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

A Life that was Changed

As I’ve been at home sick the last couple of days, it is  appropriate for me to write about what I think it means to live my life for others and to live for a greater cause, while appreciating sacrifices others have made for me. If there is one thing I’ve learned while being newly married, it’s that I no longer do nor want to do things just for myself anymore. Pre-marriage I was doing things like working for myself, laundry for myself, meal prepping for myself, planning the day for myself, etc. But now I’m learning to put myself aside and put anything that has to do with his well-being as a priority.

And while I’ve been sick,  my husband has made his own sacrifices (like getting out of bed to drive me to Target at 10:30 at night to get pill-form medicine since I’m too picky to swallow the liquid stuff).

And lately I’ve been starting to see the shift in my own self-centeredness to being more, well, self-less.

I think a common misconception about selflessness is that selfless people are passive and weak, while other people feel they need to be self-centered and selfish, making ‘ME’ a priority in order to look strong and independent

I can recall few advertisements where helping others before helping yourself was the main theme, while I can clearly recall commercials, billboards, television shows, and magazines where self-centeredness is dominant.

Okay,okay the point of this blog is not for social commentary, so I’ll end that here. The real point I want to get at is the change I noticed in myself.

Another thing I want to note is that to me, putting his needs as my priority doesn’t make me “lose” myself or my own needs. His happiness is my happiness.  Others’ happiness is my happiness.

A few months ago, I was asked to take over a class at my church on the mornings before church service and, naturally, I was eager to say ‘no’.

Oh no, I thought. I’m afraid to commit, and I don’t know how to teach!

Fear already started to plant itself in my mind, but I’m learning not to make quick decisions if I don’t have to, and am learning to really think, pray, and meditate on any decisions that I need to make.

So I prayed about making the right decision every day after I was asked, and kept reciting in my prayers:

Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

That’s pretty scary-committing to something you don’t want to do for the sake of helping others… That idea is kind of foreign to me. I’ve grown accustomed to just doing what’s comfortable for me, myself, and I.

I’m trying not to think that way anymore. Any skill or talent I have, I want to use it to bring other people to truth, not to glorify myself

 

Whoa, that’s crazy! I never thought those words would come out of my hand. In the past, all I ever wanted to do with YouTube, music, or writing was to make ME the center, to make myself the highlight of any project.

What a difference, now. Now I want to be a blessing to others, to help other people, even in the smallest of ways.

During the week I was praying about the decision to teach the class, I got an urge to listen to old worship songs my mom would play for me and my sister as kids. As the songs started playing, memories flooded my mind. But when one particular song came on, the beauty of the lyrics touched me so deep, I started crying. Right then I knew what my decision needed to be.

The song was about all the people who were touched by the sacrifices one person made, touched so much that their entire lives were changed.

My sister and I performed that same song at our old church a long,long time ago, but I never truly appreciated the words until now. It’s amazing how God works.

And then later in my studies I read:

The plant does not germinate, grow, or bring forth fruit for itself, but to ‘give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.’  So no man is to live unto himself. The Christian is in the world as a representative of Christ, for the salvation of other souls.

There can be no growth or fruitfulness in a life that is centered in self.

What a change I need to make. Thinking of only myself can no longer be a thing anymore. I meant to publish this post weeks ago, but timing is everything. Being sick at home allowed me to see selflessness in others, and allowed me to listen to programs during the day that just happened to be talking about how important it is for representatives of Christ to use their talents and share their knowledge of truth with others.

I have been teaching the class alone for the last two weeks and it has reassured me that I’ve made the right choice.

We have been blessed to be a blessing, and I pray that God can use me to reach these young people, especially since high school is or soon will be a reality for them and they are going to make choices that will shape who they will become.

 

Em