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


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


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.