Wednesday, December 31, 2008

6 Things I've Learned This Year

Stephanie..I am finally doing your meme!!

1. The Word of God is the only thing we can put our faith in completely.

2. The Office is still good, but 2008 wasn't it's finest year.

3. When you are willing, God will use you in extraordinary ways. More on that later.

4. Going through hard times is a good way to grow faith.

5. God wants us to step out in faith and trust him so that he can show himself to us in ways that can only be him.

6. Memorizing Scripture is vital. It is a powerful weapon when the lies start flying at us.

2008 has been a big year for growth in my life. I have learned how to actually say "no" to things that I had previously allowed in moderation, and I am now not just someone that learns from other Christians, but someone who can teach other Christians. It has been a year with much joy and some painful times, but I am very excited about the future. I am not really big on "this year I will" because we don't know what the future holds. I know that today I choose to follow God, as I will each day, no matter what year or month it is. This journey called life is in progress..and I am so excited to be journeying with God and with his people.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Romans 12: Living God's way

I am very excited to be starting this Bible study with my small group next Tuesday. Chip Ingram is, in my opinion, an awesome teacher who is very serious about living out faith. The ten-week study focuses solely on Romans 12, and I can't wait to get started. I have listened to all of the podcast messages, and I got a lot out of them. The DVDs are much longer than the audio messages, so I think I will still be learning even though I will be familiar with the content.



Click HERE to go to the website to see an overview of the study. For the month of December, they are giving away the DVDs with the purchase of 5 workbooks. Not a bad deal. May God bless you as you follow him.

Angela

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What do I do?

Sorry, y'all, I know it's Christmas Eve and all but I have a problem. I have been going to my church for about a year and a half. While I have had some issues with some practices (exclusively K.J.V., and I have taken issue with some things said in sermons, plus sometimes he wears sunglasses throughout the whole sermon), I truly believe that good is being done. There are over a hundred ministries, and we even have an office Mon-Fri at a public school where kids can come get counseled and hear about Jesus. That's huge!

I love that it's a mixture of every race and social background, and that the music is fun and that it's different than any church I've ever been to.

Unfortunately, my little nagging "I don't know about that's" have a basis, which I discovered tonight.

It's a long story but I will say that I no longer can attend that church. I believe that the leadership is corrupt and that they are not truly following God. I knew from the website where I got the information that my pastor had issues in the past,but I thought that I should be mindful of forgiveness, and that everyone screws up. So I kept going. However, based on comments on the site from recent attendees of my church, I have to accept the fact that my pastor is not a man of God. He is a charlatan, and I am kind of mad that I've been tithing there, but God knows that I meant to obey him.

I am just sad and scared for those that don't know the truth. Luckily, I was not heavily involved because it is kind of a far drive for me. There are so many people that give their whole week to the church, and according to the website, there is all types of ungodly behavior going on in the "upper" echelons of the leadership and those in their inner sanctum.

I am so thankful to be able to leave and I would like to say I won't look back, but how can I not? I feel as though I have a responsibility here..but what do I do? My church was voted "Church of the Week" on the 700 club. My pastor's amazing story of finding his dad is most likely a lie, as there are conflicting stories of how they met. His dad is also a pastor. His dad's church is labeled a cult, and while I don't think my church is one, based on what I have learned, I do not think the Word of God is being taught correctly, and not by accident. One example being the teaching of people being saved simply through a prayer to accept Christ. I do believe this is a starting point, but it is NOT being a Christian. That could be very misleading. That is the thing I have taken the most issue with, however, I kept looking to all the people they were helping. I would get my guard up about certain things, and then I would let myself be lulled back into complacency.

So, I thank God for the Christmas gift of having my eyes opened, but I need advice.. and I will certainly be praying about this..where do I go from here? I know I will be able to find a good church, and I have been getting solid teaching on my own time through daily online sermons and through Bible study and fellowship with other believers. I have remained grounded in truth. But what about those whose only exposure to God and his people come through a bunch of fakers?? Thank God I have some sense of discernment, but even I was pulled in by the music and the showy sermons. And how do I go back to a church with slow worship? More than that, I feel like I HAVE to take a stand against this..but honestly I am a little scared of retribution (duh, you should never be scared of church leaders) and I just don't know what to do.

Thank you, God, that you are not blinded by outward appearances..please open the eyes of your people..

Monday, December 22, 2008

Love, Factually

He is the God of everything..He is God over the Indians, the Asians, the Europeans, the grass, the trees, the animals, the seas, the McDonalds, the Trump Tower: places are built on his land that do not even acknowledge him. He is still God there.

I am not a Christian because I needed religion. I am a Christian because I found the truth. I used to believe in lies..I believed I should go along with what everyone else was doing to fit in. I knew the things I did were wrong but I believed that was just what you did to make it in life. Now, I believe in facts. It is a fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. It is a fact that lives change and prayers are answered. It is a fact that EVERYONE will die. It is a fact that there is an afterlife. It is a fact that I will be with The One whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, my Lord and Savior Jesus. If you are a Christian, it is a fact that we are under protection of an all-powerful God. If you are not..it is a fact that God does not force people into relationship with him. Because factually, that's how relationships work. God is not distant or removed from you, even in your sin. Even in my sin, he still loved me enough to die for me. He loves you that much, too.

This Christmas, as Christians, we can rest in the fact that we are walking with God- who can come against us? Even in hard times and pain, we can be at peace. God is God when we are hurting, when we are happy, when we don't understand, when we fall, when we are on top, when we praise him, and when we don't make time to. He is still God. And we belong to him. Jesus was born so that we could have life. If you are not a Christian...don't miss out! God loves you so much and is just waiting for you to turn to him! Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

El Shaddai




I just found this song yesterday and I thought it was pretty. I used to listen to a ton of R&B and hip hop music so it is nice to find some that honors God.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bible Study Christmas Dinner 08

Merry Christmas!





Because I have good ideas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Soles for Souls

Please consider donating to Soles for Souls, which is an organization that provides shoes for kids that would otherwise walk around barefoot. Five dollars buys two pairs of shoes! I know that in today's economy, even five bucks can be hard to part with, but trust me, God blesses those who take care of his business! You can click on the side button and link to the site to donate.

Angela

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the winner is...

Jami at Live, Laugh, Love! Congratulations!



Here are your random numbers:

6
Timestamp: 2008-12-12 16:00:16 UTC

Thanks for playing everyone! This was my first giveaway and it was so much fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Now, that's hot!

Did you grow up comparing yourself to a sister? Last night in Bible Study, the topic was beauty. It was funny, but when we were talking about our personal beauty, we each talked about how we were prettier than our sister, or she was prettier than we were. Hmm..

One of the questions was, "When someone tells you you are beautiful, what is your response? Do you believe them?

One of the girls said that she thought that when she got married she would finally accept the fact that she was lovable and desirable, because someone wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. She's been married over a year and she still doesn't feel it.

God judges how beautiful we are on the inside. The world values physical beauty. But I think that very few of us are not affected by all of the media, magazines, and people we know that place a high emphasis on faces and physiques. But just because someone has it together on the outside doesn't mean they're not a hot mess on the inside.

I think of Misty, who used to work with me. She is one of the most beautiful women I've known personally. She looks like a young, hip, rocker version of Catherine Zeta Jones. She also has contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. She used to be involved in teaching a Sunday school class, but when she got pregnant out of wedlock the people in her church turned their noses up at her and she fell away from God. Some of this may have been her own guilt perception of what was going on around her, but it is true that we can be pretty hard on people when they fall sometimes. What would have happened if the people had loved her through it and helped her restore her relationship with God through repentance and obedience? God doesn't give up on us when we fall. People do.

I look at Hollywood- divorces and drug problems, affairs and scandals. I think about the pr*stitutes we take off the street at our church- one woman in particular who is a tall pretty blonde who looks like she has seen hell here on earth. She walks around in really high shoes and is covered in tattoos. She has the most guarded and wary look on her face- like a dog who's used to being kicked around. I just want to hug her- but I'm kind of scared of her right now.

Then I look at the women I've met through blogging; ordinary women who breathe life to others through the Holy Spirit who prompts them to encourage one another. I see the love that must have been in the early churches Paul visited. I think each and every one of you is a woman to be emulated-yes, even in your weak times, because you have found true beauty and you live it out each day. It shines through your words of hope and your ability to laugh, love, and reach out to others with abandon in this world that can be so cold. You are so beautiful.

I think our perception of our beauty is directly correlated with what we think will make people love us. If we don't feel beautiful, we don't feel lovable. But check out these verses:

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:2-3

"For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." Psalm 149:4

Jesus was not a hottie! But I feel like crying each time I read that he was despised- because I love him so much. I've never seen him bodily. I have seen him in the hands and words of his people. The ones who believed in him were drawn to him by who he was - not by what he looked like.

This same spirit resides in each one of us who has trusted God as the ruler of her life. He gives us the joy and the strength that ARE appealing to those who want to know- how can she stay positive? Why isn't she gossipping? She is so nice! Christ's beauty shines through each one of us.

I am not saying that we shouldn't bother to try to look nice. It's okay to feel pretty on the outside. All I'm saying is that when we have a bad hair day, we are still totally lovable.

I am excited to see the woman from church change as she realizes that she is not worthless. I am excited to see her face go from "set-in-stone" to soft and smiling. I can't wait to see her let her guard down. I have no doubt it's going to take a while. She doesn't know how beautiful she is yet. But God does.

Today, tell someone how beautiful she is. Find something about her that is wonderful, and tell her that she is awesome. Have a great day!

If you want to see the Bible study we are studying go HERE. It is an awesome resource. We did lesson two last night.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Cab

Let's say you and I are both standing on the side of the street of a bustling city. We are both hoping to hail a taxi and get where we're going. The sun went down half an hour ago; the Christmas lights are twinkling, the air has a decided nip, and the scents of city mix with the hot fragrant aroma of spiced cider being sold from a street vendor. It's a night that has that magical, indefinable quality to it, and you and I strike up a conversation, starting out with the obligatory " Must be a shortage on cabs."

We have the same sense of humor, you and I, and I can tell that there's some sort of chemistry sparking between us. The conversation is easy. And you have a VERY cute smile. I tell you about a band I saw in the Pavilion; and you can't believe it! You were at the same concert! They just happen to be your favorite band. Mine too.

At long last we spy a cab. You hold your arm up, and it chugs over to the curb.

"You take it," you say. "I'll wait for the next one."

I have to make up my mind about whether I'm going to play the shy card or not. Nope.

"Why don't we share?" I suggest.

You smile, and I notice that your left front tooth is just slightly crooked. I like it. You hold open the door for me, and then slide in next to me, pulling the door closed. It's very cozy in here. And your aftershave or cologne or whatever you've got going on is definitely working for me.

The cabbie, let's call him Joe, looks at us from the rear view mirror. "Where ya headed?"

"Uptown," I say.

"Downtown," you say at the same time.

Now I feel foolish for suggesting that we share a ride. I didn't even ask if you were going the same way! Darn that smile!

"Look," you say, leaning towards me, " Is there any chance you'd want to come hang out with me for a little while? I know we just met, but I would love to get to know you a little better. I'm on my way to meet some friends at this great bar. I know the guys who will be playing there tonight, and they're actually not that bad!"

Oh. I really don't do the bar scene anymore. But you are so cute! And the company would be nice. Still, I do have to get up early.

"I'm sorry. It sounds like fun, but..I have to work in the morning." I'm hoping you'll ask me for my number, because I really do like talking to you.

"Go in hungover,"you say. "I do it all the time." You smile, but it's a little less cute.

"Sorry."

"Folks?" Joe is getting impatient.

You give me a reluctant grin as you reach for the door. I can tell that you'd hoped I'd be a little more daring. I used to be. I found out it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. And I wouldn't be hungover even if I did go out with you. It seems you're a bit of a party boy, and as cute and as sweet as you are, that's not what I'm looking for.

"Guess we're not going the same way," you tell Joe as you slide out. You give me one last smile, and we go our separate ways.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

With a capital A

If you came for the giveaway it's the post below!

Tonight at church I saw my friend T who used to work with me. She got a great job elsewhere and I really don't see her much anymore. She is one of those people who always look perfectly put together, and who just seem..COMPETENT. At everything. I have honestly always felt a little awkward around her. I would always say something stupid or just feel like an idiot for some reason or another. I am sure it was just my own insecurity, but I am not like that around many people. I love to have fun and I generally enjoy making a fool of myself- as long as it's on purpose!

T was dating a man before she moved to Richmond. He works for the same company we do/did and she actually moved to get space from him and what she says was a very unhealthy relationship. He was a pastor's kid but was not living as a Christian, and T was trying to follow God. Being unequally yoked was not working out for her. Well, the space thing was working fabulously for her until her ex, R, decided to move to Richmond..and work at our store; so she'd have to see him everyday.Yippee! This was VERY stressful for her, and eventually she got a new job and so I still work with R but she doesn't have to!

R had recently decided to go back to his Christian roots and he asked if he could come to church with me a couple weeks ago. I said sure, but he ended up not coming after all.

Until tonight. He was there with T. I saw them sitting in the folding chairs from my place in the bleachers. Yep, they were together and at church! I sent a text that said "I see you!" but she didn't reach for her phone so it must have been turned off.

I was so happy that R has decided to really give God another chance. I waited for them by the door as they were coming out, and T saw me first and said something to R. She didn't look so thrilled to see me. We said a quick hello and so good to see you and then I went to the restroom and they left.

I guess T was either embarrassed or feeling guilty about being with him. As I paced back and forth in the dark trying to find my car, I read a text from T. It said "Let's keep what u saw very quiet. No one can know.. It was good to see you! I'm glad you were there tonight." Sure you were. As I was reading the message, I still was scanning for my car. I was starting to think it had been stolen. A car was trying to back out but I was in the way. It was, of course, T and R, wondering what the heck I was doing walking around behind their car. I waved idiotically and then realized that my car was on the other side of a monster truck that was parked two inches from my driver's side door.

As I climbed in the passenger side door and scaled my center console, I was feeling kind of foolish, but what can you do? I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm realizing how weird the "I see you" text was. Who does that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Giveaway






My grandmother lent me this book when I was about ten. I have always loved to read, and this non-fiction tale of a brave and sweet young girl has been my favorite ever since. It is written by Frank Deford, and it is about the short but life-changing time he had with his daughter, Alex. Alex was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant in the early seventies, and she wasn't even supposed to live past a year, but she made it eight. She was a funny and loving girl who made lasting impressions on everyone she knew. I love reading about her, and seeing her through her Daddy's eyes. This book is one that makes me cry, but it also makes me laugh. I never gave my grandma back her book (terrible, I know) and I asked for a less love-worn copy last Christmas. If you like to read stories that warm your heart, I recommend this one. Just keep the tissues nearby!

I would like to offer a copy of this book in the Christmas giveaway- Just leave me a comment about what your favorite book is and why! I will select a winner by December 12! Merry Christmas and happy reading!

Go to Lysa's site to see lots of great giveaways!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One

7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. ~Luke 15:7

One can mean "singular" or one can mean "united".

One person can touch many.

One person can tell you about Jesus and change the rest of your life.

A body of believers that is one in spirit and effort is a thing of beauty.


In Bible study tonight, four of us met together to talk about God's timing for our lives-the place, time, and events that we would be in and a part of. We talked about Moses, and how he was born into a specific time and place so that he could lead God's people out of slavery. We talked about how the Jews complained once they were free and didn't trust in God to deliver them safely, even though he had already, you know, parted the Red Sea and got them safely across. And then put it back and drowned their enemies. We talked about how like the Jews we are. God has delivered us from our various areas of bondage and shame; yet we persist in our worry and grumbling. Thankfully, God is faithful even when we aren't.

We were so blessed to hear B talking about God, and how she knows he has placed her in certain situations in order that she might know him. She is not yet a Christian, but she comes regularly and is always excited to learn. She was talking about how she is the Go-To person at her job, and how frustrating it is to get phone call after phone call asking her for help when she is not even a manager. Then she said, "Maybe God is making me the go-to person at work so that I can be HIS go-to girl" (we had also been talking about saying "yes" to God when he asks us to do something). God is definitely making some progress in her heart, and it is so obvious that he desires to give her new life and hope in Him!! Her job is right next to a Christian store and she talks to Christians every day! I love how thoroughly God is pursuing her! It reminded me that the angels do rejoice over even just one person who comes to Christ! How precious that life is to God! How he delights in her opening her heart to let him in! She may be just another girl to some of us, but to God..she is His! And so are we!

One life was spared so that many could live. Praise God!


P.S. If you would like to see the Bible Study we were looking at, you can link here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just a reminder

Acts 5:38-39
"Therefore in this present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."


This passage really speaks to me of what a powerful God we serve.

-If it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men-

So, this verse tells us that when we are living out God's will for our lives, we are unstoppable! We don't need to be afraid of how inadequate we feel, or what opposition may come. And it will come. But we will not be stopped.

What does that look like in my life?

Satan has really been working to get me down lately. I haven't been making a ton of money, which causes me to stress. I know that God says "Do not fear". We're working on that one. Also, I and a friend started a Bible study for the women we work with. I love seeing God work in our lives through the time we spend together; however, lately attendance has been down. Way down. As in one other person. We'll have a couple weeks with five or six, and then the next time half of them are busy. This past Tuesday I was excited because all the colleges had off this week, and that meant Amanda would be able to join us. She has been going through one bad situation after another since she decided to live her life for God. Serious health issues, money problems, friend problems, serious family issues: all of this has really just knocked her down and left her sitting, dazed, wondering who the heck keeps hitting her. I knew we needed time together to pray and talk and just gently love her and encourage her to keep after God no matter what. Well, that dream ended when she decided she needed money and picked up a shift at work Tuesday night. Babs also had to work; Amy and Tiffany were going out of town and I was just plain mad and discouraged. I thought this Bible study was God's idea. But what if it was just mine? What if God didn't mean for ME to lead this study? I expressed my frustration to Heather, my co-leader, as she was leaving work. We decided not to have Bible study since no one could come, but she wasn't discouraged. She said she feels that God is going to really move this study along, and that it was going to grow into something awesome. I scoffed. She said it might be a middle ground between her optimism and my pity-party. I conceded that she might be right. My aggravation comes from seeing these ladies struggling, but not seeing them seeking God, and letting him deal with their junk. I know I need to have patience. It took me forever and a day to get my act even remotely together.

I have been letting Satan tell me that I can't lead these women; they don't seem to be responding the way I thought they would, so I must be lacking the "leadership" gene. Even if am, guess what? God is the only leader worth following. He wants to draw people to himself, and he WILL NOT BE STOPPED. I know that he supports this group. I know that our purpose is to glorify his name, and that our heart's desire is to see women freed from the bondage that comes along with buying into the world's empty promises. He is behind it. I also decided that I have to be grateful no matter what. Even if my fears are realized. Even if I can't hold everything together. If God chose to take away what I have, I have to trust that he has something else for me. So I have to stop worrying. He commands me to seek him first. He promises that when I do, he will take care of the rest.

So..the next day I went in to work with a thankful heart. I had been reading out of Chip Ingram's book "GOD: as he longs for you to see him". Chip wrote about the fact that God does not exist to be our "Self-Help Genie". We have NO cause to say.."Ok, God, what's the deal? Why am I still having problems? I tithe, I pray, I read my Bible..where's the reward? Haven't I earned a few days of "trouble-free"? The answer is no. God is so good and he does help us: in so many more ways than we could ever count. I have it amazingly well just to have a job. So what if it sucks sometimes? I have full use of all of my motor functions. I can read. I have a bed. I have family. Those are freebies. When I decided to let God direct my life, I received eternal life in heaven with my God and my Jesus. So if I have eighty years of "This isn't fun", I still have everything to be thankful for.

The past couple days, God has been showing himself to me. I prayed for favor in the eyes of my superiors at work. Two minutes later my General Manager told me I had a guest compliment. I won the new Esther Bible study Leader Kit from the Lifeway All Access blog. I absolutely love Beth Moore's studies and I learn so much from them. I look at them covetously each time I'm in the Lifeway store by my house. But I can't afford one. Guess who can?

I have been asking God for more and more faith and trust. I am really trying to lean on him when things start going south in my life. He is showing me that he is so loving, and that he will keep his promises. He got me a Leader Kit! For the Bible study I was so discouraged about!! Don't mess with me...My Father is Big! And he can kick your butt! (Loose translation of -you will only find yourselves fighting against God)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oh high school how I miss thee

When I was a freshman in high school, I attended a church in Northern Virginia called Reston Bible Church. It was a fast-growing church; our pastor, Mike Minter, was a very engaging speaker, and there were tons of teens in the youth group. There was always something fun going on. Our youth group was called "The Gap" and we didn't meet in the big church because I guess we had outgrown the small room in the church basement next to all the Sunday School Classes and the nursery. The youth group rented out space in an office building about two miles away from the church building. It was also strategically located across the street from "McTaco Hut", a grouping of three awesome food chains that were bombarded each Sunday and Wednesday by a load of Jesus lovin' kids.

I went to church almost every Sunday, and tried to make it Wednesdays when I could. We lived about twenty minutes away and I wasn't driving at the time, but my parents made an effort to take me. I know my mom was praying that if I just kept going, maybe it would seep into the rest of my life. I was at that point in my life where I really wanted attention from boys, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get love and acceptance. You want to talk about screwed up in the head, that was me. I am not sure how I managed to be exposed to God's word so consistently, and not be moved to change. I can't believe that my heart was THAT hardened. I had a couple of close friends there; Julie, who is here in Richmond with me, was the one who first brought me, and Catherine moved from Washington State and her dad asked Julie to be her friend. Julie thought Catherine's older brother Jon was cute so she was game. However, those two became very close over the next couple of years. I thought Catherine was LAME. She was so Christian! She never wanted to go meet boys at the mall, and she was just such a goody-two shoes. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure she thought I was the devil.



I guess I never got too close to anyone else there, although I did stuff with them all the time. I suppose that if I let them in too close, they would have known what was going on with me, and I knew it wasn't what I was supposed to be doing. Also, many of the kids came from serious money, and I didn't. Northern VA is one of the richest parts of the nation, and while I never went without, I guess I didn't feel equal to the other kids. I was in trouble ALL the time; skipping class and talking to people I shouldn't have been talking to, and putting all of my energy into finding "love". I had girlfriends, but no one close. I was very competitive when it came to guys and let's just say that didn't earn me any love from the girls. I was a mess.

I am very saddened by the fact that God was waiting for me to throw all the garbage away, but I clung to it for SO long. Throughout my high school years, there was always someone who would take special interest in me (be prompted to help me and pray for me). One lady in particular, Cyndi, helped out in the youth group, and she was so interested in my life. She would always send me cards with "God loves you so much, Angela" and Bible verses, and she always wanted to talk to me about what was happening in my life. I avoided her as much as humanly possible. I always felt guilty, because for some reason this lady loved me and cared about me, but there was no way I was going to stop doing what I was doing. I wasn't going to become some boring Bible chick and devote myself to waiting for marriage. She was very perserverant, but I didn't know how to handle her attention. I thought she was kind of nuts, to be honest.

Cyndi went with us that year on a bike trip we took to Florida. We took a bus down to Flagler Beach, and then we all got on bikes and rode about 50-60 miles a day inland towards Disney World. It was so awesome. We had a big truck following us around with all of our luggage, and we made camp each night in a different place. We took canoe rides through water reserves (not the Everglades, but alligators included!), and rode through sand, up hills, and through breathtaking countryside. When we finally got to Disney, we had to ride in the back way, and then wave as though we were in a parade. I had so much fun. I actually took this trip twice; once freshman year and then again junior year. The first time I took a friend named Jen; unfortunately we were not friends at the end of the trip. My fault. Junior year Julie came, and though the two trips have blended in my mind some, the overall experience was one of the most fond memories I have. I remember Jen and I getting in trouble for staying out past curfew in Disney. I remember raccoons coming up to the edge of the water and staring at us as we canoed past them. I remember riding past people living in complete poverty in rural Florida, all of them sitting in front of ramshackle houses and staring at a bunch of white kids in matching shirts riding by. I remember how good it felt to be at the front of the group, pushing myself to be faster and faster. I remember how my leg muscles felt like they were on fire the first night. I remember prayer time and skits, and Space Mountain. I wish I could do it again. I actually think that they still do the trips. If I had any inclination to move back that way I might be tempted to help out in the youth group. Even for a heathen like me it was a good time and I have very fond memories of it.

Top left: Me, Kady Sue and the youth pastor's daughter
Top Right: Disney Campground
B. L.: On a boat?
B.R. : In the canoe with Mr. Varney, Brooks, and Cyndi

I stopped going to youth group and RBC all together after I was 17 or 18. By that time I was drinking and hanging out with some really shady characters. I really wish I had taken hold of God at that time, because my pain and my problems just got worse. I was engaged to an alcoholic when I was 20, and when I mercifully extracted myself from that situation, I became a big party girl and was with a man who treated me like garbage. For four years. During this time, I was at a different bar or club at least five nights a week. I did do three semesters of college, got all A's and B's as a matter of fact. But the pull of sin was so strong in my life that I didn't keep going.

I am sad that I wasted so much time...but..I'm still young! It has taken me some time to let go of my past; still not there ALL the way yet, but God is good and I was able to look up that weird lady from my youth group, and call her and tell her that God had heard her prayers for me. My life doesn't have to be a story of shame anymore. It is a story of overcoming. Not mine, but God's. He overcame my own destructiveness and has been building me up ever since. I still have times where I want to tear it all down. That's part of me. But God doesn't give up on me when I am ready to give up. He sees me through the dark times and rejoices when I am once again aglow in his light. I don't really know how this post got to this, but it's the truth of my story; my ongoing, unfolding walk with God. I am grateful for it.
My past makes it easier for me to relate and love on those who may seem unlovable to those who haven't been in the same darkness. If I hadn't been down, I may not have called out for help. Thank you, God, that you were just waiting for me to ask.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Things that make you go "Whoa!"

I listen to Beth Moore's weekly online messages from Living Proof every Monday morning. I was really hit by her message this week, which is part of a short series entitled "Developing Enormously Effective Prayer Lives". Check it out. The whole series is great teaching, this week just really opened my eyes to how much power we have when we pray using the name of Jesus. It has really affected my prayers in the last 24 hours. It changed the way I look at prayer. I am excited to see my prayer life really take off. If you have twenty minutes, you can listen to it here. It is the one dated November 17. It is totally worth it. On a side note, just watched the movie "The Ultimate Gift" in Bible Study last night. It was very cute. I also want to see "Saving Sarah Cain". I am always on the lookout for good movies that aren't going to leave me feeling like I need ear plugs or a blindfold. And they are few and far between. Any recommendations?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Post...op

Thanks for the prayers. The surgery went long and I thought one of my teeth would never come out because they had to keep cutting into it and then they would pull hard and it wouldn't budge. Over and over they kept doing this. I thought it would be nice if I could just pass out, but no such luck. I had two hours of pulling, yanking, drilling and the like. Apparently my wisdom teeth had very long roots. Lucky me.

Honestly, it went as well as could be expected. I am in a minimal amount of pain, and I am able to eat; just have to be careful.

Thursday afternoon I had a lady at one of my tables, and we got to talking after I found out she was reading "Velvet Elvis", which is a book on Christianity. I told her i was a Christian, and she shared with me that she had gotten cancer, and then found her husband cheating on her, gotten a divorce, and lost her job all around the same time. I don't know how anyone gets through that, and I can tell you that my faith would be badly shaken if even one of those things happened to me. God got her through all of it; and then delivered her from a painkiller addiction from her cancer medication. She actually knows and loves my pastor at the Roc; she said he helped her through while she was addicted. She is a very cute, very proper sixty-something year old woman: doesn't really look like she hangs out in the hood, but she comes occasionally. I would love to see her there. By the way, she was the first or only (can't remember) one to survive the type of cancer she had. It was such a blessing to be able to talk with her, and she also needed the encouragement because she had just come from a doctor's appointment where they x-rayed her chest to diagnose a 10-month long cough. She didn't have the results of the x-ray yet, but she said the doctor's face didn't look promising. Please pray for her. Her name is Pat.

I love when God puts people in our paths to just lift our spirits. I am so grateful to have a God who cares a that I'm scared or upset. Also, my mom was able to come down and take care of me for the first day and night..and she paid for my copay AND my medicine, which I didn't expect at all. It's good to be loved. I also had a drive-by ice creaming. Thanks Jewels and Bonnie! Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yikes

Getting all four of my wisdom teeth taken out. Scared. Please pray that I don't die. Ouch. Maybe I'll post something while I'm under the influence. Ha ha.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Memory Verses

Hebrews 12:11

All discipline, for the moment, seems not to be joyful but sorrowful. Yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.


I am going to be attempting to memorize a Scripture verse every week. Hebrews 12:11
was my first. It goes along with what I am trying to do: live a structured, goal- oriented life. I have been working on a "life plan". I got the idea from Lysa TerKeurst's book "Living Life on Purpose". Lysa helps us to examine how to live our lives as the Proverbs 31 woman lived; with a clear focus on God and a life lived to be purposeful and effectual; with good time-management, clear-set goals, and fruitful tasks. She takes us through each area of life: our relationship with God, as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, as the keeper of the home, as a good steward; and makes us think about how we are living in this arena versus how God says we should be living. I am really enjoying the book so far and am excited to keep reading.

Some of my goals are to enroll in a college class (just to ease back in), to create and stick by a budget, to exercise regularly, to stop wasting time on television and the computer (blog is still okay, it's just the amount of time I WASTE online). I make a schedule that includes me getting up earlier to have a longer time with God, and throwing in blocks of time for tasks I need to get done but may have been putting off. I am not doing the greatest job sticking to it so far, but it is a start and I plan to keep at it; because, hey, something done is better than nothing done, right?

One of my accomplished goals was to sponsor a Compassion child, which I did after staying posted to Melanie's(aka Big Mama) Dominican Compassion trip. Her name is Lady (I think it is pronounced "Lah-dee") and she is a twelve-year old living in Ecuador. I sent her a quick e-mail note saying I was so glad to be her friend, and I can't wait to get my first letter. What is a meal out to me can provide so much for her. Also, it is such a good opportunity to show Christ's love for her. Now she knows that there IS someone who cares about her. I didn't choose her myself, I let them match me with someone who had been waiting a long time, and I asked God to give me someone with whom I could have an awesome relationship. I didn't know which country or anything. That made it exciting. It is neat because I speak a passable amount of Spanish so that will be helpful. I will keep you all updated on her.

So the reason I started this post with a memory verse is because I have a favor/fun idea to ask you. If you have a verse that you have memorized or holds special meaning to you, will you either post it on your site or send it over here, and if you want I can do the same. I need to memorize more Scripture, and you all always have good ideas! We can even memorize verses together, if you want! It is so important to store God's word in your heart. It is the sword of the Spirit, and can cut down the negative things that fly at us in daily life. Even the one little verse I memorized has really had an impact on me this week. Seriously. God's word is POWERFUL and LIFE-GIVING. I need more of it. So help me out. Love you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Here's where I'm at

I have had a sick feeling in my stomach ever since I watched Obama steadily moving into the lead last night. Actually I had been sour all day because I am just going to put it out there: I think MANY people voted for him for the wrong reason(s). I just find it hard to come to grips with the fact that Christians would ignore God's ways and be swept up in the HOOPLA. It makes me scared. I feel as though much of our country has gone through this election with blinders on. Never mind the no experience and the shady associations. Never mind the partial birth abortions and the gay marriage.

My honest feeling right now is "God, why did you stir all of our hearts to pray so intently for this election? I wanted a miracle, God. I wanted California's electoral votes! You could have done it, God! Why?"

I am going to have to intentionally draw near to God right now and let my heart catch up later. Because he is still God, He still loves his people. He will still work together all things for good for the people who he loves and has called according to his purpose. This will be a test of faith for many of us, I think. Let's lean on God. There's nowhere else. There's no ONE else.

God, help me not to harbor unforgiveness for those who did not turn to you for wisdom in this election. Help me not to fear because you have said "No weapon formed against you will prosper". Help me to have joy instead of mourning. God, bring your people together, and further your kingdom. May my actions, reactions, and the submission of my thoughts to yours bring you glory. Because that's all that really matters. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Because it's outside.





Today was amazing. My friend Nicole came down to visit last night and this morning we got up early and drove about an hour and a half west out past Waynesboro, VA. The drive was absolutely gorgeous. Fall is my favorite season. I love all the holidays, the colors, the brisk air and the coziness of coming inside.

We hiked about two miles up to the peaks of the Humpback Rocks. I realized that I need to get a personal trainer because I almost died. Breathe really heavily, in and out like five times. Now start complaining and you get the whole experience. It was a pretty steep incline in parts. When we got to the top it was sheer rock jutting out against a bright blue sky. The temperature was in the upper sixties at that elevation, and we sat at the top of the cliffs and looked out over a breathtaking panorama of oranges, reds, yellows and greens. I have been a couple times before; once as a kid and once maybe five or six years ago, and I hope to go back far more frequently. Nature is in the house. Not.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some ramblings

Have you ever been so afraid of failing that you don't even try? I sit waiting for the "big adventure" to begin, but I basically go to work and come home Mon-Thursday with the exception of Bible study Tues. nights..and on the weekends I go to church, which is fun, but two hours don't really make a weekend.

I think part of it is that I don't have extra money for too much fun stuff..and my closest friends are married with newborns so they, while still totally wonderful, have their hands full of poop and breastmilk. And babies. We three have weekly Friday lunches, which have always been fun, but the conversation has declined by leaps and bounds as they have been pregnant, and now new moms. It's amazing, pregnancy, but also can be a little..well, I'm falling asleep just remembering the topics that have taken over our trialogue(?). I guess it's a balancing act to be friends with people who are in completely different phases of life. I mean, I wouldn't give up waitressing for the world, so I'm not feeling like a late bloomer or anything. Not at all. Not. At. All. I just am having a hard time doing fun and wonderful things with my own broke free time. And there aren't too many Christians at work..I know, great mission field..although we just hired a guy named Missy who might just be my new b.f.f.

I want my life to be effective and exciting, but I have to unSTICK myself from my humdrummedness. I did meet a guy at church, but he has a silent "t" at the end of his name and he's a little older than I thought he was. I think I may just stay single. And change my phone number.

Seriously, though, I feel the need for change, but guess what scares me? Change. So how do I push through to the abundant life that is mine to claim by the grace of God?
These here are growing pains. Have any of you gone through this? One example of an issue I am facing is that I have to sign another lease on my apartment, which I LOVE, but doing that means staying at my job for another year, and trying to make ends meet month to month. I know that I am living beyond my means but to step out into something unknown, and to go through the hassle of moving seems horrible. I also waited to long to look for another place, and if I don't resign they will put me at month to month for a higher rent, until I give them 60 day notice. I have been praying for clear direction in this area, but I have to sign or not sign soon, probably by tomorrow. So, I may need to work more hours or find ways to cut back so that I can get out of my credit card debt. I know that God won't abandon me, but I definitely want the life HE has for me, and this isn't it. I want to do more, see more, be less and let him be more. I pretty much want to be in some form of ministry, and I want a family and more friends. I know that I need to hold what I have with open hands to God, and let him take what I don't need. I know he will replace it with things far better. But you know the death grip that, well, dead people have? I may love God, but wow, if I had to give up my computer or my perfectly laid-out kitchen, I somehow have it in my head that life would completely suck. Sometimes I just need someone to shake me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Surrounded

Psalm 125:1-2

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forever more.


View Larger Map
Click on the Larger Map to see the mountains that surround Jerusalem. It is completely surrounded. I love to feel (and know) that God is surrounding me that way. I have my days where I feel a disconnect from the Lord, but the returning to dwell in his presence is so sweet and so very comforting. This peace comes only from him. I pray that through your week you will be more aware of him surrounding you..in and through all situations.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My New Friend


My friend and her baby are doing well

Except for a little jaundice and low temp and blood sugar on Baby's part. I will be going to see them this afternoon and hopefully will get some good pictures! Thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thanks for nothing, placenta!

I spent the majority of my day in Labor and Delivery at St. Mary's Hospital. My best friend Julie was induced because her placenta quit working and there is an extremely low amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. It has been hard watching my friend be so very uncomfortable and scared, but we still managed to have a good time. Her mom is down from Northern VA, and I've known them for twenty years so Bonnie is like family to me. We did a sudoku challenge: whoever completed their puzzle first got to pick the middle name (not really), and Julie's husband made a complete idiot of himself. The night nurse came in and introduced herself as Andrea (pronounced Ah-ndrea), and Chris asked if she would be there all night. She said yes. He said, "All right, All-night Ah-ndrea!" All of us, including the doula, started snickering like fifth-graders in a "my body is changing" seminar. Chris said it so innocently, just without thinking, and that's what made it extra hilarious. Ah-ndrea actually didn't laugh that much. No baby yet, hopefully the little guy will be here tomorrow morning. Hope everyone is having a good week!

UPDATE: The baby's heart rate was decelerating during contractions, so they have taken Julie off Petocin and have scheduled a C-section for four p.m. Julie was adamant that she wanted a natural birth, but it isn't looking good, so if you would please pray for her and baby Spencer and the doctors and nurses..Thank you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is a panhandler from Florida?

Tonight was Bible study. Just three of us: myself, Heather, and Tiffany. I was honestly disappointed because the other girls didn't show up; you know, the ones who need to spend time with God and learn. Sometimes God has a different idea of who needs what. We had an amazing time. I laughed harder than I have in a long time. The term "stoned buffet waitress" was used. Also, "panhandler". We have some interesting pasts, us Christians.With just the three of us there, all of whom are on just about the same level spiritually, we were able to just relax and open up, instead of being "leaders". I so look forward to the girl time we have each Tuesday, and the chance to aid someone in their pursuit of a godly relationship, but God knew that we needed to just pour out our hearts to each other tonight. I thank you, Lord. The cords of our friendship were woven a little more tightly tonight.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Honor him

Psalm 22:23
You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

Psalm 45:11
The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

Psalm 91:15
He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

An Update

Well, it's October already. My two best friends in Richmond have been pregnant ALL YEAR, and Catherine finally had her little boy on September 18. His name is Joshua, and he is very cute; no funny-shaped head or anything. Julie is due October 16; she is miserable and I brought her some Fried Macaroni and Cheese today to ease her pain. She loves it. Almost more than her husband. Almost.

I am still working at the same place, though I am not enjoying it much. The thing that keeps me there is the people that I have been fortunate enough to form relationships with. I want to be there for them, and my biggest desire is that they would let God take over and transform their lives. I am getting a little discouraged, because people that seemed interested in going to church have backed off and seem content to stay where they're at. Amanda, a girl who was in our Bible study, had surgery, and now after a few weeks of not spending any real time on her relationship with God, her cursing is back in full force. And it's not like she's slipping, cause she doesn't notice it anymore. Adam, who used to apologize if he cursed around me, now screams the f word thirty times a day and doesn't care at all if I am around or not. I just don't know why things are changing.

The feelings I had for Guy at Work are diminished again, I am reading in Breaking Free how to take steps to make our thoughts obedient to Christ..and it is a continual process..removing lies and replacing them with Truth. Like the truth that if I gave in and kissed him, that would be taking away from the intimacy I want to devote solely to my husband. I don't really even talk to him anymore; which is helping. I want to be nicer, but I have to guard my heart here. I believe that God has a man for me. I want a godly relationship. There is no acceptable alternative. God has given us guidelines for marriage, and he must be in the center of any relationship for it to work the way it is meant to. I honestly didn't know if I would ever get married; I felt like I wasted so much time on the wrong kind of relationships; but I do believe that God has that for me. Especially since Llewelyn prophesied it for me in a comment on this post. I thought that was pretty cool. However, if I don't end up getting married, it's because God has something else for me. I would rather be alone and glorifying God than married to someone who wouldn't encourage me to live for Christ.


I went to Beckley, West Virginia this weekend to a wedding reception for my friend Tiffany. She actually didn't know I was coming, because it was a small affair mostly for family and very close friends (we've only know each other a few months). I happen to know her sister-in-law because she comes into the restaurant frequently and she and I struck up a friendship when her husband was going being deployed. Her husband is back in the States, now, but was unable to attend the wedding because he was participating in "The Twelve Tribes of Israel" which was a mens' church retreat. So, Angie asked me to go in his stead. I took a couple days to think it over, and then thought it would be fun to get to know her better, it would be fun to take a road trip, and it would be awesome to see Tiffany since she recently got a real job and I don't see her everyday anymore. I had a blast; Angie's son Jake is 4 and he is hilarious and so cute, and he kept us entertained the whole time. The drive was gorgeous. The leaves are starting to turn, and we drove through the mountains..how beautiful! I had a great time.

My mom graduated Nursing School in May, and just got a job working at a Nursing Home as an RN. The place is two miles from her house, which is great. I think she'll really like it there. They have a dog and a cat that wander around the place, which I think is neat. I know she will love those old people.

Will you all please pray for my coworkers and bosses? Pray for God to speak to their hearts, and work circumstances in their lives so that they would turn to him. Pray for the enemy to be turned back and scattered, and rendered completely ineffective. Pray, please, for my boss John. He says he doesn't believe in God. A man came up to us the other day and handed us tracts printed on fake million dollar bills, and I smiled and told him I was already a Christian. John smiled at him, but when the man turned away John tore up the tract, and got really red and flustered, saying that he hated to be preached to. John's kids go to Christian school. There is something in his past that has fostered that violent reaction, I'm sure.


Well, that's all for now, folks.
Here's Joshua:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Must Watch! It's an Epidemic!



Who got paid to write this masterpiece?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Got me thinking

What we believe determines how we live ~ Rick Warren

I was watching this video when I came across the aforementioned quote. It amazes me how one line can just grab me so completely, even if it's something that I basically already knew, the way that it is stated can make it really sink in.

Am I living like I believe that God is with me AT ALL TIMES? Ummmm..

Deuteronomy 31:8

Do I pray like I believe God hears my every thought? Yes, to a degree; he has shown up in ways that were undeniable direct answer to prayer that could not come from anywhere else. However, I still have times where I feel like my prayers don't count for much.

1 Kings 9:3
Psalm 6:9

Do I tell people about Jesus' plan of salvation and restoration as if I believe their very eternity is on the line? Even if they may think I'm some kind of crazy?
Not nearly enough.
Jeremiah 21:8
Zechariah 1:3



I am not going to heaven because of the great way I have lived my life. Let's be honest here. God paid the price that was mine. I would most likely be in the same mess as everyone else if I hadn't believed that I could be forgiven, not because of who I am, but because of who he is. I have assurance that when I die, I will live a peaceful, good life walking next to my God the rest of my days. So, I could stop there. But God gave us instructions, agendas, and blessings, to reach his people. Someone was being obedient when I heard about the gospel. I want to be part of the harvest. Because I believe. So why is it that I believe for my own salvation, but don't have absolute faith in my prayer life? Why don't I believe with all my heart in all circumstances? Fear and unbelief. What if I look stupid? What if God is not happy with me and isn't listening to me? This is the enemy's strategy..to make us chicken out. But we are in a war, and soldiers don't run the other way when they are faced with danger or an uncomfortable situation. They fight back. If the enemies' method of attack is to lie and tell us that we don't have to be so pro-active to be obedient to God or to spread his word, then we must fight back. With truth. With God's word, with prayer, with steadfastness. The war is won. Even if we lose from time to time. Can we stand firm and keep on pushing through the junk that makes us fearful, and pulls us away from the victory that is already ours? It's not easy. satans a good liar. Who will I believe? My actions will speak more than my mouth ever will. I pray that my life will reflect what I believe, and that I will believe my God.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Really Don't Have a Title







I'm going for a whole new look!

Monday, September 29, 2008

God is Good

My pastor, Pastor G as we call him, was the guest speaker at a Baptist church this Sunday morning, and it was great to hear him tell people his testimony, because he has an incredible one. He was 3 when his Hells Angels biker dad left his family, and eight when his mother was murdered in front of him. He grew up without hardly any parental supervision or guidance, and he himself joined a gang, sold drugs, and was addicted to cocaine by the time he was seventeen. He was ready to end his life. He thought he was no good and that no one would ever miss him. He was wandering the streets of L.A., contemplating taking his own life, when he came across a church. He had not been taken to church ever before, but something led him to seek help within those walls. He went inside, told the greeter that he needed to talk to someone, that he was at the end of his rope, and that if they didn't have any answers for him, he was going to go home, get his gun and end it all. The greeter quit smiling and went and got the pastor. He sat down and talked with Pastor G, who was amazed to see a pastor with tattoos and jeans on. Pastor G told his story of hopelessness, and the pastor told him that he, too, came from a broken home, that he had also been in a gang, and that it was in prison where he first heard about Jesus. He found freedom in Christ while he was incarcerated, and when he got out, God told him to pastor a church in L.A. He said that Jesus had completely changed his life and gave him peace, happiness, and joy. Pastor G gave his life to Christ that day. And God wasn't finished blessing him, because the pastor pulled out a picture and showed it to Pastor G. It was a picture of him when he was a little boy. This pastor was his father. I know it sounds crazy, but it really happened like that. God reunited these two in an amazing way.

I loved seeing peoples' mouths drop to the floor when they heard that. They were also a little nervous because..my church is not your average church. We have about every kind of person you could imagine there, including a biker ministry, which was greeting at the Baptist church this Sunday. I know it is unconventional, but I love my church and feel so blessed to be a part of it. I wanted to show a video of when we were on "The 700 Club" so that you can see a little of what I am talking about. Going to a different church made me feel so grateful to be in the place that I am; not that there is anything wrong with conventional services, I just feel like my church is truly unique and I always am excited to go. Okay, link is below. Love you guys.

Angela
Richmond Outreach Center on the 700 Club

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just another man named Monday


You remember the Bangles' hit song "Manic Monday"? My friend Ashley doesn't, as I discovered when she belted out "just another man named Monday" over the actual lyrics. Have you ever discovered that the song you have been singing for years actually doesn't say what you thought it said? I sing all the time, and one of my favorites is "River of Dreams" by Billy Joel. It's just fun to sing. However, I sing the chorus and I usually am making half of it up as I go along. It's never the same song twice. What song have you done sung wrong?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Should've had a V8

Without God, I would be sunk. What is it about us that makes us chase after things that will at best disappoint us, and at worst completely devastate us? I am in such a situation now, involving a male friend that I am developing feelings for. I know no good can come of it, and I know that I have to surrender this want in my life to God, who will supply me with something(one) far better. I just am not loosing my grip on it yet. I love God, but I am fighting one heck of a rebellious streak right now. Guess who will get hurt? Me, for sure. Him, quite possibly. My testimony could take a big hit, which could affect people I otherwise might reach for Christ. I don't want to publish this. I am one hundred percent sure that I am not going to go through with anything, but my thoughts about it are sin enough. He doesn't even know I think of him that way. I think he thinks of me that way. I act weird around him, and I am not being myself at all because I am so consumed with this. I feel like I am falling in love, but I don't really know him that well, and what I do know is not promising. I stopped liking him for a while, but then, when I thought I was safe, we hung out a couple times and talked. There is just that certain attraction there that makes me think of us being a couple. I know it is not God's plan for me. I will not do it. But it is hurting me to be in this place.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This title stucks!

Our Fantasy vs. God's Vision

A couple years ago I was attending a much quieter church than the one I go to now. The worship wasn't really my speed, but the pastor was great and I really enjoyed his sermons. I took notes on one such sermon, and that piece of paper still hangs on my fridge. It lays out in black and white how our vision for our life differs from God's, and the results that stem from choosing either way.

Series: "Getting Unstuck" February 19, 2006
Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-27

1 Corinthians 1:18-27 (New International Version)



Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."[a]
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.


Notes I took:

Common element of all stuckness is "Me".( What's in it for me?)

We all have a "picture" of how we think our life should be.

Life will never fulfill our self-focused fantasy. If we don't fix our perspective on what is important, we will be in for one disappointment after another.

We begin to get "unstuck" when we have a conversion from "me" at the center to God at the center. This requires us taking our picture of how we thought our life should be and laying it down at the feet of Jesus. Asking God for his perfect and pleasing will for our lives, which does not (ouch) make us the center of attention and praise. It puts the glory where it is deserved, and gives us the freedom to live as we are supposed to: not as little emperors but as a loving family and servants of our wonderful God.

Me at the Center + + + God at the Center
disappointing +++ fulfilling
fantasy +++ vision
immature +++ mature
bondage +++ freedom


When life is getting painful( often a sense of being left or rejected), there is a cross coming. Crosses in our lives are places where we die to ourselves (sin nature). On the other side of every cross is a resurrection, and in that resurrection there is remarkable joy. We, as followers of Jesus, are called to daily face crosses in our lives. We are to die to self each and every day. It is not easy, and the flesh part screams "what about me?". I know I am warped by the worlds' way of thinking. It is a daily struggle to remember who it is really about. If I find myself upset, or have my feelings offended, more than likely it is because I am not looking at my situation in light of God's perspective. I so easily take it all on my shoulders, when in reality, God has offered to carry it for me. Everything. I just have to give it to him. Denying "self" is exactly what satan doesn't want me to do. If I walk around with the knowledge that I am taken care of, and I don't have to worry about myself, then I have time to focus on what I am supposed to be doing. Loving God. Loving people. Finding out what joy is. Learning by experience to let God have every part of my life. This is freedom. To let God be God. To get unstuck off of ourselves, and instead stick together! To love and be loved, and to let the ugly die and the beauty that is Christ take over.


Galatians 2:20
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Too Close

My coworker tried to commit suicide last Thursday. He knows God, but has recently backslid into a gay lifestyle. He was driving home drunk on Thursday night and he hit something large and stationary, maybe an unoccupied semi truck. Then he pulled into a church parking lot and called his friend, our manager J. He told J to cover his shifts, that he loved him, and he just wanted to say goodbye.He hung up. J called him back, and my coworker proceeded to tell him that he was going to take his own life.He hung up again. Thank God, my manager called the police. They were able to track his phone by the GPS, and they found him just as he collapsed, coming out of the woods by the church. He had cut open his wrists with a broken cologne bottle. He is in the hospital now, and stable (physically).

What the heck?

What causes a person to just give up like that? A Christian, at that. It has shocked me. One thought I've had, trying to reason it out, is that he is tormented by living a life that is not pleasing to God, and I think it is extra hard for homosexuals to leave their sin behind, because it comes to be what defines them as people. I had to give up immorality, but it's not so bad because sex will be permissible for me, even blessed, within the confines of a godly marriage. Not so for my friend. That's one thing that may be stressing him out. I know that there must lie deeper issues, because a rational person, no matter the situation, would probably not decide that suicide was the only way out.

My coworker is a hard worker. He is very funny, and more than a little sarcastic. He is gay, but has been living chastely until very recently. His mouth has always been bad, and he smokes. Yet he claims to love God, talks about not letting the devil or people steal his joy, and he LOVES Joyce Meyer. I don't know his heart, only God does. I'm just analyzing here, because I think God has given his children a discerning spirit to recognize fruit in fellow Christians, and lack of it. I pray that he will have a close relationship with the Lord, and find strength and peace through Him.

God isn't finished with him yet. Satan didn't win this one. What will life hold for him now? Hopefully healing and love. This is going to be very difficult to get over. So painful. I don't know if he'll come back to work. He may not. All I know is that there is a reason that he is still alive, and I trust that God has not left his side, not once, through this horrible time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Random Question: What element of creation most causes you to worship God?


The picture here is of a 21- week old baby that was being operated on in utero and reached throught the incision and grasped the doctor's finger.



A Question from Edie at Rich Gifts

I see God in everything. He made it all. I think one of the things that declares Himself to me most is the human body. All of it. The outside, the inside, the brain especially. The fact that we have the capacity to heal when injured. DNA. Sight. Smell. He gave us everything we need to experience the world around us, to analyze, to laugh, to cry, to feel. Our lungs depend on the atmosphere right here on earth.Our minds are behind music, architecture, literature, the alphabet, reading,..everything! We were made in his image! What is being ticklish all about? Pain is a blessing. It is our built-in warning system to stop doing what we are doing (i.e. touching something hot) before we cause permanent damage. Our thoughtfully placed fingernails..so useful! Digestive systems that process innumerable food types. Our ability to love. The way our bodies bend to accommodate all types of activities. The way men and women fit together to make new life. The way a baby grows inside its mom. Laughing. Taste..thanks! Hiccups. Dreaming. Sleeping. Yawning. Sneezing. Memory. Being able to make up a story. Our fingerprints..no one exactly the same. We have been given incredible gifts. I know I take it for granted and have also not taken the best care of mine. God's creativity is absolutely amazing. He really thought of everything! Is there anything you find neat about the human body that I didn't mention?
Angela

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More like an outline




Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need
Holiness, holiness is what you want from me - Sonicflood




*I am fasting for 40 days from soda, specifically for the salvation of my unsaved friends and coworkers: Amanda, Nicole, Dad, Sheryl, Dimitri, Greg, Will, Drew, Ashlee Nicole, Babs, Mike B., Mike D., Tasha, Thomas.

*From Beth Moore's Believing God:
We can tear down with our words or build up with our words. We can encourage, or we can discourage.

God may bring forth results through different means or timetables than we pictured, but His Word says power is applied when we pray or speak in His name in faith.

No sin, no matter how momentarily pleasurable, comforting, or habitual, is worth missing what God has for us.

*Bible study last night was just me, Heather and Stefanie. We had informal discussion about marriage, and about loving as an action and not a feeling. This also applied to Stef's relationship with her dad.

* As I develop relationships with people who want to know God, I am aware that I have to be very careful. I am going to get hurt. When you love people who don't have God, they can't really love you back. Not in the right way, anyway. I remember how much more selfish I used to be,and how I would make everything about me..If I wasn't benefiting in any way, it wasn't worth it. It's a switch to see things from a different angle. My desire is to give, guide, and care for people. I'm going to get hurt. I am going to have to keep a clear head about everything, about God's glory, about who I can and can't be to others.

* I am currently reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

* I have a hard time grasping God's physical presence when I can't see it. I know he hears and answers my prayers. I wake up, have quiet time, go to work , think about Him all day, and when I get home, I feel like he's gone home for the day, too. Not that I don't obey him at this time, it's just a weird realization about the way I think. God doesn't take time off from being God just because I'm having down time.

*My friend/coworker Amanda is having a probably cancerous tumor removed tomorrow. My friends Catherine and Julie are having babies soon. Catherine is scheduled for a c-section next Thursday. She was really hoping to have a natural birth, but Baby's breach. If you would pray for my friends' and babies' health, I know God will listen!

*Will read the letter I wrote him. He is not ready to turn his life over yet, but he is being convicted. He told me he threw away all his girly magazines, and doesn't plan on buying more. My coworker Greg is going to buy a study Bible. On the other hand, a bunch of the guys we work with went to a strip club last week. That sparked some interesting conversations. I see God working. There is darkness all around, but light is shining in. Please pray for the strongholds of unbelief and spiritual blindness to be torn down among these people. God loves them so much.

* I am believing God for financial stuff because it has not been a good month so far. This is where I feel like I am falling off the cliff and waiting for God to catch me. I can't wait for him to grow my faith. It's what I want the most. When I finally get it into my head that God is big enough, I will really be free from the worrying I tend to do. I actually read in Psalm 38: "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil." Worrying leads to evil? Yes. Whenever we don't trust God, we try to do things our way. And that can get us in trouble. Plus, we miss out on seeing God do what he can do.

* I hope everyone is having a great week! EE-say ou-yay ater-lay!


Angela-hay

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Opportunity

Praise be to God who can use anyone who is willing. I asked yesterday for opportunity to tell others about God. I am not pushy. I am firm about what I know to be true, and if I believe that, then it is absolutely critical that I share what I know with others. But I'm not pushy. I was one of the early-in people at work, and I ran into my coworker Thomas who immediately started telling me that he was thinking about having a relationship with God, but he didn't think he had to go to church. I told him that the relationship was the most important thing, but it would be a really great idea if he started reading his Bible daily ( I don't think he has one yet). I love to watch as people grapple with coming to know God, as he works in their hearts, and leads conversations. It is so exciting. My day was off to a good start. Then came Adam. Adam is our kitchen manager, a portly young New York Italian, who has a cocky grin and a filthy mouth. I ask people not to curse around me at work, and most try to respect that. Adam respects it to a certain extent, but if at any time he forgets I'm around, I get an earful. And its not only him. I have asked him to come to church with me; he has expressed interest, but never committed to coming. It has become sort of a joke with us that when I hear him cussing, I'll say, "So, when are you coming to church with me?" He usually will make up some excuse or another, but I never force the issue; I just want him to know he is always welcome. Well, another woman we work with heard this exact exchange take place yesterday, and she got a little upset about it. She is from Taiwan, and I have heard her say before that she prays to her ancestors. I just kind of gave her an "ohhhh" look when she told me because I didn't know what to say. We are somewhat of friends, we've gone to the movies together a few times, but we don't really talk on a personal level very often. So, I was very surprised when she asked me if just because she didn't believe in my "religion", did that make her wrong? Then she stormed off, came around on the other side of the kitchen, and told me she just thought it was inappropriate to talk about it at work. She was really upset. Adam called her a jerk in my behalf, but not in those words. I said that I thought it was inappropriate for them to use foul and sexual language all the time. Besides, I wasn't pushing anything on Adam. He knows that. I was shaken by the incident: I have lost closeness with old friends because of my choice to follow God, but I have never before been hostilely attacked like that before. I felt sick for a while after that happened, but we never resolved the issue, we just let it go. We still are on speaking terms. My friend Heather said she went through something similar with a man we work with, but they were able to talk through the initial negativity and have a really good conversation. So maybe that will happen. After work I grabbed Starbucks with another friend from work, and we had a good hour of theological (friendly) debate. He (brought up Catholic, living life secularly) was telling me how cool the book of Revelation is, how all the stuff in there is actually coming to pass; we exchanged stories of things in our lives that had to do with God, although he says his sister and grandmother are seers ( they are from Kenya). He then said that he believes in God, but that he just doesn't think that, for instance, his Muslim neighbor, who leads a very "pure" lifestyle, will go to hell just because he's not a Christian. He gave an example of a bunch of hands(religions) all pointing to the same ball (God)..it didn't really matter which hand you were looking to for direction. I told him as much as I could about works vs. faith, that Jesus did in fact claim to be the ONLY way to the Father, but he isn't convinced. We talked for quite some time, but I was slightly frustrated because I said that Christianity is the only religion that claims to be the only true religion, and he said that wasn't true..I am pretty sure I heard that before, but I guess Islam thinks the same thing.
This is where I feel I need to do the most studying. I want to know more about other religions so that I know what the exact differences are, and how to explain it. I know that Jesus is who he says he is. When I got home last night, I wrote my coworker a long letter..I actually still need to finish it. I was able to more coherently explain why the Bible is true..the fact that he himself was talking about the prophecies being fulfilled in the beginning of our conversation, the fact that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies of his coming, who I am now compared to who I was B.C... and trust me, I wrote that letter in love, and filled it with scripture, so that he can see that there is not some random God(s) floating around out there, not worried about how our lives are going. He knows us by name, and he desires that none should perish but that all should be saved. Pray for him, please. His name is Will. We saw a poster in Starbucks appealing to young (teenage) gay, lesbian, and transgendered kids to join a support group to talk about their feelings as young homosexuals. Why, my God, is it more socially acceptable to cross-dress than it is to go to church? I am not being condescending, I am just hurting for the state this country is entering. But I will be encouraged, because God is moving.


Isaiah 5:20 (New International Version)
20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
1 Peter 4:12
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
"If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"[a]
19So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

We are going to need to be able to take rejection, because the alternative is keeping quiet.
Love,
Angela

Sunday, August 31, 2008

2 Corinithians 3:4-6

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (New International Version)




4Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.


What are your thoughts on this verse?

Friday, August 29, 2008

In God we Trust

I was reading this blog by Leanne Rice, who works for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Take a look, and please visit the web site mentioned and cast your vote. Many people would be happy to see God removed from our country completely, and that, my friends, would be the scariest thing imaginable. You don't have to look too hard to see what is going on in places that don't acknowledge the One True God. Let's make time to pray for our nation and our leadership, also. I found this Prayer for the Nation at Shonda's blog, and it is pretty awesome and specific. Praying to remain one nation, under God-
Angela

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Me, from A to Z

Tagged!!
I've been tagged by Kathy of Blessed Builder.
I’m supposed to share an Alphabet story, the A to Z 's of me.

Attached or Single? Single

Best Friend? Jesus

Cake or Pie? Cake..and ice cream

Day of Choice? Sunday..it's my quiet me-time day.

Essential Item? Laptop.

Flavour of Ice cream? Mint Chocolate Chip.

Gummy Bears of Worms? Worms.

Hometown? Centreville, VA

Indulgences? Bubble baths.

January or July? July...January kind of a let down after December.

Kids? No, unless you mean baby goats, and then my answer is no.

Last Movie I saw in a Theater? Wanted. I left with my mouth hanging open because of all of the violence and cursing. I have made up my mind to really censor what I watch.

Middle Name? Catherine

Number of Siblings? 2

Oranges or Apples? Oranges.

Phobia or Fear? Fear.

Quote? a new favorite: "One out of ten Americans think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife"- Dinesh D'Sousa

Reason to Smile? Seeing God in everyday life.

Season? Autumn.

Tag five more: Edie, Jennifer, Mariel, Stephanie, and Jim.

Unknown Fact About Me? My favorite scent is "Moonlight Path" from Bath & Bodyworks.

Vegeterian or Oppressor of Animals? Meat. It's whats for dinner.

Worst Habit? Correcting people when they use the wrong word...and laughing at them.

Xrays or Ultrasounds? Oh, don't make me choose...

Your favourite Food? Anything spicy..

Zodiac? Aries.

So there you have it, a snapshot of me, written quickly, A to Z.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Passion: No, really.

After tonight's Bible study, I think I can say that one of my biggest passions is being able to understand and accurately convey God's message to others. We had our second meeting tonight, and Babs came. She is a girl we work with, who has a very limited knowledge of who Christ is; she said she wasn't brought up going to church or hearing about God. She didn't know what to do when we prayed before our discussion time. It is easy to take for granted that everyone in America has SOME background knowledge of God, but that is not the case. After our discussion time (about temptations) I felt it was important that Babs know what the whole back story on who Jesus is, and why we choose to live our lives the way the Bible tells us to. So, it was left to me to tell her about God's plan of redemption for mankind. I felt inadequate, and like maybe I didn't explain it as thoroughly or as structured as I could have, but I did my best. I know that kind of thing takes practice, but I kind of felt like she would think I was crazy to believe a story like that. I explained that if we look at our lives as miracles in themselves, then it's not as hard to accept a miracle maker (though not in those words). Hopefully I didn't leave anything out, and I know that God can speak through any willing mouth, so if anyone wants to back up that message to Babs in prayer I would certainly appreciate it. Pray that God would construct my words in a way that makes sense and touches her heart, and that she would come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Also, more and more opportunities present themselves at my job; two non-Christians have a wager going over a game of spades: loser has to go to church with me! Um..mysterious ways, anyone? Greg, who is gay, is coming to me with his spiritual questions. God is being talked about. A lot. It is pretty darn exciting. My passion is to help these people in their journey to know God by answering their questions, and saying just the right thing that will open their eyes..I know that prayer is going to be the main propellant in that area..He is the one that removes the veil, I just want to help him tear it down!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's Your Passion?

My passion is..I'll let you know when I don't have writers' block anymore. I have written and erased several times the answers I've come up with because I don't feel my heart in this post right at this moment. So, I'll just tell you that I went to the park today with a blanket, my mp3 player, a bottle of sparkling Strawberry-Kiwi water, and Beth Moore's Believing God, which I just started today. I picked a spot in the middle of an empty field that is encircled with a drive that loops around the grass and past the small lake with a large fountain in the middle. There was a man sitting in his car while his small child played with his scooter nearby in the gravel overflow parking lot. I was parked there also, and thought it was strange that he was sitting in his car. About five minutes after I was situated and reading, the man was out of his car and running around with the child about ten? feet from me, which was not necessary because it's a BIG field, and I was the only one out there. I was listening to music as I read, but I heard him say "Looks like you're having fun", he said it again before I realized he was talking to me. I looked up from my book and smiled and said "just reading" as in..leave me alone, please! He mumbled something like "ain't nothin wrong with that", but I chose to ignore him. Frankly, he was weirding me out. So I closed my eyes, turned up my music, and said a little prayer for God to send me protection, just in case. I didnt look up for a few minutes after that, but it was quiet and when I did look up, the man and the child were gone..as in they had gotten in their car and drove away. I turned a little further and I was very surprised to see a car parked in the field beside a pair of trees..a county police cruiser! It hadn't been there before.
I will answer the question "what's your passion" from Edie as soon as my brain starts working again..it's hard to narrow it down!