My Life Verse

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Flashback and Student Teaching

I've been thinking about how I started this blog for a few different purposes. 1. I want to bring glory to God 2. I want to share what God is doing in my life 3. I want to encourage you to Pursue Him in your life That being said, I have decided to blog on Friday nights giving a Friday Flashback about what happened during the past week in my life. For most of you, we were friends on Facebook, and you'd see the status updates I'd have throughout the week. Without Facebook, I believe it is fair to share what God is doing in my life through a little recap every week.

That being said, here goes my first Friday Flashback. I started Student Teaching this week and it was very challenging and exhausting. Never having worked a full time (40 hour week) job before, I now have a new appreciation for those of you who do. Now I can say TGIF and truly mean it. Despite adjusting to a new, full-time schedule, I love student teaching and I look forward to having my own classroom one day.

I began Monday with a morning devotional titled Why God Made Teachers. It followed with this: "God understood our thirst for knowledge and our need to be led by someone wiser; He needed a heart of compassion, of encouragement and patience... someone who could see potential and believe in the best of others, so He made teachers. God also reminded me of 1 Timothy 4:11-16 and Philippians 1:6. He blessed me with a friend who prayed for me to be a shining light at school. The first 8 weeks of Student Teaching, I will be at Solana Vista Elementary School in Solana Beach Unified School District. I was placed in a 2nd grade classroom. I arrived at school a little before my Cooperating Teacher, and the kind Librarian gave me a tour and introduced me to anyone who was already on campus. My Cooperating Teacher and I talked before the bell rang for school to start and she said that this week I will plan on observing her to learn how she teaches so that I can teach in a similar way and the kids receive consistency. I was so amazed at how incredibly blessed I was to have such a phenomenal Cooperating Teacher. Her teaching style and classroom management parallels with exactly how I aspire to teach. She is very positive and enthusiastic. She is sweet and a hard worker. On Monday night, I chose to attend a New Comer's Night at North Coast Calvary Chapel Carlsbad, since I've been going to that church for about a month now. I met two women and learned more about their core beliefs and values. I felt more at peace with staying at this church. I believe my core values and beliefs really match with theirs, and they have many missions opportunities. (One million dollars each year is given out towards Missions and Missionaries who are part of the church)

On Tuesday, my Cooperating Teacher brought me coffee from Starbucks. It was such a treat! She gets it everyday and asked the day before what things I like from there. My Cooperating Teacher let me pull students aside today to assist them with their work. She also lost her voice, so I helped her with reading some student work aloud to the class. I found out today that the teacher in the room next to mine, goes to NCCC Carlsbad also. This was exciting news because a couple friends prayed for connection and other Christian people around me during my student teaching time. I learned about my Cooperating Teacher's family today too.

On Wednesday, the students have what is called a Wheel Day. This means from 11:20-2:40, the students rotate to teachers such as art and science. During this time, the teachers in grade 2 prep and meet to talk about whatever is necessary. My Cooperating Teacher showed me how she maps out each week and I was able to write down the daily schedules in my planner. We also mapped out what groups I would begin teaching next week, and what I would be teaching them. At the last minute, I offered to babysit for my Cooperating Teacher this evening because she has been sick and couldn't make her doctor appointment without a sitter. I went over there after school, watched her two adorable kids (2 years and 5 months) and then she treated me to dinner. It was a little weird to be babysitting and going out to dinner with my Cooperating Teacher on the third day of student teaching, but I'm such a personable person that I loved it. I got home around 6:45pm and chose to meet my friend for coffee at 7pm. I planned to head home at 9pm and left at 9:20pm, which meant another late night.

On Thursday, my Cooperating Teacher bought me Starbucks again. I didn't journal this day, so I can't really remember details from the day. It was another exciting and fun day of observing and assisting those who needed extra help as the teacher directed me. She taught me how to use a grade book that is on the computer and I input some grades. This evening, I chose to go to the Young Adult group at NCCC Carlsbad to check it out. They were wrapping up a series, and ending with worship and Sitting at His feet. I really enjoyed it. There were not too many people there, but those who were there were very real. God spoke to me SO clearly that night about how I need to put Him first. This week I tried to pursue Him but I was unsuccessful because I did not pursue Him first in everything. Someone mentioned a hindrance that keeps us from pursuing Him is that it takes effort and time. I totally related this, and I can honestly say I've been lazy this week. The worship song that says "I want to take your Word and shine it all around, but first help me to live it Lord" touched my heart in that I realized I cannot shine His word and be a light if I am not living it.

On Friday, I attended "Friday Forum" with my teacher. This is where the teachers can ask the Principal any questions they have and the floor is open for discussion. I finished my last day of observing my Cooperating Teacher and was given the opportunity to work with some students who are at a lower level. I reviewed money (the value and names of coins) with two girls, and helped about 7 people complete their Language Arts packet. Today, I took home the two Teacher's Manuals so that I can prepare for the lessons that I am teaching next week. I get to teach the highest level for Language Arts next week in small groups. I also have the privilege of teaching the Vocabulary Books and a Math lesson on comparing money amounts. I'm very excited! So, one week down, 7 more to go at Solana Vista!  I have a lot to do this weekend, but the Lord is so good because He cancelled the babysitting job that I had for tomorrow, which brings me peace knowing I need to prepare for Monday and catch up on my daily readings in the Bible.

As I conlcude this Friday Flashback, I realize there are many changes that need to be made next week. I need to do less in the evenings. I need to go to bed earlier. I need to pursue Him however He reveals that to me in the short time that I have during the week. I need to set my priorities and stick to them. I need to sit at His feet in humility the moment I wake up in the morning. If it weren't for my perseverance in pursuing Him in the past with my teaching credential tests, I would not be student teaching right now. I encourage you to pursue Him and persevere in areas that you are struggling in because He can help you reach your dreams as He did for me. He is faithful and has your BEST in mind. The first step though, is pursuing Him which will take effort and time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

When God takes you on a detour...

...How do you respond?

God recently took me on a detour and I learned a lot about myself while on this detour that I did not like. To be completely honest with you, my first response to this detour was not pursuing Him. I am thankful that God is gracious. Now, when He takes me on any future detours, I can respond immediately by pursuing Him since I learned from this situation that I didn't get back to the main road until I began pursuing Him wholeheartedly.

For the past few months, I've been pursuing Him by praying about where God wants me to be in regards to church. I've been faithfully attending and serving at one church (TheMovement) for about three years now. I began pursuing Him when I noticed my heart hardening towards this church. I asked God if I should find a new church, and He instructed me to stay, take a break from serving, and rest. I obeyed Him and let go of the things that caused my heart to be hardened for a little while. Shortly after this, I began to see God growing my heart for National Missions and I would become discouraged when I thought about receiving the support I will need from the Movement based on the fact that their Mission Field is here, San Marcos. I began pursuing Him again, even harder this time because my desire to follow His will grew larger and I wanted to be where He wanted me to be, not where I wanted to be. On Sunday, I asked God to give me an answer about where He wants me to be, whether it is staying at theMovement or begin church hunting. It was then that God sent me on a detour.

I expected God to tell me to stay or go very clearly on Sunday January 9th. I attended theMovement in the morning and North Coast Calvary Chapel Carlsbad in the evening. I tried to surrender my will and be open to God's will, but realized later in the day as I spoke with a friend that I had not completely surrendered my will. I had taken everything and justified any signs/confirmations to lead me to go. I found myself at peace with going, but still asking God if it was my will or His. It was then that my good friend said that every time I talk about going to a new church, she believes God is telling her to tell me to stay at theMovement. She did not want to tell me this, because she knew I got frustrated and defensive whenever we talked about that. She had to tell me though, because she knew this time it was not from her, but God. It was then that I realized I did get defensive and put a wall up anytime we discussed possible reasons God would have me stay. Hearing that from her was hard, but caused me to pursue Him harder and with all that I had. I had to take this to the Lord since she was so persistent about it and it came from Him. I bet He used her to speak that to me because He knew I didn't want to hear it and wouldn't hear it from Him.

That afternoon, I went home and fought with God. He was taking me on a detour that I did not want to follow. Don't you wish he'd sometimes tell us detour ahead? If only I knew it was coming, there is a slight chance that I may not have been as frustrated as I was taking this detour. I felt like a kid throwing a tantrum, kicking and screaming. I had a vision of myself punching a pillow and being mad at God. I wondered, Why do kids throw tantrums? Simply because they do not get what they want. God was humbling me slowly as the day went on showing me that maybe His will is not what I want. This scripture came to mind:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways. declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. " Isaiah 55:8-9

(Study Notes)
-The people of Israel were foolish to act as if they knew what God was thinking & planning. His knowledge and wisdom are far greater than man's. We are foolish to try and fit God into our mold- to make his plans and purposes conform to ours. Instead, we must strive to fit into his plans.

I had heard this scripture and knew it, but this past weekend is when it had new meaning for me as I wholeheartedly pursued Him. I thought to myself Knowing God's ways are not my ways means that I have to surrender my ways and follow His, even if it is not what I want or think is best for me. Yikes! This is where I learned something I didn't like about my character. I was unwilling to fully surrender my will in order to follow His will. I felt so hypocritical as I recently told God I'm all yours. I just want to be used by you. I have the ability in this season of my life to simply pick up and follow your lead. Yet, when He asked me to follow His ways and not mine, I was fighting Him.

I was able to recognize my defensiveness and as the Lord humbled me I finally pursued Him again, but this time it was just me and Him. I turned off my phone, shut my door, and asked God to speak to me about what His will really is in this situation. (I noticed that my decision was being swayed based on the circumstances throughout the day, so I needed to hear directly from Him) I had my computer on Pandora and the first song that played was called "Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real. The lyrics are as follows:

It’s time for healing time to move on
It’s time to fix what’s been broken too long
It’s time to find my way to where I belong
There’s a wave that’s crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see
But I’m giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
Or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender…

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I’ve wanted to say for so many years
Time to release all my held back tears

Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It was dead on to how I felt inside, and I believe God used this worship song to speak to me because I was pursuing Him. He revealed to me that my heart was still hardened towards the Movement, and I cannot move forward without dealing with that. He showed me that my heart needed healing. I went to NCCCC in the evening, and the first song they played during worship was called Healer and the first line was I believe that You're my Healer. So, I decided to meet with the Pastor's wife and discuss the things that were on my heart so that I could receive the healing my heart needed, and receive her blessing for me to move forward and begin church hunting since they are unable to provide the resources for me to move forward in National Missions.

While on this detour, God also gave me more wisdom about receiving support from churches in regards to National Missions and this knowledge helped me understand more a different perspective about what I am able to expect in regards to that. He humbled me and showed me that it is not the pastor or leadership of the church that I have a problem with, it is between my relationship with God that needed to sort things out and also get to the root of the issue. God showed me that my discouragement comes from a growing heart and passion for National Missions and the Movement's lack of resources to help me move ahead in that area. Their focus and big ministry is their community and youth, which is so awesome! I saw the Lord slowly pull me out of things and disconnect me from the Movement, and I believe He was doing this to help with this transition time. I recognized that one thing burdening me from moving forward is also a fear (not from God) of what others will think or that they won't understand where I'm coming from in this decision. For some reason, I felt like leaving a church and finding a new one means something negative had to have happened. That is definitely NOT the case here...God is just leading me into a new season of my life and it is ok to find a place that is able to support a big passion that I have and offer opportunities to go on more Missions Trips. That being said, this detour came to an end on Thursday when I met with the Pastor's wife and spoke to her about all that was on my heart, heard truth, and received a blessing from her to move forward and get back on the main road.

One thing I realized through all of this though, is that God is probably full of detoursPursuing Him requires faithful obedience and willingness to follow His ways, not our ways. How will you respond when God takes you on a detour? Learn what not to do in the experience I have described above. It is not worth fighting God. Begin by pursuing Him the moment you see that detour sign. I'm thankful God will give me more opportunities to handle a detour differently next time. I look back and wonder why I fought with God because based on that scripture and truths from the Bible, I know that God's ways are better than my ways. Knowing something and putting it into action or believing it are two completely different things. My prayer is that you and I both and continue to pursue Him every day, especially when He takes us on a detour.

*P.s. Here is something I wrote in my journal on Saturday night before all of that chaoticness came inside of me on Sunday. I need confirmatioons from God tomorrow that he's leading me somewhere new and conflicts if not so it's clear. I asked God for conflict to make it clear to me, and somehow I forgot about this as I was experiencing tremendous conflict on Sunday. He does hear us and He is faithful to answer. Lol.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Morning Devotional for 1-10-11

Good morning, my friends! :) Here are some things that the Lord has shown me this morning in my time with Him as well as things I learned from the sermons I heard yesterday at the two churches I attended.

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn." Isaiah 51:1

Here is the commentary from Joel Osteen:

We produce what we continually keep in front of us. If you focus on an image of success in your mind, you're going to move forward in success, but if you see yourself as barely getting by, your marriage getting worse, your health going downhill, then most likely your life will gravitate toward those negative situations. Your vision, what you see, has a tremendous impact on your life. We need to quit allowing our imaginations to keep us beaten down. Instead, let's start allowing God to use our imaginations to build us up. In other words, keep your goals you want to see come to pass in front of you. That image will set the limits for your life.

"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9
  • Is your heart fully committed to Him? If so, do you believe that He's strengthening you? We must believe this because it is a truth directly from God in His word. Let's remember that if we are pursuing Him and doing so wholeheartedly, He will strengthen us.
  • Did you know that Satan does the same thing as this scripture, but for an opposite purpose? Keep that in mind while you are pursuing Him.
Job suffered simply because God allowed it. Why do we suffer?
  1. That God might do a work and be glorified (John 9:1-3)
  2. To make us compassionate toward others (2 Corinthians 1:5)
  3. To lead us to maturity (James 1:2-3)
  4. As a consequence of sin (Deuteronomy 28 & Galations 6)
*The best God has for us is always forward.
*We have the ability to tell Satan "You have NO power" because of God's power.
*The same God that created your heart is the same God that can change your heart.
*Spiritual maturity=obedience

Lyrics from worship set:

Set a fire down in my soul that I can't contain that I can't control.
I want more of you God, I want more of you.
There's no place I'd rather be than here in your love.

Love came down, rescued me
Love came down, set me free
I am Yours, I am forever Yours
Mountain high or valley low,
I sing out, Remind my soul that
I am Yours, I am forever Yours

*I pray that today each of you take time to pursue Him by reading this blog and putting into action any of the above or that you are able to pursue Him on your own at some point today. Love you all!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A little bit of this and a little bit of that...

As I begin to think about what to blog about, the Lord keeps pressing on my heart to share with you what He has been revealing to me the past couple of days...a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I hope it brings you encouragement in some way.

"For the battle is not yours, but God's...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you...And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for God had given him rest on every side." 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17, 30
  • God will fight for us and then bring rest.
  • How do we let God fight for us? 1. By realizing that the battle is not ours, but God's. 2. By recognizing human limitations and allowing God's strength to work through our fears and weaknesses. 3. By making sure we are pursuing God's interests and not just our own selfish desires. 4. By asking God to help in our daily battles.
  • As believers, we have God's spirit in us. If we ask for God's help when we face struggles, God will fight for us. And God always triumphs.
Joel Osteen Devotional: "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Hebrews 11:8
  • People who see their dreams come to pass are people who have some resolve, some backbone; people who refuse to settle for somewhere along the way.
  • Abraham obeyed God and followed Him all the way to the Promised Land of abundance in Canaan. His father stopped and settled in Haran, feeling it was good enough but missing out on God's best.
  • Dare to step out of your comfort zone today. God has so much more in store. Keep pursuing Him and keep believing.
Isaiah 58:11 says "The Lord will guide you always."
  • Do you trust Him to guide you? Walk in this truth.
  • He is faithful and will direct my path.
"To a man belongs the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue." Proverbs 16:1

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Proverbs 16:25

*Opposite of stress ---------> peace
*Opposite of worry ---------> trust

-Why do we often times worry and stress when we know we can have the peace of God and He is trustworthy, yet we don't act like we trust Him?

*Root of everything-my desire to do God's will. I get frustrated/worked up about it when I don't know what His will is and lack patience. Obviously, He wants me to do/follow His will, so it's not like He's want me to be frustrated about this. It's only because I want to know and I want to know now. But, that shows no faith and trust in God's ability to speak to me in His timing.

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:4-5
  • How do we receive God's guidance? The first step is to want to be guided and realize that God's primary guidance system is in His Word. By reading the Bible and constantly learning from it, we will gain the wisdom to perceive God's direction for our lives. *We may be tempted to demand answers from God, but David asked for direction. When we are willing to seek God, learn from His word, and obey His commands, then we will receive His specific guidance.
  • Israelites grumbling- Exodus 16
There ya go, a little bit of this and a little bit of that all wrapped up in one blog entry of what God showed me as I Pursued Him. The only way that He will speak to you is if you stop what you are doing and take the time to pursue Him as well as listen. I pray that any of the above scriptures speak straight to your heart and encourage you to walk closer to Him.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The JOURNEY Begins...Again!

"When God wants to change us, he often takes us on a journey" - Dr. Stephen Hayner

Journey: the act of traveling from one place to another; figuratively, a passage through life

These words were pointed out to me from the book a friend was reading as we began our journey to Africa on the first flight. The timing was impecable as I literally just wrote in my journal for Africa "The journey begins today!" And so, I'd like to say that my journey began on September 2, 2010 when I departed to Africa with my team consisting of 9 people from 5 different churches, 6 boys and 3 girls. I can write so much about my experience during this trip, but it would be too long for this post. Please feel free to email me or talk to me if you'd like to hear more about the first part of my journey.

Before I can begin discussing about how this journey is continuing, I must fill you in on a little insight from the September 2010 trip to Africa. I had a great time on the trip, but it was also very challenging. I was sick the entire travel home (48 hours, basically) and for one week after I got I felt extremely homesick the last couple of days in Africa. I wasn't sure I'd go back at all, let alone this soon, but God has completely transformed my heart towards Africa.

And so, this is how my journey beings again, or some may say continues. About one month ago, my friend and I had the opportunity to speak at a Women's Dinner about our experience on the trip and it was then that I realized the passion on my heart for Africa and a strong desire to return. This is when I began praying about whether or not I should go again this summer with Cross Connection Outreach (CCO). Once I began seeking God's guidance in this decision, I started noticing confirmations from Him. Here are a some cool things that have been happening. I get an overwhelming joy when I talk about Africa. A family member gave me $100.00 to be used toward my next trip to Africa. Two people mentioned that if money is my only hindrance, then go...God has the ultimate HUGE bank account and always provides. My friend's and my message at the Women's Dinner was "Fear Not, Just Go." She said all you need to do is sign-up, and God will take care of the rest. My own words for this speech were God will provide everything else you need to go on the trip, especially finances. God will give you the money in incredible ways that you would least expect. A woman from church said "I always hear 'Africa' when I see you". A couple of things stood out to me when reading in 2 Chronicles 19 and 20: "Act with courage. Seek help from the Lord. Do not be afraid or discouraged..." A friend of mine said "The first act of faith is stepping out." My parents gave me permission to go. The founder of CCO wrote me a thank-you note with animal print on it, and I noticed the card right when I was talking with a friend about Africa. God provided me with more babysitting jobs. I received a check in the mail from a family friend for graduation and on the check it said 'With God, all things are possible'. I needed this money to complete my deposit. The same day I received this check, a friend shared with me 'Where God guides, He provides', Jehovah Jireh. After adding up all of the money God provided for me, I had $77.00 more than the deposit amount. Today, I found $78.00 in an envelope that was not labeled, and I cannot remember when I saved it or what it was for.

Another great thing about this journey is that both times I've been able to go to Africa with a friend. Last year, I went with my friend Danielle and her fiance, Dj. (They are now married) This year, my friend Brianna is joining me as God has placed it on her heart to go, and of course He's so awesome that His timing for us would be to go on the same team before we even discussed it. Here are some photos of Brianna and I with our deposit money and our forms that we filled out to make our trip to Africa in 2011 official! :)

Based on all of the above, you can clearly see that God wants me to continue on this journey and go to Africa this summer with CCO. I am so excited because I know He has a purpose for me on this trip. The dates are not set yet, but I plan to go at the end of June-beginning of July. I am completely relying on God to pave the way for me financially, and He revealed to me that He will provide the rest of the money I need for this trip by providing more money than needed for the deposit . The total cost is of the trip $3,650 not including the additional $2,500 for Talking Bibles. I am only responsible for the $3,650, but we bring the Talking Bibles in our suitcases, and as God provided the money for those last year for me, I expect Him to do the same this year. I am not working, only babysitting when jobs come my way. I will begin Student Teaching in January until June, and this is full-time teaching, but it is unpaid. I cannot wait to see God provide the money for this trip for me in incredible ways.

One interesting thing that I remembered is something I said at previous team meetings for the September 2010 trip to Africa. We were asked what we expect to happen or what we want to gain from this trip. I said that I expect to increase my faith. I cannot say that I walked away from the trip in September with much of an increase in faith but, what I did gain from the trip was a growing desire and passion to go back to Africa...not knowing that my return to Africa would force me to increase me faith since I have no income. Funny how things all come together, isn't it? I love God. :) Since I recognized I'm stepping out in faith by continuing this journey, God has literally shown me faith everywhere I go. Stay tuned for a blog on faith!

To conclude, I would not have continued this journey if I was not pursuing Him. By pursuing Him, I sought His guidance in my decision and it is evidenced that He heard me and answered. I pursued Him by reading His word, praying, and trusting Him. Pursuing Him takes action, faith, and trust. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by God's immense power in this journey I'm on and pursue Him more by seeking His guidance in every aspect of your life, especially big things. He is faithful and will speak to you, if you come to Him. You've got to take the first step though...pursue Him.

*If you want to learn more about the organization that I embark on this journey with, visit their website at and/or watch this video that videographer from my team put together. It is only the first part of the trip, and a lot of it is the safari-but if you choose to bypass that go to the 8 minute marker and that shows my team in Swaziland for our first Bible distribution. Just click on this link and enjoy a taste of Africa:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy NEW Year!

New: Fresh; Original; Different than before; Unfamiliar

This morning I woke up in a cheerful mood. I kept thinking to myself, it's not just a new day, but it's a new year! For some reason I became really excited about this and was thinking about how I cannot wait to accomplish stuff I've been putting off for a while and make good changes this year. It made me wonder what the word new really means. So, I start off greeting you with a Happy New, Fresh, Original, Different than before, and Unfamiliar 2011! As I personally reflect back on 2010, I recognize that God did some amazing things in my life. I graduated from College, was in two weddings, ran a 5k, went to Africa, and passed all of my credential tests! These are all great things, but of course my life isn't perfect and I feel it's only fair to be honest about something negative that happened in 2010. Unfortunately, I gained some weight and went up one size and weigh the most I have in my life. I've reached a point where I'm uncomfortable with my body and need to make appropriate changes. That being said, I will change my eating habits as well as exercise more frequently and surrender any struggles with this to God, relying on Him to help me.

I also reflect on how new years resolutions are made and most times not kept throughout the year. I recognize that I can make as many new years resolutions as I want, but I need to be more realistic with myself. In 2011, I'd like to learn how to sow (at least put buttons back on a jacket or coat) and I'd like to learn how to cook. These are the two practical things I'd like to learn this year. Of course there is also the usual eat healthier and exercise more. On a spiritual level, I'd like to worry less and pray more. I'd also like to surrender specific areas in my life to God that I spend too much time thinking about. I'd like to pursure Him, not him. God has shown me that I tend to pursue him and not Him. I desire and long to be in a relationship and meet my future husband, but He's revealed to me many things about this (see future blog) and I need to be obedient. I'm so thankful for how often God speaks to us when we pursue Him. I also look back in my journals and read about a struggle I had or a circumstance and find that most of the time it is followed with a scripture, worship song, or word from someone that directly encourages me in the area I was struggling with. God is so faithful.

This year I've decided to date God. This may sound silly to some of you, but I realized I need to go on dates with God more often. I've done it sometimes where I'll go to the beach and spend time with Him in the word and journaling. When I was thinking about it, I wondered what is the purpose of dating? To me it seems the purpose of dating is getting to know someone. I realize that I know some things about God, but I'd love to learn more about Him as I pursue Him. When I go on dates with God, I must use that time to really get to know Him. I know it can be easy to spend time with God and focus on our needs, tell Him things we are struggling with, pray over certain circumstances, etc. However, dating God means I am making an effort to get to know Him and the only way to do that is by reading His word. God has recently placed it on my heart to spend time recognizing and meditating on his characteristics and qualities such as compassion, loving, kind, slow to anger, etc. My desire and hope is to focus on one characteristic each date with God by reading my Bible to find scriptures and truths of examples where God puts these characteristics into action. I can't wait! :) Most likely, I'll end up blogging about what God speaks to me on our dates, so you will hear all about it. ;) (In case you were wondering)

As I conclude, I encourage you to continue pursuing Him in every area of your life. Recognize that this is a new, fresh, original, unfamiliar, different than before year and thank God for a new start. Finish the things you've started. Do what you have been putting off. Read your Bible daily. Include God in every aspect of your life. Never stop praying. Stop looking back and start looking forward. Walk in the abundant life that God offers you. Be strong in the Lord.

Here are some scriptures that hopefully encourage you as you begin 2011:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" Isaiah 43:18-19

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17