Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Brothers


I feel the need to give my "brothers" a shout out.  What I mean when I say "brothers" are some awesome guy friends that I have been blessed with.  These guys have been great to get to know over the past few years and I just feel so lucky to be able to call them friends!!

Now ladies....we all know that not many things can top a girl's night...I'm not trying to argue that!  But there is just something also very special about hanging out with some of your guy friends as well.

Tonight I went out to a little social gathering, party, what have you with a big group of friends from my church.  We had an awesome time playing games and just laughing with each other!
On our drive home, I was actually "stuck" with 4 of my guy friends.  By the time the ride was over, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.  It's so cool to feel as though I can just be myself around these guys.  

Why do I feel that way?

Because I know they respect me, and in turn I respect them.  I know that they would be there for me if I needed them to.  I also know that they care about me as their sister.  Those things mean a lot to me.  It makes me feel safe, cared for, and valued.  

I understand that there are boundaries that need to be put in place in any guy/girl friendship, and I enjoy those healthy relationships.  I see Jesus in the guys I hang out with.

So brothers, whether you be my "little brothers" or my "older brothers"...just know...you are AWESOME!

My little friend Ashee









2 year olds love Photobooth :) (not to say I didn't have my fair share of fun!)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dream Big

 I have had some far-out big dreams for my life since I became a Christian.

Why?

Because for the first time I felt as though I could dream big.  Because I came to understand that if I was doing something for God, he could give me whatever I needed to get there.

Some of them include...
-working at an orphanage in Morocco
-dropping everything to do missionary work wherever God calls me
-working in Children's Ministry
-working in Youth Ministry
-working in Adult Ministry
-teaching elementary school
-joining the Peace Corps

Some of them can be eliminated from the list because of having experiences in that area and just realizing it wasn't for me...and others I think I have mentally erased because I felt like I was dreaming too big....

Am I?!?

It's so easy to get comfortable where you are in life.  Being a college student, I go to class, do my homework, hang out with friends, lead a small group, go to cru, etc etc.  and all the while I am realizing that it has been MONTHS since I have REALLY challenged myself.

Being a senior in college is exciting/difficult/nerve wracking.  I am excited to move onto the next chapter of my life buuuuut....what if you don't know what's going to be in that chapter?  Like not even the TITLE of the chapter?  It freaks me out.

All I know is, I need to begin to challenge myself again.  I need to feel uncomfortable.  I need to start taking leaps of faith.  

Why?

Because God can do great things through me.  He can do great things through you.  Heck, look at what he did with Paul.  This guy was a murder/persecutor of Christians.  He had complete hatred for them.  Then God turns his life upside down and he finds himself preaching to these people, encouraging their faith, and bringing people to Jesus.  Or my man Moses.  Moses apparently did not have any skills in the public speaking arena.  He was a simple guy, with a simple job, and a simple life.  Then all of a sudden God asks him to lead this huge group of people out of captivity and to PART THE RED SEA.  I bet he never imagined that God would use him to such a great capacity.   

What do they both have in common?  They both stepped out in faith AND they both must have been scared to do so.

The way God got Paul's attention was to make him temporarily BLIND.  Scary.  Also, God called Paul to speak to both Jews and Gentiles.   Hmm that's a bit scary considering the fact that the guy had just converted from Judaism to Christianity annnnd he had been killing the Gentiles.  I'm sure he thought that maybe both of these groups were a LITTLE annoyed with him.

And as I said about Moses.  He was a simple guy.  It says when he was having a conversation with God that he kept trying to tell God that he was not a very eloquent speaker, so imagine his surprise when God asks him to speak to the PHARAOH among other important people.

You never know what God is going to ask you to do.  

I think I stopped listening.  I stopped listening because usually when God asks me to do something, it involves that step of faith.  It involves me trusting that he isn't going to make me look stupid or that my efforts will not amount to anything.  

So I've posted a few verses on my wall.  One of them being....

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

What is your BIG dream?  What are you passionate about?  Don't let fear get in the way of pursuing it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008



I am reading a book, "Who Calls Me Beautiful?  Finding Our True Image in the Mirror of God" and I had to share this part with you...

Finally, we must hear what God has to say about us.

Before the beginning of time, I knew you.  I knew what color your eyes would be, and I could hear the sound of your laughter.  Like a proud father who carries a picture of his daughter, I carried the image of you in My eyes, for you were created in My image. Before the beginning of time, I chose you.  I spoke your name into the heavens, and I smiled as its melody resounded off the walls of My heart.
You are Mine.  My love for you extends farther than the stars in the sky and deeper than any ocean.  You are My pearl of great price, the one for whom I gave everything.  I cradle you in the palm of My hand.  I love you even in the face of your failure.  Nothing you say or do can cause Me to stop loving you.  I am relentless in My pursuit of you.  Run from Me--I will love you.  Spurn Me--I will love you.  Reject yourself--I will love you.  You see, My love for you was slain before the foundations of the world and I have never regretted the sacrifice I made for you at Calvary.
When I see every part of who you are, I marvel at the work of My hands, for I whispered words of longing and desire and you came into existence.  You are beautiful, and I take pleasure in you--heart, mind, and body.  You are My desire.  When you turn your head in shame and despise at what I have made, still I reach for you with gentle passion.  You are My beloved and I am yours. 
(Author's adaptation from 1 John 3:2; Isaiah 43:1; Matthew 13:46; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8; Psalm 194:4; Song of Solomon 7:10; 6:3)

Worship


I had an awesome time at Providence (a church in West Chester) tonight. I had never been, and didn't know what to expect, but when I got there the place was packed! We started with worship, an awesome sermon, and then finished it up with worship. One of my favorite things to do is be in a room where people are singing to God and to just be still and quiet and listen to it all. Hearing other people lift their voices as a way to show love to God is such a beautiful thing to me.

They played one of my faaaaavorite hymns "Come Thou Fount." I am normally not a hymn girl (except for a few), but this song is just so beautiful and powerful to me! Here is my favorite part of the song...

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God

He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.

You can listen to David Crowder Band sing it on this video on youtube


...are any of those words true for you?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Important Question: Answered








Coming back from grabbing a delicious dinner from "South Side" (south campus cafe) I noticed two things:
1. It was extremely cold
2. My nose was running (gross, I know)

So then I got to thinking....why is it that when it's cold outside does your nose seem to run excessively?

Well, for those of you out there dying to know the answer, I was able to find it on kidshealth.org (I figured I would get a pretty simple and straightforward answer on a website for kids)

Here's what they said...

Baby, it's cold outside- When you're outside on a cold day, your nose tries its best to warm up the cold air you breathe before sending it to the lungs.  Tiny blood vessels inside your nostrils open wider (dilate), helping to warm up that air.  But that extra blood flow leads to more mucus production.  You know what happens next. Drip, drip, drip.

I hope that you can now sleep well, knowing you have the answer to one of life's more important questions. :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Seriously God, Where Are You?


Although I may be an introvert, I love hanging out with people.  Yes, I do need my alone time or the 'tude starts to come out, but for the most part being with friends and family is something that lifts me up.

Let's bring God into this.  Yes, from my blog it's pretty clear that I am a Christian and believe in God.  Great.  Wonderful.  Along with that comes many perks...one being that I get to spend my afterlife (eternity-ish) being joyful beyond my wildest dreams.

So when I get to heaven I'll get to meet God.  Hang out with him.  

But what about now?  Yes everyone tells me I need to...
"Talk to Him"
"Tell Him everything"
"Spend time with Him"

And this can happen by doing the following...
praying
reading the Bible
singing worship songs
serving other people
etc.

I get it.  I understand what I need to do to hang out with God.  But you can't tell me that it is not REALLY difficult to chill with someone you can't see, can't audibly hear (unless you are Moses), or can't even hug.  

It's got to be possible to "hang out" with God.  Two years ago, closer to when I first became a Christian, I had no problem with this.  I could literally spend an hour or two reading and praying and felt as though I had really spent time with God, that He was completely present.

Maybe it's that whole feelings piece.  No I can't feel God, but that doesn't mean He isn't there.  He's always there.  He's everywhere.  I do believe that, but when I am hurting or need comfort and I know it can only come from God...it would be great just to get a hug from Him.  

I'd like to bring this blog to a close with a nice "lesson learned" paragraph or a scripture that made it all better for me...but I can't.  I really do not have an answer to my struggle.  I am trusting that if I continue to bring this issue to God, he will eventually help me to understand.  I am thankful for the fact that God wants me to be open and honest about stuff like this.  

All I know is...once I start to resolve this issue with God, there is always going to be another question or doubt that I am struggling with...and that's okay.  I think it's even okay that I may be a bit angry with Him because I just want Him to be PHYSICALLY present.  

I am glad that God is real and wants me to be genuine with Him in our relationship.  

Hmmm....that makes me want to give Him a high five.  Darn it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

C'mon Get Happy


Like any other normal human being, I experience many highs and lows when it comes to emotions. A lot of the time, these high and lows are based on external situations such hitting a deer with my car while driving on 422 (causing anger and annoyance) or being able to spend time with family and friends (causing happiness!). I sometimes forget that there is much more to life than trying to set up or control my external world to make sure that situations foster positive emotions. I try to control my life so much, making sure that nothing negative happens, that I get really frustrated when things don't go my way.


This morning I read an article on the Boundless website...http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0000980.cfm


It talks about how happiness can't be related to external events because no matter how hard you try, bad things are going to happen. And most of the time they are completely out of your control.


What are we to do then? If we can be 100% sure that at least one bad thing will happen to us during our lifetime, what is it that will keep us joyful during those situations? What if our dreams of being successful in a certain area aren't accomplished? What if we lose someone we love or what if we ourselves become sick? What if we never find that person to spend the rest of our lives with? If we continue to try to base our happiness on external situations, what happens when those situations arise that are out of our control?


Being a Christian, I am supposed to find my joy in a completely different place. My joy is supposed to be found in something that will never be affected by external situations. My joy should be eternal because of the fact that I am loved by God.


Easier said than done.


It's hard because I find myself focusing on the things I DON'T have instead of the one thing I DO have and will ALWAYS have and that is my relationship with God and his promises to me, like...
1. I will spend eternity with Him in Heaven
2. He will never ever give me more than I can handle
3. I can become more and more like Him each day (a.k.a - experiencing peace despite difficult situations)


I think that the ultimate goal here is to focus on what I do have instead of what I don't have. To be grateful for every breath I take. To realize that because I chose to believe in what Jesus did for humanity that I am now both privileged and responsible to be used by God to affect eternity in other people's lives.


Yep, big sentence there. CHOSEN by GOD to affect ETERNITY .

Last night I spent some time with God and was able to remember how much I let what I see and hear in this world affect me. Because God isn't someone I can physically see or be with it's sometimes hard to keep my focus on Him. When I lose that focus I let things like hitting that flippin' deer on 422 or being let down by someone I care about, make me depressed and extremely anxious.

God is so much bigger than I can imagine....but having regular reminders of the fact that I am being cared for and watched over by the creator of the world helps me to put the things that get me down, or even devastate me, in perspective.


Side note: I realize I referred to the victim of my minor accident as a "flippin' deer"...possibly causing some of you to think that I do not feel remorse for impailing (maybe even killing...yikes) the poor thing. While I do feel some anger toward the deer for messing up my car, I do feel bad for the little guy/girl (didn't really get a good look at it). Just wanted to make this fact known. ;)


Some Rest...


Do you need some rest?  A sigh of relief?  Do you feel as though you are constantly trying to live up to extravagant expectations?

Yes, it is wonderful to have goals.  God wants us to grow and aspire to be more like Him.  

BUT...

When is it too much?

Read this excerpt from Captivating by Jon and Stasi Eldridge:

The wounds we received as young girls did not come alone.  They brought messages with them, messages that struck at the core of our hearts...
Debbie's father had an affair.  What made it confusing was that in many ways, he was a good man.  The message that settled in her heart as a teenage girl was, You'd better do more than she did or you won't keep your man.  After this came a young man who pursued Debbie, and then left for no apparent reason.  We've known this beautiful young woman for several years now, and one thing has puzzled us-- why is she always working on her life?  Why is she always trying to "improve" herself?  Debbie is always looking for something to work on.  Prayer, exercise, financial responsibility, a new hair color, more discipline.  Why is she trying so hard?  Doesn't she know how amazing she is?  What makes her search so frustrating is that she doesn't know what is wrong with her.  She simply fears that somehow she is not enough.

Sound familiar?

Take a deep breath, relax, and take a few minutes (or hours if you want to! this is important stuff) to soak in the facts.....

1. God loves you more than anything in this world, yes you.  He sacrificed the most precious thing He had just for you
2. He loves you right now, AS IS, exactly the way you are
3. You were made in the image of Him, you are unique and beautiful and deserving of love

...and...

You Are Enough.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lovin' Like Jesus


Last night I was getting ready for my hometeam/small group, reading through the study material and I was just NOT into it.  I did not feel excited about what I was going to share with the girls in my group.  This had never really happened to me before as a leader of a small group.  Normally, I am excited or at least determined to share the lesson that is planned.  

I read through about half of the lesson, threw it aside and barged into my roommate's room (she co-leads with me) threw my Bible on her bed and said "I CAN'T DO THIS LESSON!"  Now the difference between my roommate and I is that she is very regimented and organized and I...am not.  I think at first she was just sort of guessing that I was having a hard time sitting down and focusing so I had to explain to her that I really felt a push to do something else for the lesson (which was to happen in about 2 hours).  

We sat and brainstormed for awhile.  I kept sharing that I wanted to leave our apartment and go do something fun that would cause our group to get to know each other a lot better.  So I called my pastor and asked him if he thought it was okay to be spontaneous and forget the lesson and get everyone out to do something different. 

His words..."Yes, if that's how you feel then you need to get everyone the heck out of your apartment and go do something else."

My pastor!? Telling me NOT to present my Bible study?  

  
Yes, and he was right on.  Go with your gut....step out of the box.
Our group time ended up being AMAZING.  We went to a diner, ate some great food, and asked questions that helped us to get to know each other.

examples: 
"What is something you have done in your life that you are extremely proud of"
"What animal would you want to be and why"

A mixture of serious and silly.  Some of us really opened up...I mean REALLY opened up.  

Isn't that what a small group is all about?  

Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  --1 John 3:18

How do you love someone more effectively?  You need to get to know that person.  It's easy to present some Bible verses and a nice study to a group of people, but how do you really reach their hearts?  Jesus did not just go around shouting out directions and rules.  Look in the Bible.  He got to know people.  He sat with them.  He loved them.

If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal 1 Cor 13:1

I believe God prompted last night's spontaneity.  I am glad that I listened because the results were truly amazing.  I was reminded how important it is to LOVE people first before trying to teach them anything.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Slaying the Dragon



So there is this princess right...and she's stuck up in some dumb tower that is guarded by a big ferocious dragon.  This dragon is forcing the princess to stay locked up in her tower.... all alone.  This goes on for  years and years, with no sign of hope.  Finally, a handsome prince shows up to save the day....but when get gets a look at that dragon's teeth he drops his sword and sprints in the other direction.  He doesn't think he has what it takes to defeat it.  This continues to happen with a number of different princes.  Maybe they can't handle a lengthy battle, they change their mind and want a different princess, or maybe they just decide they aren't ready to fight this dragon.  Regardless of the circumstance, the princess is getting pretty impatient waiting for someone to come and slay this dragon, get her out of the tower, and ride her off into the sunset on a gallant white steed.  So the next prince comes along, sword drawn and colors blazing.  The princess decides that she is NOT letting this one get away and she comes down out of that tower, takes the sword from prince, slays the dragon herself, and throws herself at the feet of the prince.  

Do they live happily ever after?

No.

Why not?

Because the prince did not have to fight to win her heart.  The princess did all of the work.  The very thing that prince was designed to do (kill the dragon, save the princess) was taken from him.  Now he doesn't want this princess. He wants to go out and find a princess that will let him slay her dragon.  

Bummer.  

I listened to some speakers talk about this very thing two weeks ago.  Ladies...you are the princess.  Gentlemen...you are the prince.  And the dragon...represents the battle that a man should go through to win a woman's heart.  Some of you may be thinking, "Okay we are no longer living in the 1950's and these ideas are old school.  Women are equal to men, they should be able to slay this dragon, they should be able to pursue a guy."

Hear me out....

Two really awesome books that I've read on this subject are "Captivating" and "Wild at Heart" by Jon and Stasi Eldridge.  The books talk about the fact that we were both (men and women) designed and created very differently from each other.  Read this excerpt from "Captivating, Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul"

One of my favorite games growing up was "kidnapped and rescued"  I know many little girls who played this-- or wished they had.  To be the beauty, abducted by the bad guys, fought for and rescued by a hero-- some version of this had a place in all our dreams.  Like Sleeping Beauty, like Cinderella, like Maid Marian, or like Cora in the Last of the Mohicans, I wanted to be the heroine and have my hero come for me.  Why am I embarrassed to tell you this?  I simply loved feeling wanted and fought for.  This desire is set deep in the heart of every little girl-- and every woman.  Yet most of us are ashamed of it.  We downplay it.  We pretend that it is less than it is.  We are women of the twenty-first century after all-- strong, independent, and capable, thank you very much.  Uh-huh. . .and who is buying all those romance novels?"

Okay stay with me...and now read this except from "Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul" 

What would Robin Hood or King Arthur be without the woman they love?  Lonely men fighting lonely battles.  Indiana Jones and James Bond just wouldn't be the same without a beauty at their side, and inevitably they must fight for her.  You see, it's not just that a man needs a battle to fight; he needs someone to fight for.  Remember Nehemiah's words to the few brave souls defending a wall-less Jerusalem?  "Don't be afraid. . . fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."  The battle itself is never enough; a man yearns for romance.  It's not enough to be a hero; it's that he is a hero to someone in particular, to the woman he loves.  Adam was given the wind and the sea, the horse and the hawk, but as God himself said, things were just not right until there was Eve.  Yes, there is something passionate in the heart of every man.

We are different for a reason.  God created Adam and Eve at different times and in different ways.  He made them to compliment each other, not to be an exact replica of the other. Men and women each bring something so unique to a relationship.  If you were to search deep into your heart of hearts I believe that you would agree with me.  I believe that every woman wants to be saved and that every man wants to save her.  

In this season of my life it's nice to be reminded of these things.  It's nice to remember that God has a really big adventure planned for my life that includes this very "rescue scene"  

Ladies...don't sell yourself short.  Wait for the guy that is going to pursue you.  You are a princess, you deserve to be pursued

Guys...take the lead in pursuing her.  God will give you the tools you need to fight for your princess's heart

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My College Education

This is what happens when you put myself and two of my roomates in a room together with Photobooth when we should be doing homework.....can anyone say "senioritis"












Christians are Silly...watch this if you need a laugh


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Falling for Fall


What is your favorite season?

My favorite season...beyond all doubt....hands down...is FALL

Why do I love fall? 

I love fall for so many reasons...
  • the fact that it's cool outside (no more of this being hot business, you know like what we have to deal with in August)
  • back to school...yep I'm one of those nerds who loves school
  • changing leaves...beautiful
  • apple season
  • hayrides (non-haunted are preferred)
  • football games (not so much to watch the game, but to talk to friends and drink hot chocolate)
And one of the most WONDERFUL things about fall are....

PUMPKINS!!!

Those little orange things bring me great joy.  Why, do you ask?  (I'm not sure why you would have to, but for those of you who just don't get it...)

  • Pumpkins can be made into jack-o-lanterns.  You get to use a large knife to cut a face into YOUR OWN pumpkin and who doesn't love pulling all the guts out!
  • Pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten (delish)
  • You can go to a field and PICK your own pumpkin, which makes for great fun
  • They look quite lovely sitting around your house for decoration
  • They can be made into...pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cream cheese, etc. etc.  
And it is because of all the above, ladies and gents, that I am falling for Fall.

Provision


I went to visit some of my friends at their house the other day for an open prayer time.  They invited anyone and everyone to come.  Someone had made the comment to them, "Yo man, thanks for letting us come to your house." These guys always make it a point to share with everyone that their house is "always open." 

Their reply to this comment was, "Dude, this isn't our house.  It's God's.  He blessed us with it, so we are just sharing it with everyone else."

What an awesome attitude.  Their gratitude towards God's provision and willingness to share it with others totally inspired me.  

It's so true!  Everything I have has been literally given to me by God himself.  Sometimes I forget this and start acting selfish.  Not only with my possessions but with my time and energy. 

There are tons of verses about this in the Bible.  A few I looked up were: 
Matthew 6:31-32 (God always provides)
1 Peter 4:9-10 (offer hospitality, share the gifts God has given you)
Acts 20:30 (more blessed to give than receive)
Romans 12:13 (hospitality)

and my most favorite....
Matthew 6:26 

I'm sure there are many more that get the point across.  

Anyway, thanks to these guys and the attitude that Christ has shaped in their hearts, I am inspired to do something to give of the resources that God has blessed me with. It's nice to be reminded that I don't have to hold on to things so tightly for fear that I might be left with nothing, but that God will always provide what I need.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

You Can Help

An elderly couple from my church is in big trouble, they are about to lose their house and all of their property without their consent.  Before you click on the link in my post to find out about what they are going through, let me tell you a little bit about this family.  I have spent a good time working with the youth at my church, and if there's one thing that I have learned, teenagers like...no love....to eat.  We try our best to supply some good food for these kids....but this family never fails to make sure that our teenagers are dining with class.  What I mean is that literally there are many Sundays when it takes about 5 or 6 people to bring in the PLATTERS of food these people have made for our teens.  They do this because they love God, and love people.  They have been serving others for a long time, and now we have an opportunity to serve them.  Please take 5 minutes to go to this link and read about what is going on.  There are a few things you can do to help including signing an online petition.  We will need your prayers and petition.  

Thank you


Friday, August 15, 2008

Child-like Faith


I was talking with someone tonight about hopes and dreams. She brought up a great point from a book that she was reading. When we are children, we are full of hopes and dreams. As we get older, sometimes those dreams fade and we forget them. The book says that it's important that we hold on to those dreams because God wants us to approach our faith, and the world, as children. Check out Mark 10:14-16.


My mom reminded me of something really cool a little bit ago. She reminded me that when I was a little girl, I would run up to ANYONE and hug them! I was so trusting and open. I was willing to be friends with anyone and everyone. As time went by, and the struggles of middle and high school began, I can remember certain years of my life when I wouldn't let anyone hug me.


Then, in my freshman year of college, I developed a relationship with God. I began to open up and now here I am four years later a totally transformed person....or so I thought. My mom blessed me with this little reminder of Mandy as a child because I can look at myself now and see someone of those qualities returning!


Having a relationship with God is no easy thing. Once you become His He will never ever let you settle for anything less than become more like Jesus everyday. But with that hard work and growth comes great blessings. I truly consider it a blessing to be reminded that I am more like my 5 year old self than ever! I can only hope that in my continued relationship with Him, I will become more open and daring just like a child.


I challenge you to think about what you were like as a child? Have you changed? What has caused that change? If you've gone through bad experiences, I can understand why you may not dream like you used to....


God can help restore the child in you. :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hard Questions

So today I had the privilege of hanging out with some of my favorite people. What made the day interesting is a debate, discussion, or whatever you want to call it...about spiritual things. I admit...being a Christian is hard, especially when you start questioning things that your supposed to believe in. These friends of mine brought a fresh breath of air and some interesting thoughts. I think that asking hard questions has always made me scared, and I noticed myself sort of just listening to the whole thing as opposed to participating.

Here are some of the questions raised...

1. If God is all powerful and a good God, why does he allow bad things to happen?

2. If God knows what we are going to do before we do it, how can we say that we have free will?

3. What about people that don't believe in God because a) they have never heard of him or b) they choose not to believe.....do they go to hell?

You might be thinking, wow, this girl is a Christian and she can't answer these hard questions?! These are the things her faith is based on.

I realized that I need to really wrestle with these questions instead of being afraid of them.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ladies...


I was going through some things that I had written on facebook, and came across this...


Funny, because I really needed to read it today. I hope it can help someone else too :)



so last night we had ladies night at cru....it was amazing/great/spectacular/wonderful/faaaaaantasic. we did an exercise in which we all identified common things that women struggle with and then a super strong friend gave her testimony. we talked about God and what thinks of us as women, how we are seen as PURE and RIGHTEOUS by Him. it was such an uplifting night....we read from the book, "do you think i'm beautiful?" by angela thomas. the book is about her experience through the struggle of accepting God's unconditional love.


no matter what you've gone through


no matter what you struggle with


no matter what you've done


God sees you as PURE and RIGHTEOUS and....never forget! you are the DAUGHTER of the KING


Along with this entry...here are some verses that I plan to focus on...
“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." -1 Samuel 16:7"
All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you." -Song of Solomon 4:7
"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord." -Psalm 45:11
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." -Psalm 139:13-14

Top Five Reasons Why I Blog


Some may say blogging is dorky, some may think it's the coolest thing since sliced bread. Here's why I do it...

1. Sharing silly, fun, interesting, or useful things that are on the web

2. Being able to pick out a nice little picture that goes with each post (so fun)

3. To share with others a bit of wisdom that God decides to throw my way at any given time (mostly through mistakes I've made)

4. Two words.....analytics baby. For those of you regular bloggers out there...you know what I'm talking about. When people from across the world are checkin out your blog...you can't tell me you don't feel a bit like a superstar

5. It has helped me develop and grow as a person. Not only does it keep my writing skills sharp, but blogging helps me to continue to acknowledge what is going on in my life. I consider blogging to be therapeutic and a great way to reflect.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Median

I just came across a pretty cool website today. Bascially, the website is a search engine that asks you to put in up to 4 addresses and then finds restaurants, movie theatres, lodging, etc that is an equal distance between the addresses. Having friends in different areas, I thought this website was great because deciding on a place to meet is sometimes difficult. The search engine provides you with the name of the place, phone number, website, and some of them even have coupons that you can print out! Check it out.
http://www.happymedian.com/index.jsf

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nanny Diaries

Summer jobs. Gotta love em. My job this summer is being a nanny for an extremely adorable toddler. Sometimes I like to get professional and call myself an Au pair...because I'm living with the family. Plus, it just sounds cooler.


I have been a babysitter for years now, probably since the age of about 14 when I started watching my little brother and sister for a few hours while my mom ran errands. The thing that is different about this summer is that I watch this little lady 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. I can't say that I wasn't a bit nervous about this situation. I love kids, but how would I keep her happy and content everyday, all day? So far, things have been going really well. We have become pretty good pals....as good as pals a 1 year old and 22 year old can be at least.


Through spending time with this little youngster, I have had to learn how to be more self-sacrificial. She depends on me all day for not only her basic needs, but for someone to make her laugh and comfort her while mom and dad are busy at work. Sometimes it's hard, other times it's amazing. I see myself developing a deep love for my little pal. I'm sure it's comparable, on a smaller scale, to what a parent feels for their child.


I guess what I'm trying to say is....being a parent must be hard, really hard...but it sure does seem to have it's rewards as well.


The hard stuff: temper tantrums that end with yogurt all over the floor or in some one's hair


The reward: watching her make a new discovery or getting an unexpected toddler hug


I appreciate God giving me the opportunity this summer to take a small glimpse into the life of a parent. I expect big things for this little lady...she has amazing parents and quite a vivacious little personality. I feel privileged to be able to assist in her development and growth...even if it's only a short time. I'm prepared for many more challenges...and rewards...the rest of the summer and I'm excited to see what God will do in my heart through this job.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Coffee Catastrophe....Avoided

I love coffee. Over the years, my taste for coffee has become more....oh let's say....refined. I used to be okay with your run of the mill brands, I think I was even able to drink some generic stuff back in the day. Ever since an internship at my church last summer, spent with some coffee fanatics...I will never be able to return to these second rate brands. What I'm trying to say is...I am a Starbucks snob.


I never thought it would happen. I must have been a bit naive thinking I could just start drinking Starbucks and then go back to it's not so "gourmet" competitor. This is not the case. No, I cannot personally afford to buy myself Starbucks all the time...but I do try to buy one or two brands that I would say come close to measuring up to the greatness that Starbucks coffee is, but they aren't much cheaper.


So last Sunday I made an amazing discovery. I went through my normal Sunday morning routine...wake up....get ready...and then go down for breakfast and to brew up a good cup of joe to TAKE with me to church in a to-go mug (because I'm usually running late). The problem was, I was running much later than usual and so I didn't have time to even take coffee to go.

This could have been a disaster...because whether it's psychological or not...if I don't have a GOOD cup of coffee in the morning, I feel like I'm missing something. That's a bit hard to admit...but it's true. So I get to church and decide to SETTLE for some coffee that the hospitality team has brewed up. Now I am not by any means knocking the hospitality team. They are a great group of people who supply some good eats and hot coffee for us every Sunday morning. The reason I said I would settle is because in my mind, I'm thinking that they are using one of those second rate or even third rate brands of coffee that my sophisticated pallet wouldn't enjoy. ;)

As I'm pouring myself a cup...I notice that behind the carafe is a box full of coffee bags. I peer into the box to see which brand they decided to settle for. Inside the box are bags full of Starbucks....yes Starbucks....coffee. At this point...I think I may have scared the woman serving the coffee because I grab a bag, pick it up, hold it in the air, and literally yell, "YOU GUYS SERVE STARBUCKS! THAT'S AMAZING...I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!" and some other nonsense that decides to fly out of my mouth.



So yes...friends...if you are a coffee lover like myself and find yourself constantly craving "the good stuff" make sure you come to the hospitality table at CCV on Sunday morning because there my friends is the king of the coffee world....Starbucks...flowing freely for you to enjoy while chatting with friends or sitting in service.



Whoever is responsible for this...I thank you. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yoga-Day 2


For the past few months I have been experiencing really intense back pain. For a young lady who likes to stay active, this has really caused me frustration because there have been days that I have spent my entire time on the couch with a heating pad. When I experience this back pain, I feel a bit older than my 22 year old self. Not only have I been using a heating pad, but I've been popping Bayer aspirin and using those sticky icy-hot bandages.


Nothing works.


I even went as far as to go to the doctor and get x-rays. Basically the doc told me that I have been carrying all of my stress in my back.


Anyway, I wanted to let you all in on my new endeavor. I am going to start a 3 week yoga commitment. I tried a quick yoga video the other day and felt pretty darn good afterward. My back pain was minimized and I felt energized. I just finished a 30 minute yoga video that was a bit more difficult....and let me say...I feel AMAZING!


Could this be the end of my back pain? I hope so! I'd like to not touch Bayer aspirin again for another oooh 40 or 50 years.


I'll keep you updated :)



p.s. no, I am not able to do what that lady is doing in the picture....yet ;)

we did it

Ignite....this was the name given to the group of young adults at my church. We just recently had a worship service to kick things off and get everyone amped about all the events we are having this summer. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there and experience it (I was at a wedding!), but I did hear that things went well. I must admit, I was really nervous about the outcome of our efforts. It's one thing to dream something up, and it's another to actually pull it off. We started off with some great music, a great speaker, more music, and then a barbecue to finish it all off. I was informed that there were some new faces there, which is awesome.


Why, do you ask, did we need to have a "service" when there is a perfectly good service given on Sunday mornings. Except for when the speaker is talking about marriage or parenting, most of the young adults are able to apply what they hear on Sunday to their own lives. The service we held was not because we weren't being "fed" or because we didn't think Sunday measured up. The reason, at least in my mind, was to be able to connect with other people in my age bracket.


My church offers an awesome program for elementary school children (Valley Kids), services for middle and high school (Impact and Riot), and finally a service (sometimes referred to as "big church" by the kids) for the rest of us adults. My small group wanted to start something for the in between ages experienced in your twenties.


Think about it. Most of us don't exactly fit in with all of the adults. We are still trying to figure out what we want to do for the rest of our lives, who we want to marry and live with for the rest of our lives, and just how to do all the stuff our parents used to do for us like finding insurance and taking care of our finances. While it's great to get guidance and wisdom from people that have gone through these stages of life, it's nice to know there is a group of people I can relate to that are going through these things with me.


I want the young adults in this area to get serious about what is important in life. So whether they know God or not, I hope that this summer brings a lot of new and interesting people to CCV to get connected with not only other people their age, but God as well!


I am excited about the future of Ignite and the young adults at CCV.

Monday, April 28, 2008

If you were wondering...


If you were wondering how much a single shrimp would cost you at your local grocery store...the answer is about 15 cents. I know this because I was fortunate to witness one of the most hilarious events in my life....someone purchasing a single shrimp in the express lane at super fresh. You may have had to have been there....but I need to write about it because it might just be one of the funniest things I have encountered in my 22 years of life.


Mantra for the day: Life is too short NOT to be silly

Sunday, April 20, 2008

optimism


Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
-Benjamin Franklin-
In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.
-Albert Careb-

Thursday, April 17, 2008

...Just The Way You Are


God has this amazing way of using people to speak for Him.


Yesterday, a good friend of mind said to me..."Mandy I'm not sure where this came from, and it may be irrelevant, but I'm supposed to tell you that you are good enough."


After this, I went on a rant to another friend that I wanted so badly to learn to play the drums or guitar so that I could be "cool." He must have sensed the undertones of inadequacy communicated in that sentence. He turned around and said something along the lines of, "Mandy you have to stop thinking like that. You don't need to do that stuff to be cool, you are fine the way you are."



I live in America, where it is so important to "get ahead" and to be "at the top." I have to admit that I fall into this trap time and time again. Whether it's my appearance, my personality, or my talents, sometimes (a lot of the time) I just don't think I measure up.


This is a lie.


A big


fat


lie.


I feel for people who experience this oppression in their lives. I know what it's like to chase and chase annnnnd chase things that you think will make you "better" in one way or another.


What I'm pursuing right now, fervently, is the truth in all of these lies. I know it to be true (mostly intellectualy) that God, the Creator of all things, loves me through and through for EXACTLY who I am. Now I need to let this sink deep into my heart, into the core of my being.


How much easier would life be if we just accepted ourselves for who we are instead of fighting to become what we THINK we need to be?


This is the Truth that God is offering us. He really did mean it when He said,


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."--Matthew 11:28


I need to drop this heavy load of unacceptance.




Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Growing Pains

I think sometimes I avoid doing “hard” things like I avoid the plague. Actually, I don’t think this, I know it. Don’t you ever wish for the “easy” life? Imagine you’re at work, school, etc. and things are just really busy or stressful or challenging and you start daydreaming about being on a beach somewhere without a care in the world.

Or sometimes, you look at people who may not be trying to live a “Christian” life and think they’ve got it easy. They don’t need to worry about reading their Bible everyday, or making sure they are in God’s will all the time, loving their enemies, or even waking up for church on Sunday morning.

I read an article this morning that really hit me hard. Here’s the link…

http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001726.cfm

It talks about the fact that we are SUPPOSED to be doing the hard stuff. Walking with Jesus is not easy. That inspires me and scares me at the same time. The article says that God wants to see us grow up. He wants to see us mature. But how do you do this without growing pains? The answer is…you can’t

There are so many unanswered questions in my life right now. Sometimes I find myself experiencing discontentment because I want all the desires of my heart given to me and all my questions answered RIGHT NOW and I don’t want to work or wait for it. But what would be the reward in that?

This quote from the article jumped off the page at me…
Our big, crazy idea is that this is the life God has called us to live now — not 10 or 20 years from now, but right now, as young people. This is your best life, not your easiest life; the only way to avoid wasting your single years and ultimately your life.

My discontentment is useless. My avoidance of doing the “hard” things is hindering. And as I sit and reflect on times in my life that I had to persevere through some really difficult things, I remember that the end result of that trial was a HUGE growth spurt.

Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering.... The love of God did not protect His own Son.... He will not necessarily protect us - not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.
--Elisabeth Elliot

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hurry up?

"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." Imagine for a moment that someone gave you this prescription, with the warning that your life depends on it. Consider the possibility that perhaps your life does depend on it. Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well. As Carl Jung wrote, "Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil." Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry. For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.
--John Ortberg from "The Life You've Always Wanted Spiritual Disciplines For Ordinary People"

Huge issue for me. I always hurry. Always. Especially right now with the end of the semester coming up, I have like a million loose ends to tie. A project here, a paper there, and a lesson plan well...everywhere (the life of an elementary ed major). This quote came at the perfect time. After I read it, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and felt the tension in my shoulders loosen.

Today's Mantra: Sloooooooooooooow Down :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Whip Me Up Some Character


Last night at Campus Crusade (for those of you not familiar, it's a Christian organization on college campuses) I got some great insights on building character. Not just character, but Godly character.


We looked at a bunch of verses:

Proverbs 1:1-7

Psalm 1 and 51

2 Peter 1:5-7

John 15

Galatians 5

Romans 12


Our speaker did a great job of communicating the fact that there is clearly a lot of great information in the Bible on what Godly character is and how to build it. But can I be honest and say that sometimes all this talk of goodness, gentleness, self-control and the like stresses me out? I think it's because I don't feel like I've got it all. I am far from what the picture of perfect character (Jesus) would be. That's frustrating when your striving to be more like him...ya kno?


Then our speaker gave a great illustration of how this character is built. Think of a good recipe. You don't add everything at once and just stir it up right? Sometimes you have to mix things in separate bowls, cook something and let it cool, let things sit overnight, etc. Just like a good recipe that turns into a delicious treat...character takes TIME to build. It doesn't come all at once, it comes at the right time and when we are truly seeking God's heart.


Like it says in 2 Peter 1:5-7, make every effort to obtain these qualities. God will do the rest, and you will build them in due time. He is not only the author but the FINISHER of our faith, he WANTS us to be whole and complete. Now we know that we won't be perfect until we have left this world, but know that God is working on your character every day. That realization really gave me hope and made me excited.


Think of yourself as a good recipe...working toward that final product.


I think I'd be apple pie :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Get Your Pray On


So I used to talk to God (pray or what have you) and wonder if he was listening and if he was, was he planning on answering? My prayers may have been God-centered, but my heart was doubtful. Thank goodness He is beginning to change this. Check out these verses:
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
''Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins'" (Mark 11:22-25).
I have seen these verses many times, but finally God decided it was time for a new revelation and change of heart. I now BELIEVE them. Because of this, my prayer life has dramatically changed! After I am done praying, I am able to thank God for listening and thank him (in confidence) for answering my prayer according to his will for my life. My prayers are now more "powerful and effective" as the Bible would put it, because of my confidence in God's promises to hear me!
Sooooo with that said....FYI...May 1st is the National Day of Prayer! It was started by the National Day of Prayer Task Force. This is their mission statement:
"The National Day of Prayer Task Force's mission is to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family. "
If you plan to participate in this day, just remember, God HEARS you and your prayers can be POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE! ...how exciting :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

laugh it up




Reasons why you should be laughing every day:





  • A good hearty laugh can help:
    -reduce stress
    -lower blood pressure
    -elevate mood
    -boost immune system
    -improve brain functioning
    -protect the heart
    -connect you to others
    -foster instant relaxation
    -make you feel good.




So hang out with those people that lift you up and make you laugh!




And if you need some MORE laughter, you should come to Comedy Night at Christ's Church of the Valley in Royersford on November 14th...we are featuring Michael Jr., check him out...he's hilarious! Here is a link to his website, there are some videos on there of his standup. http://www.michaeljr.com/


Monday, March 31, 2008

Passion and Purity

Do you ever wonder what it looks like to give your love life completely into the hands of God?

If your answer is yes, maybe, or even no....I would still encourage you to read Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. I love to read, and for those of you that know me, I often say that the current book I'm reading is "the best book I've ever read." I'd like to say, without hesitation and with complete certainty....this is the best book I've ever read on the subject of relationships.

Here's a little background on Elisabeth and her late husband Jim. She has lived her life as a missionary (she had already won points with me there). She met Jim in college and they fell in love, but were not united in marriage until 5 years later. Less than a year after they were married, Jim was killed by an Indian tribe in Ecuador that he had been trying to share the gospel with.

The book is all about this five year period of waiting. It is a firsthand look into Elisabeth's struggle to wait on God in her relationship with Jim. She is a great example of a woman dedicated to God's leading, timing, and desire for us to remain pure.