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 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 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.