Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On a day like this...

"On a day like this...
clap, clap,
On a day like this...
clap, clap
On a day like this..
I need the Lord to help me..."

This goofy camp song sums up my day today.
It's a song where you add goofy sound effects each round and end with a a good ole' soulful lyric,
"I need the Lord to help me"

Multiple times today, I felt like another goofy sound effect was coming my way.
Things were just not going right.
It seemed to me that the world might be falling apart.
A few times I reached to the hair on my head, ready to pull it out  [but thankfully, I settled with just gripping the strands as to grip a stress ball].
Even a couple times, my frustration made me say a couple choice words to myself [just being real].
Things like...
losing a well thought out email that was ready to send [and of course, did not automatically save]..
dropping my already prepared lunch on the floor,
hearing sad news about a friend, 
stubbing my toe,
receiving zero phone calls for a job I so desperately want,
running out of toilet paper,
 waiting 30 minutes for water to boil but realizing that the stove top wasn't even working...
[and a bunch more silly things]
left me finishing my day off with a couple rounds of...

"On a day like this
clap, clap, snap, snap, boing, boing, woo, woo, bam, bam
On a day like this
clap, clap, snap, snap, boing, boing, woo, woo, bam, bam
ON a day like this
I need the Lord to help me."

My frustration meter was off the charts and an island far, far away from here was calling my name.
Today felt like a chain reaction of Dominoes and the end seemed no where in sight.
It left me downright discouraged and exhausted, looking up to the sky saying, "Seriously?!"
Do you ever have days like this?! 
Was today that day for you?!

As I look at the clock in front of me, 8:21 pm never looked so good.
At the same time, I feel terrible for whining about "this terrible, horrible, no good, rotten day" [side note- I actually found out that they made a movie based on the book, 'Alexander and the Terrible, 
Horrible, No good, Very Bad Day' & it's coming out soon!]
Things could've been worse...way worse.
A lot of today's mishaps were just silly [yet frustrating still] and sure, a few things were legitimately discouraging, but my perspective was "OH my gosh, this day is NEVER going to end!"

Maybe I need to work on just laughing at those silly things more, instead of kicking and screaming.
Maybe I need to say to myself "Woosaww" like in the movie, Anger Management.
Better yet, as I sit here at the end of this pooey day, all I can think is...
"Thank you Jesus, that your mercies are new each day". 

That's a beautiful truth, because through all of my silly, frustrating events today, I kept feeling worse because of the way I was reacting to everything!
Knowing that Jesus extends His grace and mercy to me each and everyday lightens my load a TON.
Knowing that I can wake up tomorrow morning refreshed and renewed, makes tomorrow EVEN better since this "no good day" will be in the past!

We're going to have days when things don't go our way.
We can be reminded that life goes on even if the toast burns, or we don't receive a phone call with a job offer, or the printer jams.
On days like these we should actively remind ourselves of Lamentations 3:22-23-
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

Perhaps we get so wrapped up in all the mess, that we can't even think of that truth...[because today it clearly took me awhile to remember] 
at least we can go to bed saying, "Thank you God that your mercies are new each day and I can start over-give me strength for tomorrow!"
Maybe even tomorrow morning, before our feet hit the ground, we can remind ourselves,
"Your mercies are new each day!" 
Perhaps we'd go throughout the day with a tad bit different perspective...
a better perspective.

There you have it folks, Jesus just spoke to me through my own blog...
I hope it spoke to you, too.  

Dear God, thank you for speaking to me. Thank you for extending Your grace to me each and everyday. Thank you for my husband, family and friends that extend your compassion to me, making my load a tad bit lighter. 
Help us all to remember the love, hope, and mercy you have for us and may we rest in it daily even during our difficult days.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Great resources to open our minds!

My last post, Whose side are you on?, posed a challenge for us all...
Personalize, instead of generalize.
In order to do that, I suggested we explore different people, different religions, and different cultures.
Not to change ourselves but to change the way we think about God's children.

I figured I would offer some suggestions and resources to help you get started!

Our America with Lisa Ling - TV show that follows journalist, Lisa Ling, as she explores many different topics such as the foster care system, teenage pregnancy, gun violence, child abuse, racism, transgender lives and many more. She gets all sides of the topic and really shows us the reality of all of these. 
I LOVE this show because it opens my eyes to things that I usually generalize, but now can personalize.

Arranged - A movie that follows the friendship of an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman. This is such a good movie!!!

For the Bible Tells Me So -Documentary that explores how homosexuality and religion often intersect due to certain interpretations, which can cause stigma.
This simply offers another way of thinking.

Saint of 9/11 - Documentary that shares the life of Father Mychal Judge, a fire department chaplain in NYC.
Chely Wright: Wish Me Away - "This documentary profiles country music star Chely Wright, a devout Christian who struggled to succeed in the business while hiding her homosexuality." What a story!

Under Our Skin - A documentary about the Lyme Disease epidemic and the many controversies that go with it.
This is such a well-done documentary that really captures the pain that Lyme Disease causes. I cried my eyes out the first couple times of watching it, because I felt like I wasn't alone finally.


Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne - This book (except for the Bible) was the first book to really challenge me. It follows Shane's journey as he wrestles with poverty, suffering, homelessness, and much more. This is a must read!!

Torn by Justin Lee - If you've ever wondered about the gay debate in church, this is a great starting point. It offers a personal story of a man who struggles with his sexuality in the church and his desire to know the truth.

Strangers at My Door: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected Guests by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove - This is a neat compilation of stories about a hospitality house for all. It's an enjoyable, heart wrenching, easy read.

Unfair by John Shore - This book is a compilation of letters from people who have struggled with their sexuality. This is definitely an eye opener. I'm not finished reading this book yet, but every chapter offers a new perspective.

Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong - This book (although I haven't finished yet) offers an in-depth historical and cultural perspective of Muhammad and the Muslim faith. Great insight & unique facts that I've never heard before!

Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said? by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo - I love this book because it covers an array of controversial subjects and challenges us to really think about what Jesus would think/do. Very challenging, but easy read!

I hope you will check out these awesome books/documentaries! Before I was introduced to these, it was hard for me to understand and empathize with these certain topics, because for so long they were generalized. Now they are "personalized".
I went to a Compassionate Communication workshop with my sister awhile back and we did an exercise that really struck me. We were to walk around the room silently and every 30 seconds we would stop in front of a person and look them in the eyes. The instructor would say phrases like, "Realize that the person in front of you has a heart" or "Realize that this person has undergone trials and suffering just like you". It may sound strange but it proved the point that we all have emotions and a story. It reinforced the truth that ALL people deserve respect, dignity, compassion and kindness, despite our beliefs.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When joy dies

So I told myself that I wouldn't blog about the death of Robin Williams, because everyone is doing it.
Well, clearly I have turned my back on my oath and now blogging about Robin Williams.
Everyone's Facebook newsfeeds have been covered in clips and pictures of Robin Williams. Just a little while ago, someone posted a video Jimmy Fallon doing a tribute to him so we watched it.
Before it began, I was wondering, "Wow, this man really touched many, many peoples' lives...what was so different about him than other comedians and actors?"
Now don't get me wrong, he is one of my favorite actors. In fact, Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my favorite movies. It has just been amazing to me what an influence he has had on SO many people.
As I was watching the tribute I found my answer...joy.
That was what was different about Robin Williams, I think.
He clearly brought so much joy to life. He didn't seem like he was different on camera, than off.
Joy seemed to radiate through him or at least that is what it seemed.
When joy dies, of course, many, many people are affected.
He was a source of joy for many and now he's gone.
That's a tough pill to swallow for many of us.
It makes me think when true joy died two thousand years ago.
I can't imagine how Mary, Mary Magdeline, and the disciples (along with many, many others) felt when Jesus was crucified.
It's tough to lose such an amazing comedian and actor because he brought so much joy to our lives.
However, it's even more tough for me to think of the day when Jesus died because he is the true source of joy.
Thanks be to God, our joy was not taken away forever, but three days later, our joy was risen again.
I feel like this post would be great for Easter time, but then again, I don't think we can ever be reminded enough of the amazing joy that the two Marys' and the disciples must have felt when joy was resurrected that very normal, yet sacred day.
This joyful truth can hopefully remind us in our deepest, most sorrowful times in life, that Our Joy of Jesus never leaves us. He's always here for us waiting.
I'm not sure what was going on in Robin's life or what he might have been facing, but this terrible time of loss for his family (and everyone else for that matter) can be a reminder of how important it is to seek joy and seek joy for others, as well.
Find joy in the deep crevices of life even when financial burdens, illnesses, and broken relationships seem to be filling in around us.
However, when depression takes over it can be hard, practically impossible to find joy, but realizing that we need joy is our first step.
Finding joy in Christ and his resurrection and sharing it with others who may be struggling should be one of our top priorities, because when joy dies...life dies.
Let's try our best to keep joy alive.
Prayers for Robin William's family, those who are struggling with depression, and the rest of us, that we might go out of our way to bring joy into someone's life.
Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jack, and License to Wed will always be in my top favorite movies :)
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Friday, August 1, 2014

Whose side are you on?

Hey everyone!
Long time, no blog!
Here is why...

I got married on June 19th!!! 
It was a beautiful day and a fun filled week with our families that will go down in the history books as one of the best weeks of my life!
I was planning on blogging once we got back, but something unexpected came up.
A few days after we came home, I had to have emergency surgery. 
So the past month, I've been recovering from surgery.
With home healthcare nurses, excruciating pain, and a few annoying complications, our first month of marriage has been nothing short of interesting.
Dave has been wonderful throughout it all. He's definitely been fulfilling his vows already and I am so thankful!
Now, I'm just praying that no more complications will arise and it will be smooth sailing from here on out!

So that's my short little update for you! 
I'm sorry it has been so long, but I know that you know....life happens, right?
We just have to do whatever we can to get past the hurdles and road bumps.

Last night, Dave and I were reading the book, "Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet" by Karen Armstrong. You may be wondering, "Why are you reading that?" 
Well, Dave and I are kind of nerdy. We enjoy learning new things, including things that may not affect us personally. We realize the importance of having knowledge not just in our religion or culture, but in others, as well.

As he was reading out loud, my brain felt like it was going to explode!
Blog ideas kept rushing in! Ahh!!
As he was reading about church history such as the Crusades, all I could think about was how nothing has really changed. Yes, of course, there have been some changes, but when we look across the board and see the divisiveness with such a hostile foundation of religion, we haven't made much changes.
I look outside. I surf the web. I watch the news. I read articles. I hear conversations.
The only common denominator I find is division. The question of, "Whose side are you on?!" comes up often. Perhaps, my optimistic self is being pessimistic today? I don't think so.
 Perhaps, I'm simply being a realist right now.

Culture divided.
Religion divided.
Christianity divided.
Race divided.
Politics divided.
Economic status divided.
Nations divided.
Families divided.
A world divided.

We've been struggling with this since the beginning of time.
Sure, we may have made some improvements (especially here in the US), in terms of rights and freedom, but we are nowhere near perfect. In fact, not one nation is perfect, even America. 

Our red,white & blue tinted glasses should no longer hide the reality that is right in front of us.
We are divided. 
You may be thinking, "Well Chelsea, of course we are divided. We have 7 billion people here on Earth, all with different personalities and beliefs, so of course we're divided!"

Guess what? I agree.
However, when it comes to following in Jesus' footsteps, I feel like we need to tread carefully.

Where does Jesus ever encourage division amongst people?
Bueller? Anyone? 

Here are two examples:
Jews & Gentiles. The culture of Jesus' day were all about the separation of Jews & Gentiles, but Jesus, not so much. He supported equality amongst all people. Apostle Paul said, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:27-28)
Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26). Jews were not to interact with Samaritans, but Jesus did, and even offered her living water!
Tax Collectors  & Zealots. Two groups of Jews in Palestine with probably the most intense hate towards each other and guess what?! Jesus chose one of each to be his disciples, Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot. I don't think that was by mistake or coincidence, but on purpose, to prove that in Jesus there is no division. The disciples shared life together and here we see 2 enemies living life together.

From these examples in the Bible, we see that division is a reality, but that doesn't mean it's right. 

From the words and actions of Jesus Christ, do we see that division is helpful?.
We may pat ourselves on the back when we "win" a culture war, but is Jesus standing nearby waiting to give us a high-five? 
I doubt it.

I feel like we often pick "sides" too quickly.
It's not about sides. (I think Jesus would back me up on this).
It's not always about who is right and who is wrong.

I feel as Christians, we are held accountable to not quickly pick a "side" and move on, but to look at the subject from all angles. Talking to someone of a different race, culture, religion will allow us to get to know the hearts of God's children. Instead of generalizing, let's start "personalizing". 

I used to have a certain idea of Muhammad. A dark, violent picture, but did I really take the time to learn about him?
No, I didn't. I quickly chose a side and moved on.
Although we haven't gotten far into the Muhammad book, I've realized that I've believed some things about the Muslim faith that were simply stereotypes and not truth.

As Christians, we are not called to pick a side and move on, we are called to love one another, to get to know one another, and to respect one another.
Instead of looking at hot topics like the children immigrating to the US, gender equality, and war, then picking a side based on politics or simple generalizations, I feel that we should be open enough to look from a different angle. To empathize. To wade in the middle of both sides instead of diving into one. 

As Christians, do we have to pick a side? 
I don't think so. I think that as long as we are faithfully following Jesus and His teachings of justice, grace, love, peace and mercy, we don't need a side. Sure we can have our beliefs and share them, but we are complex beings and generalized decisions will not do.
Jesus was not about culture wars, so we shouldn't be either.

My challenge for you is to explore! Make a decision to learn about something outside of your comfort zone. Do you have a bitterness towards something? Perhaps a different religion. Are you confused about something? Maybe gender equality. Have you always been interested in a culture and haven't made the time to dive in?

I struggle with making generalizations at times, but then I  am reminded to align myself with Jesus. Dave and I will continue to read the Muhammad book and I'm excited to learn about a different faith.

God knows our hearts and I think the best way to move forward, is to get to know the children of God (meaning all people of every race, nation, and culture) and their hearts.
I mean, would you like to be generalized into a certain category without any chance to explain yourself?

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

freaking out

Well, there's a reason why I haven't been posting much...
I'm getting married in.....drum roll please....
28 days!!!!!
That's right...28 days!!!!

This is what I look like...

And this is how I feel!
Don't get me wrong, I'M SO EXCITED,  just a little overwhelmed with to-do lists
 and packing lists! 

Woa, it's crazy how all of the sudden I feel like everything (I mean everything) is happening at once.
I have so much to think about, so much to do, and very little time, so please pray for me and Dave, as I might be a little hard to handle in the next few weeks :-/

Anywho, I wanted to keep you all in the loop.
I haven't fallen off the face of the earth (only the blogging world) or given up on my love for blogging...
I'm simply getting married!

I continue to remind myself that this is just a day (but a big day, too), the marriage is so much more important than centerpieces and cake.
So if I have another freak out, please remind me of that.
It would be very much appreciated :)

I'm going to try to blog right before the wedding and give some updates, but if not, I'll talk to you after June 24th!
Love & blessings :)
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: Heaven is for Real

A couple weeks ago we saw Heaven is for Real
A few years ago, I read the book in about a day because it was an easy read and rather interesting. 
I didn't think too much about it, but mainly, "well, anything is possible."
However, a couple things stood out as a little fishy, which caused me to wonder, "Why do pastors always come out with books like these? Why can't someone who's not in ministry write about visiting heaven?"  But then again, I can't argue with his experience.

Dave, on the other hand, has read plenty of books like "90 Minutes in Heaven", "23 Minutes in Hell", and others. He was more of a skeptic than I was. So when Heaven is for Real came out in movie theaters, he wasn't so sure about seeing it. However, something must have peeked his interest because we ended up seeing it.

Guess what?
I was very, very impressed with it.
It wasn't a corny Christian movie (however, some people may disagree) with terrible acting, but it was very real, humorous, and thought provoking.

One thing I think they did very well, was the portrayal of doubting and questioning.
Although Colton (3 year old boy who visited heaven) was convincing, his dad (the pastor), had a really hard time believing him. The movie really showed Todd and his wife struggling with the revelation that Colton kept bringing up.
I've said before, there's nothing wrong to question. 
It is often in our questioning, that leads us to a deeper faith. 

I also liked how they focused on the goodness of God.
There is a scene where Todd is talking to one of his church member's who lost her son in the war.
Their dialogue consisted of showing that God didn't favor Todd over her because Colton was still living rather than her son.
He made it clear to her that God loves her just the same and that unfortunately, death is a part of life.
I think it presented such a profound truth, that just because something bad happens in your life, doesn't mean God loves you any less than anyone else. 
He loves us all the same with an unconditional love, but it doesn't take away the truth that evil still exists in the world and death happens.
However, Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Lastly, I think the most important truth they portrayed through the movie was that "neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:38-39). Even if Colton was making all this up, he shed light onto the wonderful news that God gives us peace through everlasting life. We don't really know what heaven is like, but we should rest assured, that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. 
He offers us peace in knowing that He never leaves us, He loves us with an everlasting love, and He gives us the gift of eternal life.

So whether or not, you believe in near death experiences or visions, this movie is still enjoyable and portrays many important points that we should remember every day. 

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Strangers at my Door

If anyone needs an easy, inspiring book to read, I've got one for you!
Strangers at my Door by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Strangers at my Door is a compilation of stories about this man and wife's journey of opening a hospitality house in a poverty stricken, crime infested neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina. Their motivation is to find Jesus in the stranger at their door. They invite people in to eat, to talk, to question, and even to stay and live. They function as a diverse family with responsibilities, fellowship, prayer, and struggles. Drug addictions, criminal activity, abuse, prostitution, homelessness are just some of the realities they face. The stories show us that it isn't always easy to find Jesus in the stranger at the door, but in the end, it is always worth it.
This book really tugged on my heart strings. It opened my eyes to issues I had never seen or heard of before. It broke my heart to read of the struggles that they face. It uplifted me in unexpected ways.

I'll share a few of my favorite quotes from the book, but don't let that take the place of actually reading it as a whole. I'm confident that it will be a blessing in your life to read about this hospitality house.

"To leave the door locked--to close ourselves off from another person in fear--is to reduce our capacity to connect, to love, to be fully human." 

"Welcome everything, and you'll witness miracles." 
Even in the most dirty and intimidating situations, miracles can happen.

"Is it safe? No. But companionship never is. It is drawing close to another person despite our fears. It is an embrace that comes int he midst of conflict, pushing us deep together, not further apart. It is, at its best, a glimpse of glory. But it's never safe."
I feel like this quote rings true for a lot of us. Maybe it's when we see a homeless person on the corner or when we meet a person who was just recently released from prison. Perhaps its when we're looking for neighborhoods to live in. I think this is a great perspective to have, because it's true...companionship (any kind) is never safe since we are imperfect beings. There is always a risk of being hurt by anyone, no matter their circumstances.

"But the dividing line between good and evil does not run between those who've been to prison and those who haven't. It cuts through the center of every soul."

"Those couple of hours int he library each week--they were the only time when I was locked up (in prison) that I felt like a human being."

Because behind the homelessness, the addiction, the abuse, there is a heart
A heart that was created in the image of God.
A heart that is loved by God.
A heart that longs to be loved and accepted by others. 
We can't ignore that truth, but we should embrace it.
No one is too far from redemption with God's immense grace.
Finding Jesus in the stranger, can give us all the strength we need to love them past their mistakes.

Check out this book-you won't be disappointed!
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

What's today? Plus, a challenge for you all.

The first of May
as well as......
National Day of Prayer
Loyalty Day
International Worker's Day
Law Day
Mother Goose Day (huh?!)
Save a Rhino Day

But we can't forget, May 1st marks the first day of Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
If you don't know my story, check it out here.
Long story short, I have been battling Lyme Disease for almost 2 and a half years, but was undiagnosed for about 13 years.
Crazy, I know?!

This is why Lyme Disease Awareness Month is so important to me.
Because of this nasty disease, my life has been on somewhat of a "hold" the past couple years.
I've endured a lot of pain, struggle, financial strain and setbacks.
My family and friends have unfortunately been affected by this as well.

This disease is often over looked. It is often not taken seriously. 
The truth is, this disease is only spreading more and affecting many, many lives.
When something takes a hold of such a vast amount of people, we can no longer ignore it, but embrace it so that we can fix it.
 It is chronic. It's not going to go away if we just sit around, twiddling our thumbs. It's not going to patiently wait for us to turn the corner, but it's taking people captive each and everyday.

Clearly, I'm passionate about this.
I don't mean to be morbid or depressing. It's nothing to be scared of, if we are actually doing something about it. But if we aren't, we should definitely be frightened by its effects. 
I've experienced it. I've seen the struggle it has created on loved ones. I've seen people's lives been taken because of it. 
We need awareness, desperately.

So will you join with me in opening the eyes of others to the damage this disease can cause?
Will you join with me in demanding more research?
Will you join with me in taking a stand for insurance coverage?

If so, change your social media pictures to Lyme Disease Awareness.
Wear your lime green out in public. 
If someone is experiencing anything like what I've been through (my story & other experiences), speak up and suggest that they research about Lyme Disease. It could change their lives for the better!
If you work in the medical field, research and speak up to others in your field. Have conversations!
Help someone who may be facing financial strain because of this disease on sites like gofundme.
Be a listening ear and be open to learning more (read about my plea for understanding here). 

Here are some pictures that you could display on your social media (or you can google your own :)

Thanks for joining me in spreading the word!
It is greatly appreciated by the Lyme community.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fighting it

We have a problem at our house...
A squirrel problem.
My dad has this nice bird feeder and instead of the birds eating all of the feed,
the squirrels eat it all.
That's just not working.
A bird feeder is for birds, not squirrels.
So my dad is bound and determined to feed the birds.

He's tried many different, creative strategies to keep the squirrels from jumping onto the tree and then the bird feeder.
A few weeks ago, my dad hung a large lid over the bird feeder so the squirrels couldn't jump down from the branch above and onto the feeder.
This strategy did work, but didn't prevent the squirrels from jumping from the other trees.

A week ago, he hung a glass pot lid from the tree adjacent to the bird feeder in hopes it would block the squirrels from jumping onto the feeder.
The day after, I'm doing the dishes and looking outside, when all of the sudden I see a squirrel on the adjacent tree, staring at the pot lid and feeder.
"Surely," I thought, "he isn't going to be able to get to the feeder."
Sure enough, the squirrel jumped over the big pot lid and onto the feeder.
The pot lid seemed like a good idea, but I guess squirrels are smarter than that.

Then a couple days ago, my dad put some chicken wire halfway over the feeder to keep the squirrels from getting to the food, but still allowing the birds to get it.
I thought, "Okay this should work."
Once again, I'm doing the dishes and a squirrel catches my eye.
I stop what I'm doing and put my attention on the hungry (or greedy) squirrel.
Like the last time, this squirrel definitely has to put some thought into what he's going to do next.
His legs lunge back and I watch him go airborne towards the bird feeder tree. 
He passes the pot lid, lands under the big lid, and turns his body upside down (no joke) in order to get his head past the chicken wire so he could reach his afternoon snack.
"Are you kidding me?!" I said. "How in the world could he do that?! Wait until, I tell Dad."

My dad comes home that evening and I break the news to him.
"The squirrel hung from the feeder upside down so he could get past the chicken wire. Your plan didn't work. Maybe you should just give up."
But being the innovative and persistent man that he is, he replied, "Well, I have a few more ideas."

Clearly, my dad hasn't given up yet. That isn't a bad thing, though. He just wants the squirrels to stop stealing the birds food. 
But it makes me think (of course). 

It reminds me of when we're fighting for the sin in our lives.
We're in this struggle to keep the sin and justify it.
We may have part of our lives right, but the other, wrong.
We're fighting against it.
We don't want to give in and get rid of it.

In Ephesians 6:11-17, the apostle Paul tells us to "put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Sometimes it's hard to be all in and not give in to the repentance of our sins.
We'll get rid of these sins, but not the others.

Paul tells us to "put on the whole armor." He doesn't say, "Put on just a piece or two of the armor of God."
He is telling us that it is worth it, to be all in.
To put our whole being into an armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation will help us to withstand the temptation of the evil around us, even our own sin.

I'm not sure if my dad will give up on the Mission Protect the Bird Feeder, and if he doesn't, that's okay. I'm not saying it's wrong, but a picture of how we can fight against ridding the sin in our lives.
Will we give up and give in to the life of repentance that Jesus has called us to?
Acts 3:19 says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."

2 things to learn:
#1 never underestimate the intelligence of a squirrel.
#2 more importantly, never underestimate the power of the whole armor of God and the strength He gives us, so that we can repent from our old, sinful ways to a life full of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Away from the office

Hey everyone! 
I'm over at my friend, Fiona's,  blog today, writing for her series. 
She'll be writing for me today, too. 
I hope you enjoy it!
I know, I did!
Don't forget to check out her blog site too!!!

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Identity with Fiona

There are few things that I love about the internet more than getting the unique opportunity to see
a glimpse of God’s grace and goodness in one’s life through his/her blogs. This is the reason why
I’m thankful to have stumbled upon Chelsea’s blogsite one day.

Chelsea, like what I said in my first email I ever sent you, you have a gift for words and your love
for God is so evident in your writing. You are a true encourager and inspiration to many. Thank you
for the opportunity to write for you over here today! :)

Across the ocean on the other side of the world where Chelsea lives is where I am currently writing
these words down. I’m Fiona Alvero, a blogger (http://www.fionamaealvero.com/), an event coordinator and a follower of Jesus.

I was born and raised in a small town north of the Philippines where I spent most of my fondest
childhood and teenage years. I moved to the city of Manila - where I still currently resides today - at
sixteen to go to college and get a degree in Communications with the hopes of pursuing a career in
writing or journalism someday.

This picture, I feel, says a lot of me and what I do as an event coordinator

It was also in college where I met Jesus as a first year student. My life since then had a whole new
meaning. I began to understand my true purpose and calling in life. While I kept writing as
something that I love to do, God placed in my heart the burning passion for the youth and later on
felt the call of God to go full-time in campus ministry.

And so that was exactly what happened after I graduated college when God opened the door for
me to serve in the campus ministry of the church I’m part of. I was tasked to be in charge of the
communication needs of the ministry while coordinating few events on the side at the same time
and never for a second it felt like a job to me because I was thoroughly enjoying everything about

Later on, as God is faithful to grow our campus ministry, there was a time where we felt the
pressing need to separate the two functions I was doing and treat it as two different job functions
for two different people to do because the load of work was already big for me to do. That meant I
will either be tasked to solely focus on doing communications or coordinating events.

And of course, as someone who built herself around the fact that communications is something I’ve
always desired to do and I know I can do well, I was praying and hoping they’d entrust that job
function to me. But I was given the other position instead.

I didn’t take it well, to be honest. It was hard for me because I felt so insecure thinking that I wasn’t
good or competent enough with my talents and skills in communications. I was so hurt and
disheartened by that transition to say the least.! !

Why it became hard and painful for me was because I didn’t realize until it was taken away from
me that all along I’ve been using my job, my talents and skills as the basis of my identity. So when I
didn’t get the communications position, it hit me right to the core of my being. Because I’ve allowed
it to define who I am. Have you ever had any of those?! !

Cause I realize over time, it could be other things for many of us. That thing that we make as the
basis of our identity. Actually, if we will not be careful enough to check our hearts, it could be
anything - family, finances, beauty, relationships, power, media, health, economic status, trends,
words that people say about us.

Sadly, these things are all temporary things that will certainly change over time. And the tendency
for us is that if this is what we will allow to define who we are, we will always end up trying to
measure up.

Looking back today, I will never be grateful enough that God has placed me in a situation that
though painful for me to go through, it was worth it because it allowed me to realize and learn
many things in life. One being that it opened my eyes to see how blessed I am to have godly
leaders in the ministry who have been so gracious in guiding me during that transition period and
who have always been there believing in my potentials as an event coordinator more than I believe
in myself.

Mostly, I am thankful for it because God used that transition as an avenue for Him to teach me an
important lesson in life and it’s this:

The only time we will feel secure of who we are is when we place our identity on something that is
constant. On something that will never change. On something that is eternal.

And you know what I’ve learned that is to be for you and me? It’s the love of Christ.

The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It’s mind-blowing for me to think that when we were still at our worst as sinners, God has already
chosen to love us. It means that whether we mess up today or we do good tomorrow, God’s love
for you and me will never change.

There is nothing we can do for Him to love us more or love us less because He has already loved
us enough when He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for us.

You are eternally loved by a good and holy God.

Let that sink in for a while.

Cause that, my friend, is the truth of who you are. :)

Friday, April 18, 2014


I can count on two hands, times where I have been so extremely thankful for answers.
Three that stand out in particular.
The day I found out I have Lyme Disease. All the puzzle pieces of strange symptoms came together.
The day (today) I found out the reason behind my chronic chest pain, as well as other symptoms.

Both times started out with, "Why??" and both ended with, "Ohh, that makes sense."
Both times it took awhile to arrive at.
Both times I dreaded the answer and yet yearned for the answer.
Both times that didn't feel good once I had my answer and yet a sense of relief.
Both times presented complex answers and complex treatments.
What started out with a "Why?", now ended with, "Now, I know why."

Now that I have these answers, I can be on my road to recovery.
It makes me think of this special day, Good Friday.
The day where our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified.
The day that has caused me (and I'm sure, many people) to ask the question, "Why?"

So many of the events leading up all the way to the crucifixion can seem puzzling.
Why would Jesus present the wine and bread as His body and blood at His last supper with the disciples? (Luke 22:17-20)
Why would Jesus heal the soldier's ear who came to arrest Him? (Luke 22:49-51)
Why did Jesus let Herod and the others mock him? (Luke 22:8-12)
Why did Jesus ask God to "forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing?" (Luke 23:34)
Why did Jesus tell the thief on the cross next to him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise"? (Luke 23:43)
Why would Jesus die for me, a sinner? 

All of these questions are often chased around with different, complex theological possibilities.
Answers that sometimes we get caught up in.
However, amongst all the possible complexities, we can rest assured on one simple, yet powerful answer...
Because He loves us.
Because He wanted to show how far He will go to forgive us.
He did all of those things, because love completes His being.

We can question, search, discuss all the details about Christ's journey to prove His love, but we can always end with the beautiful truth...
"How deep the Father's love for us.
How vast beyond all measure,
that He would give His only Son,
to make a wretch His treasure."
It's that answer that I will forever be most grateful.

Check out the song by "Why" Nicole Nordeman!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guess what I saw?!

Have you ever wondered what the Kingdom of God looks like?

Well this past Sunday, I had a chance to get a glimpse of it and let me tell you, what a sight it was!

Dave and I went to Church Under the Bridge.
It's pretty self-explanatory...church...under...a bridge.
No walls. No air conditioning. No heating. 
A group of people worshiping God under a bridge in Waco. 

I had always heard of this unique church setting and I was finally able to experience it!

We parked in a hotel parking lot, walked across the highway access road, and found ourselves in a little bit of Heaven.
As I looked around, I saw chairs set up in rows. I saw animals on leashes and animals without leashes. I saw food being shared. I saw people with disabilities. I saw smiling faces. I saw pain. I saw people with raggedy clothes. I saw people with nice "church" clothes. I saw hugs being exchanged. I saw people of all colors. I saw people of all ages. I saw kids playing games. I saw people serving. I saw people receiving. I saw families. I saw individuals. I saw people being reunited. I saw people's eyes opened. I saw people's lives changed. I saw joy. I saw new beginnings.

I saw the Kingdom of God. 

I saw a lot, I felt a lot, and I knew that Jesus was smiling down on that gathering under the bridge on that windy Palm Sunday.

Once we sat down, a sense of uneasiness rushed over me and my eyes began to water.
"If only more people could experience this, maybe our world would be different" I thought.
"Why can't more churches be like this?"

A place where people of all circumstances are welcomed. 
No expectations. No rules. No walls. No judgment.
Simply, a group of people with dirty lives meeting to learn and worship God.
A safe haven for all where all are fed, both spiritually and physically.

I'm so glad I was able to get a snidbit of God's kingdom here on Earth.
I pray that more churches like this begin to pop up around the world, because I know it is pleasing to God and life changing for many.

While we were there, Dave and I ran into one of his friends. She used to be homeless, but now has her own place and a husband and continues to come to Church Under the Bridge. Please pray that she continues to succeed and more importantly, delves deeper into her relationship with God. It truly was a joy to meet her and witness the impact of Church Under the Bridge on her life.

May we all experience the Kingdom of God everyday. 

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