Hello, September

Hello there, friends.

Well, this month has been crazy busy and super awesome. Why, you may wonder? Well, it just so happens that it’s my birthday month (yay), and I am not one to just celebrate a day—Oh no, I take the whoooleee month (teehee). So to celebrate turning 26, my husband and I planned a road trip up the California coast for the first weekend in September. There were a few bumps along the way, patience was tried, and I got grumpy a few of the nights (I get cranky when I’m tired ^.^) BUT despite the minor problems, we had a lot of fun and made some more memories to our ever-growing adventure book.IMG_3580

And also, this:

Squash Tower
Squash Tower at Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa,CA

I can’t believe it’s almost a year since we’ve been married! I have been blessed beyond belief with the young man of my dreams.

The rest of the month included things like Disneyland, my birthday dinner with family, a visit from Mom, Granny, and G-pa from Texas, church activities, and baby-sitting. Whew!

And tomorrow marks my dad’s birthday, so the celebration continues into October!

I absolutely love autumn, and I am so anxious for cooler weather to hit dry SoCal—it’s felt like summer since spring!


Okie dokie, then: what does October have in store? Aside from a visit to the pumpkin patch (if I can keep convincing my husband it’ll be worth the drive hehe), I will be taking care of a lot of new and exciting responsibilities. Since I’ve been a stay-at-home wife since I left my full-time job in June, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I wanted and needed to do.

Now, some people may think I am on vacation 24/7 since I don’t have a job, but much on the contrary!

I have lists of things to do each day to ensure I maintain order and cleanliness in my home, while also making sure I spend time with God, prepare my lesson for my class, read substantial learning books, practice language skills, take time to write, prepare meals, take care of our cat, and be ready to greet my husband when he arrives home.

I’m telling you, I still look forward to weekend relaxation!

I am so happy that I am so less stressed and irritable now that I’m home and not in an office, and I have been inspired to follow my dreams and my passions.

Amen to that!

 

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Neither Do I Condemn You Pt. 1

Justification in sin, or salvation from it?

There might be someone reading this right now who’s thinking, “Ugh, religious gibberish again, yuck. This girl is a”religious” nut.

But those of us in the world of biblical knowledge have heard of that word—sin— and are familiar with the story in the Bible of the woman caught in adultery, whom the religious zealots of the time brought to Jesus to condemn and stone her (John 8).

And what are those famous words everyone remembers?

Neither do I condemn thee

And that’s it. Jesus did not condemn her for her sin, so He does not condemn me for mine.

So, you take your bow, applauding yourself as you close the book on that verse, walking away and dusting off your hands from any kind of accountability.

But then you stop and think, or…does He?

The verse continues to say go and sin no more, but I don’t know if anyone really thinks about that part. Or if they do, most people think Christ’s death on the cross meant we’re free to sin as we please and still inherit eternal life. I don’t believe that.

“Try as I might, I could not find justification anywhere in God’s word for continuing in my lifestyle of sin.”

This quote is from Victor J. Adamson’s testimony, and hearing it made me remember those times in my teenage years when I’d be sitting in church with my mom, scavenging throughout the pages of the Bible to find some scrap of justification for the sin I was living in.

Of course, it was to no avail. I knew deep down what I was doing was wrong. But still, I lived that way for years, abandoning any kind of conviction and convincing myself that this is who I am.

I know we humans have the tendency to crave the things that are bad and harmful to us. It’s our nature.

For example, sometimes the smell of cigarette smoke stirs in me the desire to have one. But the difference between me now and me a few years ago is that I run from the temptation, not run to it. I pray for God to help me. I trust my whole life to Him, especially in that moment of utter weakness. So yes, there is a struggle.

So, do my struggles mean God has not truly given me the victory over them? I dare say, certainly not. It’s all a process, and a worthy one at that. If I still lived the way I used to, who knows where I’d be right now. Probably not married, probably forming addictive and destructive habits, and definitely not happy.

Someone, who happens to be in a relationship, recently told me that infidelity in my marriage would be inevitable, that sexual desire is natural. So he shamelessly eye-balled a girl sitting across from us, dismissing any consideration for the girl he had waiting for him at home.

This made me really sad. The thing that he does not understand is that yes, sexual desire is natural. Lust is not. But who believes that these days?

There are numerous things I can say feel natural to me, but I refuse to give in to them.

Last summer, I was faced with a major temptation, and I thought I would lose all control and ruin all I had overcome in the last four years. I tried to avoid it, but there it was in my face every single day, and it got to the point where I started letting my guard down little by little.

had to stop it right there, otherwise I’d be trapped. So I prayed, hard. I prayed for God to take that desire away from me, especially when I was around it.

And He delivered. It was like the desire had been entirely lifted from me, and I was able to be around it without even the slightest urge. Still, I know I can’t just prance around certain people and environments thinking I’ll be okay, because I need to avoid the temptation at all costs, which is why you won’t find me hanging around bars with my friends anymore or watching inappropriate movies/television.  I was around that particular temptation every day because I did not have much of a choice.

So that is what I must do: give it all to God. Don’t even let the idea creep in, or if it does, get rid of it. If I trust in myself, I’ll fail.

Someone might say, “Dude, I feel sorry for you. You’re fighting against who you really are. That’s ridiculous. What kind of God do you serve?”

I serve a just God. A God of infinite love, yes, but also a God who is intolerable of sin.

Rom. 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.

If I am to follow Christ, I must abstain from sin, not make excuses for it.

Until part 2,

em

Wise and Willing Hearts

Greetings, dear friends.

In my post A Life that was Changed, I mentioned how I was asked to teach a class at my church. That was about seven months ago, and it has been a little rough at times. I don’t have all the answers, and preparing biblical concepts and spiritual lessons for a class is no joke — it’s serious. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I chose to teach the 11-17 year olds. Most of my students are between 11 and 14, which is probably my favorite age group because I personally loved being 12 (after all, it was at this age that I crushed on the boy who is now my husband 😉 ).

Usually each lesson has a very impactful teaching, so I always make the lesson goal applicable to my own life so my students know we’re on this road together.

About three or more weeks ago, I was reflecting on all the things I purged myself of that were inhibiting my spiritual growth. I was amazed at how God had transformed my life with each and every part of my old self that I had given up.

Even though there are times of struggle, there is no denying the change that God has made in my life, my thoughts, and my actions.

Then, a thought crept into my head: There is one major thing in my life that so many of my family members in Christ have left behind as they trekked on their path to God. But surely God convicts us about things on a personal basis, so giving up that particular thing might not apply to me. Besides, I could never give it up.

And so I closed that thought and moved on.

About a week or so later, I was prepping my class’s lesson titled “Wise and Willing Hearts.” It was a lesson about true devotion to God and having a spirit of sacrifice.

So there I went, preparing the lesson, ready to suggest and advise them on things they need to be willing to sacrifice that could be keeping them from whole heartedly committing  to God, or things that might be distracting them from growing spiritually.

At the end of my class the day of this particular lesson, I asked them:

So what are you willing to give up?

What is distracting you from God? What could be blocking you from hearing His voice? I had them all write their answers down on a piece of paper, to be kept private between them and God.

But then I thought to myself, what am willing to sacrifice that I know would be very difficult for me to give up?

And then that particular thought about that particular thing I love popped into my head. Whoa, I thought. Could God be asking me to give this up for Him, to replace it with something better? Is this thing blocking His communication with me? Am I willing to give it up?

Friends, I never thought I would even let this idea get this far. But one thing is for sure:

I love God, and whatever it is that is distracting me from Him must go.

Is it hard? Yes. Is it without struggle? No. Is God there to help? YES.

I know so many people who think I’m stupid and crazy for serving a God they think does not exist. I can’t change how they think by saying words they don’t agree with, but I can show them by my lifestyle, by my willing sacrifices, how much God has done for me. What better testimony is that?

So begins my prayerful journey in determining what I must do…

Until next time,

em

7 things I learned after undergrad

This may not apply to everyone, or even anyone at all. It does, however, very much apply to me. Still, I hope someone who’s in a similar situation can find this one day and receive some sort of help from it.

Now for a little introduction: I started community college in fall 2007. I received my BA in December 2013. Yeah, it took me that long. After that, I walked the stage at commencement in May 2014. I had two part time jobs and a couple short internships throughout the duration of my college experience. I even attempted grad school. However, over the 2 months or so in my graduate studies (which is now over a year ago) I learned it wasn’t for me. And over the last 3 1/2 months of a full time job, I’ve learned some other things aren’t for me either. Needless to say, I feel prompted to compile this list of, well, what I’ve learned thus far. So here it is.

What I learned after undergrad:

1. Don’t overestimate your abilities.

This might not apply to any other areas of study other than those in the Liberal Arts arena, so I’ll stick within those parameters. When I was looking for writing jobs, I saw so many I wanted and thought, “Hey, I have my degree, I can do that. Hey, I can do that too! Sign me up.” I wish I would’ve put on the brakes and really thought about my capabilities. Just because I studied English, doesn’t necessarily mean I can do anything and everything English.(Little side note here, I suck at grammar and I have more dislike than like for Shakespeare). As I applied for jobs, I should’ve really thought about all the things I thought I was good at. I was editor for my school’s newspaper 5 years ago, can I really say I’m still good at Quark? I’ve never done any technical writing at all, should I really apply for a tech writing job like I know what I’m doing? Just because I have a degree does not make me super woman. Things take experience, which leads me to my next point.

2. Intern,intern,intern. Or at least GET EXPERIENCE.

If you know what you want to do while in school, START WORKING AT IT. I can’t stress that enough. I wish I would’ve started looking for internships the moment I knew what I wanted to study and do. If you’re in college right now, start some practice in your field. Look for ways to hone the skill you’re studying to do. School won’t always teach you what you will face in the real world. Practice and experience will help you when you graduate and start looking for jobs. Getting experience early will help you decide if that area really is what you want to do as your career, or not. The earlier you know, the better.

3. Likeability doesn’t overshadow capability.

I’m sure there are exceptions to this point, but I learned just because your superiors like you, doesn’t mean they’ll keep you around. If you’re not doing the job they expect of you, they will find a replacement. Before applying, figure out as best you can if you can do that job 100% or more.  In an interview, ask what a typical day is like in the office, or wherever it is you’ll be. Ask who you’ll be working with. Ask what they expect of you. ASK, ASK, ASK.

4. Don’t take a job just because it’s there.

It is entirely tempting to apply for a job right as it pops up, but making rash decisions has never been good, at least not for me. I let pressures of society and the success of peers steer my direction. DON’T DO IT. Take a step back and think about it for a day or two. Make sure this is what you want. Ask yourself why you want it, and keep point #1 in mind.

5.  Don’t continue your education if you don’t have direction.

I started grad school right away because I thought it was the thing to do.  Finish high school, get your bachelor’s degree, go to grad school and beyond. Duh.

Except I hated grad school. I loved my professor( I had the same one for all my classes), but I was struggling. Every day I thought, why am I doing this? It took being on academic probation for me to go talk to my advisor and figure out what the heck I was doing there. I told her exactly how I felt and before even looking up my file, she turned to me, folded her hands and asked: “Why did you decide to go to grad school?”

To which I replied: “I really don’t know.” She smiled and said, ‘Well then, I think you know your answer. If you change your mind, grad school will always be here.”

And that was bye-bye grad school for me. I didn’t have a reason to be there other than that it felt like the next natural thing to do.

6. Be realistic.

Can you really pull off that editor position that requires you to be proficient in InDesign when you only know a little bit? Can you really spend all day researching and writing about a topic you don’t care about? I don’t know if “just deal” ing with circumstances is the best advice to give. I tried, and failed. Don’t let the shiny job title be the only thing that reels you in. Think about all the tasks you’ll be required to do and be real with yourself.

7. Be honest.

Is sitting at that desk for 8 hours 5 days a week writing about a topic you know nothing, or care nothing, about really where you want to be? Sure it’s a starting point, but the way you feel about your work will most likely show in your work. I know there are people who are good at faking it. I’m not one of those people. I thought I could work through it, but honestly I think my lack of drive was too obvious to ignore.


 

Alright, so there it is. Seven things I learned after undergrad. Now how do I deal with these tips? How do I deal with doubt? How can I avoid letting fear and discouragement make my decisions for me?

If any of this stuff has taught me anything, it’s to be realistic and reasonable. There will be doubts. I handle my doubts by being prayerful. I know God has a plan for me. Even through pressures and disappointments, I have to remember that.

Also, don’t let doubt cloud your actions. If you really feel capable of pulling something off, then go for it. Just don’t let the idea of being educated lead you to think you can rule the world, because you can’t. Be honest. Be real. Be prepared.

em

 

I had seven faces… thought I knew which one to wear.

This is going to be short and (not) sweet. Usually I post things with something encouraging to shine some light amidst the darkness that usually enshrouds my posts.

Geez that sounds like a totally cheesy introduction to an equally cheesy post…

Well, I hope this isn’t cheesy. I hope it’s real. After all, this is really the only place I can be real, write real, talk real. Which is why I LOVE blogging so much. True creative freedom.

Anyhoozle, in a previous post, I said I would refer to myself as Flame Princess whenever I felt this overwhelming urge to be my former, young and restless self.

She’s at it again. All of a sudden I’ll feel like doing all those things I used to do, and be who I used to be. There were things I can’t believe I did and yet still have this desire to do them…

It’s really weird and uncomfortable. Why do I want to still be….bad, to be that free-spirited partying girl I once was?

And these feelings seems to hit me at really odd times. Or maybe they’re not so odd, I don’t know.

I’m lead to wonder how many of my traits I have to suppress and battle. It’s like I have different parts of me that are fighting this war against each other, and fighting to the death. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I often times don’t want to fight these battles.

I said this wouldn’t be encouraging, and it isn’t. This is purely just one of those posts where I need to express those darker moments.

I can’t wait for freedom from all these internal burdens.

em

I’m a Foolish, Fragile Spine

Titus 3: 1-7

 

Has it ever crossed your mind, somewhere back there in the deepest, darkest recesses, that you don’t want a friend or family member who has had a good turn of events to be happy?

The other day a thought came to me. I’ve thought and talked down on someone who showed a lot of happiness for something that happened to them. I didn’t agree with how it all happened and I completely let my feelings discredit any kind of joy the person showed.

I also think I let my self-titled sense of superiority take over how I responded to it all.

That person doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’re naive, they’re this, that and the other. I’m the one who knows better because I’m, in some ways, better.

 

Yeahhhh… right. I’m 25 and I’m just so well-versed in the ways of life. Shoot, does anyone know everything there is to know about life? Mmmm, I don’t think so. No matter how many degrees or education or “knowledge” one has, there is just way too much mystery in the world for someone to know everything.

Okay, back to the point. Should I let how I feel about a given situation overpower my happiness for the person in said situation?

Yesterday my mom shared a story. A family member was excited about a new event in their life and a “friend” said they wish it “wouldn’t work out” for my family member so they could stay exactly where they are now.

My thoughts were, of course, angry. WHO SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT?! And a FRIEND? That’s no friend at all.

But then…

Dun, dun, dun… I realized that I’ve said and thought stuff like that. Maybe not in those exact words, but close to it.

Even though I may not agree with how things happen or the decisions someone makes, I should never wish them to be unhappy. Their happiness should make me happy, or at least happy for them. Why is it that I innately want them to be unhappy because I don’t think they know what they’re doing and disagree with a lot of their life choices?

I don’t know what’s best for them. I don’t know their life. I don’t know their heart or how they’re thinking. I don’t know anything about them or about anything they’re dealing with or going through.

What I do know is this: It is foolish to wish any kind of bad vibes towards any person. Which brings me to why I had Titus 3 hanging out up there at the top of this post. I was in the process of drafting when my husband happened to read this chapter to me.

No coincidence there. Here’s what it says:

“Remind them to…speak evil of know one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another…”

Yep, that was me. I was all of those things. And I still struggle with many of them. But, as the verses continue, the kindness and love of God toward man appeared in my life and in my heart and according to His mercy He saved me. And because of that, I should never speak or think bad things about a person… ever. It was because of God’s love and mercy that I was able to identify the problem of thinking these bad thoughts about someone, and be quick to repent and change them.

Love one another, folks. What does that mean? The importance of this message is that we are to love everyone and never think or wish bad things on anyone. Have you ever really thought about whom that applies to and how we apply it in our own lives?

Much love,

em

Girl Afraid

It’s been way, unacceptably long since I’ve blogged. A lot has gone on in the last month…losing a loved one…starting a new job…leaving an old one…

Swirls of feelings have been flurrying up all over the place. And to add even more to all that, I’ve been feeling super irritated and bratty lately, which makes me feel quite rebellious.

And I’ve noticed a heavy theme throughout all of it:

Fear.

I’ll bypass details of how I got my first full time job for now, but I’ll note the definite fear I felt the two weeks prior to starting.

I was so afraid of starting this job, and I’m still afraid even though I’ve already started, though the initial nerves have gone down a bit. I was so afraid of my first day… afraid of committing to a daily job… afraid of being full time…afraid of losing my flexible schedule I’ve known since forever… afraid of being the new girl…afraid of messing up…

Just, afraid.

Why?

I notice I’m quite scared of any kind of change, really. I’m afraid of letting things go and starting anew. Attachment to comfortability is a bit of a struggle for me.

I think most people I know just grab circumstances by the horns and ride them, like a boss.

I don’t have that kind of confidence, not at first anyway. I’m just terrified of making mistakes and even more terrified of the repercussions, so starting new projects is quite scary. And I end up overthinking about my fear of messing up that I actually mess up.

Yeah, I know, I just have to build tough skin.

They even told me that during my interview for this job.

And yes, I absolutely do, no doubt about that.

But how?

How do you deal with fear?

When the corporate and/or grown-up world can be such a cut-throat environment, how do you deal?


 

And on a different note, losing a loved one is a whole other fear giant I’m way too afraid to battle.

How would I react? I didn’t really know how I was going to handle another death, and this recent reaction was different from the one I had when other loved ones passed away a couple years ago.

No matter what you or I may think about death and what happens after, it still really sucks and can be hard to grasp.

Fear.

I read a story today about a former classmate of mine who was attacked by a stranger with a machete while walking to his car. And my coworkers shared how someone we work with was stabbed while minding his own business on his lawn…

What. the. HECK.

How does this stuff happen? Why does it happen? No wonder people are so afraid of each other and so unfriendly towards one another.

It kind of made me trail into thoughts of paranoia…

Oh man, should I even be walking on the streets alone, even in daylight? Can I even go out to my car by myself? I’m not going to be friendly or helpful to anyone at all, ever.

But that is NO way to live. Paranoia is a mental death trap.

I recently bought a topical Bible concordance, and all this build up of fear had me running to it, flipping to its pages filled with verses about fear.

And I found the well-known verse: Psalm 23:4. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me…

I saw an animation dealing with this verse, and it showed a character about to walk through this dark, foggy path…discouraging voices shouting things to him as he made his way across, reciting it aloud.

And that made me think: What is my dark valley?

My depression is one. My temptations are one. My fear is one.

Though I walk through the darkness of depression, temptations, and fear, Lord, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…

And the most comforting ones I found:

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.- Ps. 34:4

What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. -Ps. 56:3

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help…Therefore, will not we fear. -Ps.46:1-2

I read these and felt relief, peaceful.

These last few days have been a bit rough for me in terms of my attitude and emotions, and as I reread these verses, I can only pray the peace they gave me a couple weeks ago can reach me now…

And I hope they can reach you, too.

♥ em