Friday, December 27, 2013

Reason for the Season

Good thing there are "12 days of Christmas" or this post would be really late for a Christmas post!
It's pretty amazing how the holidays can make us so busy AND exhausted!
Aside from the hustle and bustle of the season, I had a great time with family and I hope you did, too!

In this series, we first talked about getting the nerve up to ask hard questions.
Then, we talked about being open and willing to hear the answer, whether we like it or not.
Once we have the answer, what do we do with it?

We either take a step of faith and believe in it, or we do nothing with it. 
In "Letters from a Skeptic", Ed asked hard questions over a span of 3 years. 
Although his questions were full of doubt, he was still open to what his son had to say.
After 3 years of discourse, Ed's belief had changed.
From a belief of agnosticism (a god cannot be proven or disproved), Ed came to believe that there is an all-loving God who sent His son, Jesus Christ to be in relationship with us and to save us. 
From this belief, hope was born.

Just like Ed, Mary and Joseph, as well as the shepherds and Wise Men, had a similar experience.
Although they were presented something hard to imagine, they were willing and acted on it. Because of this, they were given hope in return. 
For Ed, his belief gave him the hope of eternal life and relationship with Jesus Christ.
For Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and Wise Men, (as well as others), they received the hope of God here on earth, aka Emmanuel (God with us). 

Belief is the reason for the season, not Santa, candy canes, or presents. We do things because we believe. We celebrate because we believe. When we believe that God came to earth as a baby boy born in a manger during a genocide, so that we would be made right with God and be in relationship with Him, we are given the ultimate joy and hope that no one else can offer.
This belief is the reason for the season.

So it's clear that asking hard questions, being open, and stepping out in faith to arrive at a belief is definitely worth it!

Later, we'll discuss a few specific questions from Letters From a Skeptic.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are you open?

By asking questions, there must be a willingness to hear the answer and go from there.

While reading, "Letters from a Skeptic", it is clear that although Ed (the skeptic father) has many questions and doubts, at least he is willing to step outside of his head (and heart) and take a chance by listening to his son, Greg. Throughout the book, Ed continues to ask questions, one right after the other. 
The correspondence of letters lasted from March 10, 1989 to November 22, 1991. Clearly, there was a willingness and persistence from both Ed and Greg during this discourse. Either one of them could have easily at some point said, "Okay, I'm tired of this. I can't think or talk about this anymore." Not that this was an easy task for both of them, it actually was tiring, but they didn't let that get in the way of this time for questions and growth.

In chapter 2 of Luke, we learn about Jesus' birth. Luke 2:15 tells us about the shepherds reactions to the angels' good news, "When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us so straight into Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

The shepherds could have simply reacted out of fear and ignored the news, but instead, they wanted to go see for themselves. They could have even been skeptical and said, "That sure was some quack job...let's go make sure this really didn't happen." 
Instead, they were open and willing. They took a leap of faith by going and seeing the Son of God laying in a manger.

Just like the shepherds and Ed Boyd were open and willing, there comes a time for each and every one of us to have a willingness to believe. We can't reach a belief without being open to it. 
Asking questions can be hard, but being ready for the answers can even be harder. Sometimes we may have enough guts to ask the hard questions, but still find ourselves in a box that keeps us from being open to more possibilities.

Mary questioned how she could be the mother of Jesus while being a virgin.
The shepherds were willing to go see what the angels had told them. 
Although we weren't in the stable or out in the fields, we still have the opportunity to believe in the gift sent from God. 

Next post, we'll talk about what can be birthed from beliefs. 

Bible Reading Plan for this week: Ezekiel 31-48

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Friday, December 6, 2013

It starts with a question

I had this idea to focus on the idea of belief and for some reason, I'm having difficulty putting it altogether. Come on brain, get it together! So hang in there with me! It makes sense in my mind, so I sure hope it will translate. 

If you read my last post, you know that I challenged you to write out some of your beliefs about life, faith, Christmas or whatever you wanted. How did that go? Was it easy? Difficult? Surprising?

For me, this time was a tad bit easier than last time. I don't know if it was because I had just graduated from college and felt brain-dead, not to mention, overwhelmed by an extremely busy time in my life but who knows. Whatever the reason, I think it's perfectly normal go to through times where questioning is better than answering. Maybe this time was easier because I had become aware that my beliefs weren't as concrete as I thought or maybe it was easier, because I've experienced and learned more since.

It makes me think of Dorey and Susan on Miracle on 34th Street. At first they didn't believe in the "magic" of Christmas, but as time went on, their disbelief turned into belief. It took time for their doubts to be erased about that old man with rosey cheeks, button nose, and a big, round belly. 

It also makes me think of Mary. In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, we read about when Mary discovers that she is to be the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
The angel, Gabriel, comes to her and tells her, Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (v.28)
What a greeting! I think it would definitely catch someone's attention.
Gabriel continued to tell her the shocking news.  Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;  and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (v.31-33)

Guess how Mary replied.
She didn't shout, "Great! I can't wait!"
She didn't hide or run away. [I think I might have!]
She didn't quietly say, "That's not possible.
Instead, she asked, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" (v.34)
I'd say that's a pretty good question. 

While she could have brought the conversation to a screeching halt, she encouraged it. Instead of making a statement, she asked a question.
I think that's important. I think we can rest assured that asking questions is vital for growth.

I remember in school, I was always afraid to ask questions. I felt like questions were frowned upon, in many cases. When it comes to questions about life, faith, and all thing important things, I think questions are the seed of learning. 

When Mary asked that simple question, Gabriel didn't shut down and not answer her, but in return, He gave her an explanation for her question...
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (v. 35)
He gave her a legitimate answer, when he could have said, "Just believe what I say, Mary."

Not to mention, he didn't stop with an answer, he followed with an example.
"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.  For nothing will be impossible with God.” (v. 36-37)
He gave her something she could relate to.  

What started out as a proclamation from an angel, continued all because of a question. When we are confused about something, we can't expect an explanation without speaking up. It's amazing how asking questions can bring about answers. However, there are many times when we may not be able to get an answer, but that is when trust and faith come in. It wouldn't hurt to try and ask anyway!

We are rational creatures, so it only makes sense that questions can often be at the forefront of our minds. Like Mary, sometimes we need more than a simple answer, but an explanation and example at times might be necessary for beliefs to be born. 

In the following posts, we'll explore some questions and dialogue from Greg Boyd and his father in their book, "Letters from a Skeptic". 

What are some of your beliefs? Were questions raised when you were doing the exercise? Was it easier to think of disbeliefs than beliefs?

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Reason for the Season

It's that time of year again where we find trees in living rooms, wreaths on doors, strings of lights on light posts, and continuous [cheesy-which I happen to love] Christmas movies on every single night [thanks to the Hallmark channel]. It's the time when people go from store to store, checking their lists and checking them twice. It's the time when you spend hours cooking an extravagant meal for your loved ones, when temptation of throwing in the towel is just beneath the horizon when you realize that the oven was never turned on in the first place. Through the chaos of it all, I think it's important that we stop in the silence of the Christmas music, hustle and bustle of shopping, and the aroma of the holiday meal so that we can focus on the reason for the season. 

When we turn our minds to the reason for the season, we come face to face with our beliefs. Maybe you resonate with many beliefs or maybe you aren't sure what you believe in. It makes me think of one of my favorite Christmas movies, "Miracle on 34th Street". The reoccurring theme of the movie is "believe". Dorey Walker and her daughter, Susan, are skeptics of the man who travels around the world in one night with a nice and naughty list in hand with every child's name listed. The movie follows the relationship they have with Kris Kringle, the Macy's Christmas Santa, and the controversy the city of New York faces when it comes to believing without seeing. 

Last Christmas, the series I wrote was the Cast of Christmas, but this year, I'm going to change it up a bit. Instead of going through only the Nativity Story, I want to write about the core of the holiday season...believing. No matter what religion we practice, our actions often stem from our beliefs. A couple years ago, I was asked to write out a list of my beliefs and honestly, I had a hard time with it. So I'd like to challenge you to sit down and write out a list of your beliefs. It can be about life in general. It can be about faith and religion. It can be about the holiday season specifically. Let's focus on believing this holiday season. It may be difficult and in fact, you may find that it's easier to write about what you don't believe in. 

My inspiration for this topic came from the book, "Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity" by Gregory Boyd and Edward Boyd. Just like Dorey and Susan in Miracle on 34th Street, this father-son duo ask some difficult questions and explore the depths (or lack-thereof) of their beliefs. I'll be sharing bits and pieces of their challenging conversation in hopes to begin discussion and aid in the strengthening of beliefs. It's amazing what the end result can be when we question, explore, and believe. I would say that Dorey, Susan, Gregory and Edward would all agree that through the wrestling, joy and hope can be born. 

Bible Reading Plan: Ezekiel 16-30

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Friday, November 22, 2013

"Life's messy. Clean it up!"

You know when you're cleaning the house and you just want to be done and relax, but there is this one stubborn spot of junk that just won't come off the counter or pan or whatever it is...
I hate that. Don't you?
You scrub and you scrub, and this piece of gunk just won't come up.
You soak it, you scrub up and down, side to side, and who knows, maybe you get so frustrated that you have to call out the big guy, Mr. Clean.
What looked like a small and menial task, became a seemingly unending and arduous effort.
How could something so small, grow to be something so challenging?

 Maybe it just had the right combination of crud to create a frustrating mess or maybe it's because we took too long to confront it.
I'm going to bet that it's most likely the latter or maybe a combination.
Instead of passing by and saying, "I'll do it later", it would make things easier to confront it quickly.
It reminds me of those moments in life where we know we should confront an issue, but we just put it off due to fear and uncertainty. Maybe we are facing difficulties in a relationship or maybe we are facing an issue within ourselves.
For me, I realize that my patience could use some working on, but to be honest, it's easier to push it aside rather than coming face to face with my issue.
The problem is, with every push, the gunk [issue] grows and hardens, making it even more difficult to get rid of.
Peter says in Acts 3:19, "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;" Repent in Greek is "metanoeo" which means "to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins." In order to change one's mind, he/she has to confront the issue first. I think confronting is the hardest part. Sometimes we may have to confront it often, in order for us to change and turn away from the sin.
Looking at that clump of gunk and saying "I'm gonna get rid of you!" can prevent us from getting deeper and deeper into a mess of problems. Sometimes persistence may be necessary. Sometimes looking at it from a different angle may help. Sometimes seeking help from others might be a good idea. Don't forget though, calling on the big guy, (not Mr. Clean) but God, can be the best thing we can do.
It may not be fun to scrub up gunk, but it's not worth it to ignore.
 Like the famous vacuum company, Bissell, says, "Life's messy. Clean it up!"
 This week our Bible reading is:
Lamentations 1-Ezekiel 15
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The roll of the wind & Typhoon Haiyan

I was sitting on the deck today, reading and I couldn't help but notice the wind.
I've said before that wind happens to be one of my favorite things. Most of the time it reminds me of a gust of refreshment and the powerful presence of God, but today the wind reminded me of something else.
Today the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 11 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, as well as 660,000 people are homeless. Some people have estimated that the death toll will be around 10,000 and others have guessed around 2,000. No doubt, the Philippines has experienced the most powerful storm yet.
Erik De Castro/Reuters
Noel Celis AFP/via Getty Images
We've experienced plenty of tropical storms here in the south, but nothing to the magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan. As I sat on the deck this morning, the wind spoke to me.
 I heard it in the distance.
I saw it through the trees.
Yet, I wasn't being affected by it.
I was in the calm, while others were in the storm. Just like we are in the calm over here in America, while the people of the Philippines are in the storm. Aside from actual storms, it's the same in life.
As I watched the leaves struggle to hang on, the branches sway to and fro, and the dirt be lifted off the ground, it made me think of the times in life when we struggle to hang on...when we sway to and fro...and when we are thrown off our feet.
Times of divorce, sickness, and death can feel like a storm. Either we are the ones experiencing the storm or we watching a person face that storm. Both places aren't fun places to be in. Although I didn't experience Typhoon Haiyan, it still makes my stomach hurt and heart ache to think about the emptiness, sadness and anger they must be feeling. It's not an easy place to be in.
Storms like these often make people question the character of God.
However, times like these are simply the reality of life.
Thankfully, these times don't last forever, even if it may feel like it.
They are followed by a time of stillness, quiet, clean up and rebirth.
In the still and the quiet, we are able to clean up the mess, while realizing that God did not send the wind to destroy us. He didn't send a typhoon to kill thousands of people (at least I don't think He did). You know why I think that?
God is love and I can't seem to bring myself to believe that love would kill and destroy.
The reality is, we are in a battle between good and evil.

Ephesians 6:10-20 says, " Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
Jesus conquered the grave already and He will bring victory once and for all, when He comes again. For right now, we are in the middle of this tug-of-war match. Sometimes the bad wins, but in the end, good conquers. Jesus is the one who is walking with us in the these storms and lends a hand to pick us up. He is in the business of rebirth and redemption. Just like Apostle Paul says in Ephesians, we must put on the armor of God and stand firm in His promises. Like the trunk of a tree and the ground that is holding it in place, God's promises can ground us through the wrestling of the wind.
Hard times will come. The roll of the winds will break and we'll be able to catch our breath and receive peace. Our thankfulness for the quiet times becomes magnified and if we never faced the roll of the wind, we would take the calming times for granted. The gusts of wind sometimes force us to cling to God our vine, look toward hope, and appreciate the quiet times even more.
Lets pray for those around us who are in the middle of a storm, as well as our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. Let us also pray that we have strength to stand firm and remember God's presence in our lives even when a storm rolls through.
Bible reading plan this week:
 Jeremiah 35-52
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hey, I see a...!

While I was riding in the car yesterday, I looked up at the sky and saw these beautiful, white fluffy clouds and it made me think of...
Charlie Brown - "I see a.."
Linus - "Gargoyle! Like they have at Notre Dame!"
Lucy - "The sack of Carthage!"
Snoopy - "And the Dodger's Yankee Game! Go team!"
Linus - "All twelve apostles,
Waving at me!"
All - "What do you see, Charlie Brown?"
That was a song from Snoopy the Musical. I was one of the chorus members when I was younger and I always loved this scene of the play
because I could really relate to it.
Just like Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Snoopy, I too, remember laying on the grass field at recess finding different shapes in the clouds with my friends.

Unlike the characters of Snoopy, I remember it going more like this...
Jessica - "I see a unicorn!"
Bobby - "No, that's not a unicorn, that's a race car!"
Me - "I don't see either of those, I see a puppy in a dog house! How do you see a race car or a unicorn?"
Sometimes instead of actually seeing what the other person saw, we would just focus on what we saw individually. Other times, we would take the time to really see what the other person was seeing. Sometimes that meant getting up and switching places with a friend. Other times, it meant simply looking at it longer to see the puppy's ears point up like a unicorn and a dog house somehow morph into a race car.
Living in relationship with others is a lot like finding similar shapes in the clouds on a bright, sunny day. There are times when we may not see eye to eye and that's okay, but there are other times when it takes work to reach common ground. It may be more work like actually getting up off the ground and moving to another place. Sometimes it might not be convenient, but at the same time it's necessary in order to understand what the other person is feeling.
That thing called empathy...putting ourselves in someone else's shoes is a huge and important aspect of life. It may be uncomfortable to turn your head the other way to see the unicorn in the cloud, but many times when you are willing to see from another perspective, beauty is born. However, there are other times when you may try your hardest to understand where the other person is coming from, but you still just don't get it and that's okay too. It's bound to happen, yet that isn't an excuse not to try.
Just like my previous post about different routes, we should understand that everyone has different ways of thinking, but we can really make a difference when we take the next step of understanding each other, rather than only respecting. When we don't take the time to listen, understand and support, we run the risk of hurting a friendship, ignoring a teachable moment and being closed off to a whole world of opportunities and beauty. Being respectful and willing goes along way.
Instead of insisting that the cloud is in the shape of a puppy, looking from another perspective can give you a puppy AND  a unicorn...what's better than that?! :)
There is beauty in differences and there is more beauty in seeing differences from another person's eyes. 
 Bible Reading Plan-
By the end of this week, we should have read through Jeremiah chapters 14-34.
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Monday, October 28, 2013


I had an epiphany last week...
Dave and I were driving back to my house and I turned down a certain street.
Dave said, "Where are you going?"
"I'm going the shortcut", I said.
"This is a shortcut?" he said, "you have to go through all these stop signs."
I then declared, "Well, what about all those street lights and traffic on your 'shortcut'? This is the fastest way!"
A few days later we were riding with my parents on the way back home and my dad turned down a different street.
Mom said, "I just don't understand why you go this way...the speed limit is lower and there are all these speed bumps!"
Dad replied, "Well, I don't understand why you go the other way, this is definitely faster...there's no traffic."
"I go through the lights on the main road and I think it's the fastest," Dave said.
I joined in and said, "Yeah, our (mom & I) way is definitely the fastest, but go the way you wanna go...we'll just be home faster!" ;)
It reminds me of picking a route on a gps.
Because of these discussions about who's way is better, I realized that it can be likened to our faith journeys, as well as life in general. We can't expect for everyone to go the same way as we do. Some people may need to sit at a stop light for a little while, while a slower speed may be better for others. It's okay for that one person to wrestle with the many questions about God and it's okay that another person may put their faith in Christ quickly. It's okay that one person may have read the whole Bible in one year and it's okay that another person may need ten years to read the Bible. It's okay that one person may have experienced their first mission trip at the age of 15 and it's okay that another person went on their first mission trip at the age of 70.
Everyone is different. We all have different ways to learn, different experiences, and different personalities. So of course, our walk with Christ may be different than others. We can't expect for everyone to follow in your footsteps of 24 years of Sunday School, 5 mission trips, and 3 times of reading the whole Bible all the way through. If we all had the same faith journey, I think that would be boring. We should focus on our similarities, learn from our differences and respect our unique experiences.
We should never look at another person's journey and feel inferior or superior. Reminding ourselves that our journey is just as good as everyone else's. Just like my route works for me, but my dad's route works for him.
Maybe I should have ended the conversation with my family by saying...
"It's okay that we all go different routes, at least we all end up at the same place."
That's all that matters, right? 
Bible Reading Plan
Today: Isaiah 59-63
Tuesday: Isaiah 64-66
Wednesday: Jeremiah 1-3
Thursday: Jeremiah 4-6
Friday: Jeremiah 7-9
Saturday: Jeremiah 10-13
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Following in Your Footsteps: And the answer is...

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, but for some reason, it seemed to continually be put on the backburner. You know what? I'm glad it did!

 Raise your hand if you know the answers for...
How do we gain world peace?
How do I love my sibling who annoys me?
How do I forgive?
How do I see eye to eye with someone who I disagree with?
I just started a new book and as I read the intro  I realized that it could be a huge tool in opening my eyes even wider to what the answer is in terms of being a better Christian.
 Each page turned in Red Letter Revolution, my eyes watered and my heart stretched.
It dawned on me that my attempt of being a Christian hasn't earned me a gold star or an A+. I have failed to really follow what Jesus has taught me. My eyes have skimmed over the red letters in the New Testament (the red letters being Jesus' words). Yes, I may have read His teachings but my reaction most likely resembled, "Wow, I wouldn't be able to do/say that" or "Aw, how nice...Jesus sure is an amazing guy!" Instead, I should have reacted in a way of, "That's the answer...that's how I reach my hurting sisters and brothers...thank you Jesus for showing me the way to their hearts...I can't wait to go out and serve them, just like You have served us."
The Gospel is all about love, service, and redemption. I believe that Jesus didn't serve those people just so we could read about it and adore Him. [Yes, we should definitely adore Him for who He is because He is amazing!] Instead, we should take one step farther and not only adore Him, but follow in His footsteps. He has shown us how to reach people. He wants to use us to represent the kingdom of God. Jeremiah 29:11 says that He has great plans for us and I believe that the number one plan He has is that we embody the kingdom of God.

You know those questions I asked in the beginning of the post?
Jesus has given us the answer.
Jesus is the answer.
When deciding what to do for the homeless & poor...Jesus is the answer.
When talking about war...Jesus is the answer.
When fighting with a friend...Jesus is the answer.
When in contact with someone different than us (whether it be color, orientation, religion)...Jesus is the answer.
Love, service & grace is who I see Jesus as. That's what He was and is about. So many times I have chosen the wrong answer. I have answered in a way that religion and legalism (not Gospel based) would have me answer or I have acted out of own self-interest, but guess what? Jesus would have never answered in that way. More times than not, I think we answer to situations based on our comfort level, pocket book, and traditions that have been passed down. We fail when we do that.
We aren't representing the kingdom of God when we find our answer apart from Jesus.
Now, the last thing I want to do is to make us feel like failures in our attempt to be Christ-like. I'm writing this as motivation, as a reminder of what our motives should be. We talk so much about what we should do and search for the answers, when all along the answer has been standing right in front of us...Jesus.
Thank God for His loving-kindness and forgiveness towards us. Now we can step forward and follow in Jesus' footsteps, rather than walking in the opposite direction.

1 John 4:7-12 says, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us."
 Friends, if we know that God is love and that when we love one another, God abides in us, that should give us the motivation and confidence to live our lives in the shadow of who Jesus is. He loved the down and out. He even loved the people who nailed Him to the cross.

Do we have enough faith to turn the other cheek?
Do we have enough faith to give the coat off our backs?
Do we have enough faith to love our enemies?
 Tony Campolo has asked himself and I think we can ask the same question...
"Do we have enough faith to live this radical lifestyle?"

I challenge you to read the red letters of the Bible (Jesus' words) not as a story, but as a an answer to change the world.
 Will you join me in following in Jesus' footsteps?

Check out or read the book Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo about the many controversial issues that the church faces today.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Randomness: Weddings of 2013, treatment & finale!

Long time, no write :(
I'm so sorry I've been absent for awhile, but I'm back!
I've been busy, busy!
One of my best friends got married this past Saturday and I was her maid of honor.
We've been friends since 3rd grade. Crazy, huh?!
I'm so happy for her & feel honored to be a part of her beautiful day!
She was gorgeous AND although it was very hot (outdoor wedding), it didn't rain!!
It was a beautiful ceremony focused on Christ being the foundation of a marriage.
Now the happy couple are on their "mini-moon" and I can recoup from the festivities.
I would never let Lyme Disease get in the way of a beautiful union like 2 of my best friends' weddings the past couple months!
Here are a few pictures from this weekend...
 Getting my hair done!
 Viola! Isn't that a cool hairstyle?!
 The Bride & I :)
 The Brides of 2013
 The Bride & her maids
Not only have I been busy with Mindy's wedding, I have continued my IV treatments.
It has continued to be rough because of the dying of bacteria (Herxhiemer reaction), but luckily, I have seen the fruits of this not-so fun treatment protocol.
I went to the doctor a few weeks ago and for the first time in a long time...drum roll please... we can see some improvement! It wasn't a huge improvement, but it's a few rays of light coming through the end of the tunnel. I've only been on IV for a month & a half so that's pretty good...I'll take it!
Hopefully, I'll be able to make even more progress so I won't have to have this lovely (not) PICC line for 6 months, but I guess if that's what it takes, I'll have to tough it out.
Also, our gofundme fundraiser to help pay for this treatment (not covered by insurance) is going really well! Although we have not met our goal, we can feel God providing! If you don't mind, please keep me in your prayers for both healing & finances...thank you so much!
Last but not least, I started reading a new book titled, Red Letter Revolution. Woa-it's really good! So good that I've had to put off my finale post of Following in Your Footsteps series. There is too much good stuff that has opened my eyes even more to following in Christ's footsteps. So get ready, the next post will be the last post of the series (hopefully tomorrow)!

Bible Reading Plan:
Today: Isaiah 31-35
Tuesday: Isaiah 36-41
Wednesday: Isaiah 42-44
Thursday: Isaiah 45-48
Friday: Isaiah 49-53
Saturday: Isaiah 54-58
 PS- KindleNook have a special sale price on A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans for only $2.99 until the 31st! I'm not paid to advertise this either, I just love the book so much, I figured I'd share this awesome deal with you!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Insatiable Quest for Beauty

This review is practically a year overdo...please forgive me, Tiffany Dawn! It's been a crazy year, as a lot of books on my list. Better late than never, right?!
The Insatiable Quest for Beauty is an easy read for girls and women in general, but guys can also join in on this great read, too! Tiffany writes in such a real way that it feels like she's talking to you or as she would say, "on a coffee date". She explores the many struggles that girls often face such as weight issues, insecurities, and dating. Tiffany, herself, has had many tough experiences and has so graciously shared them with us in her book.

The book is divided into 12 chapters, also known as "coffee date topics".
In every chapter, she includes a diary entry and a quote or song lyric that sets the stage for the rest of the chapter. At the end of each chapter, she poses questions that will make you think, as well as a link to her website so you can watch videos pertaining to the specific topic in the chapter. She challenges us ladies, to find our worth in Christ and not in what the world tells us. Also, she gives us different ways to work on our insecurities in hopes to better ourselves, as well as our relationships. With the help of many Bible verses and real stories, we can be encouraged in Tiffany's book.

I want to share one of my favorite quotes from the book...
"Don't date to find your worth, because you already have your worth. You are already valuable, and you are too precious to throw your heart at guys who don't treat you like a daughter of the King. Your worth is wrapped up in the love of Jesus Christ, not in boys."

The Insatiable Quest for Beauty would be a great book to read in a small group/Bible study or simply by yourselves. Learn more about this wonderful book and how to buy it at
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Be a part of the campaign!

I recently received an email from a lady named, Heather.
She was asking that I would participate in her awareness campaign for Mesothelioma...
and how could I say no?!
I know that with Lyme Disease, awareness is key!
However, Lyme Disease isn't the only illness that needs awareness, many others do, too.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is September 26 and she would love for all of us to participate in this awareness project by spreading the news via social media. Her goal is 7,200 shares so let's help her reach her goal!
Here is her link to her story:
Thank you for your support!

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Monday, September 16, 2013


Hey everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! :)
So I wasn't able to make it to church yesterday because I was feeling really bad :(
BUT I listened to a sermon (for the second time haha) and I figured I would use it for my "Sermon Notes" series, especially since it's clear that I enjoyed it enough to listen to it twice within a few days. It wouldn't make sense if I didn't share it with you.
I'm going to summarize it, but provide you with the link in case you want to listen to it (which I think you totally should so you get all the great examples and details).
The sermon is titled "A Christian's Happiness" by Pastor Tim Keller and is based upon the popular verses, Romans 8:28-30...
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
I know I've talked about this verse a lot, but I feel like it's something people really need to grasp, as well as the encouragement it can provide.
Many people believe this idea that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, that life will be easier. Perhaps suffering, life obstacles, and trials can't touch a Christian, but the truth is, that's not true. This idea can create a lot of heartache because if you are a believer and something bad happens in your life, it would be natural for you to question God's goodness or even the strength of your faith.
In fact, there was a period where I thought why is this happening to me and is my faith not strong enough that God would allow this to happen?
Pastor Tim Keller would answer, "No." He explains his reasoning in 3 simple points.
1. Bad things will happen.
2. Good things will never be lost.
3. The best things are yet to come.
Let's dig a little deeper into each point...
1. "Bad things will happen even if you love God."
Jesus never promised that if you believe in Him, your life will be free of worry, suffering, and hardship.
Instead, He promised that you will face trouble. For example, all of His disciples faced many hardships, even persecution and death. Therefore, we can't believe that suffering is not included if we love God.
John 16:33 says, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
So bad things will happen, however, God can use them for good in totality
Pastor Tim  says, "The lower you lay me, the higher you'll raise me."
If something bad happens to us, we can't expect it to turn to good the following week. Maybe it will, but maybe it won't.
In my experience, the first 6 months after my diagnosis, I was angry. I didn't understand why God would let this happen to me. It became a wedge between us. However, as time went on, I realized that through this suffering God had shown Himself to me in ways I had never experienced. I started seeing the good that has come out of it. Lyme Disease is bad. Period. However, God has shown me that through times of suffering, good can be created.
We may never see the good that comes from our suffering whether it be death or disease, but we can rest in the truth that even if we don't see the positive outcome, our suffering can bring us closer to God if we realize that He's not doing it to us, but better things are yet to come.
2. "The good things will never be lost."
Anything good that happens to us means that God is working together for good.
"Jesus did not suffer so that you will not suffer, but when we suffer we will become like Christ."
Through our suffering we can become like Christ and closer to Christ because we are able to taste a piece of what He went through for us. We can come to appreciate the life that He lived, including the suffering.
Our faith can be strengthened.
These good things will never be lost.
3. "The best things are yet to come."
"The Bible doesn't promise better circumstances, but a better life."
Things like grad school and marriage are considered a circumstance.
We are never promised that because we are Christians that we will go to the best grad school and have the best marriage, but we are promised that our life in totality can be better. In verse 30, it says that our life is already better because "He has glorified" us. The "ed" shows that it's already been done.
God will change our inner essence into Christ's essence which in turn gives us a better life because we are able to live in humility, nobility, joy, love, service, etc.
The circumstances don't last, but what Christ can offer us can last forever.
Just like I talked about in the last post, the stuff doesn't last, but the way we live can. Not to mention, the best thing that is yet to come, is the truth that we will live forever with Jesus.
When bad things happen, Jesus is right by your side, crying with you. Use that time to cling to Him.
When good things happen, praise Him for the good in your life because that's where it comes from and know that this life isn't promised to be paradise, that's later...the best is yet to come.
Here is the link to the audio of the sermon...check it out! It's much better than my summary.
Reading plan:
Today: Isaiah 5-8
Tuesday: Isaiah 9-12
Wednesday: Isaiah 13-17
Thursday: Isaiah 18-22
Friday: Isaiah 23-27
Saturday: Isaiah 28-30
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