Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bookstore Conversations


I actually haven't been out of the house much lately. Holiday laziness, or the health thing, pick one. So today while we were out, my boyfriend decided I needed to go to bookstores. (I think he likes me...way to my heart? Books and food).

Half Price Books was having a 20% off all purchases event which goes through Tuesday so we went to two different ones on our way home from dinner. At the second one, I was looking at the various Study Bibles and Bible translations. I've been following Jen Hatmaker's Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study and was looking for a physical study Bible. I have a few Bibles, but was hoping to find something else. I ended up deciding just to stick to the ones I have.

So while looking, another person was looking at them as well. He was solely looking at the Study Bibles, various translations, varying content such as MacArthurs, ones for men, and so on. I mentioned that there are just so many versions, it's hard to pick one. At first I think he was just confused I spoke to him, but then we spoke a bit and he asked if I had a church I attended. I said I didn't at this time as we are still working on finding a church home. He asked if I lived in the area and I said yes, and then he mentioned his church to me, where it's at, the type, and how to get to it. It was an engaged conversation and I could tell he felt happy about sharing his place of worship with someone. We also had a conversation on how relationships HAVE to have God or they will never work. I told him yes, I completely agree. My boyfriend did not grow up going to church, so this has been a bit of trial and error with him trying to get him to go because he simply has no idea what to expect. He laughed and said "Good, I'm 37 years old and I'm JUST now getting that through my head." He tried to find a card for the church, couldn't, but later found me in the store and handed it to me.

It was a short conversation, not even 5 minutes but it felt awesome. Awesome to share in the Word, however slight, with a stranger. To share a topic that so many people forget, that without God in the middle of everything, it will not work. It reminded me how much I miss the community of belonging to a church.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet review and reflection


I kept seeing this book pop up in my social media feeds. Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker, and several other authors were raving about it. Me, being the huge book nerd I am, HAD to read it. I was waiting until after Christmas but when it popped up as a book I could select on booklook, I immediately hit request so I could read this book. Also, something about the cover just intrigued me.

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet discusses Sara, and her husband Nate’s, struggle with infertility. It goes through the ups and downs of that journey, how that led them to adopting a few beautiful children (I stalked her instagram…which also gave me a spoiler, so if you're going to read it, DON'T DO IT!) 

But honestly, maybe as much, or more of the book focuses on her relationship with God and I found that poignant and amazing and it made me crave more time with Him, which I think is exactly how a Christian book should grab you. Reading or listening to someone's journey and relationship with God should light that fire in you that gives you something for our own relationship with Him, especially if you feel like you are lacking. An excerpt below:
I need to remember that God’s answer is not to lift me out of “the crisis of the moment” but to speak His word into it, and over it. I was made to find joy in relating to Him across the whole span of my day.

This book is beautiful, deep, heartbreaking, and filled with spiritual wisdom. At the end of each chapter, are several "For your continued pursuit" verses that direct the reader to verses mentioned in the chapter, either directly or implied. Research nerds like me love this!

Sara has a gift for writing that I can’t explain. The words just grab you and you are sucked in. I finished this book in two sessions because after chapter 1, I was completely hooked! She has a monthly adoration schedule on her blog that I am definitely going to be doing for the month of January. A verse a day to focus on (here is what December looked like).

I know I discuss a lot about books on here, but this is hands down in my top 5 spiritual memoirs I have ever read. 


I received this book from booklook in exchange for my opinion but I selected it because I was excited to read it! All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bible reading-or lack thereof

Stolen from Holdingtotruth.com

I read a lot, which is more than evident if you've even glanced at my blog! And as my blog title states, I'm in a constant state of pursuit regarding my faith, which I believe is how a lot of us are. Some days being faithful, loving ourselves and our God, is easier than others. Some days it feels like all is well with the world and our faith, others we feel like complete failures with our faith. 

I'm currently reading (among a few other books because I have book AD/HD), "Grace for the Good Girl" by Emily Freeman. I've heard a little bit about this book, but had seen several people recommend it. It went on sale for 99 cents a few weeks ago so I knew I had to get it!


She mentioned that when she doesn't feel like she's been a good girl, she wants to wallow. Lack of perfection. This is how I feel daily. I never feel good enough in anyone's eyes. My weight is wrong, my hair is frizzy, I have a pimple on my chin. But mostly, what struck me is what I'm not doing for what's most important: my faith. Do I read Christian literature? Every day. But do I pray daily? Do I attend church regularly? Do I read my Bible daily? No to all of the remaining questions. Church and prayer occasionally. Read my Bible? Rarely. It's not like it would be hard to read my Bible. I own an NLT version, two different e-Bible's, Amplified and ESV, and I also own The Story and a Chronological Bible. Plus a few New Testaments I have lying around that were given to me. Oh and a Bible application on my phone as well as on my tablet. I have NO excuse. So why is it so hard?


What is it about having the world at your fingertips that makes staying faithful so dang hard? Or maybe I answered my own question. We live in an age where we have easy access to everything, and we devote little time to what is important because of the constant glare of screens and easy access to information. We don't have to think so hard about so many things.


Is the Bible just not as interesting as the Christian living books I read? Or the works of fiction that I enjoy as well? 


Do you find yourself at odds with regularly reading the Bible? How did you overcome it?


I started some new books, Jen Wilkin's Women of the Word (Amazon had a used copy for $1 I think) and I also purchased Jen Hatmaker's A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study. Also, just realized that they are both named Jen, both live in Texas. The first lives near my hometown and the other in my current city. Crazy!

Note: finding a church is in the works. Moving to a new city and finding a church home takes a really long time! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Playlist

I was a choir girl. I originally played violin but when I moved to another state in the middle of my 6th grade year, orchestra didn't exist at my new school so I chose to go to choir. I LOVE CAROLS! I've been playing this playlist for a few days and thought I'd share.








If you want to listen to the entire playlist, I have a few others on my Spotify playlist as well. And if you've never heard of Sufjan Stevens, listen to him! His music is gorgeous and features prominently on this playlist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grace

Image borrowed from Grassland church website (thanks Google!)
I used to think that the word grace was a word only to be added to the descriptions of the elegant; ballerinas, dancers, royalty, pageant contestants. Those people who hold their necks up swan like, with nothing about their person being out of place. 

It was a word that was the opposite of my tomboy, scraped up knees, unruly hair self. The self that took bacon and tied it to a string to catch crawfish in the creek. The self that rarely brushed her long, slightly wavy hair. Who rode bikes until dark and ran into every corner that presented itself leaving her constantly covered in bruises that I wasn't ever sure where they came from usually. My family would jokingly call me Grace, because I lacked it in almost every area (except oddly, gymnastics, I was great at that because I had amazing balance, go figure).

As I've studied more of Scripture, and read books, as well as blogs by Christian authors, I have learned so much more about the meaning of the word that for me now, it holds an entirely different meaning.

Grace is a beautiful word that holds so much meaning to our Heavenly Father. Grace bears multiple meanings throughout the Word, while not always directly stated. It can mean Thanks, Forgiveness, Mercy, Love, Hope, Salvation. For me, it is a word filled with hope, love, forgiveness, and guidance. 

This word no longer holds the teasing, self-confidence busting, meaning it did for me as a child. God constantly shows Grace for us, and has throughout the Bible in so many ways. By giving Abraham a child in his old age, by saving his first son, Ishmael, and taking care of him despite Abraham's disobedience. 

The word Eucharisteo, which is like the word of the day in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, has the root word "charis" which means "grace. 


 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.-2 Corinthians 12:8-9


Monday, November 24, 2014

Make a Difference: Christmas Shopping

I believe the way we spend has a huge impact on our world. Such as, when buying products exclusively made in the USA, we are giving back to our community by ensuring jobs stay in our country. With so many jobs moving out of the country and high unemployment rates, I think it's important. Just like with our food.

So for Christmas shopping, I believe it's important to shop with meaning. This year, I've compiled a list of companies with products I'm interested in and that also give back to communities in need. I tried to give a fairly wide variety of items in my post.

Noonday Collection was started as a way to raise money for adoption fees and is based here in Austin. It's primarily jewelry and it's reasonably priced! The items in the picture below range from $12-$30 and are made by artisans involved with the Fair Trade Federation.

TOMS is the original "one for one" company. I recently read his book, Start Something That Matters, and was impressed. He was honest (or so it seemed) and passionate. Purchase shoes, they give shoes. Purchase eyewear, they help restore sight to someone in need. Also, right now if you pay with PayPal, you get free two day shipping.



Beyond Beanie is one I haven't shopped at yet but I am planning to for the holidays. Each purchase, a beanie, bag, and other accessories gives back to the community a certain amount. 1 beanie gives 5 meals, 1 bag gives a set of school supplies.


Sevenly is one of my favorites! I own a couple of shirts from this organization. Each week they focus on a different charity or organization and donate $7 from each purchase.


Warby Parker also operates on the buy one, we give one, business model but with eyewear.

MudLOVE is mostly jewelry. I actually own one of the bracelets and love it! The band is my favorite part; it stays exactly where you put it which is amazing for an adjustable band. Each purchase donates a week of clean water to someone in need in the Central African Republic.



















Wear Figs is a newer one I have found. Each set of scrubs sold, they give one to someone who can't afford them; Threads for Threads. Prices are $25-$32 for women, and $25-40 for men. They also have scrub caps and v-neck tees.


FEED Project has been one that has gotten some attention lately! The bags seem kind of expensive, at $100 for a tote, but once you read the fine print, you see that one purchase will feed a student for a year! That's amazing. Most of them only feed a person for a week, or a month, but this helps even longer. There are also bracelets that are $18 that gives 5 meals. The bags all contain inside pockets and they note in the description that the larger pocket will fit an iPad.
$80, provides 1 year worth of meals to a student. Image from the FeedProjects website.
$125, gives 100 school meals. Image from FeedProjects website.


Faucet Face are thick, glass water bottles with interesting designs. You can even custom design them with your own, uploaded image which might be neat for Christmas gifts for a family! Free shipping with 4 or more.
Through its 1 for 100 program, Faucet Face donates 5% of ALL sales of hose water, tap is terrific and hummingbird feeder glass water bottles, PLUS, a complete filter for each sale of 5 or more individual bottles to the clean drinking water charity Third Millennium Awakening (TMA).
Infographic from faucetface.com
Soap Box Soaps sells soap, body wash, and liquid soaps. A lot of us give soap related gifts at Christmas (like Bath and Body Works) so maybe something like this would be good gifts as well.


Link up with She Lives Free



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quotes

Since it is a well known fact around here that I am a book junkie, it probably stand to reason that I am also a quote junkie. So I thought I'd post some of them here. They may not all be Christian oriented, but they get the message across. I believe quotes can be very motivating and helpful.

"People couldn't become truly holy unless they had the opportunity to be definitively wicked."
Good Omens-Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Etsy link






Monday, November 17, 2014

My First Make a Difference Monday post


It's funny that I came across this blog post from She Lives Free today. My son attends an I.B. school in our district that focuses on a lot more than a traditional public school. They encourage community service, a whole, international, civic minded individual with guiding principles. It's an interesting concept and I've watched my son develop into this very world view minded kid as a result. We have been lucky that he has been in an I.B. school since kindergarten.

Back to the irony of coming across this post today. My son's den teacher (like a homeroom teacher) sent out an email stating that the school encourages at least 10 hours of community service for the students. Not mandatory, but strongly encouraged. I believe in high school this is required for graduation. These kids work hard! I decided to broach the subject with my son and see what he thought about volunteering. He was immediately on board and this weekend we will be doing some research into some organizations that we can volunteer at together. Children model our behaviors, it's how they learn everything, from walking, talking, to their prejudices, likes, and dislikes. So I think it's important to do this with him. I give in other ways, generally monetarily, but volunteered frequently as a teenager through my church.

Living in Austin, there are lots of opportunities to make a difference in our community. Up for discussion:

Habitat for Humanity. He's under 16, so he's not allowed on an active construction site yet (he will be super bummed to hear this one) but they have Youth opportunities, such as painting or helping with landscaping that he can do.

Keep Austin Beautiful has ongoing and one-time opportunities quite often.

Austin Food Bank has a few different opportunities, though I'm not sure they'd allow a younger child to volunteer.

I will be emailing most of these to see what the age limit is for volunteering. My son also mentioned volunteering with the elderly.

Link up with She Lives Free

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Impactful books

Though I have identified as a Christian for most of my life, only recently have I begun to really own it and explore more in depth. This compilation will be just a few of the books I feel have really affected my own faith and journey, and a small snippet of how.



What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms & Chasing God both by Angie Smith. Honestly, when it dawned on me how much I missed and needed a church and spiritual life, Angie Smith's blog happened to cross my path and it helped me immensely. I started reading her blog when it was only a few pages (and had a different name), reading about her great love for Beth Moore before she met her. This was long before she started writing her books but I've grown more due to her than any writer of faith so far. Questions/thoughts derived from her blog and books: If she can remain steadfast in her faith after the loss of her daughter, reconcile with her past, still have moments of being confused by God, but still remain so in love with it all, I can too...eventually. Quote
"When we spend more of our time searching for assurance than we do acting out of belief, we are chasing God."



Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn't Good Enough This book must have been hard for them to write! The husband, Justin, had an affair with one of her best friends. This book has chapters from both of their perspectives, starting from how they met to the finding out of the affair, how they decided to make it work, and what they are now doing to make their marriage work. In her shoes, could I have forgiven him? Eventually. Would I have stayed with him? Honestly, I hope I never have to be tested on this but it would be one of the hardest decisions I'd ever have to make in my life.
Quote "Ordinary marriages go to great lengths to avoid marriage valleys, yet it is often in the valleys that God meets us and sets us up for extraordinary."
"There is an irony in Christians' struggle with forgiveness. As believers in Jesus, we have been saved by grace. We have been offered forgiveness. When we least deserved it, God forgave us. Yet many of us fail to forgive our friends, parents, siblings, coworkers, and yes, even our spouses."



Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning -I wrote a blog post on this a few weeks, but I still really enjoyed this book (eventually...). Anxiety happens! Quote
"If we invest in earthly treasures, Jesus seemed to be saying, our hearts will shrivel with them. When we derive meaning from fleeting objects, our spirits decay and become a meal for moths. But if we invest in eternal treasures, our hearts will be satisfied. My recent struggles confirmed the truth in His Words."



Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War -the author is from Liberia. She grew up somewhat privileged, but once the wars starting in on her turf, her life was torn apart. She overcame so much and has spread her faith and love for her country around the world. Her faith is what got her through the hardships and continue to shape her.
"Women are the sponges, I thought. We take it all in-the trauma of separated families, the death of loved ones. We listen to what our husbands and children tell us, we look at the destruction of our communities and belief systems, and soak p that pain , too. We hold it all because we need to be strong, and complaining-or even sharing-is a sign of weakness. But holding in that kind of misery was as crippling as holding on to rage."



Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith -Faith is hard. It can be really hard and the author, Michelle, DeRusha, does a great job at showing just how hard it can be when you aren't sure what you believe. Quote
"You can't expect to have a healthy relationship with your spouse if you talk to her once a week, he noted. Likewise, praying once a week in church wouldn't amount to much of a relationship with God either."



Have a Little Faith: A True Story -I enjoyed the contrast between the two religions, the bluntness of some of their, the pastor and rabbi's, words. Quote
"But what if someone from another faith won't recognize yours? Or wants you dead for it." "That is not faith. That is Hate." He sighed. "And if you ask me, God sits up there and cries when that happens."
You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth has definitely made me think...a LOT! I'm only half way through this book and one other by her but because they make me reflect, I prefer to take them slowly. Honestly? This isn't all of them. I have moved in the last year and a half, and I'm sure there are others I'm leaving out. In some books, there are only a few quotes I loved that really stood out versus the whole book having meaning for me. Those will be in a separate post because I am a quote junkie and think they deserve their own space!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Childhood wisdom and faith

My son amazes me. He always has of course, he's my child. While sometimes he still has the silly innocence of a child, at other times, he exudes wisdom far beyond his years.

He will say things to me like "I love you more than anyone ever, except God and Jesus."

This child and I have had trouble finding a "home" church. Being a single parent makes it hard to find a church where you feel accepted and where people aren't openly judging you. (Yes, this has happened). I don't want him face that harsh criticism about something so important at such an impressionable age. However, we are closer to finding a church home we think!

When my son was speaking to the person I have been dating for a couple of years, he told him frankly that "there is only one God." My boyfriend was slightly taken aback at home adamant and firm he was in this statement. I was proud! I want him to stand firm in his convictions and beliefs.

My boyfriend wasn't raised in a religion household; they believe in God, pray at holiday dinners, and I believe mostly went to church on holidays. My son on the other hand, is always excited to go to church, even when he is drug to small group with me and isn't quite sure what to do with himself. It's like he feels the energy of it all.

Some back story on this little guy. He was born 2 months early at barely 4 pounds. It was a scary time as it was flooding in our area and we had to be raced in an ambulance to another city 30 minutes away where an adequate NICU awaited. We were each hospitalized for a week, him staying an extra two nights after I was released. I was across the breezeway in another hospital so I didn't actually get to hold him much the first few days. I came back over (they had to put me in a wheelchair to go everywhere still at this point) and noticed a little prayer bear next to his incubator. There was also a little note from a priest who had stopped by letting me know that they sensed something special in this little, prayed over him, and for me in my absence, and blessed him. It was sweet and overwhelming at the time. I didn't see these over anyone else's child, which struck me as interesting.

This child literally saved people's lives when he was born. His grandfather's health was horrible until he found out about his grandchild and suddenly, he had a reason to live and is doing very well 12 years later! He was also named after the angel Michael and I just see such great things from his very unique personality.

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

"And he said "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."
Matthew 18:3-6


Blog Name Change and my religious background

I honestly was never a huge fan of the previous name, Journeyfaithhopelove.blogspot.com. One, it didn't flow together well. It wasn't a complete sentence and it wasn't in alphabetical order. (Seriously, this bugged me EVERY TIME I LOOKED AT IT). The definition of journey is typically a word used for physical travel. While pursuit means to seek, reach, search, chase. And this feels more accurate for me at this time. Yes, it is still a journey, but it is something I am pursuing wholeheartedly in understanding and coming closer to God through. Something I think we are all constantly pursuing. The name may change again, but I believe it fits for this stage.

 I've been wanting to write about my religious background for a while, but it's a hard topic for me. I've noticed most people fit into a few categories and I don't seem to fit into the same. For me, my family was pretty divided when it came to religion. My paternal grandmother's side was raised Methodist. My paternal grandfather's side was raised Baptist. My mother was raised Catholic but as an adult, her father renounced Catholicism and became a Baptist missionary spending most of his time in Mexico trying to convert natives. I

 attended a small Baptist church with a classmate for a while, and then our family started attending a non-denominational church with a few hundred members (this would have been in maybe 1993?). That church has now ballooned into a mega church of around 4000-5000 members and I've attended a few services with my father when I go home to visit.

 We then moved to a little town outside of Atlanta; I was in the middle of the Bible belt (this was a foreign concept to me as a Native Texan from the Dallas/Fort Worth area). This was a town where everything closed at 6, and was shut down on Sundays for church. If you didn't attend church every Sunday, you might as well have been a leper from the Old Testament and stayed away from everyone. It was that serious at the time. A lot of the maps I see that show the Bible Belt, do put most of Texas in it. A little unfair, since to us it's cities East of Dallas (East Texas) that still have that Deep South, Southern vibe and I'd consider being the Bible belt. But with the Dallas Theological Seminary, and one of the biggest Baptist Bible schools in the country being around there, I guess that's why. 

Back to Georgia. We started attending a mega Baptist church. It was a very large church, with each grade level having their own class (this was unheard of to me). I was baptized in this church at 13 as well. They did full submersion and I had several interviews/meetings with an older couple from the church first. My siblings had been baptized a few months earlier, but being the stubborn older child, I wanted to be sure. I later attended smaller Baptist churches, and a Catholic church, with friends from school. Catholicism was interesting to me as I had only attended funerals in the Catholic church growing up. There was so much going on!

As a child, I was always fascinated with religion spending hours on my CD-ROM encyclopedias researching them, and reading any book I could find on them in the local library that was conveniently across the street from my middle school. My family did not approve of this and I was scolded quite frequently and called a heathen by my stepmother. I still love learning about other religions as I enjoy the parallels, the history, the culture, and experience. I have friends who are Muslim, friends who are Catholic, Buddhist, Shinto. It's fascinating.

 Once we moved back to Texas, my stepmother and Dad split shortly after. Old habits die hard and she wasn't willing to not act like a teenager. I'm not holding this against her, it's just how she is and still is over a decade later. I attended a Pentecostal church with a boyfriend whose friend's dad was the preacher. I had never been in a Pentecostal church before and this definitely threw me for a loop as it was very different. The people were all very nice and understanding but I never really felt like I fit in. (Also, no one told me there was a dress code and my skirt that came just below my knees was apparently a no no in their book...oops). As a Mother, it seemed hard to find time to go in between caring for him, being a nanny, and being in college. My son's father did not grow up in a church so he was hesitant to start. We split up when my son was 5 though we have remained close friends. As a now single Mom, trying to find an accepting church was even harder! The few times I did try, I was met with hostility and not so nice comments from the individuals there and I really would prefer to not have my son's experiences in church be negative, as well know how much negativity towards something during your childhood affects you as an adult. Now that I live in Austin, I'm ready to try out some new churches. I have been attending (off/on) a church and small group with a co-worker. It was interesting how it came about as a group at work started a Bible Study group that met on Friday mornings. I loved starting off my last day of the week with the Word! It has since been moved to a time during the week when I cannot attend. However, through this group, I discovered a friendship and sister in Christ.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why I'm glad I didn't give up on a book too early

I borrowed this book for my kindle from my local library (technology is amazing). Honestly? I started reading it, got a few pages through and returned it. I just wasn't feeling it and felt blah about it. I'm one of those people that juggles 5 or 6 books at a time. I like to flip back and forth and I have no idea why. So I went back to reading Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have for the bloom book club book. Even if I'm not always the most active in the discussions about the Bloom books, I generally read them all. Annie mentioned the book in her book stating that we should read Freefall to Fly, please. So I succumbed to peer (author) pressure, re-checked it out and started reading it. I clearly put this book down too early. A little back story. I have dealt with anxiety and depression since I was a small child. My childhood was far from ideal therefore my environmental factors played a huge role in a disorder that can also be genetic, which is a contributor in my case. They are considered mood disorders by the American Psychological Association and the first line of treatment from doctors? Medication. Medications that make you feel and behave like a zombie are usually their answer. I have taken many of these. Many that have made my chronic pain condition worse. Many that friends and family could immediately tell that something was off about me, that I wasn't my usual spazzy, happy self. They were seemingly convinced that the pain I am in most nights, and my insomnia were solely related to my inability to get my brain to shut up over anxiety. They were kind of hand in hand, yes, but not the only reason. The chronic pain condition started many years later and while it didn't help the anxiety and depression, it certainly was not caused by it. At this time, I am not taking medication for any mood disorders.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”20 He promises our weary souls rest, but do we really believe Him? Do we trust that the God of this universe is strong enough to lighten our loads?
-"Freefall to Fly" Rebekah Lyons After I read this section of the book, my eyes glazed over in tears, I dropped my kindle and fell to my bed, on my knees, crying and praying. I was so overcome with emotion and a feeling of grace that I couldn't handle it. I prayed for recovery, I prayed for forgiveness, I prayed for thankfulness from our Lord. I prayed for my son, my family, my dog (she was curled up in my face trying to figure out what in the world I was doing). I felt a strange sense of peace, a feeling of settling in my soul that was so hard to explain. I glanced at the verse from Matthew every few minutes and repeated them to myself. I read her book as another Mom, as a woman, as a follower of Christ, and as someone who also suffers from sometimes crippling anxiety. I didn't know that that was what this book was about when I first checked it out. I liked the cover, I liked the blurb, I saw the recommendations. I had no idea how much of an impact this author's words would have on me. Like Rebekah, I'm in my early 30's, and feel like my true path in life was cut down my others who were not as encouraging, who wanted to pigeon hole me. I used to win awards for my writing as a student, but because those I was closest to didn't see it as good enough, or as real writing, I felt discouraged and gave up. Now I'm even more determined to pave my way as God sees fit. I need to use the gifts I have, anxiety ridden and all, and ride it out. God has a plan for me and I need to let go and let God have control of my ship. I think I ended up adding 6 more books to my wishlist on Amazon because of her as well! A couple of quotes I loved from her book:
one of my heroes, Viktor Frankl, believed anxiety was “due to [a person’s] sense of unfulfilled responsibility and a lack of meaning.” If I was to sustain or even complete this journey, fulfilling my responsibility would be critical
If we ignore the yearnings of our souls, we atrophy, and our dreams die. Sadly, many of us choose this descent because we believe it’s safer. If we don’t hope, we won’t be let down. If we don’t imagine, reality won’t disappoint. Either way, we avoid pain


Visit many other wonderful blog via

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prayer: Part 2

But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. Matthew 6:6

After last weeks post on focusing more on my prayer life, I've done some further research I love research, if you ever need help with research, message me, I'm serious!), read a bunch of books (or am in the process of reading some of them at least) and working on how to be more diligent in my prayer life. Below is a list of some resources I'm using for this journey.


Prayer - 10th Anniversary Edition: Finding the Heart's True Home-According to my Kindle, I'm at 21% completion on this one. This book is trying for me to read and I have to read it in small gaps but it is full of great information!

A set of Prayer Journals  from Val Marie Paper. I've always been a big journaler (yep, not a word, don't care) and enjoy seeing my thoughts written down to meditate on later. From her website, each month has the following sections: 

  • The World
  • The Nation
  • My Loves
  • My Family
  • My Friends
  • Those Hurts
  • Personal
  • 3 Untitled Sections – Create your own titles (i.e. “Trying to Conceive”, “Businesses”, “Projects”)Answered PrayersScriptureQuotes


Contemplative Prayer (Image Classics)-I'm about halfway through this book and really enjoying it. It is definitely different from most of the books I read since the author, Thomas Merton, was a former Trappist Monk. The reason for reading Thomas Merton is that I see him mentioned so often in other books, that I want to be able to read his words for myself. Also, I get to go visit Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani next year, where he is buried and where he lived. 

Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one’s deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being in the presence of God, who is the source of our being and our life.
Lord, Teach Us To Pray by Andrew Murray. I haven't gotten very far with this one yet. One of the first things I read was 
Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, to pray. This is what we need to be taught. Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeble child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One.
I think I'll like this book. 


Come visit other posts at holleygerth.com!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spiritual Misfit

I have a Kindle and it is always pretty well loaded down with books. Books I've purchased, gifts, as well as books that I have borrowed electronically from my local library. I love doing this because it gives me a chance to try books I might not otherwise have gotten a chance to.



The book Spiritual Misfit was one I actually borrowed a while back, read a few pages, and then returned it. I just couldn't grasp it somehow. I had heard tons of great things about it but somehow just couldn't digest it. 

So a couple of days ago, I saw that it was still sitting in my wish list and decided to try it again.

Yeah...maybe the reason I didn't want to involve myself in it is because I definitely fit into the category of a spiritual misfit. 

I listen to my friends and co-workers expound on their beliefs, the importance of God and Christ, and they are all so passionate. So in love with loving God. They pray, they attend church, go on trips in the name of God, do all of these things, and I'm generally sitting here thinking "okay, soooo what part did I miss? Did I do it wrong?" 

Some of her phrases made me laugh because I had this vivid image in my head of her actions when certain things were brought to her attention, such as when her pastor said that they needed to cultivate a deeper relationship with God and she says 

"Great, I thought as I sank lower in the pew. Like it’s not hard enough to believe in God. Now I actually have to work at connecting with him too? Frankly it was enough of a challenge to cultivate my marriage, a relationship with a real, live, breathing, conversing person who lived in my house."

I picture her slinking down in the pew, throwing her head back like a teenager who was just told that, no they could not go hang out with their friends, and pouted in frustration. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Faith Focus-Prayer

This is a sort of challenge I am giving myself. I see challenges online all of the time for gratitude, Thanksgiving. I have decided to do a study on prayer. Not just on if prayer works, we know it does, but I sincerely feel like this is an area where I am sorely lacking in discipline with my faith. I need to deepen my relationship with God.

Part of this has come about due to the fact that I am in chronic pain and relying on my faith to see me through it. This isn't always easy, especially in our society that values medicinal or surgical fixes over anything else. And for me, that was my first path. I have visited countless doctors, been prescribed over 20 medication in the last year, visited an acupuncturist, tried meditation, and even saw a vein specialist as a last ditch effort. So far? Nothing. The pain, if anything is getting worse and I started noticing a correlation between my pain increasing, and my practice of my faith decreasing. NOT GOOD!

To start, I am going to make a conscious effort to pray more. Not just at night before I go to sleep, but to put into action a prayer schedule almost (though I typically pray randomly, such as when I'm driving to work).

I am also going to read books on prayer. Sometimes, it's good to get a different perspective. I don't remember ever being taught how to pray, however we are always told throughout the Bible to pray without any clear direction taught to us through our churches it seems like. (Another one of the many points that I agree with Michelle DeRusha of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faithcan agree on.


I feel more centered when my church life, prayer life, and God life, are in check. I need reminders not to let one thing get me down. This is WAY easier said than done since my chronic pain is causing me to be unable to sleep, which is crashing my immune system and health in general. I am also on a medical leave from work. A prayer journal, books on prayer, and church life are going to be my aids in this. I'm thinking about getting this set of prayer journals I found on Etsy: http://www.valmariepaper.com/shop/year-set-of-prayer-journals/ (UPDATE: I just purchased them). How do you pray? Do you have a set "script" for prayer? Do you pray like you're speaking to a figure of authority, or like a friend, or family member? I'm interested to know!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Playlist

I am a huge music lover. I have music on most of the time and often times, I find myself listening to Christian music. Yes I listen to secular music quite often as well, but sometimes I just need uplifting, praying alongside worthy, worship music. So I present, my latest playlist.






If those links don't work, since Blogger can be a jerk sometimes, they are
"Oceans"-Hillsong United
"How Sweet the Sound"-Citizen Way
"You Amaze Us"-Selah
"Whom Shall I Fear"-Chris Tomlin
"Love Come To Life"-Big Daddy Weave
"All I Can Say"-David Crowder Band
"Lead Me"=Sanctus Real

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Feeling defeated but not down

September seems to always be a rough month for me. I broke an ankle as a teenager in September, cracked scar tissue in it a few years later in September (which resulted in an emergency surgery), had an emergency appendectomy in September and almost died. Broken relationships seem to have a September theme as well.

Good things about September? The two jobs I've had that have changed me the most both started in September. My current one I just celebrated my one year a couple of weeks ago.

September is hard. September is full of changes. School starts back, new jobs start for graduates, the weather becomes even more temperamental (I live in Texas, the weather will go from 100+ to thunderstorms in seconds).

But I need to look at September in a new way. In a way that may bring changes, and new developments, new opportunities. I know part of my dilemma is that I have some health issues that are just completely disrupting my life.

I will continue to pray, and get back to my small group and church group. Pray to get my life back in order and for the guidance to do so.



I meant to publish this last week but a cold got the better of me so multi-tasking became my weakness. 



Monday, September 15, 2014

Prayer

Taken from: http://www.stacatholic.org/pray

This hasn't always been the easiest thing for me. There are days when I don't feel like I'm worthy of praying or talking to God. Like he won't listen to me because I've sinned too much. 

Some days, I find myself pausing to pray randomly throughout the day and night. Then some other days, I forget. That sounds horrible! How many times have you caught yourself forgetting to pray? 


Then there is everyone telling us that we should pray a certain way, or not ask God for things, or that we have to speak to God a certain way. From my understanding, from Bible verses, as well as studies I've read, God doesn't want us to treat him with this ultimate reverence and like a stranger. He doesn't want us to speak to him like someone we don't know. We should speak to God as our Father; with respect, yes, but with our heart and minds open.  With love and hope and happiness. 


When I pray, there is not much rhyme or reason. I thank God for things blessings I have received, and I end it thanking for Jesus. 


James 4:2 We have not because we ask not.


Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.


1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Currently reading

As I've mentioned before, and is probably pretty obvious, I'm a bookworm. As such, I cannot read one book at a time exclusively. I flip back and forth much to everyone arounds chagrin. The question "what are you reading right now?" creates a hive like sensation and I have no idea how geeky or weird they are about to think I am when I can't give a straight answer. So, at the moment here are the books I'm reading.

You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth. My favorite thing about her writing? Combination of Faith, personal experiences, and psychological research. Things the Psychology major, and research geek, love!

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst is an interesting book so far. It's pretty new, so I haven't had a chance to finish but it mostly revolves around not spreading yourself too thin and knowing "When to say Yes."

I've been really interesting in exploring paths that make a difference, as well as books on leadership and motivation. Blake Mycoskie's Start Something that Matters is perfect for all of these reasons! It explores what motivated him to start TOMS, and his entrepreneurship.

I love to read and welcome book suggestions! I read pretty much anything so let me know!





Here are some other places to find me online:

petitetexasmama.blogspot.com
A blog that's mostly Health/Wellness related.

twitter.com/christie17

instagram.com/christie177