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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reflections of the past year

With 2010 right around the corner, I was thinking about the ways God has worked in my life from where I was last year to now. It's amazing where I find myself right now. To think that God had a plan for me in March of 09 other than my own plans, and I can assure you that they are much better than I could've ever expected or hoped for.

In January '09, I was excited to be going to the University of my dreams. I had everything planned out- work study, the volunteer opportunities I'd choose, dorms, sightseeing the city with a friend who lived there etc. The list could go on! I was thrilled, but there was a small problem- the money. The huge loan that would loom over my parents' heads and mine; the loan that could not be paid for with meager scholarship money I'd earned. Still my dad agreed that my happiness was the only option. He wanted me to go to a Christian University, and in my house, dad's word is law, and he never takes his word back once he says something. As the month passed, something unexpected happened. My dad had a change of heart. He'd been praying about my attendance at the University, and decided that the debt was too much; it would be very wrong to be in such debt that could easily be avoided. I was surprised! My dad had been so set on me going off and away, that I never expected this reaction. I could only assume that it came from the Lord in answer to my mother's prayers. See, my mother had not been pleased with the amount the University would cost, so naturally she prayed that the Lord would open my dad's eyes to see that having such a huge debt was wrong. Once my parents broke the news to me and told me that I would not be going, I was devastated! I cried so much over such a small thing, but I had my hopes set on going to the University. At that moment, I was at a low point in life. I couldn't see the plan God had for me. I couldn't see anything in the future that could be better than going to the University of my choice. After a couple of weeks, the Lord gave me peace about the decision. I felt better, still sad, but I knew the Lord had something better for me, although at the time I couldn't imagine anything better. Instead of the University, we choose College Plus. It was a wonderful decision, but I still couldn't see the goodness of the Lord in College Plus over my University. Then in May, I decided to apply for a job after praying for a while about one. The first and only job I applied for was at a Christian bookstore. Two days after I applied, I received a phone call for an interview! I was thrilled, and decided to continue praying about the Lord's direction in my life. I ended up getting the job, and I started in June '09. After about six months of working there, I suddenly realized the change of plans the Lord had for me were better than mine. I've met some really wonderful people there, friends that I would never have had the opportunity to meet if I had gone away to a University. I enjoy every single one of them that I've met and befriended, and I can happily say I don't regret not going to the University. I must say that if I were given the option now of attending the University for free, I'd keep the bookstore I work at and all the wonderful people I've met over the University. I'm so glad the Lord intervened, for I wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Being Content Under Pressure

In my last post, I mentioned the state of contentedness as an unexplored realm by most especially in today's culture. Being content is important in order to appreciate God's gift of singleness. It's also important to fuel ourselves into a state of contentedness by not falling into the world's beliefs concerning our state of singleness. Today's culture says that if you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend by the time you're eighteen, something is wrong. If you're not married at a young age, something is wrong. The list goes on and on, I know. I've experienced the bombardment of culture. It happens often- always being asked if I've met that someone yet, when adults or friends try to be the ultimate matchmaker, people hinting that at my age they already had someone, etc. . . . It can be amusing or it can be hurtful. It's as if the only way others perceive that I can be happy is if I find the right one. The pull of the worldview that I should almost be married and the pull of God telling me to enjoy my singleness is tough to handle. Because of this pull, I couldn't decide what I really wanted in life- to be married at a young age or to wait and get married at an older age such as late twenties. I was pretty torn. I leaned towards being married at twenty-one. I know, pretty unrealistic, but that's the way I felt. I felt that if I absolutely had to get married at that age or I'd be considered an old maid. I felt life just wouldn't be fun if I couldn't be married soon. Little by little though, the Lord showed me the benefits of singleness, and how to be content in my estate. Marriage is a wonderful institution; it lasts until either of the partners dies. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, so is being a parent. Once you're a parent, you're a parent forever. Once married, life changes; suddenly life becomes intertwined with the duties of maintaining a marriage, a husband or wife, and eventually children. There isn't much time anymore for the friends that were you were once so close to before. You can't do a lot of things you did when you were younger due to new responsibilities. Looking at marriage in that light, I realized that singleness doesn't last until the end. The times spent with friends and your own original family don't last until the end either. Singleness is a transient state that should be enjoyed and cherished. As I considered these things, I realized what I really wanted. I want to get married some day and have a family, but not anytime in the near future. Those wonderful responsibilities can wait. There's nothing wrong with being married at twenty-five or any age older than that; it just means God gave you more time to spend with Him. I want to enjoy the time God has given me right now, to be devoted to Him alone, and be the best friend and daughter I can be. The state of singleness will be gone all too quickly, and I will just have to look back with sad memories that I wasted my life pining away because I had no one. I want to look back with fond memories of a time where singleness was a wonderful stage in my life. Singleness is a state to be enjoyed, and I want others to know that I'm content if the Lord waits to send me my mate or if He sends him some time soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Starting a Prayer Group

I recently finished reading a book, written by Candice Watters, called Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. A friend lent it to me, in the hopes that it could help me as I was going through a difficult trial at the time. I finished it, and although I didn't agree with most of it, I came away with some powerful insights that I wanted to share with y'all.

I specifically wanted to speak to the singles out there that have felt like I have. All single people have gone or are going through that time in life when we experience the feelings of utter despair and loneliness, because we haven't met the right person yet. Most of us have gone or will go through this experience alone. I want to break that trend. There's no need to feel embarrassed because we want that right person to come into our lives. Those feelings are natural and come from God. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should have the freedom to cast our cares upon each other in order to be encouraged and to encourage. With that thought, I'd like to encourage all the singles (married couples are very welcome to pray for us as well) to pray for one another, so that God would not only send our mates, but that He would prepare our hearts for marriage and give us an attitude of contentment during our state of singleness. Candice Watters started a prayer group just like the one I'm forming, and she had thirty young ladies sign-up for the prayer list. One year later, half of those ladies were either engaged, married, or in a serious relationship. The power of prayer is phenomenal! The prayer list is open, and I will actually post a group of names on this blog as people sign up. If you would like to sign up for the list and to be on the list, you may e-mail me or post a comment on this blog to be signed up.


I wanted to start this up, because I feel a lot us are going through the exact same stage of loneliness, but we're too afraid or embarrassed to speak about it. I'll have to admit that I was one of those people. I've had my fair share of sadness over the fact that I have no special person in my life. Sometimes I'd be downright depressed out of frustration as I saw others find their special mate. Those times were hard, especially when I had no one to turn to. It would've been nice if I wouldn't have been so embarrassed to divulge to one of my friends about my feelings, but I just couldn't tell them how I felt. The only thing I knew to do was pray. I kept praying to God during my time of singleness that I wouldn't be consumed with my estate, but that I would be consumed with Him, in seeking Him throughout this time. I would repeat to myself over and over "God is all I need. He is the only one who can satisfy me. I will love Him more than anything, and I will be content to be His alone for now as He sees fit." That was my consolation. It was so hard, because those words meant nothing to me. I didn't feel that God was all I needed, and I certainly didn't feel He could satisfy my loneliness of being single, yet I said those words in the hopes that God would hear my cry to be saved from despair. I didn't want to say in the end that I had wasted my single years being lonely, and I certainly didn't want to look back and say, "I wish I would've been satisfied in God and not have wasted my time wallowing in pity." As I continued to lift up those prayers to God, I eventually found the sweet peace that can only come from Him. I suddenly realized that He was all I needed. He was the one I loved better than anything. He did and still does satisfy. The bliss I felt after God took away all those unwanted emotions was incredible! I can now, with all honesty, say that I am content in Him. I have come to know the peace that only He can give. I am glad to wait on His timing, trusting that He will bring that right person in His time. Right now, my duty is to grow close to Him, and to prepare myself for marriage. As I endeavor on this wonderful path of singleness, I'd like all my other brothers and sisters in Christ to join me in praying for one another.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Breaking our ties from this world

I am currently reading another book, "Beloved Bride- The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife." Although the title may seem as if it has romantic connotations, I have found that in reading the letters, their conversation is always God-centered. One of the letters that struck me as very insightful, powerful, and discerning. Mrs. Jackson was writing to her husband concerning the sad tidings that had befallen her sister and her brother-in-law.  Mrs. Jackson was quite frank about her feelings and wrote

            I was not surprised that little MC was taken away, as I have long regarded his father's attachment
            to him as too strong; that is, so strong that he would be unwilling to give him up, though God should
            call for his own. I do not believe that an attachment ever is, or can be, absolutely too strong for any             object of our affections; but our love to God may not be strong enough. We may not love Him               so intensely as  to have no will but His. . . .

 Her letter on this subject made me really think. Could she be right? Perhaps her nephew was taken away, because God saw that an attachment was so great as to hinder Him from getting the glory. To think that someone would have an attachment to something so great on earth that they would even try to stop God from severing those ties! I thought about the one attachment that I have had for quite sometime, in which I had already made up my mind that I would act upon my will even if it were to go against God's will. For shame! How could I even do that!? Well, I had, just as Mrs.Jackson's brother-in-law had done. Not only did my actions show a lack of love for God, but an unwillingness to realize that God's will is always best no matter what. I know His will is best, but my stubborn-headed ways believe that my will will be even better.

What was my attachment? My attachment was my dream of going to grad school. I had already made up my mind that I was going to do it even if God said no, because I just couldn't bear to give up something I had been dreaming about for quite some time. When I read that letter though, I realized that in order to break our hard hearts and to mold us into His image, we have to be reproved for our own good and removed of our stubborn hearts. God loves us so much that He doesn't want us to go astray, so He reproves us so that we will go back to Him. How great a Father's love that He would seek us out when in sin! Did I really want the consequences of sin over God's will, which I undoubtedly know would be even better than going to grad school? I had come to realize that God's will had always been greater than my plans, when my plans were overruled. If that was the case, then I realized I'd rather be obedient to God rather than suffer heartache like Mrs.Jackson's sister and brother-in-law. That's when I decided that no, I wouldn't go to grad school, as I had felt God telling me no for quite a while, yet I still prayed about it, go figure. I realized that praying for God to change His mind wasn't appropriate either. God had said no for the time being; I needed to accept it, and when I felt I could pray about it again, then I would ask to see if God had changed His mind. As of now I have no plans to go to grad school, due to God's calling in my life which doesn't involve grad school at this moment. If He decides that it will be included in my life later on, then hooray for me; if not, I will bear it, knowing that He sees what's best for me. Do you have any ties you need to sever as well?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman Series- Part 2

I decided to actually try and gear this topic for everyone, rather than a specific gender. I wanted to talk about this verse today-

"She rises also while it is yet night, and gives food to her household and work to her maids." Proverbs 31:15.

Although all of Proverbs 31 is directed towards the way a woman should be, I do believe some of these qualities are also applicable to both genders. In this case, the idea of rising up early. Obviously, this woman knows that work is to be done, and so she gets up early to hurry up and tend to things that need to be done rather then procrastinating. I never realized the significance of waking up early until I had bouts of insomnia for a while and would wake up at about 3 or 4 in the morning and decide to spend time on my devotions. Do you realize how much time extra is available when you get up early? I not only had as much quality time as I wanted to spend on my devotions, but I had plenty of time to clean and some more by the time 7 rolled around. I noticed that my devotional life is much better when I wake up early, because I'm not rushed with the worries of the day, nor do I have only a certain amount of time to spend on devotions. My time in the early hours of the morning is unlimited for God. It's important to make good use of our time as the Bible says because the days are evil. After noticing that the Proverbs 31 woman woke up early, I decided it would be wise to force myself to wake up early. Obviously lots can be done in the wee hours of the morning.

Not only does the wise woman get up early, but she also starts off the day figuring out what needs to be done. She has a task of things that need to be done on that day. I am not good at sticking to a schedule or organizing. I'm terrible at it. I've come to realize the importance though of planning ahead of time. When I organize my schedule and plan things ahead of time, I can actually get more things done throughout the day. Sticking to a schedule hour by hour is also an excellent way to be productive throughout the whole day. I'm very lazy, so having a schedule and planning things before hand is a must for me. I've decided I'll take it upon myself to set some short-term goals and plan things before hand, in order to make the most out of time.

It's important to use our time wisely and carefully, always for productiveness, otherwise laziness (evil) will get the better of us!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman Series- Part 1

In answer to Leah's comment, I decided to talk about one of the books that I have been reading recently along with my devotions in the morning. I've been reading Beautiful in God's Eyes by Elizabeth George. It's a book on the Proverbs 31 woman. I'm not in agreement with all that Elizabeth George says, but I appreciate the fact that she takes the time to go word by word in each verse and explain it as thoroughly as possible. For the most part, it's a wonderful book.

I specifically chose this book to read in order to develop the character traits of a Godly woman so that when I have a family of my own I will be able to be a great mother and wife, but not only to prepare my heart for the future, but even now as a daughter and friend to others.

One of the verses that interested me was Proverbs 31:11 "He will have no lack of gain." This verse is describing the wife who contributes to her husband's success. I never really realized that being frugal and wise with money was important at all. In fact, I thought that as long as you had money or were wealthy, it would be okay to indulge and purchase the most expensive item on the menu or buy something you knew you probably wouldn't need. From the context of the verse, it appears that the wise woman thinks carefully about her purchases before she spends money. If she were a woman of today she would probably clip coupons in order to save money for the family, be an energy conservationist, and probably look up reviews upon big purchases so she can find the best rated item for a good deal. To me that is hard work! Clipping coupons can take hours just to cut out and sort. I know that whenever I want an expensive item, looking it up on Consumer Reports is kind of a hassle, finding the cheapest price is also a hassle. I always figured that it was all a waste of time just for a few dollars, but not according to this verse. I've now realized the importance of a woman helping her husband out with expenses in every way possible. Even now, I have the ability to help out my dad by saving money doing those things mentioned above. It may take up lots of time, but it's well worth it in the end.

I will post a new verse that I found interesting in Proverbs 31 every few days or so and share my insights on it, since I have so much more to say from what I've learned in Elizabeth George's book!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blog is open for discussion- your choice of topic

I couldn't think of anything to write about, so feel free to comment and make a suggestion about what you'd like to talk about!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Discipline

This past week has been a trying time of discipline. Last week I made a hasty decision concerning sweets. I decided I wouldn't eat any for two weeks. As it is, I can't go a day without eating something sweet, so that seemed like a rather foolish idea. Yet I went even further to go on an all veggie/fruit diet for three days. Yes, I know, very foolish. Yet I felt that I needed to gain some discipline in my life if I was going to abide by the rule of honoring God through my body because it is His temple. If it's His, then obviously I should take care of it and eat right.

Well, the first day started out great, that is, until I reached work. I got out of my vehicle and suddenly realized that the okra and rotel that I'd packed for my veggie/fruit diet had spilled all over my bag and in my vehicle. So much for that! So I decided I'd just leave it in the car, since I had no time to clean up the mess. When it was finally time for lunch, I couldn't go out to the parking lot to eat what was left of my lunch due to the pouring rain which never let up. It was so disappointing since I had to break the veggie/fruit diet, get something from the snack machine (pb crackers and a granola bar). Talk about satan throwing obstacles!!! As if that weren't enough, the next day was pretty bad as well. I was asked by my friend if I wanted a Frosty. I had a lapse of thought and almost told her yes, until I remembered the vow I had made. The next two days were better, but they were hard, since I was dying for some carbs.

I did complete the 3 day veggie/fruit diet (one of the most horibble times in my life) and decided to incorporate more greens into my diet, since it's so important to be healthy. Once I got over the veggie/fruit diet I figured that my life would be so much easier. . . not so much. Prunes and vanilla yogurt raisins can only satisfy a sweet tooth temporarily. I found so many obstacles thrown in my way!!! First, I had promised a co-worker that I'd bring donuts to work before I had made my vow. So I had to bring donuts for everyone except me. That was tough stuff. The next obstacle that hit was breakroom desserts. From time to time, someone will bring in a special treat; I can't tell you how hard it was to refrain from it! Then the snack machine, oh, I love that machine!!! The donuts and hostess cupcakes were too much for me to resist so I almost gave up today just to have them. When I realized I was giving in, I popped some vanilla yogurt raisins into my mouth to satisfy the craving. Fortunately I have not given in yet, and it's been a week. I'm very grateful to God for giving me the strength to resist temptation in order to be healthier.

Although it may seem like a silly thing to have said or done, I'm happy about my choice. When we start off disciplining our selves in the little things, we eventually have the strength to practice self-control in the big things. So I will leave with this note which sums up my main point -

James 1:2-4 - Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter vraious trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may  be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.