Grateful.

Today I am grateful.

I am grateful for my husband, my rock.  For those of you who don’t know Jeremy, he’s a solid guy.  He loves God and because of that he loves me so well.

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I’m grateful for the home we have been blessed with.

I’m grateful for the three little rascals (aka our furry friends) that inhabit our home and make life at home quite fun.

I’m grateful for my job, and for Jeremy’s job. I’m grateful that God continues to provide.

I’m grateful for my family, my biggest supporters. I’m grateful for our close relationships even from miles and miles away.

My momma and my sister , Kaleigh.

My momma and my sister, Kaleigh.

I am grateful for the start of a new Bible study. I’m grateful for the women who I will grow alongside of over the course of the next 12 weeks as we study Beth Moore’s “Daniel.”

I’m grateful that my soul is craving God and desiring precious time spent with Him.

I’m grateful for a spontaneous date night with my husband to get ice cream tonight… and I’m certainly grateful for Moose Tracks on a waffle cone. Grin.

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I’m grateful for my friendships and my girlfriends that God has blessed me with, both near and far.

My dear friend Kelsey, who resides in Nebraska.

My dear friend Kelsey, who resides in Nebraska.

My sweet friend Ashley, who lives in New Jersey.

My sweet friend Ashley, who lives in New Jersey.

My awesome college roomie and friend, Linnea (who is right here in Michigan with me!)

My awesome college roomie and friend, Linnea (who is right here in Michigan with me!)

I’m grateful for the summer. I’m grateful for a time of rest. I’m grateful for a break from homework and papers and tests.

I am so grateful for my God, my Jesus.  I am grateful that He has saved me from my sin and that He has given me new life in Him.  I’m grateful that I can put on a new self because of what He has done for me.

What are you grateful for today?

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P.S. Our amazing wedding picture at the top was taken by a very talented guy named Noah. Click on the picture to see more of his work! 🙂

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Old Self vs. New Self

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24
 

This scripture rocked me to the core this morning.  I needed it this morning. Not two mornings ago when it had been emailed to me on Saturday. (I’m subscribed to a great blog called The Heartbeat of the Home and the scripture came from this lovely posting.) But this morning, when I finally got around to going through my email.  God has impeccable timing like that.

I don’t have many words for this scripture…it speaks for itself.  I do have lots of feelings and thoughts, though, which I’ll try to express briefly.  Since accepting Christ as my Savior, one of my continuing struggles has been walking the line between my “old self” and my “new self.”  I’m realizing more and more that accepting Christ as my Savior may be a one time thing that I did in ninth grade, but choosing to “be made new in the attitude of my mind” is a daily choice that I must make.  My “new self” is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” but I must daily pray that God would give me the strength to “put off my old self.”  No, I can’t do it alone, but it is my choice to make.  And each morning, whether consciously or not, I am choosing the person I am going to be that day – I am choosing to be my “old self” or my “new self.”

I know I can’t be alone in this struggle, so I’m expressing what I’m able to in hopes that someone out there can resonate with my struggle.  My hope and prayer for myself, and for you reading this, is that we would daily pray for God to help us put on our new selves, and that we would have the courage to ask for prayer in community when we are struggling with putting off our old selves.  It’s hard to be honest with our struggles, but God has gifted us as Christians with community to do just that – to be honest in communication about our joys, pains, praises, laughs, and yes, even our struggles.

Father God, I pray thanks to you for opening my heart and my mind with this scripture this morning.  Thank you for fellow bloggers whose postings have spoken to my soul.  Lord, I pray that today, and everyday, you would help me to put on my “new self” in you, the self that was “created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.”  In Jesus’ name, amen.
 

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Thanks for that, Nashville.

Nashville. Yep, that’s the name of the capital of Tennessee, but I know it better as the name of my new favorite TV show (currently on summer hiatus.)  I was hesitant about watching the series initially because I am was NOT a country music fan (no offense to those who are/have always been.)  Then a friend of mine (also not a country music fan) convinced me that the show was too good to miss.  Long story short, I caught up with the first half of the season and began avidly watching every Wednesday night through the rest of the semester.  You can catch up on season 1 of the show here.

nashville-header

So… here comes the crazy part. Brace yourselves (that’s what I should have warned my husband before I told him)… all of a sudden I’m finding myself enjoying obsessing over country music.  WHAT??!?  I feel like I woke up a different person one morning.  For those of you reading this and wondering why this warrants a blog post, you obviously don’t me or my music tastes that well.  I’ve always had many friends who love country music but that is was not me!

So what does this have to do with my new fave show “Nashville”?  Well, obviously, I blame the show!  I started liking the music on the show and it went all down hill from there.

Now for all you country music lovers, and in defense of the genre, I never absolutely hated all country music.  I’ve actually always enjoyed Carrie Underwood’s music and could handle some “light” country including Carrie and Lady Antebellum.

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  lady

But now my always existing Carrie Underwood Pandora radio station gets played nearly every day…and I find myself “thumbs-upping” many songs of the Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, and Eli Young Band variety.  Oh, and plenty of soundtrack music from my fave new show and the changer of my music tastes – thanks for that, “Nashville.” 😉

“Nashville” image: http://www.tnvacation.com/triptales/watch-nashville-and-enter-to-win-a-nashville-experience/

Carrie image: http://beatcrave.com/2010-01-28/carrie-underwood-will-sing-national-anthem-at-super-bowl/

Lady A. image: http://www.molsonamphitheatre.net/events/event/lady-antebellum/

Summer Resolutions

I love lists.  I love making them and I love crossing things off them even more.  So I decided to make a list for my summer.  Things that I have time to accomplish, things that I hope to accomplish, and maybe even some things that probably won’t get crossed off.

So here is my list of summer resolutions:  (New Year’s Resolutions are a nice thought but make no sense.  Who has time in January to get things done?? Not me. So my resolutions start now.)

1. Learn to cook. (Okay, I know this is broad and big… I’d like to at least try a few new recipes, learn to master crock-pot cooking in time for the start of school in September and maybe even learn how to plan a weekly menu.)

2. Become more than just a “good Bible-study girl.”  This goal is based off this book that I hope to read this summer.  I want to dig deeper in my faith.  I’m craving growth, but I’m craving it now more than I have in awhile.  My soul is longing. And my soul knows that I have some time on my hands.  I want to be more than a girl who does Bible study.  I want to know God and be known by Him. Yes. Good stuff.

3. Eat better. (Not diet, by the way…just be more intentional with what I put in my body and how it makes me feel and function.)  My body is a temple. I want to eat better and exercise and strengthen my body.

4. Visit the zoo. Deep and thought-provoking, I know.  My husband is aware of this “to-do” item because I’ve asked him to take me to the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids this summer (we’ve never been in the three years we’ve lived here.)

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5. Spend at least one day at a Lake Michigan beach.  Sorry Michiganders, your “beach” does not compare to the Jersey shore.  Yep, I went there. Your water is not ocean and your boardwalk should not be called that.  But I’ll forgive you because the lake-shore in Michigan is beautiful and I’ll take it.  Yep, spend at least a day there. Check. (Hopefully.)

6. Take a trip to Chicago.  Hubby and I plan to do this later in the summer to celebrate our anniversary.  Really hope we execute this goal because there are some stores calling my name in that city!

chicago-skyline

7. Date my husband.  We’ve had a wonderful first year of marriage, but during the busy school year as two full-time students and each of us working 20+ hours a week, finding time (and money) to date can be difficult.  Now we have more time on our hands and a steadier income.  Let’s date! (We’ve already been working on this one – last Friday night was mini golf and shopping at the mall.)

8. Read more books.  I’ve been doing good on this one.  My goal for the summer is to read all the books that are currently on my Goodreads “To-read” list.  It’s a lot of non-fiction that I really don’t have the brain power to process during the school year.  Perfect summer resolution.

9. Be more intentional with my blogging.  I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t really mind when I go forever without blogging.  It is okay in my book.  But what I do mind is looking back on the past few months and the many situations and circumstances that I’ve processed and realizing that they were not put into words.  That’s why I want to blog.  As a method of process and reflection. So I want to do more of that this summer.  And use the blog as a way to document my above resolutions.

I think my list of resolutions is good for now.  Edits can and will always be made.

Any summer resolutions on your to-do list? I’d love to hear about them!

Chicago image: http://nixietale.com/tag/chicago/

Zoo image: http://thewmeacblog.org/2012/04/18/earth-day-event-party-for-the-planet-at-john-ball-zoo/

Where I Belong

Today in my “Human Behavior and the Social Environment” class we finished watching a documentary called “A Lion in the House.”  You can

read more about the film here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0492472/.  This documentary follows the lives of five different families who each have a family member struggling with cancer, but in my class we only watched Alex’s story.  Alex began battling leukemia around 5 years old and struggled with this monstrous disease until she passed away at 8 years old.

It didn’t help that Alex had the biggest personality and most beautiful heart… but regardless of who she was as a child, my heart broke for the fact that she was only a child.  I’m not justifying disease and pain and death in adults, but as we watched this film, inside my head I was screaming out to God, “This isn’t right. This isn’t fair. She was only a child.  Why God, just why?”

Last night I was driving in the car and the song “Where I Belong” by Building 429 came on the radio.  Through the pain and grief and injustice of this world I take such comfort knowing that this isn’t home.  This wasn’t what God intended.  When children like Alex die at age 8 from leukemia, God mourns with her family.  This isn’t the world we were made for.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside.
Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive?
I won’t keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find.All I know is I’m not home yet.
This is not where I belong.
Take this world and give me Jesus.
This is not where I belong.So when the walls come falling down on me,
And when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.All I know is I’m not home yet.
This is not where I belong.
Take this world and give me Jesus.
This is not where I belong.When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You.
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You.

All I know is I’m not home yet.
This is not where I belong.
Take this world and give me Jesus.
This is not where I belong.”

a honeymoon moment

There’s quite a bit on my mind and on my heart right now and lots of possibilities ahead…not to mention the piles of homework and hours of studying that await me – but I can’t stop thinking about something so here I am writing about it.

I keep thinking about my favorite moment on our honeymoon – don’t worry – this is completely G-rated!  🙂  I obviously know that I married an awesome and Godly man…(I mean, I did marry him for a reason!), but on our honeymoon there was this really cool moment that I think God allowed me to witness to affirm my marriage to a pretty great guy.

During our honeymoon, Jeremy and I would go for regular evening walks on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  One particular night, we stopped at a stand to buy some fried Oreos – one of our favorite boardwalk specialties.  I sat down at a table while Jer went up to order for us.  I could see Jer in line from where I was sitting and so I saw when a man walked up to Jeremy while he was waiting in line.  The man would appear to be what I would describe as poor, dirty, and possibly homeless (the social worker in me tries to be careful about what I assume about people without knowing!)  The man went up and talked to Jeremy for a little bit, but I was out of hearing distance and didn’t know what he was saying.  Jer got to our table a few minutes later with our plate of fried Oreos.  Jeremy said that the man had asked him for some money so he could buy an ice cream cone.  Jeremy only had a $20 bill and told the man he was sorry.  Of course, Jeremy knew I would get really upset that we hadn’t helped the man in some way…especially when I looked up and saw the man relentlessly going up to several people asking for money.  At this point, I honestly didn’t even want my deep fried Oreos.  Jer got up and said he would be back.  He walked up to the man and said something, then the two walked back to the line together.  Here comes the best part.  My husband bought this man a slice of pizza, a water bottle, and his much desired vanilla ice cream cone.  Jer waited in line with the man to make sure the server got the man his food.  And the cherry on top: Jeremy didn’t do this to get praised for it and he certainly didn’t do it just to make me happy (not that that would be wrong!)  This is Jeremy and it was the perfect moment on a beautiful night.  I never felt more love for Jeremy and more loved by his selfless act for another than in that moment.  It was awesome.  And I totally felt God’s peace.

I love to think about how much just the vanilla ice cream cone alone meant to that man.  If he could have one thing from the boardwalk, he wanted ice cream.  I’ve thought about if I was living in poverty, what I wouldn’t do for a luxury cup of coffee.  If this man lives day to day, an ice cream cone was his biggest blessing I’m sure.  God bless my sweet husband for adding on a pizza slice and bottle of water.

Later on that evening, Jeremy joked that being married to a soon-to-be social worker was rubbing off on him, but I know that’s not why he did it.  Jeremy has that heart all on his own.

Sorry to endlessly brag on my husband, but I’m just so grateful for him and his heart and I love giving God the glory for blessing me with such a wonderful guy.

Our two week honeymoon was made up of so many awesome moments, but I know this is one that will stick in my mind for a lifetime.

Happy Wednesday!

Jeremy and me on the boardwalk

Our deep fried Oreos – Yum!

The blessing of a simple vanilla ice cream cone

“the beatitudes”

It’s Friday…which means this morning I had Bible study!  Wow can I just say that it is so wonderful to dig deep into Scripture with other women who are in a similar “life boat” as I am?  It’s truly wonderful… and if you’re reading this, and not currently involved in a Bible study – this is my one-time plug to encourage you to get involved with one!  I’m personally biased to same sex Bible studies, but that’s just me 🙂  There are so many wonderful opportunities to plug into the Word with other people – so that’s my plug.  The end. 🙂

This morning we began our reading of Matthew chapter 5 – which famously begins with “The Beatitudes.”  The Beatitudes aren’t new to me but I’ve never intentionally studied them, so in a way they kind of are new in that sense.

We discussed how the main “negative” interpretation of the Beatitudes says that we must become like the blessed people in verses 3-10 in order to inherit the Kingdom of heaven.  This list includes “the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the pure in heart,” to name a few.  I’ll admit that the few times I’ve read through Matthew 5 before, I interpreted in this way – that I must become these things in order to be blessed and inherit God’s Kingdom.

After reading through chapter 4 of “The Divine Conspiracy,” which unpacks the Beatitudes, and after discussion among the women of my Bible study this morning, I am happy to say that I’m looking at this particular passage with new eyes now.  First of all, nowhere does it say that this list of “the blessed” ones is exhaustive.  The Bible doesn’t say that you must have only these qualifications in order to inherit the Kingdom of heaven. Second, it helps to know the context of Jesus’ sermon in this passage.  It is important to be informed about who Jesus’ audience was for this sermon.  It turns out, Jesus was addressing “the least of these” in a way – people who could most likely immediately identify with being “poor in spirit” or being “mournful.”  The point of this passage is not necessarily to encourage us to strive to become these things – the point was to address people who are these things and express the greatness of God’s love – that these people, too, will inherit the Kingdom of heaven.

Which brings me to my last point, and my favorite.  After studying the Beatitudes passage more in depth than I ever have I’ve realized a way to look at this Scripture with new eyes, a new focus.  Instead of reading this passage and wondering what it says about ME and MY life – how I should act or what I should be or what I should do in order to be blessed – I’ve turned the focus and have reflected on what it says about GOD.  This passage is just one of many that demonstrates God’s great love – what He’s doing – and what His love means for “the poor in spirit,” “those who mourn,” “the pure in heart,” or “the peacemakers.”  This passage is not about what we should strive to be – it’s about who God is and His great love.

I’m starting to realize that all Scripture should have this “lens” of “what is God doing in this passage?” – but I think it’ll take one deep study at a time to really identify this.  All I know is the Lord is really moving and pushing in my heart and I can feel the growth.

How are you feeling God move in Your heart?  I would love to hear!  Happy Friday!

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