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

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Fun-Filled Weekend!

Recently I realized that my posts are all about God, God, and more God. I love God, and it makes sense to share what He is doing in my life, but I also want to start making this blog more about what He's doing in my life and where He is leading me, including the fun places and things I do. I want to add photos and make it all cute, but I am clueless as to how to do that. (If you have any idea or know anyone who can be of help, let me know) One of these days I plan to invest time in trying to make it better than boring generic background without flair. :)

So, here is my first post about some FUN I had this weekend. I believe God has been telling me to stop putting so much pressure on myself to do so many things for Him, but instead to have some fun in life and enjoy it. One very early morning God woke me up and said "Raise God Up and Have Fun!" and that has stuck with me. I don't want to look back on this season in my life and say I wished I could have done more fun stuff, or I wish I would have done this or that.

This past weekend was fun-filled. Saturday was a Girls Day Out with my Bible Study Group for Apple Picking in Julian. I had never been apple picking before and it was very fun. I felt like a kid again. The best part about it was picking an apple right off the tree and being able to eat it right there! Saturday was the day before my last day of The Daniel Fast, a very strict diet that is Biblical. The Daniel Fast entailed eating mostly Fruits and Vegetables, so you better bet those apples have never tasted so good...but really, they were delightful and delicious. I think I ate a total of 4 solely while we were picking them off the tree :) My friend, Danielle, took some photos from the day and posted them on her photo blog: under blog titled How About Them Apples. Below are some photos I took with my cell phone:

My first bite into the delightful apple

The cute little green apple I picked :)

A better view of the cute, little, and delicious apple

Sunday I decided to sleep in and spend the day with my sister. I had a very long week and was unable to sleep in at all, and rest is important to me. I will listen to the sermon from church online this week. I spent the day with my sister on Sunday. We went Grocery Shopping at Trader Joes and Ralphs and then headed to Bates Nut Farm. We heard a lot about it and went when we were younger but figured it was time to venture up there again. We heard it was crowded, but didn't realize it would take us almost 2 hours to go about 10 miles! By the time we got there, we thought it must be pretty great! :) We were impressed with the size of it and went inside to buy some peanut brittle, toffee nuts, and fill up a bag of candy. Aren't we so healthy? ; ) We definitely have a family full of sweet teeth. Then we went to find our pumpkins. We were a bit overwhelmed by the massive amounts of pumpkins and caught ourselves people watching and adoring the cute children surrounded by pumpkins who were being photographed by their parents. We ended up picking out a couple along with baby pumpkins to decorate the house with, took a few photos, and headed back to the car. It turned out to be a longer day than we had planned, but we had fun and that was the most important part! :) Below are some pictures from our adventurous day.

A cute little colorful tree we saw on our way there while sitting in traffic

Unbelievable! We finally made it!

Sooooooo many pumpkins...and this is just one section

I found one! :)

Marissa and her pumpkin.

A cute baby pumpkin

Super cute pumpkin

Sisterly love

Can you tell we're sisters? :) I think we look more alike as we get older.

We love our salt-water taffy...

...and our Butter Toffee Nuts (Peanut Brittle is for our mom)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When you get angry, how do you respond?

Tonight I caught myself getting angry with someone, and I recognized after the fact that I was not pleased with how I responded to the conflict. God is really growing me in this area. (Yes, I do get angry, believe it or not) Let me begin with the scripture God brought to mind.

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for a man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:19-22

Is it just me or isn't it so hard to remember this scripture when we are in the midst of something that causes our emotions to rise so quickly? In fact, when these situations come about, I find myself doing the exact opposite. I'm slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry. Something is wrong with that. As soon as I get angry or frustrated, it is as if something arises in me and I won't settle until the person I am communicating with hears me out or agrees with me. I find myself ending the argument..."Well, we aren't getting anywhere with this by arguing and disagreeing, constantly restating ourselves, so let's just stop talking about this. It's not doing us any good and it's only causing tension in our relationship." That is true, but at this point, I've become so worked up about it that I can't keep discussing whatever this disagreement is about. I choose to end the conversation in frustration.

This time around, I decided to deal with it immediately and take it to God. I didn't feel good about how it went and I didn't feel like I responded well to what sparked the argument in the first place. In fact, I think it was me who actually let the argument arise. Of course we never want to admit such a thing or see things in ourselves we dislike, but God is certainly good at humbling me lately, especially when I am not portraying the character of Christ. I knew He was the best one to talk about this though and I asked him to give me a scripture to help me see things His way. He gave me the scripture above. I began to calm down and see things in a new perspective, through the lens of Christ. Before I looked up the scripture, I thought about how I have a choice as to how I respond to someone, no matter the topic of discussion. I can control what comes out of my mouth and I want to speak life and not death. (The Bible discusses the power of the tongue a great deal ) I began to think about how I could have responded differently. I began to think about the words I could have said instead of what actually came out of my mouth. I began to think about the root of my frustration and anger. God kindly reminded me that I could have responded in a way that was Christ-like, how He would have responded to a disagreement.. Next time I experience this, I hope I can do things differently. I am so thankful we can learn from our mistakes. After I stepped away from the disagreement, I was able to recognize that the real problem was me. A Christ-like response would have been quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Had I approached it this way, the conversation would have been much shorter and I would have walked away with peace, God's peace. I may have still felt hurt or frustrated internally, but it wouldn't have brought about so much conflict between me and the person I was talking to. I could have responded so simply and let it be.

When I opened up my Bible to the Scripture, I couldn't help but notice the words that followed that verse..."humbly accept the word planted in you" (In my head: quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry), and "Do not merely listen to the word, do what it says." WOW. So, God quickly confirmed through His Word the right way to respond when you feel angry, and the importance of acting on that appropriate response in the midst of it.

-Study notes: When we talk too much and listen to little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. James wisely advises us to reverse this process. Put a mental stopwatch on your conversations and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen.

-Study Notes: These verses speak of anger that erupts when our egos are bruised- "I am hurt"; "My opinions are not being heard." When injustice and sin occur, we should become angry because others are being hurt. But we should not become angry when we fail to win an argument or when we feel offended or neglected. Selfish anger never helps anybody.

-Study Notes: It is important to listen to what God's word says, but it is much more important to obey it, to do what it says.

Anger takes our focus off God.

"Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret- it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land." Psalm 37:8, 9

-Study Notes: Anger and worry (fretting) are two very destructive emotions. They reveal a lack of faith that God loves us and is in control. We should not worry; instead, we should trust in God, giving ourselves to him for his use and safekeeping. When you dwell on your problems, you will become anxious and angry. But if you concentrate on God and his goodness, you will find peace.

Reflect on how you respond to people when you get angry and remember that you are responsible for the words that come out of your mouth and you do have control over them. Think before you speak. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I believe this takes time to learn, as this isn't the first time I've not been pleased with how I've responded when I get angry. I am thankful God is helping me see things His way and a better way to respond. How can we reflect God's character if we are not responding to anger in a way that is Christ-like?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day by Day

I must confess that I am not pleased with my last post on my blog titled Start Somewhere. I honestly wanted to delete it and hoped nobody had read it. I wish I could have made it short and sweet about how when I feel overwhelmed with the many things I want to do in my daily life, God kindly told me to Start Somewhere. It could have been just that plus an encouragement to others to do the same. Instead, I felt the need to expand and list all the things in my daily life that I wanted to accomplish, and then make a new list of how I would accomplish them. It was all so unrealistic and I have not even followed through with the "new list" I made of how I would accomplish everything.

After hoping nobody had read it, a friend of mine texted me. Here is how our conversation went. "F" means friend and will be what she wrote and "K" is for what I wrote.

F: How is your list of things you want to get done going?
K: I was hoping nobody read that blog. It was too much and I haven't done much and I am so hard on my self :( Just taking it Day by Day.
F: Day by Day is good! It was quite a list...lots of things to fit into every day.
K: Ya, not sure what I was thinking ;) I wanted to delete it!
F: It's ok...maybe amend it? I'm sure when most people read it they were wondering when you were planning on sleeping...that was my question at least.

Since writing that blog, I recognized how easy it is for me to be hard on myself. I tend to focus on the things I don't get done in the day. I tend to focus on the things I am not changing and I forget to focus on the positive. This is quite interesting for me because I am generally a positive person, yet when it comes to evaluating myself and my time, I can't even pick out the positives. Maybe you can relate.

I am in a Women's Bible Study that meets weekly and I like to call it my Girls Group. Last Tuesday night they asked me how I was doing on the Daniel Fast (God put it on my heart to do this a while ago and I am finally doing it...may post a blog eventually with more details) and I was quick to tell them how discouraged I was about my success with this fast. After sharing with them, they began to tell me they think I am doing great and it sounds like I am doing great. You see, I notice the things I am falling short in, and they see my choice to do the fast and discipline to stick to it despite the challenges. It definitely opened my eyes and I went home after Girls Group and started reflecting on the things I am doing well with on this fast and the good coming from it. I felt so much better.

Another thing that has come to mind since writing my previous blog is

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

In context, this scripture is surrounded by Jesus telling his disciples not to worry. I often find myself worrying about my time- how I should use it, which one of the many things to do when I have empty time, what should I do first, am I using it wisely? You may find yourself worrying about other things. However, Jesus instructs us not to worry and instead seek Him first.. I like to see it as when we seek Him first, everything else will fall into place. God will take care of the rest if we are seeking Him first. The study notes in my Bible say the following about this scripture: To "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" means to turn to God first for help, to fill your thoughts with His desires, to take his character to your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. What is really important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly become most important if you don't actively choose to give God first place in every area of your life.

A recent devotional from Jesus Calling, written by a missionary, as if God is speaking the words she is writing, states the following.

IN ORDER TO HEAR MY VOICE, you must release all your worries into My care. Entrust to me everything that concerns you. This clears the way for you to seek My face unhindered. Let Me free you from fear that is hiding deep inside you. Sit quietly in My Presence, allowing My Light to soak into you and drive out any darkness lodged within you. Accept each day just as it comes to you, remembering that I am sovereign over your life. Rejoice in this day that I have made, trusting that I am abundantly present in it. Instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, thank Me in all circumstances. Trust Me and don't be fearful; thank Me and rest in My sovereignty.

1 Peter 5:6-7: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Psalm 118:24: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

1 Thessalonians 5:18: "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

My encouragement to you on this journey of Pursuing Him is learn from my mistakes. Don't set yourself up for failure. Set realistic expectations that you can meet, or trust that God will help you accomplish everything you need to in His timing. Trust that daily He will guide you and give you wisdom about what to do. This is something I am learning and the past couple days have been better since I have taken it day by day and chosen to listen to the Holy Spirit's leading with my time.

Because God is so timely, as I finished writing in my journal the Jesus Calling Devotional, I heard a song on Pandora play that was so relevant and timely. It is called Remain by Starfield. The music video is posted below. Day after day God never changes. No matter how I choose to live my day, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Start Somewhere

Do you ever think about all the things you want to do yet somehow never make time to do them? I find myself doing this quite often. Sometimes I become overwhelmed with how many different things I want to do that I sit and dwell on which one I should do instead of simply starting somewhere. Sometimes it can be so hard to put our thoughts into actions. Let me give you some examples of my list of the many things I'd like to do on a consistent basis.

1. Read books
2. Read my Bible
3. Write a book or two
4. Blog
5. Eat healthier
6. Exercise
7. Listen to God
8. Write prophetic words for people
9. Seek God for guidance about Africa in my future
10. Finish reading my Bible front to back (Should have been done in August and I'm only in Hosea)
11. Journal to my future husband (I have a journal for him that I started in January 2010)
12. Finish my Ghana photo book
13. Make photo book for Mozambique trip in 2010
14. Make photo book from student teaching
15. Rest in God's presence

These things are on my mind constantly, and the Lord has blessed me with time right now, so I can work towards accomplishing these things, it is just a matter of starting somewhere. If I look at the long list, of course it will be overwhelming. There is no way I can do all of the above daily.

The Lord kindly asked me what am I doing to accomplish these tasks. And so, I reflected:

1. I want to read more, but I don't read my book often
*2. I want to read my Bible consistently, and I am doing better by studying Jesus and reading through Matthew
3. I want to write a book or two, but I don't sit down and start writing either of them
4. I want to blog more, but I can't get myself to sit down and do it. Do I continue to post and reflect on coming home from Ghana? What about before Ghana, the posts I wanted to share but never wrote? Do I post one of the many topics God's given me through journaling and reading His word since I've been back from Africa? Do I post on what I am going through now? There are so many choices and I don't know what to choose so I choose nothing.
*5. I want to eat healthier, and I have done what the Lord has told me to do that by changing what I am eating for a specific amount of time
6. I want to exercise, but I'm not getting off my butt and doing anything of that sort.
7. I want to listen to God, but I'm not taking time to be still and listen.
8. I want to write prophetic words for people, but I am not taking time to be still and ask God who He wants me to give a word to and what He wants me to say. It's simple, just takes time.
9. I want to know where God wants to take me in regards to Africa in the future, but I'm not asking Him persistently nor am I being active about my pursuit in the things He has revealed to me.
10. I want to finish reading my Bible front to back, but I'm not doing the daily reading from my plan, so how can I ever expect to finish it?
11. I want to write more journal entries to my future husband in his journal, but I don't do it when I think of it and then I get distracted by other things and never go back to it.
12. I want to finish my photo book I'm making for Ghana, but I am not making time to work on it.
13. I want to make a photo book from Mozambique 2010 trip to Africa, but I haven't started it.
14. I want to make a photo book from student teaching, but I haven't started it.
15. I want to rest in God's presence, but I choose not to

So, I am actually putting into action about 1/7th of what is on my list. When I began to reflect on all of the above, the Lord told me, Katie, just start somewhere. Do something. And so, I have decided to make some changes by starting somewhere. Note that this is a choice I am making, and you too, can choose to start somewhere on the list of things you want to accomplish. Part of starting somewhere is starting small. When you evaluate your list, come up with tasks that you are able to accomplish and don't be hard on yourself if you have one bad day or are unable to meet your committment for the week, but try again for next week and don't let it become a habit that you fall short on your new committments.

1. Everyday, I committ to reading for 30 minutes.
2. I will continue to read my Bible daily and study Jesus through the gospels
3. I will set aside one day/afternoon each week where I will work on solely writing my books.
4. I will committ to post two blogs each week at least.
5. I will continue with the committment God has told me to do in regards to eating healthier for the length of time He has placed on my heart
6. I will exercie 3 days a week for 30 minutes each at minimum. (Do some sort of cardio, even if it is a simple walk)
7. I will spend 10 minutes a day listening to God.
8. I will spend 10 minutes a day asking God for a word for someone
9. I will email the open doors and meet with people I need to about Africa, and be consistent about asking God what He wants for me. I will also listen for His direction and start saving money for a future trip to Africa.
10. I will complete the daily readings on my Daily Bible Reading plan to finish reading the Bible front to back
11. I will write journal entries to my husband the moment that they come to mind
12. I will complete two pages in my Ghana photo book everyday in order to complete it soon
13. I will begin a photo book from Mozambique trip and spend 30 minutes each day working on it
14. I will begin a photo book from Student teaching and spend 30 minutes each day working on it
15. I will listen to one worship song every day where I am resting in God's presence.

All that being said, what things do you think about doing but haven't yet for some reason or another? I know not everyone has as much free time as I do, but we have to make time in order to start somewhere. If we don't start somewhere, we will never accomplish any of the things we desire to do. I encourage you to make a list and get started with how you will make changes so that you can start somewhere on those things and begin to accomplish them.