Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Lord Will Always Provide Enough

Working with the kids at the faith-based domestic violence shelter really has opened my eyes to how much I do have that I don't really need.  The same thing happened last summer when I went to Australia for two weeks to do volunteer work--I was staying in a VERY shabby hotel, with no heat or bed (and it was negative 5 degrees!), and no computer or cell phone.  When I first encountered my accomodations in Australia, I didn't know how I would manage to survive the next two weeks ahead of me!  After the first couple days, it turns out I adjusted quite easily, and not only did I learn to manage but I actually LOVED my lack of luxuries!  Not having constant distractions around me made me notice how wonderful life's moments can be if you take the time to relax and enjoy them.

Since I've been working with these kids who have been inflicted by domestic violence, I've had that same reminder that we don't need all that much to be happy and live wonderful lives.  I suppose one would expect that these children would be angry or depressed or sad, but it's actually quite the opposite!  They are so happy-even when living in a shelter with their past experiences still fresh in their minds.  Sure, there are days that are harder emotionally than others, but for the most part the children are so happy just when a volunteer talks to them for two minutes!  I think because of their experiences they extremely appreciate any tidbits of love they can get.  It gave me that same reminder of how very blessed I am that I have a nice, safe apartment with my husband and kitty cat and even though money can get pretty tight here in California, we still always have plenty of food, and we both have a car, and I'm able to go to college--we have more than enough of the essentials!  Which Garrett and I are very blessed and thankful for.  Having these reminders of how little one needs to be happy are so beautiful.  One, it helps you save money since it makes you be more mindful of only buying things you need, and two-it makes you realize that you can make so much out of life! 

Thinking about the children at the shelter really make me think of this passage from the Bible:

"Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.' So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, 'Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.'  As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, 'Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.' But she said, 'As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handfull of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.' Then Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, "The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of te earth."'  So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days.  The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah."--1 Kings 17:8-16 (NASB)

Other than making me think of the appreciation of even having seemingly little, I love this passage for a few other reasons.  (1) It proves that the Lord will always provide, even if it seems our resources have almost run dry, (2) If you put all your faith in God, He will give you all that you need, and (3) We can discover from this passage that all we really need is just enough.  For in this passage, they didn't even need to begin with enough bread for several days to fill their need for food, they just needed enough flour and oil to make enough bread for those days.  All they had was enough-and it was still a great blessing to receive that!  I hope that I am always able to keep that mentality about life!

I love how His Word is always living and changing!  God is so good!

-Jessica

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold to those who walk uprightly.  O Lord of Hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!"--Psalm 84:11-12 (NASB)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love So Amazing

I don't have a ton of time at the moment for I'm off to go teach Chapel on Wheels, but felt a great urge to write a quick post.

This morning, I really wanted to center myself and spend some quite time with God this morning to prepare me for teaching today and so I can get a relaxing start to another hectic week.

I turned on some relaxing music, and layed on my couch and just spoke to God in my head.  Then, I really felt like picking up my Bible.  However, I didn't feel the need to pick it up to read it, instead, I just picked it up and while I was talking with God I just ran my fingers across the pages and over His words and flipped through them.  I kept doing this for a really long time-I was sort of in a trance.

Then I got teary eyed because I felt so much happiness from this and was very strongly feeling His love towards me.  While I was holding my Bible, the reason I felt so mesmorized by His words were because I kept thinking "I can't believe how much He loves me...this book is His like His love letter to me.  He didn't have to give us so much information about His promises, but He chose to out of His grace.  I can't believe all the things He's done for me.  I just can't believe someone I can't even see loves me so much." 

It just seemed so amazing to me that the Bible...the best-selling book in the world...was written out of His love and with each and everyone of us in mind.  THAT is pretty amazing.

And what's also pretty amazing, is that at church and Bible studies, so forth...you are surrounded by people who also know His amazingness.  Thank you God, for your love!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Getting in the Groove of Things

Hello everyone!

I'm so happy fall is here!  We definitely needed some rain and cool weather-it was getting a little too hot in the summer!  Also, it's my favorite time of year for the holidays and the closeness of family and friends during this season.

I want to get better about updating my blog, it's been pretty sparse since I started school, but I'm getting more adjusted to my new schedule, and I think it's important for me to update my blog since it makes me pause and remind myself I need to schedule fun/relaxation time too!  Although I'm taking a lot of classes this semester, it's nice in a way because it is going by FAST!  Without having a ton of time to lolligag with homework, my business is helping school zoom by a bit.  I'm already 1/3rd through the semester!  Keep praying that I get good grades in all my classes for the remaining 2/3rds!

I'm liking my classes this semester a lot better than previous semesters...I feel that in the 400 level classes you get to do classwork more creatively and from your point of view applied to the material being studied, and they challenge you to critically think-as opposed to the 100/200 level classes where you are pretty much copying down and memorizing questions and answers...not a lot of freedom with that.

I'm approaching the second session of the Seed Women's Bible Study.  Even though we are only having our second  meeting, I've still been journaling about it on my own time to pull out the spiritual principles in the verses we are studying.  I already feel like I've grown so much in studying/journaling about the first session...I can't even imagine how amazing it will feel after I complete all six sessions!  I've been gaining so much joy, inspiration, growth, and knowledge more than ever recently from going to church, the young marrieds ministry, Seeds, and the women's agape group...which is FANTASTIC, however, I feel like since I'm receiving so much from God, I really wanted to give to Him as well.  As I think I may have mentioned before, I would really like to have a job where I am doing faith-based work, but I don't want to wait till ater graduation (nor should I) to give back.  Although I don't have a ton of time at the moment after school and the Bible studies/minsitries I'm doing, I've found a couple small ways to give back-I'm very excited, I think it's a great start.

Starting Monday, Oct. 3rd, I'm going to be one of the Chapel on Wheels teachers for a Yorba LInda Elementary School.  For those of you unfamiliar with Chapel on Wheels, it's basically a trailer that's like a mini church inside and once a week kids who have permission from their parents get to do 45 minutes of Bible study during the school day.  It's really fun...I did it when I was in fourth grade.  I think it's a great way to give back by spreading His Word, and plus I love kids! So I think love it.  I'm a little nervous since I've never done it before, but I know I can do it with God by my side (Phil 4:13)!!! 

I'm starting my domestic violence counseling training next Friday, so I'll blog about how that goes...until I finish it, I can't actually counsel DV victims, but I can still help them in other ways.  So in the meantime till I get my 40 hours of training done, I'm going to be volunteering by working in the nursery for a faith-based domestic violence women & children's center in OC. 

And to give you an update from my last post,  my counseling session with students from my school went very well!  The first session was mostly getting to understand the people I was working with, but the second session that was this past Thursday had great progress-I think it was pretty effective!

So, that's my life right now, and I'm loving it!  Thank God for blessing me with so many rewarding opportunities! He is so good!

Love,

Jessica

P.S. A side note, if you haven't yet, check out the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, it's great!  And check out this inspirational, sweet video: stservicemovie.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Drained, But Still Wanted to Write!

Hello friends,

My blog tonight won't really be one that's super inspirational (or possibly not very intelligent0 since I am EXHAUSTED! This month I haven't been writing as much as usual since school has taken up much of my time and energy, however I felt a little spark of wanting to write tonight, so thought I would write a brief blog on what I've been up to.

For some reason my whole life I have always had to be extremely busy.  I just don't like sitting still!  Well, although it is a good thing to have lots of motivation and accomplish many things, I think this semester I have learned how that can sometimes be very bad!  However, even though my calendar is full to the brim, I don't regret my decision to pack on a lot.  Since I have been growing stronger than ever in my faith with the Lord this year and have been talking with Him and listening for His guidance for what I should do with my life, I feel like I am getting tons of messages from the Lord flooding into me everyday. 

I think maybe I'm feeling so flooded with messages since I'm probably way overdue on listening to His guidance. lol  It's as if I was out of town for years and not able to ever check my email, and then all of a sudden I got back and am trying to sift through everything and figure out how to best apply His guidance to my life and fit His plan for me.  THe main reason I've been taking on a lot is because there are so many ways I want to serve the Lord using the guidance He has so graciously given me.

As I mentioned, I don't regret filling my calendar to the brim, although I am stressed sometimes, I am ulitmately proud for doing God's work and doing everything I am in His name.  Right now, I'm taking 6, 400-level 3 unit classes. One of them is a peer counseling class (which I have taken before and quite enjoyed).  I start my first counseing session with students tomorrow-it will be on positive body image.  I think I am a great counselor, and I think counseling is the path God wants me to go on and I think given my skills, it's the best way for me to do His work.  For another one of my classes, the whole entire class builds up to one BIG research project.  It's sort of like an "undergrad thesis".  We pick any topic we want (it has to apply to Women's studies of course), and we have to do a 20-page research paper then give a 30 minute presentation of our findings in late November.  IF we don't want to do a research paper, we can choose to do something else as long as the amount of work put in is equivalent. 

I wanted to do something different that I could possibly use for my future aspirations of being a counselor.  So, I am going to write a grant proposal for a non-profit women's counseling center.  But rather than having the center use the typical talking-listening approach to solve issues, I want to use a more active approach, for I feel turning an emotional past into something that can help prevent the same to happen to others is much more empowering for the clients and has more closure for their situation.  For example, someone who was a victim of domestic violence would meet a counselor for a couple sessions and the counselor can understand the client's situation a little better and get a feel for their personality.  Then, they would work together to develop an active approach to recovery--for example, the client and the counselor could collaborate together and develop a seminar that is taught to high school boys to teach them about domestic violence in order to help future generations from falling into the same harmful pattern of violence.  As I get further along in the process, I'll write more about it on this blog.

So I have a lot on my plate with that--I'm going to need to do research on the effectiveness of this counseling approach, how it is different from other women's org. in the area, how the grant funds will be distributed, what staff members we need, and lots of other legal aspects.  (THis grant isn't something I'm actually turning into the gov. for funding, it's a "fake" grant-yet has to be in the format for one that would actually be submitted).  I think this "grant" project is going to be great for a portfolio of counseling work!  And I think it'll be a lot of fun :)

I have this Saturday and next off from the Shea Center.  We just finished the summer session, and now me, the horseys, and the other volunteers need a break!  Bet in OCtober I'm back for the fall session!  I'm wanting to also get more experience on the learning therapy aspect of the Center.  (To fill those in who don't know what I'm talking about, the Shea Center is a therapeutic horseback riding center for children with disabilities.  I'm a volunteer there and I assist the counseling staff with mostly physical therapy, but a little bit of cognititve learning too).  I'm glad to have a bit of a break so I can sleep in on Saturday mornings, but I will miss the smell of the barn, Spy (the horse I work with), and of course the wonderful kids!

In two weeks, I'll be starting my 40-hour state required domestic violence training.  I know to most it would sound like a drag, but I want so badly to work with and help victims of domestic violence.  I truly feel it is my calling.  I'm very excited to start, because the sooner I start the closer I am to making a difference in the lives of others! 

I also just began doing a women's Bible study on Seed by Priscilla Shirer.  The purpose of the study is to help you realize how every verse in the Bible is living, and to help you learn how to read Bible verses in a way that helps you figure out how to apply each and everyone to your life so you can better discover yourself and to better serve God.  I'm only two days in, but so far am LOVING it!!!

I'm just so thankful to be able to have so many opportunities in my life to do God's work and to follow His path for me, as well as all the little blessings He places in my life each day!  I'm so thankful that Garrett and I have found a church we love with people we love who love God with us!  I'm also thankful that no matter how hectic each day is, that at the end of it I can feel satisfied knowing I've made God proud, and that in between my busy schedule and bedtime I get to cook dinner with my wonderful husband and cuddle with my adorable kitty! Hehehe  :)

Love,

Jess

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Much Motivation Needed, Please!

I've always been pretty confident in my work as a student, but ever since this current semester started (it's only been 3 weeks, but I still feel this way!) I've been feeling doubtful in my capabilities to do good work.  Maybe it's senioritis, maybe it's because I'm scared that I coming so close to the end of my undergrad college career since it means I have to have more of a direction with what I want to do with my life.  All I know is that I feel SCARED!

I keep reading the Bible and keep going to church, and I am continuously praying to God to help give me more clear direction.  I've been feeling like I was on the right path with counseling (which I still want to do), however I've been feeling like I'm not smart enough to complete this final year of school.  Garrett of course, tells me that's ridiculous and that I'm very smart, and that I'm just letting my fears get in the way, but I can't help but feel like I'm not cut out to complete such emotionally and academically challenging classes.  What's been scaring me is that if I feel this scared three weeks into my final year, how am I going to get through the 12 remaining weeks of this semester? Or the next semester for that matter? 

I know the best solution is to keep trying my best and to keep praying to God to give me strength and have more faith and confidence in my capabilities, but for the time being I would still love words of encouragement!  Every day I've been looking up various encouraging Bible verses, so if you have some faves, please share them with me!

Love,
Jess

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blessings

I've been pretty bad about updating my blog the past few weeks since I had finals for my summer classes, then got married the next week, then started my first week of my fall semester!  So things have been a little crazy.  Although I don't have a whole lot to write about at the moment, I did want to take the time to reflect on a few things.

What has been amazing me since this summer began are all the many ways God has blessed my life.  I normally would focus on the major blessings in my life (i.e. how I'm able to afford school, how I have a loving family, Garrett being in my life, etc.), but I've been fortunate enough to notice the numerous amount of blessings in my life-even the seemingly small ones.  I've been feeling so full of God's love lately, and have been feeling closer than ever to Him!  I have little conversations with him constantly throughout the day, and have been thanking Him for when I notice a blessing in my life, which has been keeping me very happy and optimistic in these hectic times of my life!

Continually thanking Him and talking to Him everyday has been amazing-I now more than every realize He is my best friend.  Even more recently, I've been so thankful to God for blessing mine and Garrett's marriage so much in just the two weeks we've been husband and wife.  We've been financially stable, we've been praying together since we got married a lot more than ever before, we both have loving families, we have a great group of other married couples at church we get to have fun with and enjoy God with, and we have an amazing, very loving relationship with each other!  Something Garrett and I have noticed are in short supply in the world today--especially in SoCal! 

Garrett and I are very excited to experience the upcoming big journeys and changes in our lives, and are also very excited to find out more of what God has planned for our marriage. I have my college graduation coming up in 9 months, Garrett and I are planning on moving to North Idaho after my graduation, and we still have our big wedding celebration with our families next June, too!  Until we get a little closer to going through those big journeys in our lives, in the meantime I'll be taking lots of classes, Garrett will still be going to work at Kaiser, we'll both get to spend time going to church and our church ministry (I'm gong to be part of an upcoming Priscilla Shrier women's Bible study in late Sep), I'm going to be going through the state-required domestic violence counseling training, and Garrett and I will continue to have many Disneyland date-nights!

God Bless!

Love, Jess

Friday, September 2, 2011

Please Help Me Help Others!

As most of you know, I am in my last year of college and am wanting to pursue a career as a counselor (i.e. family counselor, victims of domestic violence, etc.).  One of the first steps in becoming a counselor, as required by the state, is to attend a state-certified 40hrs domestic violence training.  However, the training does cost $200 that I need to try to raise by Sep. 14th.  THere are other training dates next year, but I am wanting to take the soonest possible one so I can start volunteering with victims of domestic violence, as this would be an invaluable experience, and this is an issue that is extremely close to my heart.  Any amount of money to help me towards the $200 would be a huge help, or even positive words of encouragement are always nice! :)  Here's the link to donate:

https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=WJ87sVvkYtDEx2_-qxVqTW6X5lgSmcMvSTd_-70x4RXfkbbi0vBnFCBwiIC&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8d35d0e363192f28ea2a5d17702da0dbf0

Once you go to paypal, you can say you're going to donate to "friends and family", and then donate to my email address: j.ruthlynch@gmail.com.  Or, if you know my address you can always send a check to if that preferable.  :) 

Thank you everyone and God bless!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Remembering to Count My Blessings

I read a sentence last week that’s been in my mind since I read it-it has just stuck with me.  “Don’t stress about or doubt anything—instead, pray about everything.”  Although there are some amazing life changes that I’m in the process of (i.e. in my last year of college, getting married, etc.), with these changes come also a lot of stress.  Most of the time, it is good, motivating stress.  However, sometimes all the excitement and work can take its toll and start making you doubt your capabilities—even make you doubt whether or not you even matter. 
          I know here and there everybody experiences these feelings of self-doubt and lack of capability, but I’ve always felt that in the past I’ve dwelled on these negative feelings more than the average person. I easily get discouraged or feel that I am unimportant.  However, my continuous journey in building a stronger relationship with God has helped me more than anything else to overcome these barriers.  I feel that now I’ve turned to God and am always praying and talking to Him about everything—just as that quote said—that I have felt more confident, important, and more capable of a person than I have ever felt—and I feel like my motivation and encouragement from God is growing every day. 
          I used to be pretty infrequent with praying, it just wouldn’t occur to me to do it since most of my life praying wasn’t something I was used to doing on a regular basis.  Over the past years, Garrett has reminded me to pray and has continuously reminded me that God wants to hear from me, and wants to help me—I just need to ask.  Garrett has helped me make praying more of a habit.  However, now that we’ve been attending church and have been making more friends who also are excited to have relationships with the Lord, my “habit” has not only become even more frequent, but praying is something I’m eager and excited to do numerous times a day, I have a passionate want and desire to feel closer to God!
          Since I have read that quote, it inspired me to do just that:  Whenever I doubt myself, or whenever I am stressed (or thankful for something), I immediately turn to God for guidance rather than hold on to stress and doubt.  As soon as I do talk to God about what’s on my mind, I instantly feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  Not only do I feel this relief, but once my negative thoughts drift away, I immediately start to notice all the wonderful things God has brought into my life—the positive is then in clear focus.  Even when I was sitting in traffic (which was adding onto my already stressed mood) one day, I was praying to God about what was troubling me, and I noticed not only how blessed I am in my life to be financially stable, able to go to college, and have a wonderful fiancĂ©, but I even noticed how pretty the scenery was where I was sitting in traffic! 
          It is so amazing to know right away to talk to God about everything—and that the experience is amazing when you do so!  I guess the major reason why in the past I had always held onto negative emotions so strongly was because I hadn’t discovered the beauty of the Lord to His fullest…I feel like a changed person since I have grown closer to Him!  I am still always reminding myself that I can get through anything and accomplish anything, as long as I always have God beside me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Next Chapter of My Life

From the very first day I went on a date with Garrett (4 years and 2 months ago tomorrow), I have always known without a single doubt that I was going to marry him and that we were soul mates.  I knew that I would always love him madly, and that he was not only supposed to be my husband, but that we were each other's best friends.  The other day I was talking with some girlfriends of mine and they were saying that they were feeling sad that they hadn't met their soul mate yet.  I told one of the girls not to worry, because I think that God brings our soul mates into our lives at the most perfect time--whether it's early in life or later in life, I think that God knows the best timing for everyone.  I was very fortunate to meet my soul mate at a very young age compared to most people (16 years old), and I don't think it was just a "lucky accident"--I truly believe that it was part of God's plan for us to meet when we did. 

When we met, Garrett had just moved to California from Idaho and didn't know anyone-he was feeling very lonely, and not only was this a change in lifestyle since he was in a new state, but it was also the first time he had moved away from living with his parents....as one can imagine, these two major changes happening concurrently with no one to even keep you company in your new city would be very stressful.  I had numerous, very serious issues with my family (I won't get into all of them right now), and I also felt like I had no one to talk to about what was going on in my life-my family wasn't talking to one another about what was going on, and I felt that I didn't feel that home was a safe place for me to be.  I didn't want to lean on my friends since I often didn't want to talk about my family issues and I felt that they wouldn't understand, and I didn't want to burden them either. 

We met each other when we were facing all these hardships in our lives, so I think God knew that we didn't just need a friend-we each needed an eternal best friend and soul mate.  I couldn't have EVER faced all the challenges that came my way without the support Garrett provided for me-he made me feel so loved and safe.  Even when I hardly knew him, I felt very comfortable talking to him about very personal things.  Garrett needed my love, support, and encouragement to help him through his new endeavors. 

Although I have always known during our dating that we were supposed to be husband and wife someday, it never really sunk in that it was actually going to happen.  Since we were so young when we started dating, getting married just seemed like a distant dream nowhere in the near future.  Then, on June 18th of this year, Garrett proposed to me!  I was so ecstatic and thrilled to be able to call him my fiance since we are so much more than just "boyfriend and girlfriend".  We decided we wanted our wedding to be June 16, 2012 (this day will be our fifth anniversary).  However, a couple of weeks ago Garrett and I started to feel that something wasn't quite right in our lives--we fetl that God was trying to communicate with us but couldn't pinpoint what he was trying to say.  We both prayed and talked to God together to help us figure out what it was he was trying to tell us.  So, one afternoon while Garrett was at work I felt that the best thing for me to do was to take my Bible and go to the arboretum and have some alone time with God, and really clear my mind of all my other though processes and just open up myself to Him.  After being there for an hour and a half, I felt that God was telling me that what was wrong was that we weren't married yet.  Garrett and I know that we were always meant to be husband and wife, and that it wasn't quite right for us to wait till next year-because our love is too strong and deep for each other to not say our vows to one another and become each other's families.  Once I realized God was telling me this, I called up Garrett and told him what I felt God was trying to communicate to me.  Garrett didn't even hesitate or give it a second thought, he just said, "Then we should get married as soon as possible".  I am so blessed to have a fiance who is so in sync with me and who loves the Lord!

So, we decided to have a civil ceremony (we are still going to have the big celebration next June).  Which means, we are getting married August 25, 2011 at 2pm!  I've been ecstatic over the past week, but for some reason today it really sunk in that we are going to get married...it seems very real and tangible now.  It is thrilling to think that I am going to be beginning the whole next chapter of my life in just 10 days!  Garrett and I will finally be a family!  We are so excited to find out what this new chapter of our lives will bring, and excited to find out what the next chapter will be!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Learning to Listen

For the past couple weeks, I have been having so many thoughts running through my head.  Not just the good kind of inspirational thoughts that cause that kind of excitement, but I've been having thoughts containing a huge range of topics and emotions.  At first, it was exciting because it got me thinking about a lot of things, and was motivating me to accomplish more things in my daily life.  Gradually, my head was getting full to the brim and it was driving me a little nuts!  Today I started asking myself, what is going on here?  I can control the speed of my own thoughts, can't I?  So why am I making myself anxious and stressed out by taking a breather and putting many of these thoughts I have on hold so I don't overcrowd my brain?

Then, it hit me:  It was God trying to talk to me!  Although I feel like I have been becoming tremendously closer to God, I feel that a major thing I definitely need to work on in my relationship with Him is learning to listen to Him.  Since so often my life is on hyper-drive, I forget to take moments throughout each day to listen to what God is telling me and look towards Him for guidance.  I realized today that God kept trying to speak to me these past couple weeks, but me not realizing it, wasn't really paying attention and instead was focusing on my own thoughts...leading to me having all these thoughts and ideas tumbling through my head!  I go on auto-pilot so often in my daily routines it sometimes becomes easy to lose grasp of the Lord's voice and end up trying to guide yourself. 

Once I realized that all these mixed emotions was God trying to get through to me, I grabbed my NKJV Study Bible and went to the arboretum.  I laid down a towel under the shade of a gorgeous tree by the stream at the arboretum, and then laid down on the towel and took a couple moments to just feel the nice summer breeze.  Once I relaxed myself, I talked to God for a long time about many things that I needed guidance with.  I then listened.  Once I took that time to clear my mind and only allow myself to hear His voice, things became much clearer.  Then, I looked up certain subjects in my Bible's index that had to do with the things I felt I needed guidance for in my life that I had talked to God about.  I spent about an hour just reading different verses in the Bible, and I got my answers, and now my mind feels at ease.  The verses I read clarified a lot of things for me, and the solutions seemed clear.  How I felt after I remembered to turn to God when I need guidance and after I reminded myself to try to listen to His voice everyday, something Pastor Bob said was sticking in my mind:  "When your values are clear, your decisions are easy." 

This was so true for me!  I know its so very hard in our hectic lives today to always try to listen to God and to remember to do so, but I hope this blog post was a helpful reminder that we all need and deserve quality alone time with the Lord.  I'm so thankful for the joy and guidance He continuously brings to me and the other people in my life!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sending People Love, Appreciation, and Encouragement!

On my drive to school today, I all of a sudden became inspired to text/email people in my life and just tell them that I love them, and why they're so important in my life.  Not only would messages like this make the recipient feel good, but it made me feel amazing to tell them this!  I think so often we forget just how blessed we are to have people who love us in our lives and are there for us.  I think it's great and brings lots of joy if every so often we just randomly let people know this.  The world needs more love and joy being spread around, and each and everyone of us can do this in our daily lives! 
Sending these thoughts to my friends and family were great reminders of me of all my blessings, and I felt it was an amazing way to pass on the love God has brought me.  <3

Spread the joy and tell others how much they mean to you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's the little things in life that make it so great!

When I started my day today, I was disappointed that it was only Tuesday.  I was thinking of how long I'm going to have to wait still until the weekend, and wasn't in the best of moods this morning since I was stuck in traffic, then once I got to class 5 minutes late, had to take a hard midterm.  Then right before my midterm, it hit me:  My pessimistic thinking was so silly and pointless!  Why should I be sad it's only Tuesday?  Shouldn't I be thankful that I have so many days of the week left in store?  Meaning more days till the week is over to make this a fulfilling and enjoyable week? 

I think everyone would generally agree that we want to live long, happy lives.  So if we want to live long (many days), then why are we always wanting to skip past Mon-Thu and just skip right to Friday evenings?  If we only wanted to experience 2 1/2 days of the week all the time, most of our lives wouldn't even exist, we would lose a huge portion of opportunities to make life great, and to develop amazing memories and experiences.  So why do we always want 4 1/2 days of the week to not even exist?  That would amount to a very short life...something most people do not want.  I'm better realizing everyday as my faith grows stronger that each day is such a blessing that God has given us!

Each day He gives us is another opportunity for us to feel fulfilled, enriched, and happy.  Each day He gives us opens up opportunities for us to learn, to laugh, to play, to love, to feel nourished, to relax, to progress, and to try to make differences in the world for the better.  Right before my midterm, I realized in that moment I shouldn't be dreading it, but I should be thankful that I am given the opportunity to go to a college in a world today where an education is not easily attainable, and that I should be thankful that by taking this midterm and attending class I am able to learn new things about the world and about myself.  Each day I'm not only given the blessed opportunity to learn academically, but learn about who I am, learn more about my relationship with the Lord, and learn more about His word through Bible study...each day I'm given the chance to have fun and be happy, by being able to be with family, friends, loved ones, do anything that makes me happy.  I'm realizing each day that every second I'm given by God on this earth is a blessing since it's an opportunity to experience and feel all that God has created for us. 

I am trying to constantly remind myself of these daily blessings, and I pray that others in my life realize this too so they can enjoy all their adventures in life.

Essay Contest Submission: Part 1

So as I mentioned in "So Much Going Through My Mind!", I am entering a contest for Real Simple Magazine, in which you have to write an article about how you discovered the meaning of love.  Each week, I'll post a portion of my article.  This is pretty much just the rough draft, so if anyone has any comments, suggestions it would be very much appreciated!  I want my essay to be perfect for the competition!  Here is the intro for my article:

  “I love chocolate.  I love summer.  I love shoes.”  We use the term “love” so frequently we forget its strength, its power, and the true meaning of love-we forget that without love we are lost.  The way we use the term “love” so commonly is like your drive home from work everyday…the first time you drive home from work you are very aware of your surroundings, you want to remember every detail of your drive home so you can remember it.  You have the joy of receiving a new job, you have the hopes and dreams flying through your mind 100 miles per hour of what this job is going to do for your life and how it’s going to make you stronger and change you for the better, and then once you are on your way home after that first day of work, you feel satisfied with your new accomplishment, and the path home is comforting since it brings you to a warm, happy place at the end of the day.  But after a while of working at your new job, you don’t pay attention to your surroundings.  You just go home.  And most likely, your mind isn’t flooded with how many new opportunities your new job will open for you—you’re instead thinking about who annoyed you at work that day, how exhausted you are…thinking about how you still have to make dinner, how you need to get around to doing chores.  That comforting path to your house is no longer special—this is what happens when we do something this frequently.  When we say “I love you” so loosely, we forget how powerful love is.  One really doesn’t realize how important love is—one can’t figure out just exactly what love means, and one can’t truly realize who they love, until you have lost something you have loved.  Just as if one day on your way home from work, driving with your mind on autopilot, the path home all of a sudden disappeared, and you weren’t able to get home.  We didn’t realize how important our paths were and how lost we were without them until we didn’t have them. Just like we are blind to what love means until we don’t have it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quiet Moments of Inspiration

It's amazing how inspired you can get by doing practically nothing at all!  Frequently we get inspired by doing something and working hard at it, or by watching someone do something...normally we wouldn't think inspiration comes even in silence with no one around you.  It seems like almost every morning, I am quickly feeling energized to start my day because before I get out of bed I feel inspired...and inspiration is the greatest motivator!  I've been getting inspired when I first wake up and am still laying in my bed trying to wake myself up enough to get up and start getting ready for my day.  Lately, when I'm still laying in bed awake, I've been very aware of my surroundings...I notice how soft and warm and comfortable my pillows and blankets are, I notice how beautiful the birds sound in the tree outside my window, and then I notice how gorgeous the tree looks outside my window, I notice how nice the cool, morning air feels, how beautiful the morning sky is with its shades of light purple, gray, and blue, and I get a smile on my face when I see my cat is happy that I am awake, and I get a warm feeling thinking about the coffee and breakfast I can have once I stand up. 

Up until recently, I never really noticed all these things each morning, because I was just so concentrated on how bummed I was that I had to get up out of bed and start chores, going to school, etc.  What's so amazing is that not only am I noticing all the beautiful details I get to experience in my daily life--something easily taken for granted--is that I am thankful for all of my beautiful surroundings, the love I have in my life, how blessed I am to have all the things I have.  It feels wonderful to  be able to be thankful for things we see everyday since after a while we don't really notice daily things since it starts to feel routine.  As I mentioned in "My Faith is Strengthening" post, I have always believed in God, but didn't really understand just how great He is and didn't understand how great His love is until Garrett helped open my eyes to how wonderful and loving God is.  Over the four years we've been dating, He slowly helped me understand these things about God, but this year has been the best for my relationship with God.  My relationship with God is at the best it's ever been because not only do I have a thirst to learn more about him like I have for the past three years, but this year I've not only felt this thirst for knowledge, but I'm constantly wanting to show God that my heart is His, and I've felt that God has been talking to me so much this year, and that He's been telling me how proud He is of me, and how happy He is that I'm talking to Him everyday, that I'm trusting Him with my heart, and is telling me how much He loves me and how much He loves my love for Him. 

Since I am still very new in my relationship with God, I still pray to Him everyday that He continues to give me the strength and courage to follow His word, and to help me along the journey.  He has certainly been answering my prayers, for I haven't stopped being excited to follow Him, and He is encouraging me everyday by speaking to me and  by helping opening my eyes to all the blessings He has placed in my life, both big and small.

In these quiet moments in the morning, when I feel thankful for the small details around me, I know that it is God that is helping me clearly realize how blessed I am to have what I have, and I know God is also trying to show me how much He loves me by allowing me to see all the beauty in my life.  After I take in all my surroundings each morning, I am eager to get out of bed and start my day since I am so excited to find out what blessings God has in store for me the rest of my day.

This quote I read reminded me of my relationship with God, since the first part of the quote describes my journey in trying to find the Lord's love, and the second part reminds me of the natural love I have for the Lord everyday:

Love sought is good, but given unsought is better--William Shakespeare

Friday, July 29, 2011

So much going through my mind!

Lately I've been on a reading and writing kick...I'm wanting to read everything!  I've been reading many different books at once, reading the Bible more in-depth, and reading tons of magazines!  I'm constantly wanting to write on my blog, write pieces for my classes, and journal!  I love when I'm in a season in my life where I'm constantly feeling inspired to create my own work and to build a stronger self, as well as always feel the need to devour myself in information-I can't get enough information soaked into my brain!  I guess that's why I love school!  And why I've been counting the days till I get to go to Bible study next or church next...the hours where I don't get to learn new things seem dull and lagging.

Although I have a lot running through my mind, I'm fortunate enough that it's all good things!  My mind is restless in one of those exhilerating, inspiring, I-feel-like-I-can-accomplish-anything kind of ways!  My want to create art and learn is running much faster than what's physically possible!  It's motivating me in so many ways!  It is much too late at night for me right now to write all I want to write tonight, but I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep until I wrote a little bit-I just had to get some of my overflowing inspiration out of my system in order to clear my mind enough to sleep easily.

To condense what I want to write about tomorrow so I can tuck myself into bed, I want to mention that the second week of the ministry was AWESOME!  I thought last week was amazing, but this week was even more inspiring!  We continued to talk about integrity and Daniel chapter 6.  I also felt more at ease this time around since I already met everyone last week.  People were very kind to me, it's only been just a week since I've met many of the members and I already feel so close to them!  It feels great to make friends with people who also have a relationship with God (something that seems very rare to find in SoCal).  I've had many great conversations with some of the ladies in the ministry, and we're all going to the OC Fair on Sunday, so that should be fun!  I definately want to talk more about the message Pastor Tony talked about--but it will have to be when I'm more alert and awake!

Also something I'm looking forward to starting, which will satisfy a great deal of my writing kick, is an article competition I'm entering.  It's for Martha Stewart's Real Simple magazine...the contest is to submit a 1500 word article about when and how you figured out the meaning of love.  Winning the competition would of course be amazing, but it's not the possibility of winning that excites me, it's going to be the writing process!  I think by really focusing on my past experiences that have made me understand what love is will help me learn a lot about myself.  I will post a little bit of my article each week on my blog for everyone to read! :) 

Tomorrow on my schedule I'm going to the Shea Center to do some more volunteer work!  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, refer back to my " AWonderful Weekend" blog post)  Going there is always a great way to start your day!  Then, I have rehearsal for a one-act show I'm doing.  Next, Garrett and I are also going to go out and look for an outfit for him for the wedding to get some ideas.  After that, Garrett and I are going to a Saturday night church sermon...a lot of the people from the ministry go that night so we thought it would be fun to go when our new friends do to get to know them a little better!

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for good reads or inspiring books please let me know! :)

Goodnight everyone!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Inspiration from Daniel 6:1-28 and Acts 27:16-32

During the first week of the Young Engaged/Newlywed ministry (The group is called "Plugged In", so I'll refer it as that from now on), Pastor Tony spoke about Daniel 6:1-28.  When he first started out, he read verses 1-28 out loud, and after he read it, I thought "Oh no!  I don't really understand this that well...and how in the world does this passage have anything to do with building a stronger marriage?  It doesn't talk anything about marriage!"  I figured that it wouldn't be exactly what I was looking for in terms of why Garrett and I wanted to attend Plugged In (to build a stronger relationship to create a bind between him, myself, and God). 
(BTW-I'm going to start putting my favorite thoughts in purple to make them stand out to me among the rest of my words)
Then, after Tony read these versus from Daniel 6, he wanted everyone to split up into groups of five, and all the groups had to have all girls or all boys.  Again, I started to get really nervous since I'm very shy around people I don't know, and even though I had broken the ice with many of the attendees at the beginning of the meeting, I was nervous to interact with them without Garrett being my social safety net!  But it ended up being very rewarding, for I got to learn a lot more about some of the women in the ministry by learning a little bit about their relationship with God-always a privilege to have someone share something so special with you!  When we were in our groups, we had to answer the question, "What does integrity mean?"  My group and I came up with this answer: Integrity refers to a person's character and how they act when no one is watching them. 

Then, once Tony started to talk again, I got inspired very quickly.  He explained how Daniel 6 was very relevent to building a stronger marriage-Tony truly has a gift of interpreting the words of God!  He made this chapter's message so clear and strong.  Tony added on to our definition of integrity by saying: Having integrity means not having your life being broken up--your thoughts and actions are in perfect harmony.  And that with integrity we think and act the same regardless of where we are at and who we are with.

He related a marriage to Daniel 6 by saying that in this chapter the king trusts Daniel to run his kingdom since he had integrity.  For a king to trust someone with their kingdom...that person would have to have integrity...in other words, if the king gave this responsibility to Daniel, in which he pretty much put his dearest posession in Daniel's hands, then the king must have been 100% positive that once he turned his back Daniel wasn't going to metaphorically stab him in the back and ruin the kingdom.  In a marriage, that's how trustworhy we have to be with one another.  We are giving our mate our most treasured posession: our hearts.  If we are trusting another person with our hearts, we need to know that the minute we turn our back that that person isn't going to wreck the gift we gave them. 

Although it seems impossible to possess integrity (since many times we need to act differently at work than we would at home, etc.), that's what we need to strive for...especially in a marriage.  In order to have an intimate, strong relationship, we need to feel that our mate has integrity, so that we can completely give our hearts to the Lord and our mate-and never feel like we have to look back in doing so for fear that our heart will be broken.

I thought that this was a great message...I never really realized how many different lives we lead and why it's so hard for people to possess integrity.  But since the sermon each day I've been consciously aware of trying to be a person with integrity to strengthen my relationship with Garrett and the Lord.


The words of the Bible that have really stuck with me and inspired me this week was from the focus of our Sunday's service-which studied Acts 27:16-32.  In this passage, Paul knows that the way to be safe when he and other men are on a boat in a storm in complete darkness is to look towards God and trust in him.  The other men on the boat don't want to listen to Paul, and keep scrambling to not be in danger instead of turning to God for help and direction.

What Garrett and I learned from this study was that God is the person who controls the storm...therefore what He has the storm do is all for a purpose...He uses storms as a way to correct us, perfect us, and direct us.  In Paul's case, God wanted to direct these men towards Himself.  We all need to realize, such as Paul did in Acts, that in order to save ourselves, we need to admit that we are helpless on our own, but the good news is, is that as long as we have a ship (aka God), then we don't need to only rely on ourselves to be saved!  Isn't it so generous of God that He makes it very clearly known that He never wants us to go through things on our own?  That God lets us know constantly that He is always holding our hand every step through life, and that He is there to help us be saved?  We also need to remind ourselves, that if we are always fortunate in everything in life and nothing bad happens to us, then we are constantly being saved on our own...but in order to find God and have a relationship with him, we need to jump ship when we realize we can't save ourselves without God...I think unfortunate things that happen all have their purpose.  Afterall, if nothing unfortunate happened, then most people wouldn't have a reason to turn towards God's direction (As Pastor Bob put it, "Remember, the saved don't jump ship.").

When things don't work out exactly the way we have planned, we need to not try to keep fixing what went wrong and dwell on unfortunate things, we need to let the bad things go and build anew.  For me, since I have had many unfortunate things occur during my childhood/teenage-hood, Acts 27 is particularly helpful to me, since it reminds me that sometimes the only way to be saved, is to be broken.  And that I can't keep trying to rebuild my life-I need to let the destroyed life go-and start planning my new one. 

I'm extremely blessed that I have God and Garrett in my life to be a part of my bigger, better, and brighter journeys!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hooray! A Huge Amount of Wedding Stress is Over!

Garrett and I FINALLY booked our wedding venue!  Even though we've only been engaged a month and 8 days, we had to act fast since we are planning on getting married June 16th next year, and June being a prime wedding month places were getting booked fast!  So I guess in wedding time measurement, it took us forever to find our venue :) 

After realizing it was going to be a huge hassle to have the reception at Garrett's parents' guest house since we would have to independently work out contracts with bakers, caterers, photographers, florists etc., we started to look for a more "all-inclusive" venue.  Only a couple days after getting engaged, it was suggested to us that we check out the Coeur d'Alene (CDA), Idaho lake cruises (thanks soon to be sis for the suggestion *wink*), but there was no pricing info on the website for it.  We assumed it would be too expensive, so started looking elsewhere (silly, I know).  But since the lake wedding cruises include three hour boat use, flowers, decorations, plates, silverware, cake cutting fee, servers, buffet, cake, and 3 hours photography and album, we decided it would be a stress-free solution (and the price is REALLY good!).  Plus, Garrett and I wanted something naturey, and it doesn't get more naturey than getting married in the middle of the lake surrounded by mountains and trees!  Garrett and I couldn't be more thrilled!  He kept saying our perfect wedding venue was out there when I was losing hope that we would find our perfect venue, and he was right, we did find the perfect place! 

Here's some pics of the cruise weddings so you can get an idea of what it looks like:



Isn't it beautiful?

And another great thing today in addition to getting a whole lot of stress behind me, I found out my Grandpa will be able to come to my wedding! (We thought maybe he wouldn't because it's not easy for him to get around, but CDA cruises/resort are going to be able to accomodate his needs).  Which means that he will be able to walk me down the aisle!  Soooo thrilled!  Just yesterday I thought my head was going to explode over all the wedding stress, now I can't stop smiling!  To celebrate, right after I gave the down payment to CDA Resort, I relaxed with my best friend by eating Mexican food and having a raspberry margarita with sugar on the rim!  Yum!


Then in a couple hours, once my wonderful fiance gets off of work, we are off to Disneyland! :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photography in the Park

Today, I had some different forms of inspiration!  I'm OBSESSED with taking pictures!  However, I have been on a school overload since this is my final year and am trying to take a lot of classes in order to get done by next spring, so I haven't taken pictures in a long time.  I decided to go out and brave the heat in order to get some fresh air and to lay in the cool grass, and while I was out I took some pictures!  I've been wanting to get some photos of my engagement ring since I got engaged last month, and finally did-it's amethyst (I'm also obsessed with purple!) and diamonds on white gold.  Here's my pics:










A Wonderful Weekend!

It looks like the power of prayer has proven itself that it works again!  My friend that I mentioned in my previous post who's 5 month old nephew has been struggling with lukeimia in the hospital has been asking daily for all her friends to pray or him and his family...and it worked!  He is doing soooo much better!  He's tolerated his chemo now, he's alert and awake, he's gained a few ounces, and his parents are finally smiling!  I'm so overjoyed about his progress!  :)

On Saturday I had a lovely morning at The Shea Center where I volunteer.  For those that don't know, The Shea Center is a place in the beautiful hills of San Juan Capistrano that does therapeutic horseback riding for children with physical and/or mental disabilities.  There's a counselor who walks beside the horse and does various learning games while the sidewalker (that would be me!) helps hold the child in the proper horseback riding position until they gain the strength to do it on their own and I also assist the counselor in learning games for the children.  The children are so happy when they come here!  Most of them are used to not doing physical activities other kids without disabilities get to do, so to be able to ride a horse is very empowering for them!  They also love getting to laugh and play with the sidewalkers and counselors, and love their horses, too!  Even though my role as sidewalker is very physically exerting (having to use our strength to hold the child and walk up many uneven hills!), you can't help but have a huge smile on your face the whole time you are there...not only is it beautiful scenery, but there's lovely aromas of lavender flowers, trees, and hay from the barn, and of course the most rewarding part of the experience-how happy the children are (they have a huge smile on their face the whole time too)!  This is also great experience to contribute to my future career as a counselor-which I want to be once I graduate college next spring.

Here's some pictures of the Center:


There's also some more pics on their website and facebook (The Shea Center or The Shea Center's Facebook)
I got my call from God to be a counselor a couple of years ago.  I was on a completley different path, and then one day I felt God's voice strongly and instantly changed my major without looking back.  You see, ever since I can remember I had suffered from depression, and had tried so many things to overcome it (different therapists and many different anti-depressants over the years), but nothing seemed very effective.  But once I found God and felt the magnificant power of His love I was able to overcome it.  I realized now that my solution to depression, which once seemed so impossible to find, was actually so simple-I just needed to turn to God.  I realize now after praying and hearing God speak back to me that my experience with depression had a purpose-and that was that I should take advantage of my experiences of living with depression combined with my knowledge of the Lord's love to help others with depression.  I have learned from God speaking to me that the reason I was so depressed was because I was not whole, and to become whole I needed to understand his love and I needed to help others...therefore being a counselor and spreading the Lord's words is the perfect solution to help others.

It is amazing how much insight we get when we do something so simple as just having a conversation with God-that proves how amazing he is!  All you need is to talk to Him, and He in return is more than happy to give you great answers.  I suppose what it all boils down to is that the Lord wants us to love him and just to remember to say hello to him. 

My realization of this reminds me of a part from Rebecca E. Ondov's book called "Horse Tales From Heaven", when Ondov recalls her personal story of how she helped a horse give birth to a foal, and when the foal was born it began to suckle on Ondov's thumb (the foal thought Ondov was its mother!), and then it whinnied.  Ondov felt as though the foal was calling her name, and it felt wonderful to her, she then writes "Lord, does Your heart skip a beat when I speak Your name?  Do you think, 'Why, it's Rebecca...and she's calling to me?"  Ondov ends this chapter by writing, "Lord, thank Your for showing me that You delight in hearing my voice.  Amen."

Right now I feel exactly as Ondov felt...I can feel that the Lord is happy that I am wanting to talk with him everyday and call His name.  God is so good!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Week of the Young Engaged/Marrieds Ministry

As promised, I'm writing my day-after report!  Garrett and I had an absolutely fabulous time at the ministry!  As I mentioned in my previous blog post, we were very nervous since neither of us are great at initiating friendships since we are both very shy.  Fortunately everyone there were very nice, and they welcomed us and started up conversations with us as soon as we walked in the door!  Everyone there had already previously done a session of this particular ministry, so they all knew each other pretty well, and were very eager to welcome us into their circle!

Most of the couples there were already married, but many of them told us that it was great we were going while being engaged since you learn so many valuable relationship lessons in the ministry that will make your marriage strong and more in tune with the Lord's intentions for your marriage.  Garrett and I agree with them that it's great we have a ministry like this to go to while engaged, for we feel that our relationship will be on a new, deeper level by the time we get married.  I also think that by learning about marriage from this ministry that by the time our wedding comes around Garrett and I will be able to better have our relationship be one bond between Garrett, myself, and God, rather than our relationship being three seperate bonds (mine and Garrett's, Garrett's and God's, and mine and God's). 

Pastor Tony (who's leading the ministry) gave a very short but sweet message about what integrity means, and about how integrity is essential in our marriages in order to have complete trust in one another and thus have stronger bonds/families.  The message was pretty short since the first week was mostly mingling/meet-and-greet.  And in the meet-and-greet I already got invited to be a part of a Woman's Bible Study that the women in the young engaged/marrieds ministry do.  I look forward to next week's message and getting to know my new friends better!

Friday, July 22, 2011

In case you were wondering...

In case anyone was wondering why my site's name is "JessicaLynch-McDonald.blogspot.com" is because any combo of Jessica and Lynch is taken since it's such a common name, and since I'm getting married to Garrett in less than 11 months,  figured I might as well do Lynch hyphen McDonald since it was available and that's what my name will be in not too long! :)

Joining a Ministry, and a Few Prayers

Some of my main focuses in my prayers this week:

-Praying for my future sister- and brother-in-law will be able to raise enough money to adopt a little girl from Russia that is for sure meant to be their daughter

-Praying for my friend's nephew who is in the hospital with lukiemisa right now to be happy and be getting healthier, and also praying for his family to be strong during this time

-Praying that my sister I haven't seen in two years is safe, happy, not lonely, and that she'll come back to find me

-Praying that God will keep talking to me as much as he has been lately during this time in my life when I feel like I'm going through that big transition of becoming an independent adult

-Praying for two people at my church who's 24 year old daughter recently died


Joining a Ministry:

As I am continuously feeling like I am becoming fuller with the understanding of God's love, I thought it would be great if I can bring Garrett a bit closer to me during my journey. So, we decided to join the Young Married ministry at our church. It's for couples who are in their 20's who are engaged or recently married. As I feel like I am going through a very emotional (yet beautiful) transition period in my life of figuring out my purpose and becoming a more independent woman, I have been yurning for more CHristian friends in my life to support me and for me to support in return.

The minisry begins tonight at 7pm, so I will write another blog following up each week about the ministry. I am of course, extremely excited to get to make new friends and learn more about the Lord, but since I have never done anything like this before, I can't help but be a tad nervous! (Plus I get pretty shy around people I don't know, so hopefully itwon't be too hard for me to break the ice with people I don't know!) I'm sure it will ultimately be a wonderful experience though. I'll update my blog soon after tonight to write about the experience! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Faith is Strengthening

I've always believed in God, but I didn't have a family that talked about Christianity and faith all that often. Because of that, I had always been reluctant to talk about my faith in God and my relationship with him since I was used to being silent. I feel that because of my silence, I wasn't able to feel how deep the Lord's love is since I ignored the topic...However, God wanted me to find him and strengthen my relationship with him-which is why I feel that Garrett (currently my fiance as of a month ago!) is my soul mate. Garrett grew up in a family filled with the Lord's love, and not only has Garrett been a blessing in my life since we love each other so much, but he has also been a blessing since he was able to get me on a path to find my own relationship with God. I wouldn't have been encouraged to do so without him in my life-God sending him to me was truly a blessing.

In the four years Garrett and I have been dating, I have tried very hard to become more knowledgable about the Lord's love and intentions, but it was hard to get comfortable talking to the Lord through prayer and talking about His love with others (since as I mentioned before, I was used to not touching upon those topics for so long). This year, Garrett and I started going to church, which has helped me a great deal in becoming more knowledgable about Him. Since we've been going to church, I've been praying to God and talking with him much more often, and have been feeling His love more and more.

Last week, I started to feel extremely overwhelmed about the different stresses in my life going on right now with school and family issues...I was feeling very emotional and on the verge of crying everyday. Then it hit me during my peek of stress last week: My solution was so simple, I couldn't believe I didn't see it before! I had been so busy and overwhelmed I realized I had neglected to talk to God for help. My solution was to talk to Him since I knew He would have the answers I would be looking for (so silly of me to be thinking I had to handle everything on my own without His help!)--I was having very lengthy prayers to him.

Once I realized my solution, I kept praying to God to give me a sign that he was there beside me to guide me. The day I prayed this, a friend of mine told me that she read on an inspirational website that seeing white butterflies means that there are angels nearby. The day after my prayer for a sign that God was beside me, I saw six white butterflies that day! ( I normally don't see them that often). WHen I talked to GOd that next night, I told him that I think maybe he was trying to send me a message with the white butterflies, but I also thought it could very well be a coincidence. I prayed again that he send me a clearer sign. WHen I went to sleep after that second prayer, right before I woke up the next morning I had a dream that I said to God, "Here's how you can tell me you're beside me: If someone gives me a white ribbon today, then I will take that as a sign that you heard my prayer." NExt in my dream, a friend of mine came over to my place and brought me a present, and it was wrapped with a white ribbon! Then in my dream God said to me "There. Now you know that I am here with you" After this part of my dream, I instantly woke up. As soon as I did, I felt that God was right there in the room with me, and his presence felt very strong! I'm not sure whether or not God speaking in my dream was actually God or just me dreaming, but I still know this dream was God sending me a message because I didn't necessarily think the ribbon in my dream was actually God sending me the ribbon instead of my imagination, but when I woke up I was 100% sure that GOd was in the room with me and knew what I had dreamt. From that, I know he is with me.

The story may sound silly to some and some may feel it doesn't prove anything, but it proved something to me, and that's what matters-is that I felt God's love.

THis whole week I have felt very strong in my faith and feel that it's growing everyday--each day I am never forgetting to turn to the Lord and to talk to Him everyday, and I feel as though He is speaking to me each day. Best of all, I know that the Lord is proud of me for my huge growth in my love and faith for him.

I am thanking the Lord everyday for how strong He is making me, and each day I thank Him for bringing Garrett into my life--I know God made Garrett and I for each other.