Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the little children

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." - Matthew 19:14

I just watched Where the Wild Things Are. It just reminded me of how much children need God as well.. I work with kids every day, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. My heart is so heavy for children. I wish that nothing bad would ever happen to kids. There are so many behaviors that are stemmed from their life situations... people think that certain kids are problem children and will be for the rest of their lives... I don't agree with that. I think that all a kid needs sometimes is for someone to take an interest in their lives and love on them. People tend to give up on these 'problem children' and write them off as a lost cause. Breaks my heart. God desires each person in their unique character and situation... especially children.

Sometimes, all we can do is pray.

Wait... that phrase sounds terrible. I stopped for a second and read that. "All we can do is pray"... Like it's a last resort or something? I don't think that's what prayer was made for. I think it was made for us to worship God. Sometimes, we only pray when we need something... when something is going wrong... when we're confused... when we're lonely... when we're bored... when we're feeling lost... when someone we know is facing a crisis... when we ourselves are facing a crisis...

How bout this... pray just because God is God. Pray because you want to talk with the only truth and love we really have: Jesus. Pray because you can't get enough of Him... because you simply want to know Him more... pray because you want to worship.

I think this quote from Oswald Chambers puts it quite bluntly (like Chambers often, ever so eloquently, puts it)

"If we are hard toward God, we become hard toward other people."

We become hard towards God by "dictating to Him what we want Him to do" through prayer. We can be quite bossy with our prayers...

I don't want to become hard toward other people... I want to love others. How can I love others and not become hard toward other people? By being honest with God while you worship through prayer. If I want to love these kids, I need to worship God so that I am in the place with Him that His love will flow out of me to those around me.

After all... God is love.

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." - 1 John 4:8

Baby-ness!


I'm SO happy for my friends Ashley and Thomas... they just had their first child! A beautiful baby girl! Kylie Rae Hoffmann... so perfect! :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

be.

"If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious. In other words, we must stop using religion as if it were some kind of a lofty lifestyle - we must be spiritually real." - Oswald Chambers

Be spiritually real.

wrap yourself in Him
- don't place your focus anywhere else... no matter how important the object of your focus may seem... and especially if your focus is ungodly.

look at life through crimson colored glasses
- Jesus' perspective is authentic.

avoid and get rid of existing distractions
- things that distract your from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is in fact the basis of our faith.

pray continually
- if not, you will start to assume this is YOUR life...

truly love others
- in their unique person and their unique situation... no matter the background... you will begin to understand the unfailing love and grace of God.

BE ready
- don't be so absorbed in your service to Jesus or your lack of it... be so close with Him that you will recognize Him when he's near.

build others up to be ready
- encourage others in their walk with God. It's intimidating sometimes, I know, but God desires them.

read His word
- it's an amazing venue in which he reveals himself. He is on every single page and the entire Bible is a tapestry... a love story... and it's beautiful


Stop doing, and start being. I write about this a lot, about getting rid of distractions... about letting go of what you want your life to look like... about giving up the struggle. It doesn't have to be that way! I think God is really working on my heart and mind right now. I have been focused way too long on what I want my life to look like. Then I pray that the things I want will miraculously become the Lord's will for my life. How bout this.. how bout I just get over myself. How bout I let Him live His life. I know He's been pursuing me for a long time. I can feel it daily, and I am done with the struggle. It takes a toll after a while. Pretty sure that is one definition of struggle... something that results in exhaustion... God desires me. How amazing is it to think about? God. THE God. THE ONLY GOD wants ME! Not because He needs me, far from it! I am the last person in the world God NEEDS! He desires a relationship with me. Blows my mind.

Well, this is just my two cents... Random and rambling afterthoughts of my devotion tonight.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quiet Persistence

I know... reading Oswald Chambers isn't equal to reading the bible... but I have been so loving reading his daily devotions! He puts things so bluntly, so plainly that there's no way around the truth in God's word.

Today's devotion really puts me in my place. It's about ignoring the quiet persistence of God. When you can hear Him clearly telling you something and ignoring it - it is one of the worst things we can do. Our lives can be blessed so much further if we would only listen to His voice.

"To put my view of His honor ahead of what He is plainly guiding me to do is never right, even though it may come from a real desire to prevent Him from being put to open shame. I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence."

He goes on to say that we try to have debates in our minds of what is really God and what is ourselves. We try to make conclusions based on our own findings to cancel out what we KNOW God is telling us.

Lately I have been in that place in my life. I know that He wants the best for me... and sometimes I think I know what that is, but then He goes and proves our own conclusions wrong again. I know I shouldn't get annoyed with that, but sometimes I do! It's hard for me to just back up and let go of what I want. Our happiness seems to be the only thing that drives us. What will make me the happiest? I think I ask myself that question more than I'm aware. I tend to make decisions based on temporary happiness instead of decisions based on the gentle pull of the Holy Spirit. It scares me. It's something that's unknown. It's like walking in a forest with a blindfold on hoping I wont run into a tree or fall off of a cliff... I do trust that God will provide and protect... just pointing out how hard that is.

God has never promised our happiness, but he has promised to strengthen His relationship with us. Strengthen our faith in Him.

After I wrote the part above about walking blindly, I read the next part of the devotion... Chambers went on to say, "Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can't see anything." I guess Chambers and I had the same picture in our minds about what faith looks like. :)

Matthew 14:29
"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

"Faith, however, is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can't see the way ahead." - Chambers

"Simply obey Him with unrestrained joy." - Chambers

"Whatever he says to you, do it!" John 2:5

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Arrogance.

"Look at me! Look at me! I am a Christian! I love Jesus! I believe in God! God works miracles... let me tell you about some that He's done in and through ME! Jesus died on the cross for ME... He loves ME..."

Sometimes I feel like that's what we do. Not quite that dramatic... but you see the picture. Jesus created us to point others to HIM not to ourselves. Sometimes we think that if we share Jesus through our own experiences and show people what WE have done for Him, that it will benefit the kingdom. I say... WOAH! STEP OFF YO! When did it EVER become about us. When was this life ever about US!

Stop distracting people from the person of Jesus Christ with yourSELVES! It's not about you.

God wants a personal relationship with us all, yes, however that doesn't give us the right to boast. It should humble us so incredibly much to realize that God actually does want us.

I challenge you to let Christ do what He wants in you... not what you think He wants. There's an old cheesy saying... "Let go, and let God." I pretty much hate Christiany phrases but that one always gets me to stop and think. "What does it look like to let go of 'our' lives? To completely surrender all hope of having any sort of control?" It looks like Jesus. It becomes something we can see, rather than just something we talk about all the time.

People frequently say, "How can you believe in something that you can't see?" I don't know how to answer that question without sounding arrogant...haha...like a snobby, churchy girl... But, it kind of makes me laugh... I can see God EVERYWHERE! It's an extremely Sunday School answer... but for me it's true! I see Him in people, situations, nature, music... you name it. It's hard to explain that to someone who thinks that what I believe is foolishness though. Oh well, it's the best answer I know and it is completely real and true in my life.

I know, this post was a little random and all over the place... but I wanted to try and write a blog without actually quoting Oswald Chambers again! He did inspire this post though... I just cheated by kind of summarizing today's devotion.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DECREASE!

I really want to quote the entire My Utmost for His Highest I'm reading today. It's so incredible! Especially in light of what is going on right now in our country.

"If you become a necessity to someone else's life, you are out of God's will."

"When you begin to see that person (someone who hasn't trusted God yet) in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don't try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone's life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God's will and saying, "This person should not have to experience this difficulty." Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, "You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him."

"Beware of rejoicing with someone over the WRONG thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. ...He must increase, but I must decrease".

"You must often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it."

I don't know what else to say! This puts it so bluntly! Who are we to say what we deserve? Who are we to say what trials shouldn't come our way! These are the things that bring us CLOSER to CHRIST!!!!! What more could you want!

With this, I say... REJOICE!!! Find happiness and contentment so that your relationship with Him gets that much better and stronger.

I love Jesus Christ more than I can express... but He loves me so much that He's willing to watch us suffer, so that one day we can praise Him in ALL His unfailing Glory!
HE'S the only one who deserves anything... We do not. He created US! It's not the other way around. No human created praise and worship. He is not something made-up. WE ARE!

Let's try for a minute to wrap our brains around that... then move towards the only truth there is left in this life... JESUS and His unfailing love.

Mankind

They have always been corrupt. Why should I be surprised? It honestly shouldn't be anything to lose faith in Jesus about. He knows what's going on before we do... NOTHING is EVER a surprise to Him. I trust that He'll take care of and provide for me. There isn't a doubt in my mind. He never gives us anything more than we can handle. With Him of course. There is NOTHING we don't need God for. Daily we need Him. We need Him to help us understand things that we can't wrap our minds around... we need Him for daily guidance. In any and every situation. I don't start a day without first giving thanks and asking for guidance and for Him to do His work through me.

Mankind needs Him. More than ever. I pray that people will come to see that more and more and they will do something about it.

LOST! I am lost without Him.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Health care bill has just passed.

The only thing I thought of when I heard the news: "God is bigger than the air we breathe, the world we'll leave." - Chris Tomlin

I don't have much of an update today. Just wanted to share a little quote that encourages me whenever I start to get extremely discouraged about this life.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Faith.. Friendship.... and prayer

Faith:

"Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led." - Oswald Chambers

Saying that, however, how hard is it to put your faith into something that you do not entirely believe? You have to have faith in something that is true and real. Knowing that it may not give you a lot of worldly success... but knowing that by doing so, you are furthering the Kingdom of God! Faith is a tricky thing. Believing in something that you can't touch or see... sounds outrageous! I like to look at it this way. I like to see those around me and situations I'm in as God Himself. Feeling my sister's baby kick, for example.. now THAT is God. It's something that boggles my brain! There is a completely different soul living in my sister's body! Watching the sunset... God. I could go on all day long naming things that are so unexplainable... the only reasonable explanation can be GOD! He shows Himself to me daily. He let's me know He's here. I wonder how I don't see Him in MORE! He's everywhere!

Now... for the whole "never knowing where you are being led" thing... It's one of the hardest things in the entire world to let go of and to put trust in. Sometimes I find myself freaking out about a bunch of little things. I freak out so intensely sometimes. I wonder where I'm going to be living next, what my future holds, how I'm going to make it until the end of the month with only a few dollars left in my bank account, if my sister's baby is going to be healthy... Things that God is obviously big enough for. Why don't I give Him enough credit?! Why do I doubt... EVER! It IS hard... It is certainly hard. We tend to think that we know best... that we know ourselves better than anyone... and we know the solution to problems. I challenge you to actually STOP next time you're about to make a decision... or back out of making one for that matter... and actually PRAY about it! I think we forget to pray about things. Every day things should be prayed over. Every situation and person we come in contact with. I tend to feel like my faith gets stronger as I start to trust God with EVERY LITTLE small thing in my life and not just the big things.

Friendship:
"When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you ARE God's will" - Oswald Chambers

WHAT?! I will come to a point in my life where I don't even wonder if what I'm doing is right or not? I will know?! I will be so close with God that I will KNOW?!?! That boggles my brain. That makes me SO flippin excited to pray daily... about everything. I have always desired to be in that place. I have just been SO distracted with 'my' life and 'my' plans recently. I don't know if I've experienced this kind of closeness with God... but Lord knows I want to! It sounds more exciting to me than a relationship with another person. I have focused so much of my life, emotions, and thoughts on finding the person who I'm supposed to be with on this earth, that I forget the one I will be with for all eternity!

I have always known that I can't ever be satisfied and deeply in love with any one person unless I'm not first satisfied and deeply in love with Jesus. He IS love... without God, I have nothing. I don't know how to love. I couldn't possibly know how to love without having God living it out through me.

"You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once He does, you must stop immediately." - Oswald Chambers

THAT QUOTE! O man... I have most definitely experienced that feeling before. I have struggled and fought so viciously against God before so that I could do what I want to do. In the end... I was left heartbroken and full of regret that I didn't listen to the pull of the Holy Spirit sooner.

I have been so challenged lately by things Chambers talks about in My Utmost for His Highest. The one I'm reading today, he asks us to examine our prayer life and think about the last time we prayed. "Was your determination to get some gift of the spirit for yourself or to get to God?" - Chambers. He also quotes Matthew 6:8 - "For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him"

If we have a desire to be closer to God and to further understand His will in our lives, PRAY! That's pretty much all there is to it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

my body

"Do I realize that my 'body is a temple of the Holy Spirit' or am I conducting some habit in my body which clearly could not withstand the light of God on it?" -Oswald Chambers and 1 Cor. 6:19

I don't know if this quote needs much explanation. All I know is that this hit home... EXTREMELY hard for me. There's no way that I'm satisfied with the place I have invited the Lord to come and live. He deserves better.

The End.

stay focused.

Sometimes we, as Christians, get carried away with things that SEEM extremely important... not saying that they're not important, but they're not the priority. I was reading My Utmost for His Highest again today and I read, "not making our first priority to win souls, establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only 'to be well pleasing to Him.'" God doesn't want our focus to EVER be off of Him. Even if it it's with something that seems like it's pleasing to Him.

I remember Kelly Doherty from His Hill talking about this a lot. He used an example that I can't ever get out of my head. Picture your fist up in the air right in front of your face. Picture that fist representing something that you are focused on, something that takes most of your attention. Picture seeing your other fist up in the air behind that other fist... that represents something that you've lost sight of. It represents Christ. Picture the first fist getting so close to your face that you can't even move your eyes to look past it. You want to look at the second fist in the air, but you can't seem to get rid of the vision of the one that is directly in your line of sight. That thing.. that FIST has become the most important thing in your life... Sometimes, we may think that we're focused on something worth-while... We may consider it of GREAT importance. While, all the time, that other fist seems to be getting further and further away. That's what it's like when we focus on something other than Christ. We start to see the provision, instead of the provider. We start to worship something that is merely a stepping stone to get us closer to Him.

"I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption." -Oswald Chambers

Sometimes I find myself praying about something in particular SO much that I forget who I'm praying to... I start to only see what I'm praying about. It's never about that. It's never about what you can get out of your walk with Christ... It's about making "our aim... to be well pleasing to Him." - 2 Corinthians 5:9

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

whatever...

"One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it." -Oswald Chambers

Anyone up for a bowl of mediocrity? It has no nutritional value... it's yummy... desirable... and it only satisfies you for...MAYBE... 1.5 seconds... Then you'll be starving again in a few minutes...

That's the way this quote from Oswald Chambers makes me feel... WOW!! Way to push me off of the pedestal I put myself on top of and back down to the feet of Jesus where I belong!!!

"No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin. No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit, can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin." - Oswald Chambers

I am SO aware of what he is talking about right there... I get it entirely. I seem to like doing whatever I want to do... because I keep doing it... and finally I become desensitized. I don't even THINK about what I am doing is wrong. However minute it may be... however insignificant it may seem... "I'm not hurting anyone else, right? So... why not?" and the classic is... "I can stop whenever I want to! I know I don't need this.." WOW! How do we let ourselves become OKAY with mediocrity? With scraping by? I don't mean in the world... when it comes to money and success... I mean when it comes to the only important thing that there IS IN LIFE!!! CHRIST and Christ in me! Doing His will... It isn't our lives. There is NO OTHER purpose for our lives on this planet except to bring glory to His name.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of Peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:8

Monday, March 15, 2010

a chasing after the wind...

MEANINGLESS!!!

Think of things in your life that you consider meaningless. My list of things that are meaningless... hmm... I'd have to say Nickleback, Nothing fights, reality tv... I don't know, obvious things! Well... reading Ecclesiasties has shown me that apparently EVERYTHING is meaningless... I know that you're probably thinking... "hey! I thought this blog was supposed to be uplifting, optimistic, joyful and encouraging!?" Well... it is. Let's break this down... Everything is meaningless... A chasing after the wind. Think about what it looks like to chase the wind... to try SO hard to get your hands around something that is completely intangible! Frustrating, huh? Think about really truly believing that you can catch it... that if you run fast enough, reach far enough, and grab hold firm enough... that you could actually physically hold the wind... You know what that's like? It's like trying to find happiness apart from God. It's like saying... "Life is short, I'm going to live it the way I want to live it." In the end... looking back over your life you'll stop and wonder, what was all of that for? Why was I storing up treasures on earth, so to speak, when my time here is SO short!?

Instead... Chase after God. Chase after Him and He will bring joy to your life in ways that you can't even realize! Even without all of the things in life that you claim that you can't live without: TV, Music, Relationships, House, Success, Family, Car, Phone, Internet, Computer... There is no lasting joy in ANY of these things without Christ. Material things will always whither and fade... often times relationships and families fade as well... If your joy is FOCUSED on Christ... you will experience all of these things with a sense of freedom! You will be free to enjoy these things without feeling the attachment. "When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God" Ecc. 5:19

It really is comforting to know that none of it matters as much as He does. It takes the pressures of daily life off just a little bit knowing that, really... who cares? It's meaningless, a chasing after the wind...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

First steps...

So... WOW! "Life is full of surprises" is an UNDER-STATEMENT! BIG TIME! All I can say is God works in mysterious ways. When all expectations are let go... plan to be pleasantly surprised. The rewards for obeying God are extravagant and unexpected. I love when I can SEE a prayer being answered, it shows that God hears me. When you ask things according to His will.. O MY! How exciting...

Sometimes it's hard to let go of a situation that you're really deep into. Letting go and moving on is impossible if you don't take that first step of faith. I feel SO much better about my life now that I've taken that first step of faith...

Anyways... all I'm saying is... God is good.

YAY!!! GOD IS GOOD YAY!!!!!!



FEELIN FREE!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friendship Makes Sharing Special

"She lifts her skirt up to her knees
Walks through the garden rows with her bare feet, laughing"
Empty - Ray LaMontagne

I love this line. It reminds me of... well, me! It also reminds me of my roommate. She is constantly smiling and laughing. Telling me about something funny that happened. Pointing me towards the humor in life...
The rest of the song is kind of sad, but that first line reminds me of happy times. Times where I don't have a care in the world. Times where, no matter what, I can find something to enjoy.
Something as simple as walking through a garden.
Walking barefoot...being completely content.

My roommate Sarah is awesome.
I thank God everyday for blessing me with a positive person to live with.
She cracks me up DAILY!

Here are a few photos to show the good times we have!


































Thursday, March 11, 2010

Delight

"Delight yourselves also in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart."

I seem to think I'm an optimist. Well, it makes me happy to believe myself to be one. I have always found myself trying to think positively about something. I feel I am in competition with those around me to be the happiest! I know that's awful... I am in competition with those around me to be happy... but what I mean by that is this: If others are finding joy in their lives... if they can honestly say, "I am happy!" it makes me step back and look at my life. What makes me the happiest? Am I truly happy? What defines happiness in my life? What defines contentment? What defines optimism for that matter? Those things are the things that draw to me the most in others. It's a healthy competition. If they're happy, why can't I be?

I have always wanted to be surrounded with optimistic people. I have always been drawn to people who are actually LIVING their lives. I guess I'm starting this blog to express what things in my life make me the happiest. I would like to share my best days, my blessings, and my worst days with an underlying theme of joy and optimism.

I hope to put a smile on people's faces. These days it can be hard to find something to be smiling about.

Today's topic to smile about: The joy of the Lord. Nothing compares. When I'm surrounded in His love... I can't find a thing to be negative about. Everything is sunshine, butterflies and smiles. Not necessarily literally... but my perspective changes when God gives me joy.

"Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly... and the best of the three is LOVE."
1Cor.13