.


And then Randy photobombs.


And then Jenna joins :)



Weirdos at the cider mill.


Randy contemplates life. I talk him out of it. We travel into the woods. I do parkour over a log. He photobombs again:



Hey there Davy ;)


Love that man of mine.


Chelsea and my dad. Two fantastic people.


 I think this is a very good picture of her. She's beautiful.

He opened my eyes and I’ll be thanking Him from now on.

Have a happy Christmas, beautiful friends.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Acting childish.

You know how I’m not working right now? Well, I’ve been praying for God to take care of me.

When I was working, I had this attitude of independence. Like, I needed a job to pay the bills. Even though I have no bills to pay. I just felt powerful.

Well, now I feel weak. And embarrassed.

 

I realized something pretty simple.

God is our Father. He refers to us as his children.

There is something really cool about that relationship. We don’t have to take things into our own hands. We have a powerful parent taking care of us. We can depend on him like we did with our parents when we were children.

 If I want him to take the role of my Father and have Him take care of me, I have to resume the role of a child.

Children rely on parents wholeheartedly. For everything. Safely, love, nutrition, finances, etc.

And they think the world of their parents. I remember fighting with a boy named Jordan in first grade about how my dad could beat up his. All children want in life is to make mom and dad so proud of them, too. And kids trust their parents. Everyone else is a stranger.

 I picture a child hiding behind a parent’s leg when a stranger approaches them.

Then I picture my self in the child’s position.

 Hiding behind God when unfamiliar things approach me and Him looking down at me, smiling. Maybe the stranger is good. If so, God will nudge me toward the stranger.

He’ll see my hesitation and crouch down beside me. He’ll put his arm around me and whisper in my ear, “It’s okay. Don’t be afraid. I’m right here. Nothing bad will happen to you.”

Or it could be a stranger that is no good. God will straighten up in front of me and push me behind Him, not letting any harm come near me. He’ll stand firm.

 

Whether the situation is good or bad, it will go through God first. He’s the bulletproof vest. He takes the hits for you.

 

How crazy comforting is that?

 

We don’t have to stress out. We have nothing to worry about because God knows what’s best for us.

Psalm 37:7 says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret…”

So simple. Just be still. Let God father you. He’ll take such good care of you.

If you want to resume your role as God's child, this video is a good place to start. It's really short but it's awesome.

 
Oh, here's some pictures of halloween festiviness.
 



You're never too old to carve pumpkins :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bummin'

Hi!

I’ve been away for a while. Basically, I got hit with unemployment.

 
I was working at Joann's, you see. Not enjoying it, of course. Then I got this excellent job at an orthodontist office. I was looking on Craigslist for dental assistant positions and every single one is looking for several years of experience. I finally found one job that was looking for people to train.

Was it the Lord? Yes indeed, it was.

But didn’t I say I was unemployed earlier?
Yes, I did.

 
...let me explain.

 
I get this job working for a brilliant doctor that is not only an orthodontist, but also a cranial facial surgeon who specializes in cleft pallets. He hires me with zero experience in dental.

 I was thinking, “This job is just going to take off. He can train me to work the surgeries with him! I’ll never need a new job again!”

 
Wrong.

 
He was a nightmare to work for. I ended up quitting after two weeks.

 So here I sit. An unemployed bum.

 

Bear left me. He didn't want to sit on the big empty couch with me.


When you are unemployed, your life becomes coffee, dogs, and bad self-timer pictures.
 
I'm trusting in what God has for me, though. He's got something up his sleeve.
 
Stay tuned for more unemployed adventures!

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Struggle part 5: The Struggle. Haha.

"I wish someone had told me sooner. I wish someone would have just articulated it in a way that I could understand. I wish I had actually read the Bible. I grew up in church and went to a Christian school, but somehow I completely missed the freedom that was being offered to me from Christ Himself.

"Hallelujah we are free to struggle, but we're not struggling to be free."

People freak out when you say something like that. "Free to struggle!!????" They think you'll take it as license to do whatever you want. And you know, some do. Some say, "Oh, it doesn't matter what I do, cause God will forgive me!" But just because there are some who pervert the grace of God, doesn't mean we should shy away from preaching it. Yes, some people don't understand what they've been saved from.

They don't realize how audacious it is to presume upon the redemption of God, because they don't realize what it cost Him to forgive us. They also must not think about what they've been saved from. It's not just our guilt He saves us from, it's also the power of death over us. Why on earth would anyone ask Jesus for salvation and then willfully run back into the arms of the very things that were killing them?

I can't say that I know. I don't understand why I do it, so how could I begin to understand others?

But this I do know. His grace is so big and so vast that Christ went lower than the lowest. He bore our sins on the cross, and it is no longer up to us to carry that weight. We no longer have to atone for our mistakes. They were atoned for us. And not only is there an ocean of grace that we fall into when we fail, but there's also a grace so majestic and strong, that it's actually powerful enough to heal us from our vices and free us from our prisons.

Christ came to forgive and to free us. I hope you know that, deep down. You can screw up and know that there is always mercy to rise again. And not only that, but you can know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is living inside you, So you don't have to do those things you hate anymore.

Free to fail. Free to change.

It's quite an amazing concept isn't it? There's mercy for your failure, and there's liberty from your sin. You don't have to pay for your sins, and you don't have to sin anymore. This is what it means to be saved.

And my only prayer is that the church would grasp both of these ideas, because we can all be a bit one-sided can't we? We tend toward extremes. One only needs to count the number of Christian denominations to know, we're not always the best at balance.

In the American church we can be good at one of these platitudes, but usually not both. We're either focused on preaching grace or intent on preaching victory, which ends up doing one of two things. We pander those caught up in sin, or we Bible beat them cross-eyed for not walking in the victory they ought to be.

Brothers and sisters, let us grasp them both. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and there's also no more chains to keep you from walking with Him. Both. And.

Comfort those who are staggering, because we all struggle in different ways. We may look different, but our hearts are all the same. Be tender with one another. Correct each other with gentleness, knowing we're free to struggle. But also, let us not let each other off the hook. Remind each other, that we're not struggling to be free. Call each other out. Lift each other up. Push each other forward. It is for freedom we have been set free."

This is my favorite song on the whole album! Check it:
 
:)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Struggle Part 4: Shadows

Hey guys :) I have a few more Tenth Avenue North posts to share with you everyday for 4 more days.

After the 4 days are up, I'll have to share the details of MY ENGAGEMENT TO DAVY on the blog! Yay!

God is treating me gooooood.

Now to the next Tenth Ave post:

"I grew up thinking Jesus wanted to ruin my good time. No seriously. Everything I wanted to do, it seemed like Jesus was always telling me I couldn't. My friends would get drunk and party; I wasn't allowed. All the other kids were sleeping around. Jesus said I had to flee sexual immorality. When people wronged me it felt so good to be bitter and lord it over them, but there He was saying, "Forgive seventy times seven."

So when I went to college and started hanging out with kids who actually enjoyed Jesus, it pretty much blew my mind. I mean, my friends growing up "loved" Jesus, but certainly didn't like hanging out with Him. We knew the right answers and we knew we were supposed to do what God said to do, but these kids at my college were different.

They wanted to obey God. They liked obeying Him. No one was making them. No one told them they couldn't get freaky at clubs or drink til they threw up. They just preferred being with God. They'd get together and worship Him for the fun of it. The fun of it? I thought "fun" and "Jesus" were contradictory terms.

To be honest, I had a lot to learn. I still do. But my world changed forever my freshman year of college when Christianity changed from something I had to do, to something I wanted to do. How? I experienced Psalm 16:11 first hand.

It says, "In your presence is the fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

The fullness of joy? Pleasure forever? Have you ever even considered that God is for your pleasure? Now, this seems quite counter intuitive doesn't it? I mean, isn't Jesus all about self denial and what not? Isn't Christianity just putting your head in the sand, grinding it out, and keeping your nose clean?

Friends, nothing could be further from the truth. You see, when Jesus says to deny yourself, He never asks you to do that as an end in itself. He says to deny yourself so that you can follow Him! And everything that's promised us when we get to Him is an appeal to our pleasure.

But the tough part is realizing that in order to get the fullest joy, and the greatest pleasure, you have to do things His way. You have to wait. Often times you have to go without. But you go without so that you can get something better. It's like McDonalds versus a fancy steakhouse. The steakhouse may take quite a bit longer, but in the end, it's far more rewarding than a quick fling with Ronald and his super sizing ways.

So then, we flee sexual immorality so that we can know the trust, rest, and joy of a sexual encounter protected by the strong walls of covenant. It takes denial, sure, but as a means to a lifetime of more reward. It can seem like Jesus is against our pleasure because we've believed the lie that the things He's created are what will give us what we want. But whether it's sex, ambition, rock n roll, isn't it actually God we're after?

This one thought changed everything. That every beautiful thing I get enamored by, is just a reflection of the one who made it. Any beauty I'm dazzled by or promise I'm lured by, it's always Him my soul is hungry for. And when I can see that, all other temptations lose their power. To understand all that I love is merely a mirror pointing me upward, frees me to let those things go. I don't have to have them. I have to have the One who made them. And the pleasure and reward his presence offers far surpasses any drug or buzz I could get. Crazy huh?

Friend, don't sell yourself short. Jesus wants to give us life. It is Satan who's out to steal, kill, and destroy. Sadly, we too often believe it's the other way around. Don't fall for the lie. His commands to us are the pathways to pleasure. They are the way to joy.

All this world could offer you is but a mere shadow of the glory of the One who is behind it all. Don't grasp the shadow. Follow it to the source. He is the source."

Hear Shadows here:
 
:)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Struggle Part 3: Losing


"Have you ever stopped to wonder why forgiveness is so hard? Seriously. It's such a pleasant ideal in theory, but in practice it's the quite possibly the hardest thing to do on the planet. Why does it seem so down right impossible? Why does it feel like losing?

Well, I guess that's because it is. To forgive someone you do have to lose. Whenever there's injury, someone has to live with the pain, and to forgive means you accept it, and the offender goes free. Even though you're not at fault, if you're going to turn the other cheek, you have to absorb the pain so that you don't turn around and inflict the one who hurt you.

I suppose you could liken it to falling on a grenade. If you have a grenade thrown at you, you can do one of three things. You can run, but then who knows who'll end up collateral damage. You can throw it back, which I must admit is quite alluring, but that can't stop the fire from spreading, it just redirects it. There is one other thing you can do though. You can fall on it. Absorb it. Take the explosion and die the death. Let everyone around you live.

And you know, whenever we forgive there's always a death involved. Isn't there? That's why Jesus had to die for us. To let us be counted right, justice had to be paid. The bomb had to go off. But instead of throwing it back and giving us what we deserve, He wrapped His arms around us and took the hit Himself.

"He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5

You see, the reason grace isn't popular or easy is because it's not cheap. To give grace costs us our right to be resentful. It robs us of our privilege to be bitter. It requires death. But friend, if Christ said to forgive the very men who drove nails through his wrists, and the same power that flung Him from the grave lives in us, then surely, surely He can give us the power to lose, so that our aggressors weapons are rendered useless. Rob your enemy of their ability to offend you, by gladly taking the full brunt of their attack. It is then, and only then, that hostility is defeated and love conquers death.

Remember who you are. Remember how you have been forgiven. You're only going to feel like you have the right to be bitter if you think you're better than them. "Oh no," we say, "I would never…" Never? Really? Remember what it cost Christ to redeem you, and may that knowledge drip down so deep in your heart that it becomes your joy to accept the cost of forgiving others.

Yeah I know it feels like losing, but it's what forgiven people do. As the old saying goes, "Hurt people, hurt people." Well, "Forgiven people, forgive people."

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because Christ has forgiven the inexcusable in us." -C.S. Lewis"

Listen to "Losing" by Tenth Avenue North here!

 
:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Struggle Part 2: Don't Stop The Madness


"I'm sitting in a small airport in Montana right now, sleep deprived and delayed. I've been gone from my family for what feels like forever and just want to get home. You know that feeling right? When you just want to get home? But as I sit here on the floor and stare red eyed at my computer screen, I have to remember one thing. God seldom works in the easy and comfortable.

Can He? Sure.

Does He? Sometimes.

But more often than not, the times that shape me, the times that make me more loving and more gracious, aren't usually what I look back on as "good times." Isn't that strange? I mean, sure we all want to be considered "gracious," but who wants to have to go through being wronged so that they actually have the opportunity to grow in grace?

So I'm left in a bit of a conundrum. Sitting here on the floor, killing time watching people beat the snack machine, I have a choice. I could do the easy thing. Do what I'd usually do in this situation. I could moan and whine, complain that there's no reason our plane is delayed, and disdainfully announce that I will never fly this incompetent airline again; or I can take a step back.

Take a deep breath. Do the impossible.

By His grace I can take the hard road that leads to life. I can think on the sovereignty and goodness of God. Think on His promise that He is able to work everything together into something beautiful. Yes, even this seemingly meaningless inconvenience might just be the hand of God at work to grow patience, kindness and goodness in me.

We don't like to think that way though do we? I don't. It's hard. It's complicated to reconcile a God who works through pain. It's tough to trust in a Lord who allows suffering and inconvenience. It'd be a whole lot easier to mindlessly promise myself that Jesus always wants to make life easy, but I don't think that's how He works. If anything, Jesus uses dark colors when He paints. He's into streams in the desert and life out of death.

Just take one good look at the cross and that ought to convince you that the God the Bible speaks of is a God who uses horror and injustice to His advantage. The cross is evidence to our minds, and balm for our souls that our God is a God who brings beauty out of pain.

Art out of chaos. Beauty out of ugliness.

Or as some of the poets have said, He conquers death by death itself. Our Redeemer beats Death at his own game. Hope rises.

When we trust Christ, and the mysterious work on Calvary, we trust that He's always up to something good even in the darkest days. In fact, that's probably when He's up to the most good, because that's when the most good grows in me.

So hey, I'm delayed, I'm uncomfortable, but if this is the path the Lord has brought me down, then I say, "Don't stop it Lord. Redemption was born on a far darker day than this one, so bring the chaos. Bring the madness. Do whatever you've got to do to recreate my heart." After all, it's me that needs to change, not my circumstances."

Listen to Don't Stop The Madness  by Tenth Avenue North here:
 
:)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Struggle.

Hey guys. I want to share encouraging things with you, but I've been struggling with my writing lately. Especially because I read other religious blogs and get a little discouraged with my own writing.

However, because they write so well, it's uplifting to many people, including myself. I have to accept the fact that, sometimes, God isn't going to work through me for everything.

This leads me to present a thought that just occured to me a few minutes ago as I sat indian-style on my chair, staring at a blank passage and blinking cursor.

I think I just need to let my favorite writers do the talking.

If you didn't know, Tenth Avenue North is one of my favorite bands. The lead singer, Mike Donehey, is absolutely brilliant. He is one of those guys that just hits the nail on the head. Every time. His writing is simple, clean-cut, and so easy to relate to and understand.

So for the next week or so, I'm going to just let him speak. Until God moves me.
I'm copying and pasteing from Mike's blog, SeizedByAGreatAffection and the Overflow Devo he did on the Youversion app and bringing it over to my blog.


Yesterday was a big day.
Two years of writing, rewriting, crying, high-fiving,
yelling, demoing, and recording
finally came to a head when our band released
our new record, The Struggle.
I will not say much more than that,
but it is an incredible privilege I’ve been given
to make music that blesses others and teaches me.
Yeah.
The songs I write teach me.
Czech this verse.


Psalm 49:4
“I will incline my heart to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre”


After 11 or so years of playing and writing songs,
I’ve finally come to understand that I don’t write,
because I know what I’m talking about,
I write precisely because I don’t know what I’m talking about.
I write to understand.
I write to unriddle my heart.

So all of you who’ve listened in on this process, thank you.
Thanks for investing your time and money on these songs,
and joining me on the journey.
Jesus has showed me so much
as I’ve sought to join Him in the creative process,
and I’m eager to see what lies ahead.
May He continue to unriddle my heart.
May He continue to unriddle yours.



Our band played a festival called Lifelight last night.
It’s a quite large gathering that happens every year in South Dakota.
Completely free, and completely crazy, this was the third time we’ve played there,
and needless to say, it didn’t fail to live up to our expectations.
The people who gathered in the field came ready to sing,
ready to dance, and in one case apparently, one girl was even ready to faint.
(Don’t worry, she was ok)


And it felt, for lack of better words, ELECTRIC.

From the first note, we knew we were going to be privileged to navigate
the energy that these people brought with them,
away from a stage, away from a band, and back up to the fixed gaze on a
Heavenly Father overflowing with love for us all.


“I am loved!”
“I am loved!”
“I am loved!”


I chanted it from the microphone and had the people echo it back.
We screamed God’s promises together.
We danced, we sang, and we were free.
For a few short moments in time, we lost our gaze on ourselves
and were unbound to fix our eyes on our God.
And walking off the stage 90 minutes later,
exhausted, spent, and dripping with sweat,
I was relieved that it didn’t matter whether or not God used me.
What mattered was that God moved.


Just 12 hours earlier, I sat on an empty stage, in front of an empty field,
coffee cup in hand, watching the morning fog rise from the grass and was
reminded of what God had spoken to me at a similar festival a few years ago.


Our band was huddled together back stage going through our pre-show rituals;
arm stretches, jumping jacks, vocal warm ups, and of course, prayer together,
when I felt, for one of the few times in my life, that God spoke straight to my heart.
I was in the middle of begging God to use us, as I almost always did,
when I heard a whisper over my shoulder.
“Hey Mike, I know you want me to use you, but what about all the other bands here?
What if I want to use them? Would you be ok with that?”


Dumbfounded, I came up short in my prayer.
I grew silent.
I opened my eyes and said to the four bandmate brothers surrounding me,
“Guys…I need to confess something.
Every show we gather together like this and ask God to use us.
Use our set. Use our songs. Use our talking….
Well, what I have to admit to you is that what I’ve really been praying was,
God, use us, and don’t use anyone else.
I’ve been using His using us as a source
of justification for me, and it’s robbed me of so much potential joy.
I think, well, I think what God wants for us to pray is just that He would move.
Whether He uses our set or the other bands’ sets, or the speakers or whoever…
I want to be ready to celebrate His moving.
Because isn’t that what really matters?”


And So…

Last night was incredible.
I felt like God was flowing through me and using me and it was such a humbling
privilege to be a hammer in the hand of the Carpenter pounding promises
back into people’s brains, including my own.
But let me just say, as beautiful as that sensation is,
what’s even more beautiful is to be free to rejoice when
God doesn’t use me.
When He uses that other band, or that other church, or that other ministry,
It’s incredibly freeing to know that what I can be just as excited for them.
After all,
God doesn’t need us.
He doesn’t.
Check out Acts 17:25.26 if you don’t believe me.
All that we have, all that we are, ALL IS GIFT.
Let me say that again:


ALL IS GIFT.

And that’s such beautiful news friends.
It’s a major blow to our pride to be sure,
but it’s such a relief for our independent, “Just Do It,” praise mongering attitudes.
Like I’ve heard my pastor say,
“God can do anything without me, but I cannot do anything without Him.”
Or as Paul says in I Corinthians 4.7 “What do you have that you did not receive?”
Or in I Corinthians 3.7?
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but God gave the growth.”


So, if you would be so bold,
let’s stop praying that God would use us, and just pray that God would move.
Pray that He would use anyone and everyone to bring about his purposes.
It may not feed your ego,
but the joy of celebrating God’s work, will feed your soul.


Friday, August 24, 2012

A Stranger in this World

Last night, Davy and I were hanging out with a good friend visiting from L.A and we were talking about some things that really made me think. We came to this conclusion:

This world sucks.
It's an awful place.

I can be so lonely, unkind, selfish, and scary. It makes you feel weary and broken-hearted. People can do such horrible things. Like the Aurora shooting. Or the terrorists who feel they are right to kill people if they don't believe the religion that they believe in.

It stinks.

We got on the subjects of 50 Shades of Gray, which, I must tell you, has been on my mind so much lately. I'm confused as to why so many people are reading it like it's no big deal. All I know is that it's this couple who is in love but they venture into a sexual world of BDSM, which is an acronym for Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, Masochism.

This blows my mind.

This is totally messed up. Sex is such a sacred thing in the Bible. When I'm married, I always pictured it as being really loving and gentle. I would never EVER want to be hurt, especially in precious moments like having sex with someone that loves me. And I can't imagine enjoying hurting the person I love. It's crazy how successful that book has been.

In today's world, we are desensitized. We are so exposed to sex. We see it on tv shows and movies all the time. Media has made sex out to be something you do after you go on a casual date with someone. Nakedness is a common occurrence and is treated like it's nothing because "it's just natural." It is natural, of course. But it should be treasured. It should be kept in secret, so that when you find someone who loves you, they can look forward to the day that they can commit to you in marriage and see the precious things you've kept from everyone else.

Song of Songs is an amazing book to read especially if you want to grasp the Biblical view of sex. The author is Solomon. This book is a wedding song honoring marriage and it's been criticized a lot for it's explicit (for the Bible) statements on sex. It bounces between the views of their friends, the girl (the "beloved"), and Solomon (the "lover"). Here's a piece of what Solomon says about his beloved in chapter 4:

How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.
6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.
 
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the crest of Amana,
from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,
from the lions’ dens
and the mountain haunts of leopards.
9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love , my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
14 nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.
15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.

So he spends half of this chapter describing how perfect everything is about her, including her teeth.
Then he compares her purity to the finest garden he can think of. And he's gonna explore that garden ;)

He's over-the-moon for this woman. He's found the one whom his soul and heart loves. He absolutely adores her. Do you think he would ever fantasize about hurting her? Inflicting pain on her?

Ladies.
The male lead in 50 Shades.
You do not need a man like him. I've already heard that women want their own Christian Gray. I've never read the book, but all I know is that I do not want a man who wants to make me uncomfortable and dreams about doing strange, frightening things to me.
Ladies.
Get a man who dreams about you the way Solomon dreams about his beloved. A man that knows you are the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. Who thinks you're delicate and should be treated as such.

Believers in Christ.
This world sucks for us. We seriously have to combat everything. Then we grow weary and feel like our prayers are wearing thin. But do not worry. We are are strangers in this world. It's okay if you are sad and can't stop the tears for what you must face.
Some day you will touch the face of our God.
And the sorrows will disappear.
But until then, we are strangers in this world. And that makes me very happy.

I got that from Tenth Ave's new album. It's such a lovely listen. It gives me so much hope.

 
Hang in there. It's a sad place sometimes, but you have access to a God that will carry you through. Who will lift you up. Who loves you more than anything you could ever dream of. No matter what chains you down and what stains you think you have, God thinks you are a precious, lovely little thing. I'll type out my prayer for you:
 
Lord,
Be with the woman who is reading this blog. If she is sad, shower her with happiness and show her your powerful love. Let her find a man who is strong in his faith and will treat her better than she ever expected. Forgive her (and me) of being unfaithful to You and not believing in what You are. Help her to know that she is beautiful beyond description. Bring so much blessings on her, Lord.
 
Be with the man who is reading this blog. Help him rise up in his weakness and find faith in You. Cleanse his mind of filthy things that Satan has forced in. Do away with his unhappy thoughts. Lord, he deserves so much more than what he deals with in his life. Forgive him for his unfaithfulness and show him Your ocean of grace that he can fall into and be free in his struggle.
 
Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gettin' down with crafts.


So, I haven’t been blogging. Did you notice?

I have my excuses.

I’ve been busy.

I’m a working woman, you know.

I make da monay.

 But in all honesty, I’ve written up a few posts, but decided to scrap them. I’ve been trying to write, but my words haven’t been coming the way I want them to. But I am back!

 I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to.

Crafts. :)



Check it:

Rose earrings! I’ve seen these cabochon studs before and I love them. The problem is, I don’t have my ears pierced. It scares me, k?
Clips are way too obvious, but magnetic earrings.. those are pretty cool. To make these, I bought a pack of rose buttons, some glossy acrylic paint, and magnetic clasps for jewelry. I snipped off the plastic hooks on the buttons and the metal hooks on a claps and sanded off what was left. Then I glued one part of each clasp on to the button, and painted the button. Wah-la! My own magnetic earrings!



Lace shorts! Are you on Pinterest? Because I am. If you are, you’ve seen those cute jean shorts that were too short, so they have lace added at the bottom. I found these corduroy shorts at Rue 21, but they were a bit short. I loved the color though, so I bought them and took them to JoAnns to get some crocheted lace trim. My mom and I pinned the trim on and then sewed it right on! Easy! Cute!





Bracelets! I love bracelets. And I think a chunky bracelet looks great on a guy. It just adds a little somethin’. I was sort of inspired by a nautical theme for this particular bracelet. A thick rope with a big ole lobster claw came to mind one day. Follow your dreams, people.




Boots! They used to be blue and white with really juvenile flowers and hummingbirds. I took some Krylon outdoor paint and totally turned these boots around! They look great, right? Welp, they didn’t turn out as good as they look. As soon as I walk in them, bits of the old boot become visible. The paint starts to crack. It’s sad L I don’t want to give up on them, though. Perhaps there is some paint finisher out there that will save them!


Gift wrapping! I love wrapping gifts and if I can get creative with it, it's even more enjoyable. This was for a wedding between my friends Lindy and Phil. The paper bag is actually a take-out bag from Red Lobster. Yay free! ...except for paying for food. Whatev.


I love handwritten things. It's much more personal. And if you're good with typography, you can get really artistic with letters. I'm pretty new with typography but I find it really fascinating.


I put a little vintage-looking notebook in Phil's envelope. He's an awesome man of God so I thought it would be great for him to keep near his Bible for notes and whatnot.


In Lindy's envelope, I made her three bracelets. One with colorful bow charms, one with navy blue lace, a sterling silver key charm and a teardrop shape swarovski crystal, and another bracelet with lace, ribbon, and fabric rose flowers. She's a super cute girl! Follow her blog on God and her new married life when she returns from her honeymoon!

I put a set of cute cups in their bag, too. I hope I'm not spoiling my gift for them!


Lindy had a really pretty handmade wedding. Crafting is fun. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Some quick encouragement


Hey guys,
I've been working a lot so it's hard to get blog posts out but I just want to send a little encouragement to you today. I'm just going to let God course through my fingers and tell you guys how he feels.

My lovely child, you have been struggling. You have not been letting Me take the helm in your life. Why? You know I love you. You know I'm the One who loves you more than any other - and at such a deep level that you don't even know yet. Why won't you let Me love you? I will protect you from what the world shoves at you. You need only ask. Will you let Me protect you? You know, My beautiful one, that I know what's best for you. Yet, you still think you know better than I what's good and bad for you.

My bride, you are letting filth into your head. You know how that filth stains you and leaves a scar. You know how it is practically unshakable, unforgettable. Don't you know that I can cleanse you of that? You can be stainless and blameless with Me. You need only ask.

But you have to believe in Me, My love. You've got to. I've heard your secret prayers.
"God, if your real, do this."
"God, if your out there, I need that."

You test me. You don't have faith that I will deliver. But I tell you, My dear, that if you ask with faith in Me and if it is something that is sound and good, you will have it. You can have everything you need.
Let Me lead.
Let Me take the helm, and you will see so much good. You will be a light for many. Some will hate you for believing in Me, but I tell you, you will be rewarded in full for that persecution. I love you.

You need Me.

If you haven't gotten alone with God, do it. Go for a walk. Sit in your room. Do whatever makes you feel solitude, and imagine just talking with God. It will help you. Give up time on Facebook, twitter, and instagram (which do not help your problems) and seek Him.
Be still. Let the chains go. Be free. Seek Him.

Love,
Lauren. (and God)

:)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The overview of the trip

I'm back!



Michigan has been missing this face. I'm sure of it.

I've actually been back for a week now and I have simply been putting blogging off... because I'm lazy and I had no idea how to begin to explain a life-changing trip. But then I realized that pictures do a lot. Soooo... it's picture time.

You may not be able to see these very well on the Apple's touch screen products.
Those Jerks.
Making it hard for me to blog.
But whatever. Find a computer, okay!?



This is the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base in Los Angeles. We stayed in those trailers.
In my trailer, we had like, 24 girls living in there.
Yeah.
It was insane.


That's me. Hangin' out at the base. One of the nice things about California is that it's really nice to just chill outside. It's unbearable to be outside in MI half the time. It's either beastly hot or frigid cold.
Or the weather is just plain stupid.


Davy. Being an idio....I mean.... cute.... thing...
Just kidding! Once again, love ya Davy!


Here's a picture to prove how adorable he is. Hello, sweet boyfriend :) I'll be honest, a lot of our growth took place in our talks. During lectures or worship, there were many times that I found myself confused or upset about how I feel, blah blah blah, but Davy was the same way. Our down time was spent like the picture you see. Us, sitting outside at a picnic table, hashing out our feelings and praying about it. There was so much growth in that.


This isn't the best quality picture but this is a very minimal glimpse of worship with the Circuit Riders. It was intense. We did this for hours every day. The first time I ever experienced this setting on the first night we arrived, I cried.
That's all I could do.
I didn't know what to do.
I was so uncomfortable.
But it was actually lovely. I never experienced such a powerful love. Being in the room when all those people are singing praises... it was like you could reach out in front of you and grab love out of the air. Is that weird? Like, it felt tangible. Heavy, sometimes.
It was emotional. And very good for my relationship with God.


Returning to the topic of down time and growth, that is Shaun. He's a crazy skating boarding, Jesus-loving man. I've mentioned him and his wife Jessica before on my blog. We spent a lot of our free time with them. Davy and I UNLOADED discussed our feelings to them and they helped us so much. Davy almost left the first night. He said this whole thing was way too big of a step for him, so we started arguing outside the worship building. I wasn't ready to leave. Shaun overheard us arguing and convinced Davy to stay. Shaun made us feel like we were in the right place and that it was totally okay to feel uncomfortable. In fact, it was necessary for our growth with God.


It wasn't ALL work, though. There were times where we just hung out. There are families that live on the YWAM base, too. Davy was playing his trumpet one night and this kid overhears him. His name is Issac, and he wanted to try Davy's instrument.
He now thinks he can play better than Davy.
Because he learned how to play from the movies.
Kids say funny things. Davy just kept on agreeing and encouraging him, though. It was quite cute.


Since Jessica and Shaun live in L.A, we wanted to hang out with them whenever we had an ounce of time. They took us to pinkberry.


It was really fun hanging out with a passionate christian couple. We learned so many good things through them.


We did outreaches, too. Basically, we take the day to go to a city and talk to people about Jesus. We pray for people and share good news to them. We went to Huntington Beach. It is really hard to confront people and talk to them, but you feel so good afterwards.


Shaun did skate demos with a group of other skaters and they share their testimonies. In the picture, they are praying before stating the demo!



We caught wind that Ruby's was "off the hook." Shaun said that.
Crazy California lingo.
So we went there. It was wonderful.


Davy with his burger. He was mad that I wouldn't let him eat his food until I got a picture.


And here is my glorious "Saturn burger." That's a ring of cheese around that baby.
Yum.


At the end of the day, a few people from Circuit Riders wanted to get baptized on the beach, including Davy. Shaun was doing the baptizing.


I tried to capture this moment of Davy's baptism, but everyone was in the way! Oh well. There were like, 30 other people that ended up getting baptized that day that weren't part of Circuit Riders. So cool.


I went to Hollywood for another one of the outreaches. Davy went to Pasadena. It was tough. Everybody was there to see Katy Perry.


That is a snippet of the crowd for her. I got a crappy picture of her, too. Wanna see it?


Yep.


YWAM finished off the program with having Lou Engle come in to speak to us. Check out his bio. He is a crazy man in a great way. He was pretty intense but that was how the program was supposed to be. It gave me so much growth.

And then Samantha (Davy's sister) and Rick (Samantha's husband) picked us up from L.A. and took us to San Jose.


First, we visited Davy and Samantha's aunt in Los Gatos.


This was at dinner. We went to some fancy panini place.
They had good tots. Just saying.


Then we went to Stanford for a soccer game! San Jose Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy.


David Beckham plays on the LA Galaxy team.
He wears pink shoes.
Here's some zoom-in action:


Check out his butt-ugly hair.


Rick is in the Air Force and since it was almost 4th of July, they wanted to do some sort of military feature in the halftime show. He is holding the flag in the middle! Zoom-in time? I think so:


Yeah!


Rick was able to use his military-ness to get us in for free and sneak us right next to the field to take pictures! Oh yeahhh.


It was a crazy hair night for me.
Whatev.

Then we woke up early the next morning to go to...



!!!!!!!


Hello delicious San Fran breakfast food.


Uh... they are super adorable.
And super fun to hang out with.


We went all over the place. We went to this yummy burrito place, yogurt shops, coffee shops, outlet stores, and saw Spidey Man.
Ah.
It was so fun.
I really miss them.


Yep.
It's THOSE houses. And they are adorable. That city is so cool. It's so unique. And it's very artistic. All the shops are local artists. You can hardly find a brand name store around. It's very inspiring. It makes me think I can legitimately get somewhere with my craft skillz.



We also went to see some redwoods:




Samantha is so pretty.



Jeez-o-petes he is handsome.


I love this girl.
She is a year older than me and she is living such a good life with her husband in California. She trusted God with her life and look where He took her. She is just the most precious thing.
She has a blog, too! Take a look :)

So that was our trip. We trusted God that he would take good care of us and He delivered big-time.
We didn't think we would see a huge soccer game. I didn't think I'd set foot in Stanford. I didn't think I would be seeing Katy Perry. I had no idea I would be witnessing healings. I didn't think I would get as many friends as I did. I didn't think I would be talking and praying to homeless people. I didn't think I would be able to handle airports as well as I did.
And I had no idea Davy would have the faith that he does now.


God changed my heart. I feel so loved... I just can't explain it. He healed me. I finally grew after feeling stagnant for years. He finally brought Davy to believe after 3 years of my prayers.
He is so... incomprehensible. The way He works...
it's SO supernatural. It is absolutely thrilling to watch Him unfolding my life.
I was hurting so much before I left because I thought I was forcing myself to love Him and I was forcing Davy to love Him as well.

What I didn't know was this: God was hurting me. Strange to say, right? Sometimes in order to heal us, He has to hurt us. Pain is part of the process. Ever notice when you have a fight with your significant other, after the fight, you feel like you've never loved them more? I was the one fighting. But then I forgave myself, because He forgave me. Then His love came over me like a gigantic wave and I felt so free to love Him back.
It was completely unforced love.
Love that I had been longing for.

God is worth everything. That is one of the biggest things I've learned on this trip.
He loves me. He knows what's best for me. He protects me.

He feels that way about you, too.

I hope you enjoyed my really long overview of our trip :) Praise God!

Love,
Lauren