Monday, May 11, 2015

A Spirit Filled Life, for an Audience of One

Recently, two things have been on my mind a lot: living a Spirit filled life, and living for an audience of One. They really go hand in hand, so I shall talk a little about them. 

I wish I could say that I live a very Spirit filled life, and that I don't care what others think of me, but neither hold true to a great extent.

You know the cycle of caring what others think? The one where you mess up, and then someone looks down on it, and you try so hard to justify and explain, that it gets blown up even more because of the big deal you made of it, and then others overhear, and you end up worse than when you were after you messed up? The one where you dwell on something, and it makes your heart hurt? It isn't a fun cycle, one bit. 

As I get older, I have learned that it really does not matter what others think of you. So what if he or she doesn't approve of you? As I have gotten older, I have had to just let go of a lot. I might be sacrificing moving up on the social ladder or getting invited to parties and I certainly may not be saving myself from nasty gossip, but none of that matters.

(People, especially the middle schoolers out there: BE WITH THE PEOPLE YOU ACTUALLY LOVE.  I cannot say this enough  and everyone who has experienced middle school or high school is nodding their heads as they read this. It saves you from a lot of heartache and unnecessary, painful drama. Plus it is just a waste of time. It is easier said than done, but please be with those you love. For me, 95% of drama has been through people I don't really enjoy and I just hang around because of social status.)

When you live a Spirit filled life, in light of the freedom we find in Christ, everything flows from it. The resurrection empowers us to live with an empowered future. It is so so much more than a forgiven past.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

At first glance, this just seems like a list of character qualities we should strive for, regardless of religion. All those blessings & traits flow from living a Spirit filled life.

You see, when you live a Spirit filled life, you really don't care about other's opinions. You realize that God abundantly blesses those who strive to live for Him, and you feel joy, peace, and all those good things when allow the Spirit to fill your life.

Also, you won't make as many stupid mistakes when you live a Spirit filled life, which is an added bonus. ;)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

A Spirit filled life is the secret to happiness, or one of them. It may not always mean a comfortable, financially sound, safe life, but oh what a good life indeed that you can live when you allow the Spirit to fill you.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Romans 8:28 ~ Thoughts

SO I haven't posted in almost a month. Yikes! That needs to change, as I am brutally failing at this whole blogging thing! Life just happens - and my life isn't all that interesting!

Romans 8:28 has been on my heart lately, and I wanted to share with y'all.

"For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose."

That verse goes on our greeting cards and wall calendars. It is often one of those verses that we are given when rough times roll in. I'm not sure if it's the best verse to put into that context, because it can confuse and disappoint if you do not correctly understand the verse.

If you are reading the isolated verse, it looks like a promise for a good outcome in life. It is not a promise of comfort, health, and prosperity in our lives. As Christians, we are called to take the road less traveled. We are called to live out Matthew 16:24 in our daily lives, which isn't always "comfortable".

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

The "good" described in Roman's 8:28 is not our earthly comfort and success!!!!!!!!!!!! (that's a lot of  exclamation points!!!!!!!!) It is the furthering of His kingdom! We have the promise that everything will be okay in the end, in the very next verse, Romans 8:29 & 30:

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

You see, none of the crap that gets thrown at us in this life can change that. We will, most definitely, be in paradise for eternity, and this life will probably suck at times. The bad that happens to us is used, somehow someway, for the cause of His kingdom. 

Where is the good in stories of martyrs and missionaries, such as Jim Elliot, losing their lives for Christ? We see that so much good that has come out of it, but it was certainly not good for them. I think that's the message Paul was writing in Romans 8. As I mentioned earlier, it gets confusing when we simply isolate verses and take them out of context!

We are secure in our Savior's love, and that is all that matters.

That message is saturated all throughout Romans 8. Just read the entire chapter, and you will understand why Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters. At camp last summer, we memorized it and wow, what an amazing chapter to know!!!

Hope you all had a fabulous Easter and are having a fabulous week so far!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Story - Part 1

I've decided to write a series on my story. Maybe I will find this blog, years down the road, when my story has unwrapped a little more.

My salvation story is pretty typical for middle class American Christian families, so I won't go into that. At a young age, I was told that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that I have to ask Jesus into my heart and then I can go to heaven when I die. So, when I was about 6 or 7, I literally asked Jesus into my heart. Looking back, I had no idea what that meant, or even what it meant that I am sinful. ('Cuz really, most 6 year olds don't :)) I went on with my life, in a Christian school, going to church on Sunday. I didn't start to be challenged, understand, and dig deeper into Christianity until this school year. (ha, you can read all my embarrassing, cliche blog posts! I so want to delete them, but I'm just gonna own them!).

Past the salvation part.

Exactly three years ago, I started following blogs of moms with super cute kids adopted from China. That sounds so weird, and I guess it is! That went on for a while, when it dawned on me that I could do something! God slowly opened my heart to the plight of orphans and I have been blessed immeasurably.

My family tried the adoption route. We tried, but nothing came of it. God made it clear that adoption was not part of the plan, at least for the time being.

Meanwhile, my heart was exploding. I so wanted to do something. I hung out at the adoption advocacy group a lot, and learned as much as I could (which is freakishly A LOT!)  I looked at China orphan care trips, and that didn't work. My family didn't seem to like the idea of getting out of their comfort zone and doing anything, so I just decided that this not-so-little dream of mine really wasn't God's plan. Who knows, maybe something will spark the desire again in 20 years when I am married and can adopt. I continued to be part of the advocacy group and follow blogs.

A year and a half passes. Enter in photography, my new passion, and with adoption moms. :P (Let that speak for itself, hahaha)

Two years pass, and I go to the Dominican Republic for the best week of my life. Playing with orphans, and chatting with (orphan) girls my age was life & heart changing. I came back from that week blessed and even more passionate, but not satisfied. Oh well, I thought.

Three years pass.

My mother got an email, and decided to look at a photo listing for orphan hosting. She usually doesn't read emails from adoption agencies.


We are hosting a an adorable little girl this summer, for about 5 weeks! It is official! And oh, she is the cutest thing with the biggest personality!

WOW! JUST WOW! I am pinching myself, 24 hours later! I did not see this coming!

I will definitely be able to share more information as time goes on. For now, I wanted to share the news.

No, we are not adopting her, and we probably won't. Her medical need has a lot of unknowns, so we will be able to collect information on her and advocate for her until a family steps forward. It will suck sending her back to her orphanage in China, but the benefits of hosting outweigh the heartbreak and disappointment of sending her back.

I know hosting, in itself, is probably not the most exciting thing in the world, but for me it's the start of a bigger plan God might have. Sure, it may not work out to host, and orphan care may end up being a one time thing (but I pray it won't be!)

We would appreciate prayer. There are a lot of unknowns and concerns walking into this, and even though it's "official", it's no guarantee that this will even happen!

The next post in "my story" won't be until it unfolds a little more. Hopefully that will be as the time to pick her up approaches. I am excited to see it unfold. <3