Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Hello, everyone!

Soooo I am back with a little bit of a concern (really, though, when am I not concerned about something?).

The reason I have this blog is because I want people to draw closer to Jesus. I also want others to see my life as I try to live it as Christ is calling me to live it. To look beyond the “Christian” title and dig deep into what that means and how people my age and beyond can live it. I also want to share the real struggles that I face as a Christian.

So I’m caught in a tough place. I don’t want this to be a diary; I don’t want to expose details of my day that could bore you to death. I don’t want to be too open or post details about my issues just for the sake of blabbering about myself. So what do I do? I don’t want to focus on me, and yet I want to share my stories as I walk with Christ. So what should I do, dear readers? How do I balance a lifestyle/faith-based blog?

When it comes to posts about issues and lessons I can be as vague and yet as precise as I can. If you want to know about specifics we can privately talk about it via some way or other.

When it comes to lifestyle posts, well I can be as colorful as I think I should be.

So let’s give this a try, shall we?

I had a spark ignite in my brain yesterday when I was driving home. I was listening to a sermon that was more or less about what it means to own your faith. The main thing I got from it was this: No matter what may be going on with people around me, no matter what problems I see or problems I am dealing with, I always need to a.) Trust God and b.) Serve others.

Alright, alright that may sound superficial because as a Christian we all kind of hear those things, right? Almost as much as we hear “love your neighbor as yourself.”

But what does that all mean?

How do I own my faith? What is trust in God? What is serving others?

I’ll tell you what it is for me, and what I think it is for anyone claiming the Christian faith.

As the speaker put it, owning your faith involves perspective, participation, presence, perseverance, and power.

So then it hit me: At least in part, the recent bitterness I’ve been feeling is because of me — my unbelief in God’s character and promises. My perspective is way out of whack. I am too busy looking at other people and letting their personalities or whatever it may be getting under my skin, that I forget the power God has to make what seems impossible possible.

I have to get on my knees in prayer and trust Him.

Instead of focusing on the ugly characteristics of others, I have to participate in serving them. Instead of avoiding places I don’t want to be because I don’t get anything out of being there or can’t bear the emotions I may face, I have to be there and be present because I’m letting God lead. Instead of coming up with excuses for still participating in sin, I have to be persistent in my faith by never letting go of God and remembering He calls me out of darkness. And above all, instead of relying on myself

I have to rely on God’s power.

I can’t do any of this on my own.

That’s it.

I (and all of us in the Christian faith) must choose what’s right to glorify God. How can we call ourselves Christians if we aren’t doing that? We must probe into God’s thoughts because His thoughts are not our thoughts — they’re greater and better and go deeper than we could imagine in our feeble human minds.

And we have to serve other people, even if we don’t see ourselves benefitting in any way.

All of these things require sacrifice. The only way to truly serve God and serve others is by sacrifice.

Sin is truly an ugly thing. I can let it keep me down, or I can look up and trust in He who is greater than I.

He has to transform His believers from the inside out, and we all have to be serious about that.

What’s the bigger picture? How serious am I in serving God? How serious are you?

 

Troubled Hearts

How to find peace when our hearts are at war

 

Howdy day everyone! Boy, it feels good to be back on the blog! It’s felt like an eternity, though really it’s only been a few weeks.

Anyway, today I want to talk about these two P’s I keep stumbling upon in the Bible (bear with me non-believers.)

Persecution and peace.

As Christ’s followers, His disciples, we are to expect persecution. Namely, being hated, ridiculed, even killed for our faith and for standing up for truth. But why is it that no one in Christian circles really talks about that? John 14, John 16, James, 1 Peter are just a few places where persecution is mentioned. Those living now are not exempt from that. We in America may not deal with being killed for our faith just yet, but one thing is for certain: if we are living the way a Christian is supposed to live, we will experience persecution in some form.

So what is Christian living?

And as people who believe in the second coming of Christ, why does it seem like we really don’t believe He’s coming soon? If we did, wouldn’t our lives be different? Wouldn’t we be concerned with witnessing, with getting rid of sin in our lives, of making changes we need to make, of finding out truth from error?

There are so many bonkers beliefs out there amongst Christians. That’s why there are so many churches. So how do we know what’s true?

“Give me the Bible, holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way.”

That’s how we discover truth. By studying the book we believe is inspired by God. That is the only way to find true peace. I’ve really been struggling with certain teachings that are out there, and it took so long for me to realize I need to study God’s word for myself and not just take what people say as truth or hold onto any preconceived notions.

Knowledge is power, right?

So even amidst persecution, there is hope! That hope is found throughout the Bible. John 14 is a beautiful chapter on hope and promise. So even though we are to expect persecution, Jesus tells us not to be afraid, to not let our hearts be troubled.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 NKJV

How easy is it for me to let my heart be troubled! I feel like I’m troubled all the time. And I’m especially troubled whenever I hear or read about persecution. I get scared, discouraged, and even angry.

With all that trouble in my heart and countenance, what kind of example am I setting for others, for you?

How do I find peace amidst all the confusion and internal struggles?

Here’s something I found especially meaningful from a book called In Heavenly Places.

The Saviour’s life on this earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace…. No storm of satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, “My peace I give unto you.”

He left [the disciples] the peace which had been His during His life on the earth, which had been with Him amid poverty, buffeting, and persecution…Those who take Christ at His word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is alive we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when self is dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart….

When we receive Christ into the soul as an abiding guest, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable…. The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence all around. In Heavenly Places, 249 

There are so many things unanswered, so much confusion to sift through. There are also so many truths to discover in God’s Word, truths that are waiting to be discovered if we only took the time to study and remove any preconceived ideas and misguided traditions of men. But as we delve into discovering those truths, we can rest assured that peace is given to us.

 

Keep Her, for She is Your Life

Why instruction is important

Fridays are funny for me. Here’s why: I have the day off.  So I told myself Fridays would be my blog days. Yet here it is almost 3 p.m. on a Friday and I’m barely starting…go figure :p

Anyway, all humor aside, I feel today’s post is going to be quite a hefty one, and aimed more towards my fellow believers in Christ. But even if that isn’t you, I still encourage you to read. My hope is that you all will learn a little bit more about Jesus, and a little more about me. I also hope we can still connect somehow.

Here goes. So last Friday I received a text quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads: If My people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and  turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (New King James Version). (All texts I use from here on out will be from NKJV unless otherwise noted).

I wondered why this particular text was sent, and wondered how the person who sent it to me views this text. I also wanted to ask how one defines ‘wicked ways’. What is wickedness? How do we turn away from it? Is there a method? a standard? And God says here that if His people do these things ( humble themselves, pray, seek His face, turn from wicked ways) then He will forgive their sin.

That sounds like a condition. God’s forgiveness requires something from us.

And if God requires certain things from His people, how, then, do I meet those requirements? And are their consequences for not meeting them?

1 John 2:6 says “He who abides in Him ought Himself also to walk just as He walked.” After reading that text aloud, I asked a few people what it means to abide in Christ and “walk just as He walked.” They said abiding and walking as He walked means to be obedient.

Obedient to what?

Leviticus 18:5 reads “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”

One meaning of abiding in Christ is to obey God’s commands. Which ones? All? Some?

Weren’t some commandments done away with?

I am not going to talk about which commandments were done away with exactly, but a main thing I have to cover is that God’s law, His holy law, His holy ten commandments, is His character. Why else would His law and statutes come up so frequently throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New? And if they are His character written down — and God is unchanging — then His law is unchanging, right?

Okay, now that I’ve come to that conclusion, I’ll transition to this thought: Ecclesiastes 12:14. Fear (this isn’t to be afraid of, but rather to revere) God and keep His commandments…for God will bring every work into judgment…”

How does this apply to me, a Christian? What commandments do I keep? And what works of mine will be judged?

How shall a man be just with God? How can a sinner be made righteous?

Galatians 5:19-21 lists behaviors God’s people should avoid ( sex outside marriage, jealousy, hatred, drunkenness, just to name a few). Of course, we cannot in and of ourselves and of our own will power keep from doing these things. It is only by God’s grace, Spirit, and power working in us. It is only through Christ.

Here’s a quote from a book called Steps to Christ:

“Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts.”

1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. Luke 13:3 says unless we repent, we will all perish. Repentance is a condition we must do to receive forgiveness. Repentance also doesn’t just mean to confess the sin, but also to turn away from that sin.

Instruction is a lamp, a light, and the way of life (Proverbs 6:23). Instruction is important. God’s instruction is important. Whatever He says in His word directed to His people are important. Proverbs 4:13.

By not ignoring truth and conviction and by heeding to instruction is how to keep my conscience from being “seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2).

“Repentance includes sorrow for sin and turning away from it. Until we turn away from [sin] in heart, there will be no real change in the life.” Steps to Christ, 23

That’s powerful.

All compromise with sin must be put to an end. I’m speaking to myself here, too. I don’t want this new year to be the same as years before, to keep putting off what I know I need to give up. Lately jealousy has been eating me up inside, and I know I need give that burden to Christ, because His promises are unwavering.

 

Two, Just Want to be With You

It’s that time for another sappy anniversary posssssttt.

Okay, not sappy at all for me, but perhaps it is for you :p

So here goes!

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I married this incredible young man. We are both blessed beyond belief.

The morning of our anniversary, I made him these cute little guys from an idea I found on Pinterest (Ohhh, Pinterest <3)

fullsizeoutput_1a2bAt night we enjoyed a fantastically delicious dinner at Shojin at Little Toko in DTLA. Incredible. Worth it. And did I mention entirely vegan!? I could have easily eaten another order of the potstickers. And I was pleasantly surprised they had several non-alcoholic and caffeine-free drink/tea options. There was a no cell phone policy, so I didn’t take any photos of the food. Guess you’ll have to try it yourself 😉fullsizeoutput_1a27

Just as in times prior, we waited for winter break in December to take off and spend a few days together up in Oregon.

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Just look at this snow!
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So snowy and beautiful.

We flew from LAX to PDX and indulged in the pho and bánh mì at Bambuza ( it’s in the airport, and we’ve been longing for that vegan pho since last year hehe.)

From Portland we drove to Sisters, which took longer than anticipated because there was so much snow and we SoCal folk had never driven in snow before ( kuddos to my husband for killing it out there.)

We made it just in time to check in at Five Pine, and then drive a half hour to Bend to catch a Journey to Bethlehem production at a local church. It was such a crisp, clear, and beautiful evening. One day I’ll invest in a camera that can actually capture the essence of the moon that was out that night.

After the production we went to grab a bite at Laughing Planet. Plantains in a burrito!? Sounded odd to me, but it was delicious.

We went snowboarding the first year and snow shoeing last year, so we wanted to plan another snow activity this time around.  He started feeling a little sick and we didn’t want to push it, so we were fine driving to and from Bend, shopping at Natural Grocers ( I could live there), and spending a snowed-in night eating pizza ( one of the few places open that night because of the snow!), playing board games ( I won), and watching Shark Tank ( it’s hard to just watch one episode…). We even got to see carol singers at Old Mill District. Magical.

Another wonderful time spent in Sisters, OR. I thank God we are able to take trips like this. Everything was a highlight those few days, and I wasn’t ready to come home. I can go on about the time we spent there, but I’ll leave you all with this clip of our trip instead!

 

 

 

10 Things to Talk About at Your 10 Year Reunion

Without reverting to basic small talk

 

My husband and I graduated the same year from the same high school. My in-laws still live in the same neighborhood, so after leaving there one day we decided to stop by that old campus of ours.

I had visited the campus in past times before, but those visits never quite hit me like this visit did; I didn’t expect to feel the wave of nostalgia that I felt.

Funny, when people have asked me if I would go to my ten year high school reunion, I’d scoff and say,” Yeah right!”

But being on campus, I actually considered changing my mind. And wouldn’t you know it, my ten year high school reunion just happens to be coming up in 2017.

It’s like the reunion planning universe just knew people would feel nostalgic at the ten year mark…

So thinking about a ten year reunion, I’m thinking about what I would ask those old classmates of mine.

Would I be able to avoid the common small talk?

I once asked two people (at different occasions) how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to. Responses: “(Chuckle) Oh you know, just busy with work and school.”

I think they chuckled because they get that same question all the time, and give the same answers all the time. Small talk is cheap. From then I decided to ask better, thought-provoking questions. Questions that will require me to really listen and require them to dig deeper for responses. No more being basic and boring.

But what are those questions? 

I put this into practice the other day when I said to the person, “Okay, don’t talk to me about school or work. What do you like to do for fun?” I think I caught him off guard, but got my desired results nonetheless.

So here are my tips on ten things to ask at your ten year reunion (that don’t directly have to do with work or school).

  1. What do you like to do for fun?
  2. Where have you travelled in the last year/ Where was the last place you travelled?
  3. What does your dream house look like?
  4. What advice would you give to people graduating high school?
  5. What were your thoughts when you got the invitation for the reunion?
  6. Were you listening to anything on the car ride over here? If so, what was it?
  7. Are you still interested in [blank] like you were in high school?
  8. What would I find out about you by looking at your Pinterest boards?
  9. What are you currently reading?
  10. So MySpace was big in our day. What has been your favorite social media platform so far, and why?

This list is by no means exhaustive. I’m just really trying to think of things that may be outside the box in order to keep things interesting.

It makes me a little nervous thinking about a reunion. Since this is a faith-based blog after all, I have to address the idea of a reunion from the eyes of a believer in Christ. I am a lot different than I was then. My husband and I both. Like, night and day different. How would we use this reunion as a way to witness? The neutral side of me would find ways to avoid talking about anything that has to do with “religion” (because I don’t want to be dubbed a weirdo, ya know). And being neutral in this situation can be so easy! Man, even talking about the bad things I did in my past could be so easy, but I know those past things are not things I want to highlight anymore.

But the only thing “neutral” about a Christian lifestyle is avoiding the wrong kind of extremes, and wanting peace and love for everyone.

For those of you who don’t believe in the Christian God, would you immediately tune out at the mere mention of Christianity? If so, why?

So how would I be the witness I need to be without being an overbearing religious weirdo?

How do I be a light in this world, even amongst people who may not want that light?

If I do decide to go to our reunion, let’s just hope the music isn’t blaring because my voice does not carry well in loud places lol.

Until next,

em

 

Challenge Me

Podcasts have become my thing as of late (especially since I’ve been fasting from my music, more on this in a later post).

I listened to one where the host talked about personal growth. She said there isn’t real growth in someone unless that someone perseveres through challenges.

I liked and hated this statement.

I liked it because yes, I’m all about growth and progress.

I hated it because, man…have I really grown that much, then?

I feel as if I want to give up right away when something becomes too stressful or challenging. I’m like a dandelion instead of an oak. Dust instead of stone.

I find comfort in running away from what scares me or from what is difficult.

Already I was thinking of excuses, thinking of instances when not persevering might be appropriate: Well what if _______ is really not for me and that’s why I’m struggling through it so much? That’s a good enough reason to quit, isn’t it?

While I do believe that has truth (e.g., grad school for me) I think there have been some things I shied away from purely because I didn’t want to struggle through them. I hate struggling. I mean, who doesn’t?

So I kind of cringe when things that are supposed to be encouraging and uplifting have the opposite affect on me. (Ughhh I really don’t want to watch this motivational video because I know I’ll feel a direct rebuke to my own drive and motivation.)

I know, what a baby I am right? Everything in life doesn’t come easy. You have to work for things and work through things.

One of the things I have psyched myself out of is parenthood. I’ve written about this one before, see my Panic on the Streets of Parenthood post.

Time after time I’m reminded of why I do not want children. Here are a few reasons:

  • I like sleep.
  • I like freedom to get a taro slush with boba at 8:30 p.m.
  • I like only having to cook for two people.
  • I like not having to worry about supporting another life form aside from my cat.
  • I like the idea of bypassing the teenage phase entirely.
  • I like not having to add an extra person into my love-o-sphere and therefore have to worry about that person all the bloody time.

I can go on.

But that last one is a biggie.

Call me a crazy Christian, but I believe our time here on Earth isn’t going to last much longer. And I also believe that things are going to get a heck of a lot worse than they are. And if I believe that, why the davies would I want to bring another being into this crazy, evil world?

So I could worry about her? So I could dread every waking moment we are apart? So I can deal with a potentially wayward son who after years of our caring and nurturing decides to damn us both to hell?

Like I said, I can think of countless reasons I don’t want to be a parent.

But then God showed me something. He planted a thought. And that was this: “Yes, parenthood is indeed a challenge. But it might be the challenge you need in this life.”

A challenge that I need to persevere through.

If God is leading, He will provide the strength for me to do it.

Wow. What a load of fear removed from my shoulders.

I don’t need to be afraid.

I trust God with my life. I trust God with the life of my children, should it be His will for us to have any. I will trust in Him.

And those challenges just might be what I need.

 

The Bolder Thing to Do

I believe in standing up for what you believe in.

In my case, it’s my faith.

The other day I went door-knocking to pass out literature. You know, that thing I mentioned in this post ?

So while I was walking house to house I thought to myself, What would I do if the next person who opens the door starts yelling, cursing, or threatening me? What if they attacked my beliefs and demanded answers?

I kept telling myself to be bold. Just trust in God. To a certain extent, that’s all I can do. However, there is a responsibility I must play. In order to be bold in my beliefs, I have to know what they are and why I hold them, right?

Now I know I won’t have the answers to everything, and that scares me. Especially when there are so many smarter people out there who can tear me to pieces with their theories. I’m not one to boast in my smartness (or lack-thereof) but there are a lot of things I should be able to answer.

Which leads me to my next thing.

There are certain “holidays” my husband and I have decided not to really acknowledge or celebrate. But since most people celebrate these holidays, people ask if we have plans for them. And of course when we respond, the follow-up question arises: Why not?

I’ve learned it makes conversations easier when I have a solid answer. Why do something if you don’t really know the reason why?

Even still, one response we got was “That’ll change when you have kids.”

That made we wonder. Will it? How bold will I be once we have children? Will my principles go out the window?

I want to say that it wouldn’t, but I really don’t know; I’m not a parent.

I want boldness to define who I am, to define my children, should we have any.

There’s more I can say about this, I’m sure. There are many reasons for boldness.

But is there ever a time when one can be too bold and cross the line?

Would the bolder thing to do be to step down gracefully, or to keep going without end, and even stronger?

Until next post (which will probably be about parenthood again, lol)

em