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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LORD, change ME!

Pardon the seemingly bipolar capitalization in the title, but this post's theme is twofold...

Lord, change ME! ~ emphasis on me rather than circumstances

A few weeks ago I realized that I've begun praying more "Lord, please change ME" prayers, whereas last year I was praying almost exclusively "Lord, please change my circumstances" prayers. Shortly after coming to this realization, my friend Alicia posted the following status on Facebook...
Sometimes I really want a circumstance change even when I know what I need is a heart change.
This succinctly describes me throughout most of last year. I was so focused on asking God to make everything turn out the way I wanted, it never occurred to me to ask Him to make ME turn out the way HE wanted! He had to tear some things away from me in order to get my attention, and over the past few months He has broken down my pride and revealed SO MANY areas in my life that have needed growth. The process has been very painful but I'm so thankful that He is changing ME, not just my circumstances.

LORD, change me! ~ emphasis on God rather than me

With every day that goes by I see more and more that I have a natural tendency to get preoccupied with fears about the future (amongst other things) that will probably always be a struggle for me -- call it paranoia -- but I'm getting quicker at recognizing these bouts of worry as a mental battle being waged against me by the one who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He tries to suck me into the "What if?" game, and instead of just falling prey to it like I have in the past, I've started resisting him -- typically by turning to logic (Why waste time and energy worrying about something that might not even happen?), faith (I DO believe God is sovereign!), and, most importantly, Scripture ("So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself..." Matthew 6:34; "And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?" Luke 12:25).

I think these are all good things, but I also think I tend to get so wrapped up in trying to fix things myself, I neglect to seek God's help. And when I try to do things in my own strength, I fail every time! So I am trying to be more intentional about simply asking God to remove things from my life that I recognize as detracting from His glory -- things like worry and fear.


As all these things came together in my mind this afternoon, I felt an amazing sense of PEACE wash over me. That peace brought with it a freedom that is allowing me to live in the moment and make the most of the present instead of being consumed by concerns for the future. It is a GREAT feeling!!!

I am a work in progress... I know we all are, but I think I'm one of those people who too often has to learn things the hard way. But God hasn't given up on me yet, and I'm thankful for that. As goes the conversation between Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred in the movie "Batman Begins,"
Alfred: Why do we fall, sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.
Bruce: You still haven't given up on me?
Alfred: Never.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, 
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 
2 Corinthians 4:16

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thanksgiving All Year: 211-230 - Disneyland Trip Edition

Hello again, poor Blogger Dashboard which has been so neglected for most of this month!! And hello, readers who may have thought I dropped off the face of the earth! I AM still here... The truth is, I got to enjoy a fairly last-minute trip to "the happiest place on earth," DISNEYLAND, with some friends last weekend! It totally threw off the timing for my weekly thanks-giving post... I don't, however, have an excuse for falling further behind this past weekend. That was just laziness, haha. At any rate, I'm back now and ready to share not 10 but 20 things I am thankful for!

Without further adieu, today I am thankful...

211. For the opportunity to take my first trip to Disneyland with four super awesome friends.

212. For Chick-fil-A employees who make us laugh by photobombing pictures.

213. For detours that don't serve their purpose but add to the memories of a road trip anyway.

We stopped at a See's Candy in downtown Sacramento
only to find out they had closed 20 minutes earlier...
But we got to see the Capitol Building haha!

214. For beautiful sunsets.

215. For a town called Buttonwillow, simply because I think that name is hilarious and adorable.

216. That Jess's grandparents graciously opened their home to us for lodging during our trip. 

217. For friends who CRACK ME UP and make time spent waiting in long lines pass quickly.

Ben was demonstrating how he could
"dance" his way to the front of the line...
He and TJ both kept us entertained!

218. For beautiful flowers.

219. For Jess, her friendship, and how God has been using her to help me loosen up and live in the moment.

220. For chili in a sourdough bread bowl, eaten while watching an entertaining dinner show.

We had been on our feet for about nine hours
at this point and it was cold and rainy outside...
It was GREAT to warm up and give our feet a rest!

221. For a good night's sleep and a yummy breakfast before our second day at Disneyland.

222. For mustering up the courage to ride ANY and EVERY ride, even the ones that scared me.

Tower of Terror... Can you spot my hand GRIPPING the seat?!

223. That by our third time on California Screamin' I was even able to keep my eyes open the entire time!

224. For random strangers who offered to take pictures for us throughout the trip.

225. For the amazing "World of Color" water and light show that served as a grand finale for our time at Disneyland.

226. For two hours of laughter sitting around the kitchen table on the last night of our trip.

227. For spontaneous photo shoots with joshua trees in the desert.

228. For Erick Schat's Bakkery in Bishop, California.

229. For safety on the roads, all the way to LA and back.

230. That God faithfully continues His refining work in me, pointing out areas where I have not submitted to Him in the past, showing me a better way, and causing my love for Him to increase as He brings growth to my life.

I was seriously SO BLESSED by this trip, which we didn't even start planning until just over two weeks before we left!! It was such a fun time and such an unexpected treat. What a great way to kick off 2012! I hope perhaps your year has already seen some unexpected blessings as well!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I came to an unpleasant realization about myself today...
Sometimes I can become a very needy person.
I think this has been one of the biggest strains on a few of my closest friendships. Sometimes when I have been given access to someone's life, I start taking that for granted and acting as though they owe me their time and/or attention. This usually happens sort of subtly over time so instead of recognizing that I'm growing "needy" I gradually get frustrated with the person when they don't meet my expectations, and in most cases I eventually approach them about it as though they are shirking some sort of responsibility.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, I need, I need, I need!!!

It's neurotic, really. Like Bill Murray's character in "What About Bob?" Even if it's hilarious on screen, it's not in real life. No one wants to be around needy people. They're exhausting. And that's not the kind of person I want to be for the people I care about.

I'm praying I will let God teach me to ENJOY and SUPPORT people without growing NEEDY toward them. He reminded me today of Philippians 4:19 ~ "And my GOD will supply all your NEEDS according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." HE is Who I need to look to when I'm feeling needy.

It's never fun to discover ugly truths about myself, but it's better than going on in oblivion. Now I can do something about it. I'm thankful for that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thanksgiving All Year: 201-210

Hello, friends! I hope the first few days of this brand new year have been pleasant and refreshing ones for you so far! I am thrilled to report that I think I've finally got this wretched supposed sinus infection almost kicked... Although it seemed I'd turned a corner a couple weeks ago, the nasty thing reared its ugly head again and I ended up on a second round of antibiotics. Today must be the most normal I've felt in nearly a month (the scratchy throat first started on December 8), and I am VERY thankful for that!

I enjoyed the entire week between Christmas and New Year's off work and actually kept quite busy despite the fact I wasn't working. Of course, I guess busy-ness comes naturally with having a new tiny person enter your family, doesn't it? I've definitely had a lot to be thankful for over these past couple of weeks as we bid 2011 farewell and rang in 2012.

So today as I begin a whole new year of thanks-giving, I am thanking God...

201. For coffee and lunch dates spent catching up with friends I haven't seen in a while.

Starbucks with Audrey

Applebee's with Mackie

202. For the joy of holding my sweet nephew. 

That little scrunched up face
steals my heart!

203. For our third annual "'New Year's Adam' Girls Dinner and Movie Night" (held each December 30th, the night before New Year's Eve... Get it??).

We had dinner at BJ's
and saw "New Year's Eve."

It only took Ashley two tries
to get all 14 of us in one shot!

204. For good friends with whom to ring in the new year.

Enjoying my mom's homemade
mac and cheese among other things!

Alex and Ben in back;
Jessie, Jess, Rebecca, and me;
Mike in front ~ Happy 2012!!!

205. For itunes gift cards from Cassidy, Erin, and Judy for Christmas that have allowed me to purchase the upcoming (and final -- boo!) David Crowder Band album, the "New Year's Eve" soundtrack, three songs from "We Bought a Zoo," and nine new (to me) Shawn McDonald songs.



206. For an utterly lazy pajama day with my parents on Monday before returning to work on Tuesday.

207. For antibiotics, saline nasal spray, and a former nurse who had the wisdom to know that I needed BOTH in order to kick this mess I've been dealing with for way too long.

208. For free tickets to see Shawn McDonald in concert.

Sounding AWESOME despite
a dry socket and technical difficulties!

Thank you, Jon and Dana,
for sharing your free tickets!!

209. For Belgian chocolate. Someone blessed the church staff with a giant bar of it for Christmas. YUM.

210. For the words "BUT GOD," for multiple reminders this week that TOMORROW is in His hands, and for my God being the God who "opens prison doors and sets the captives free."

So far, 2012 is off to a good start! I hope you can say the same! Have a wonderful first full weekend of the year!

Auld Lang Syne

After seeing "New Year's Eve" last weekend, I bought the soundtrack on itunes, and I absolutely cannot get enough of this song. The first several times I listened to it I couldn't help but tear up. I love how it's arranged... Tugs at my heartstrings.

Odd as it seems, even to me, I think New Year's was my favorite holiday of 2011. I was just so glad to get to that fresh starting point, it meant more to me than usual this time around. So it was especially sweet having a movie about this holiday (one with a great soundtrack, no less, which can really make or break a movie for me) come out THIS year of all years. I was so grateful to end 2011 on a positive note, and I'm sure this song will always cause me to look back on that time -- and the past year, even with all its challenges -- with fond memories. 

We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne {For the sake of old times}
-Robert Burns

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cheer Up, Ye Saints of God

Apparently there is an old hymn that goes like this...
Cheer up, ye saints of God.
There's nothing to worry about.
Nothing to make you feel afraid,
Nothing to make you doubt.
Remember, Jesus never fails,
So why not trust Him and shout,
You'll be sorry you worried at all tomorrow morning!
Did anyone else need to read this today? I did. That last line especially hits me... How often has THAT sentiment been true in my life??

For some reason this also called to mind a quote from C.S. Lewis' book The Horse and His Boy that has long been dear to me...
I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.
I hope these two bits of encouragement are good reminders for you today, as they were for me.