Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our love endures

This day has been a lingering reality since that night we started dating, when we tried to hide our smiles at the excitement of actually having the luxury of calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend; when we began to make plans for our first date as a couple, where we would go and what we would wear. This day has been a lingering reality since that night "he" and "I" became "we." This day is D Day; Deployment Day. And to be completely honest, this reality, while very real in the physical sense, has failed to become real to me mentally and emotionally. Up to this point there has been much conversation, prayers, and tears, but as I sit here, with th
is day in full affect, I still can't grasp the full reality of it all. The reality that for the next 105 days I will not be in the same room as him, I will not eat a meal while looking at him across the table, I will not read with him at my side, and I will not ride to church in the passenger seat of his car. For the next 105 days I will be doing life alone, and it all seems so surreal.

It has been said that a tree's roots grow deepest not when it has the perfect climate,water, and sun exposure, but rather when it endures a season of hardship, a season of drought, or a season of storms. It is in this time, when the conditions are anything but ideal, that the trees roots grow deeper than ever. In an effort to obtain the water needed so as not to dry up and die or the anchor needed so as not to be uprooted my the storm, the tree's roots will deepen and strengthen.

Life is full of different seasons; seasons of plenty and seasons of lack. Seasons of happiness and seasons of pain. Seasons of love and seasons of hurt. But it is in these seasons of lack, pain, and hurt, that our roots grow their deepest, strengthening us to withstand the storm. Chris' deployment is anything but desirable. And while there may be times of lack, pain, and hurt, I know that our roots are deepening; I know that we will come out of this season standing taller and stronger, because our love endures all things.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The choice is ours

It's not in a booming thunder or a rushing wind that God speaks to us, but rather in the small whispers of thoughts and ideas that pop into our mind as we go about our day. It's in these moments, when thoughts and ideas contrary to our own fleshly desires appear in our mind, that we have the option to acknowledge them as words from God, or dismiss them as our own and go on, living the way we choose, ignoring His still small voice. The choice is ours. One choice will lead to a seperation, false sense of truth, and distance from God. One choice is easy to make, it requires no trust in anyone but ourself, no faith for the unseen, no uncomfortable feelings of lost control. But the other choice, that choice that says "I will listen to You. I will obey what You tell me to do. I will trust you that you know what's best for me and that your timing is perfect.", is the choice that will lead to His perfect plan for our life. Because when we give our all to Him, sacrificing what we really want for what He really wants, He can't help but to pour out His blessing and favor on us. It's in this time, when our sacrifice leaves us feeling weak, alone, and unsure of ourselves, when we empty our hearts of ourselves, that Jesus is given room to rule in our lives.

"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, ... For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9&10
I heard His still small voice whisper so softly and so lovingly and I knew that things needed to change, an adjustment needed to be made, and no part of me wanted to do it. I tried to find another way, a compromise, a happy medium, but I knew that for Him to rule, and for His perfect plan to manifest in my life, I had to put aside my own desires and seek His. I had to put aside the plans I had made and the way I thought it should go, and seek Him, His plan, His way. I had to trust Him with the situation, acknowledging that He knows best and that His timing is perfect. I gave the situation to Him, and while I'm excited for what He has planned and I know that it will be amazing, it doesn't stop the feelings of weakness, lonesomeness, and insecurity that come from losing control. But I know that when I am weak, then I am strong.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Enough is enough

Why is it that, while having more opportunities than I can count, I find myself getting in the way of... myself.
Dreams, desires, aspirations, goals; my list goes on with the things I hope to do and be someday. And that's precisely the problem: someday. Rather than realizing the dreams, desires, aspirations, and goals that I can have today, I say someday; thereby negating myself from actually doing anything today. I find myself making statements such as "when this happens then I can..." or "once I'm in a different location, job, city, then I will..." I stand in my own way yet wake up to another day, disappointed and discouraged that nothing is happening in my life and that the feeling of "being stuck" envelopes me. I wake up to another day, discouraged. And rather than step out of my own way, seize the day, and make my dreams happen, I find myself sitting on the couch, eating Oreos and peanut butter, watching Devil Wears Prada while dreaming of living in NYC someday and wondering why my jeans don't fit any longer. I sit here and resolutely decide that tomorrow will be the day and things will change. Tomorrow I will eat better, go back to bootcamp, start taking care of myself again. Tomorrow I will begin teaching myself guitar. Tomorrow I will write that blog that I have been wanting to write for the last month now. Tomorrow I will read the rest of that book I started over a year ago. Tomorrow.
My dreams sit in my tomorrows while I sit and watch the opportunities of today past right through my fingers.
As sad as it makes me to admit, this is not the first time that this has happened. In fact, this feeling and this state of discouragement has become a familiar place for me, all too familiar actually. And rather than look at myself, realize that I am my own worst enemy, and change, I blame it on work, my schedule and the fact that I live in the middle of no where and at least 20 minutes away from anything that remotely resembles a city of any kind. My excuses go on and on. I blame my lack of fulfilled dreams on anything and anyone but myself. And slowly, I kill myself, from the inside out. I am my own worst enemy.
Coming to this realization is nothing new. I have been here before. But something needs to change. I can't keep coming to this realization. I can't keep standing in my own way... and letting myself get away with it. Coming to this realization is only half the battle. It's what I do from here, the next step I decide to take, that really matters. Because without this next step, this realization is worth nothing, dead. And this dead realization doesn't go to the grave alone. It's a death that spreads like the plague, taking down every dream, desire, aspiration and goal I may have. Finding myself, even a year from now, sitting on the couch, eating oreos and peanut butter, watching Devil Wears Prada while dreaming of living in NYC someday and wondering why my jeans don't fit any longer is not a reality I am willing to face. Enough is enough. I have come to this ugly realization, and taking the next step, holding on to every dream, desire, aspiration and goal I have with all that I am. God has given each one of them to me and I am not going to disappoint. Today, not tomorrow, my dreams will come true.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Embracing the silence

I might just have a problem... and admitting this is the first step... or so I've heard.

I'm a crazy multi-tasker. Like, it may just be out of hand. I found myself comfortably seated at the breakfast bar this morning, reading up on all my favorite blogs (thanks to bloglovin this process is so easy!) but the silence was uncomfortably.... silent. So, I moved to the couch, turned on HGTV & kept reading. But then there was a commercial, and I HATE commercials! So I muted the television and turned on some Future of Forestry. Then my show came back on, I muted my music, unmuted the television, and continued reading. And then I started writing. Like I said, I might have a problem.

The problem with my problem is that silence and simply being has almost turned into a four letter word for me. It makes me so uncomfortable to be in silence and just be me, that, well, I never allow silence to surround me. I never allow myself to simply be me. Yet, in our silence, God speaks. And when we are comfortably ourselves, God can come and encourage us, teach us, move us to where He wants us to be. But if we continue to flood the silence with our televisions, music, and noise, God has no room to talk and ultimately gets pushed so far out of our lives that when He actually does speak, we no longer recognize His voice, putting it off as our own random thought.

But, in an effort to hear God, to learn, move, and grow, I'm turning off the television, turning off the music, closing my laptop, and embracing the silence; embracing who I am; embracing the voice of God.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46:10

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jesus Heals

Search the web for natural medicine and you will find almost 15 million results. Click on one of these sights and find out how anything from acupuncture to yoga to reiki (a transferring of energy from practitioner and client to restore harmony to the body's energy and trigger the body's healing process, according to about.com) can cure you of your self diagnosed illness. Talk with loved ones who are dealing with some sort of illness, sickness or pain in their body and many will find that they are readily open to the idea that these alternative forms of medicine would be most beneficial for them. Yet what many do not take into consideration is the background of the "medicine" they are considering; that yoga revolves around the idea that God is an impersonal, spiritual substance, coexisting with all of reality and acupunture around the idea of duality, yin and yang, two opposites co-existing, with each root found in the other. And what many do not realize is that God is not an impersonal, spiritual substance that coexists with reality but rather He is the Creator and Sustaner of all; that "God cares what happens to (a tiny sparrow, a pet canary) even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head!" Matthew 10:29 He is involved in EVERYTHING, knowing you better than you know your self. We quickly forget that we can come to Him with ALL of our problems, all our illnesses, sicknesses and pains, that He is our Jehovah-Rophe (The Lord that Heals) and that we can ask for ANYTHING in the name of Jesus and He will do it.
So, instead of being a people that looks to the most "popular" form of medicine for our healing, let's look to Jesus, the Healer of all, and claim our healing in Jesus name!

Tonight, at Life Bible Church, we will have an amazing man of God, Dr Yan Venter, utilizing the healing gift that God has given him to heal every kind of sickness, disease and pain, from toothaches to cancer, infertility to autism. I invite you, come and be touch by Jesus Himself.

John 14:12-14 (The Message)
11-14"Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Birthday, Christmas, and lessons in between

“Hey Stine, what do you want for your birthday?”
The question I knew was coming, and the question I was dreading most. You see, I could think of a million things I wanted (I mean really, what girl couldn’t?) but I had decided that there is a big difference between want and need, and if I was really honest with myself, I needed nothing. And if I was realistic, there were so many people I could think of that really needed something, so who was I to ask for what I really wanted. And so I told my sister I wanted nothing, a decision that did not come easy and, if I were truly honest, took much self-coaching.

Funny thing about sisters; they know you, often better than you think. So when I gave her my lame “I don’t want you to get me anything” answer, she knew I didn’t mean it, even though I thought I did. So, my birthday came and with it so did my birthday card and gift card from my sister. Even though I told her “No!”
Then I came to a realization. Not just any realization. One of those realizations that you hate to come to, knowing things are going to have to change, and change means work. But change is a good thing. Change means growth, and growth is good (growing pains and all).

Four words were all He needed to say. “What do you want?” These four words; this one question, were the first words; the first question, that John records in his Gospel, of Jesus Christ. And these four words; this one question, gets me every time. Jesus, the Son of God, asked this question to the disciples, not because He didn’t know what they wanted “for He knows the secrets of the heart” but because they needed to know what they wanted, why they were there, what they were wanting to received from Jesus. And, in a response equally as lame as mine to my sister, the disciples asked, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus, the Son of God, God with skin on, asked what they wanted, and all they can come up with was to see where He was staying. Jesus simply responds, “Come and see.” as if to say “Sure guys, whatever you want.” And I can’t help but wonder; if they had asked something different, something more than to see where He was staying, would He have still said “Sure guys, whatever you want.”? My bible says, “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” So, according to Ephesians 3:20, He most definitely would have granted any request they had. Yet they simply asked to see where He was staying; and I simply said I didn’t need anything for my birthday. How foolish of me.

Yet we are all guilty of this mentality. We buy into a mindset that we shouldn’t ask for certain things because, if we were really honest with ourselves, we don’t really need them. And if we really thought about it, we could think of so many other people who really needed something, so who are we to ask for what we really want? We lack one major truth of who God is, forgetting that He has the power to provide for the needy AND make our wildest dreams come true. We forget that our God “owns Cadillac’s on a thousand lots” (in the words of Pastor Judah Smith) and ultimately settle, accepting our current state while secretly dreaming of something different, yet never telling God what it is that we truly desire. We even sing “How great is our God” while not realizing, or not believing, in how great He truly is.

What would happen if we began dreaming? What would happen if we tested God in the promises He has given us? What would happen if we took the Word of God, believed it with all of our heart, and put it into practice?

My birthday came, and my birthday went, and with the realization that God can do epically more than I can dream, I began thinking of what my Christmas list would consist of. Yes, it was September still, but I was expecting great things from God. I was going to be ready with my answer when the question came “What do you want for Christmas?” and when the question finally came, I found the closest piece of paper and writing utensil and scribbled it down: 1. Canon 30D 2. Canon 50mm f1.4 3. Adobe Lightroom 4. Adobe Photoshop.

Christmas came, and Christmas went, and with the realization that God can do epically more than I can dream, I beamed with joy, because my camera and lens were in the mail!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's tradition

There's something about the holiday's that give certain people (including my family... and yes, that includes me) the urge to make traditions (and yes, in case you were wondering; I'm already planning traditions that I will subject my children to one day). Some choose a family game that, with out it, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas. Others bake SweetBabyJesus a birthday cake (yes, this is on my list of torturing traditions my children will be subjected to- can't wait!). But for my family, we sing. It's just what we do, every Christmas. Many would not believe it unless they see it with their own eyes, but it really does happen; right after we open our gifts. My Aunt or Uncle pops out of nowhere with the song books that they have been patiently clinging to all evening and begin passing them out. The cousins look at each other and smile that smile that says "oh dear, here we go." When we arrive at this portion of the evening I can't help but cringe a bit inside, every year. If I (and I'm sure other members of my family) were to be completely honest; there is definitely a love/hate relationship going on with this tradition. A relationship I will strive to acheive in my children one day (sorry in advance little ones... and future husband for that matter).
We split up into groups, decide which group has which portion of the song (which is a major feat in and of itself in my family) and, in no particular order, and at a pitch that would make most dogs howl, we sing (or yell) the Twelve Days of Christmas. And here my love/hate relationship lies. "Are we really doing this? Seriously? How old are we? This is so immature! Oh SweetBabyJesus forgive us for ruining your birthday party with this song" I think quietly to myself. Sometimes (ok, most of the time) I can be a bit dramatic. I like to think of it as being emotional, it sounds sweeter than dramatic. Either way, I cringe, then sing. And before I know it my cringe is replaced with laughter... and my love/hate relationship turns from hate, to love. It's in those moments, when we let go, give in, and laugh, that memories are born. It's in those moments that I realize I wouldn't trade my life, my family, my Christmas, with anyone else. Because without the Twelve Days of Christmas my Christmas would not be complete.
Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.
Anthony Brandt