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 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 "" 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.