Count Your Blessings

I am about to mark another year of life, aka my birthday is just around the corner. For some reason, this birthday seems to be looming over my head. No, it’s not considered a big milestone. I’m not entering another decade. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t see any big changes happening in my life. But, alas, this birthday is a big one for me.

Almost three years ago, my dear friend died in a tragic car accident at the age of 26. He was a fun, loving, kind-hearted man seeking after God’s heart. He was the life of the party and totally understood my love for travel. He had recently been married and continuously doted over his wife. He never made it to celebrate the year of 27. As I sit here, I rejoice over the time I got to spend with him, as well as reflect on the blessing that God has given me. While my friend’s life will always be etched into my heart, I pause to thank the Lord for what he has given me.

I thank the Lord that even in the midst of chaos, His peace surrounds me. Facing this next year, it’s easy to become anxious over the unknown. I have meditated on this verse for many years, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). Today, the “with thanksgiving” stands out to me because there is so much to be thankful for!IMG_7853

In the memories that I hold of a life that in our earthly mindset was cut short, life was celebrated. So, this week as I face another year of life, that’s what I’m going to do: CELEBRATE! (Even with a broken leg… which is another story for another time.) I am going to celebrate that the Lord has blessed me with life, people that I love, simple comforts, and with the joy that only comes from Him!

May today be the day that you put your anxious thoughts in God’s hand, count your blessings, and receive His peace that guards your heart and your mind!

The Race Called Life

Since beginning to write this blog, analogies always enticed me to think a little deeper. The kitchen is my sanctuary to find recipes, situations, and all-out-disasters that bring reminders of the truth of who God is, how he impacts our life, and how we should live out our lives as believers in Christ Jesus. While today my oven is turned off and the kitchen counters aren’t sprinkled with a layer of flour, my mind is racing with the analogy of life being a race. You might be wondering why or how I even began thinking about this, but the quick and easy answer is, I signed up for a race.

If you know me, you might have just laughed. If you don’t know me, you might give me the benefit of the doubt and say, “Go, girl!” Either way, the race has been paid for, by the grace of the Lord I’ll make it, and at the end I’ll be shouting with joy that it’s over. When I start thinking about this race, I know I need to prepare (aka start running!). Preparation for any race is key to success, or so I’ve heard. In this same mindset, we, as Christians, need to prepare for the race called life.

Every day, we are surrounded by joys, sadness, adventure, disaster, small decisions, and big decisions. Each day brings unexpected emotions, situations, and people along the way. Because of this, we need to prepare for life. A disclaimer should be made here: we will never be ultimately prepared for life, and this is not the time to try to take back control from God. This is a time to ponder how you prepare for each day of life.

First, I would say the biggest thing that you need to be prepared for is earthly death. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal savior, then you are not prepared to die. Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”(Phil 1:21) He said this confidently, because eternity with God is real and it’s yours. If you accept his forgiveness, turn from your sin, and follow him, you can have the confidence Paul had and experience the ultimate hope having eternity with God.

Secondly, you need to be prepared for battle. Ephesians 6:10-18 says,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Scripture says it best, put on the full armor of God, so that you may be prepared for the daily bumps, rocks, mountains, that you may face in your race called life.

Third, you need to delight in the Lord. Running a race isn’t fun, unless you enjoy it. Enjoying the presence of Jesus is a key piece to making life abundant and joyful. Delighting in the Lord is evidence that you embrace and serve a good God. He loves you and He has taken care of you so far. Whether this season finds you rejoicing or sorrowing, here is a reminder that God will continue to provide, regardless of our participation. But, the race called life is a lot easier if you delight in Him!

While these words are not eloquently written, my prayer is that you will be encouraged. Encouraged to get off the couch and start training…for the race called life.

A Year in Reflection

When I sit back and think about all that happened this year, I am truly overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed by God’s grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness. I started this year with nervous apprehension of going through my last two semesters of NP school and I am finishing this year with joyful satisfaction of being a Family NP. There have been many things in between too:

I have traveled from one end of the world to the other. I have grown, figuratively and literally for some reason… I have experienced happiness and sorrow. I have moved halfway across the country. I have enjoyed biblical community. I have learned that in cold weather you need a specific type of windshield wiper fluid that won’t freeze. I have conquered fears.

But most of all, I have been humbled by the Lord’s awesome plan that is better than I could have ever imagined.

When I reflect on this past year, I remember how God was holding me through each and every step. Mind you, sometimes I was like a child fighting the arms of her father, but His protection and guidance ultimately won.img_5734

So I sit here, overwhelmed and thankful for the grace that washes over me, the mercy that erases, the love that renews me, and the faithfulness that will forever stand year to year.

Praying “Your Will Be Done.”

I had never thought of the implications of praying “Your will be done” as strongly until tonight. Sure, I’ve prayed that God’s will be done before and I have truly desired His will to be done. But as I prayed tonight, I had never entered into His presence with such a sacrificial, humbling prayer as “Your will be done.”

I might have lost some of you already, but I write this from my heart. In life, we face circumstances that we call on the Lord to help us through, to give us guidance, and to hopefully answer in a way that is pleasing to us. Tonight, I faced the reality that God’s answer might not be the one we want or desire. God’s will, his good, pleasing, and perfect will, sometimes does not align with our desires.

To desire God’s will above our own desire is a humbling and sometimes sacrificial place to find ourselves. It is a place of relying on the confidence that the creator of the universe knows what is good, what is pleasing, and what is perfect. It is a place of utter sacrifice of selfish desires that might not align with what we think is good, pleasing, or perfect. It is a place where faith without seeing becomes an action. It is a place that you cling to our Heavenly Father, because whatever His will may be, you know that you will only be able to get through it with his strength.

You might be wondering what I’m asking the Lord’s will for, but I urge you to look at your own life. What area in your life should you be sacrificially and humbly seeking His will instead of your own desires?

On the Verge of Adventure

On the verge of adventure, I want to shout to the mountains with joy and praise to the Lord that a season of my life has finally come to an end. Do you know what season that is?? It’s called SCHOOL. Yes, there might be some that comes in the future, but at the moment, I have finished and called it quits!!DSC_0081

The feeling of relief is like rain falling on parched land in a season of drought. These last two and a half years have been filled with challenges and hardship, but in the midst of the chaos the Lord was gracious. He gave me the strength, courage, and perseverance to overcome. He also gave me encouragers along the way to assist when I was at my wits end. In the middle of the turmoil, I had a tendency to have near-sighted vision, only seeing the depressing circumstances of never-ending 30lb textbooks.
I had a friend ask me one time, “How do you do it? How do you stay motivated?” My first response was, “ You don’t.” But the truth is that my motivation came through the grace of the Lord.

Needless to say, I sit on the verge of adventure, not because I’m literally about to head across the world for a brief vacation, but because I am about to enter a new season of life. It just so happens this season is leading me to cooler temperatures in the cool state of Colorado.

The Sweet Embrace of Unconditional Love

As I sit here in my bed, with sleep evading me, I ponder the sweetness of unconditional love. Specifically, God’s unconditional love that sweeps over me in times of failure, sin, restlessness, joy, happiness, and every aspect of life. It is earthly circumstances of failed attempts of love that remind me that people’s love is conditional, but there is an eluding grace that comes from God’s everlasting, unconditional love.

I am reminded in 1 Peter 4:8 of the command, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” How beautiful would it be if we, believers, lived with God’s love pouring out of us?

This brings me to look at what God’s love is: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Oh, the sweet embrace of God’s unconditional love! Despite my sin, Christ died, so I could be washed clean. Christ died, so I could be set free. Christ died, so I could be redeemed. Christ died, so I could live. Christ died, so I could be healed. You want to know what the amazing part of it all is? He died while you and I were still sinners.

The good news is that God takes us just like we are; perfection is not a qualification, but the exact opposite of what Christ died for.

Be encouraged today by remembering the sweet embrace of unconditional love that surrounds you, and embrace the grace that Christ is eagerly awaiting to give you.

Biggest Decision

Over the past few weeks, I have given much time and thought to a big decision I have to make in the next few months. I sit in reflection during these moments pondering my “big” decisions that have led me to where I am. The biggest decision I think about isn’t where I went to college, what career I chose, or even why I am here in this place now, but I have realized the biggest decision I have ever made was to believe in and follow Jesus.

I am writing about this for two reasons…first, my mind is like spaghetti and blogging seems to help put things in order. Second, I am totally procrastinating and what I really should be doing is studying. So, I’m going to share my thoughts on why choosing to believe and follow Jesus is the biggest most important decision one should make.

Here are 5 reasons I think are worth following Jesus for:

  1. Life– We are given each breath, because God ordained it. It all started with him, as creator, Lord, and Savior. We wouldn’t have life if it wasn’t for Him. So why not give your life to him, since it’s his anyway? But beyond that, when we choose Jesus, we chose eternal life with Him. We are able to live in freedom from our sins. (Genesis 1:1, 1:27; John 3:15-18)
  2. Hope– We live in a fallen world that is desperately in need of a savior. Through Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead on the third day, we can have hope that he is coming again! We can have hope that even though this life will fade, we can spend eternity in God’s presence. Who wouldn’t want that??(Especially in our current state as a country!)(Romans 15:13)
  3. Peace-In the midst of the ups and downs of life, Jesus offers us peace. The ability to have the constant peaceful presence of the God of the universe at any moment is pretty amazing. (Philippians 4:6-7)
  4. Purpose-I’ve often wonder what people live for if they don’t have Jesus…money(fades), family(dies), reputation(ends)… When you choose Jesus, you live with the purpose of glorifying him in everything you do. He gives you a reason to live that will never fade, die, or end. (Proverbs 19:21,Romans 8:28)
  5. Joy– When choosing to follow Jesus, with his Holy Spirit within you, there is a never ending joy that lives inside you. No, you might not be happy every single hour, but there is a earth-shattering sense of joy that resides within you. (Nehemiah 8:10)

 

These 5 are just the beginning of the unwavering beauty that comes with believing and following Jesus. But with these, I realize that in my “big” decision making process, my decision to believe and follow Jesus has directly affected the decisions I have made up to this point. I guess, my point is, that once you believe and follow Jesus, every decision is intertwined with His glorious plan that makes up your life. Therefore, the biggest decision you should make is to believe and follow Jesus.