Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Directions

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
"So don't ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Stop Judging-" Matthew 6:34 (GOD'S WORD Translation)

If you read this blog regularly, it doesn't take much to figure out that not only am I a thinker, but I let it turn into worry at times. This has been an on-going process since I was a child. In my younger years at school, I used to practically break out in panic attacks because I thought my mom would not come pick me up from school. Then as I got older, if I left the house without telling my family that I loved them, I would worry that I may never get the chance to tell them again. Recently, as you'll notice in previous posts, I have been consumed with the future, asking God what He has for me down the road...
In the last week, God basically hit me with a brick wall. A series of events have unfolded in my life over the last two weeks that have changed my way of thinking. I am hearing God saying, "Sarah, it's time. The worrying is going to stop NOW." Why am I not asking God for what He has for me right now? How did God tell me this? Well, basically anything that I could possibly have control over the last week was completely slipped out from under me. I got put into a few situations where it was just impossible to have control. My hands were tied, the only way that things could be sorted out was to give it to God. He was the only one that could come through for me. God closed the door on a relationship that I had been pursuing whole-heartedly for the last year. This time a month ago, if I ever even thought of this relationship stopping, I didn't know what I would do. I had no idea the weight of the burden I had been carrying on my shoulders until it was lifted off. God is so good! Thank You, Lord, for protecting me! Derwin Gray's series on relationships has changed my entire outlook on love. I am a treasure that deserves to be pursued and treasured by a Godly man who whole-heartedly loves the Lord! A man who challenges me to constantly growing closer to God!  
Another significant thing that happened was my graduation date from college got pushed back. For the first time since I've been in college, I do not care. I'm not worried about a thing in the world. I'm not worried when, where, what or how I am going to do anything. 

Two years ago a man by the name of Jim Laffoon had a word for me straight from God. He said that God did not want me to judge the end by the beginning of a situation/circumstance. It has been a constant battle this week. I have had to literally speak out loud telling satan to get behind me. The enemy has attempted at so many mind games with me this week, it is ridiculous. My complete hope and trust is in the Lord. I'm done with worrying. I'm done with overanalyzing. I'm done with judging the end by the beginning. God is God. He is my defender. ALL things are done for my good. (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28).

It's been a tough yet refreshing week. God has made His presence and heart known. I am grateful for the growth that I've experienced over this last year, but more so this past week. Even though it was tough and painful, I am such a stronger woman. Thank You, Lord, for never leaving or forsaking me. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is a hero?

 Since I've been home for the last two weekends, I have been going with my family Transformation church on Saturday evenings to hear Pastor Derwin Gray speak. As a first time guest, I was given his book, "Hero," and tonight I just decided to pick it up and glance through it. As I read some of the excerpts from the book, I began to think about what a true "hero" is. So, I used good ol' to look up an official definition. 5 results came up, but the first one was the best:

Hero: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

One man came to my mind after reading that definition. 

1. My hero is a man of integrity. If there is any lesson that he has taught me growing up, it is to have integrity. Do not be sneaky or underhanded. Do not only think of yourself. How can I serve others? Even if it is unfair to me, how can I help someone else and be a man of my word? I believe that integrity is one of the hardest characteristics to have, but God will honor it. Heroes have integrity.

2. My hero is a man of compassion. Whoever said that men cannot show emotion or be compassionate was stupid. Real men show compassion and help people. I am absolutely convinced that even if my hero were living in a cardboard box on the side of the road, he would still serve others. There is not a doubt in my mind. God has given him a heart to serve (I will later show a picture of him building a church for a village in the Dominican Republic). I hope that one day I can have that same heart. Heroes have compassion.

3. My hero LOVES his wife. He is constantly serving her, providing for her, putting her first. Showing her love in so many ways. Telling her he loves her in front of their children. I have seen true love lived out in front of me my entire life. I do not have to fall for this "fake society love" that everyone thinks is so real. I know that I am special, made my God and I deserve to be cherished and treasured by a man who loves the Lord with all of his heart. That is how my hero acts towards his wife. One day, I'll have a husband like that too. Heroes love their wives.

4. My hero is a man of his word. If he says he is going to do something, he not only does it, but he does it whole heartedly. You do not do something half way with little effort. If you cannot do something, then do not say that you can. It is important to do something to the standard you would want it done. To put forth all of the effort you could possibly give. Heroes are men of their word.

5. My hero is consistent. It is important to "walk your talk." Do not say something and then go do the exact opposite. If you truly desire to be a "hero" and have a whole-hearted devotion to Christ, you have got to live out the gospel. Be consistent. If you slip up, it's ok. Humbling yourself and admitting your wrong and asking for forgiveness is a good thing! Just be consistent. Heroes are consistent.

My daddy is my hero. He will always be my hero.

There are no words to describe how much I love my daddy. He is the greatest man I have ever known. I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that he is the greatest man that I will ever know. If I were to write everything that he has ever taught me, well, this blog would go on for all eternity just about.
I got to hang out with my dad today for a little bit, just me and him. Sadly, I do not get to do that very much anymore. I live four hours away and when I am home, I usually have such little time here that I do not get much one-on-one time with family members. I was in need of a new pair of shoes today and my daddy took me to town to get some. It was nice to just be there with him and talk. I could drive down the road for hours and talk to my dad. 
Anyway, the older I get, the more I realize how much I am like him. We think the same, talk the same, strategize the same, negotiate the same and have the same sense of humor. Those are just the little things, but he has taught me many things that will take me far in life. I catch myself wanting to pick at his brain and become more like him. If we were business partners, we could take over the world. haha! Just kidding, but not really. :p We make a great team. 

He does not get honored enough for being the great man that he is. So here's a blog post for you, daddy. Even though I know you will never take credit for all of the things that you do. You are a good man. I am proud to be your daughter. I do not deserve a wonderful father like you. I am overwhelmingly blessed!!

Thank you, Lord, for giving me not only a hero, but for letting me call him daddy! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trust Fall

I remember about a week before Christmas break was over, I began thinking to myself, "gosh, I can't wait to get back to school just so I will have a routine!" Well guess what? I got my wish and now I wish I was back on break again! haha! I do not know what's wrong with me this semester. It's really cold, rainy, a little icy and dreary here right now, so that automatically makes me feel bad. I have 4 classes Tuesday and Thursday that start at 9:30 in the morning and go until 3:15 in the afternoon with no breaks.
Something you may not know about me, I have low blood pressure and low iron levels. So when my blood sugar levels drop, so does everything else! Today was just bad, I didn't get the nutrition or amount of calories I needed in between classes so I had so much trouble staying focused. I am going to sit down tomorrow sometime and figure out how to get that under control. I think once that problem is solved, everything else will go A LOT more smoothly. :)
On a more positive note, I am happy to be back in Greenville, hanging out with my roommates and seeing familiar faces. I love the department that I am in at ECU because it seems to be a close-knit group and everyone is so nice. I am really looking forward to getting to know everyone this semester. I also love how the professors really will go out of their way to make sure that I grasp the material and really understand what exactly they want me to know. Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with professors like that!
I went back to the Student Rec Center for the first time this semester! I believe a lot of people have successfully kept their new years resolutions so far, because it was PACKED! It's always good to see people in there trying to get back into shape. I really do hope they are successful and stick with it not just this year, but every year for the rest of their lives! I jogged for a warmup and then ran/walked about a mile. Then worked on the beloved (currently non-existent) abs. I will be working hard on my core this semester so that my back can take a rest!
I am taking a class this semester entitled, "Obesity Prevention and Treatment." I am really looking forward to furthering my knowledge with obesity and will share the things that I find interesting in the blog.

With the terrible day that I had today, I really had to sit back and just ask God for help. I have so much to learn and concentrate on in this semester that even beginning to think about future plans just gives me a horrible headache. Basically, I feel that God is trying to teach me that I only need to focus on the current task at hand. With hard work, determination and complete reliance on Him, everything else will fall into place in God's perfect way. That is something I am going to try harder than anything else I do this year, is to just trust God. He wants me to do that so badly, because I hear Him say it about 5 billion times a day.

 If you have ever done a ropes course, there is a group exercise called the "trust fall." I used to love it when I was a kid. For those of you who have never heard of it, one person climbs up on top of a tall stand while a group of maybe 6 people stand below with their arms out, making a "bed" for you to fall on. The person on the stand has to turn around, cross their chest and fall backwards, trusting that their teammates will catch them. I feel as though I am in that spot spiritually. I am up on this stand, looking down below and there is Jesus, standing with His arms out, promising to catch me even though I have no idea what my future holds. All He is saying is, "Sarah, just trust Me." "Sarah, do you truly trust Me?" He is asking me to have the faith and trust in Him to turn around and fall right into His arms.

Lord, I trust You.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Scattered thoughts...

       I don't know why I love this song so much, but my church's worship band sang it yesterday and I am in love with it. I usually don't like really slow songs, but the words to this song are absolutely powerful.

        Today I got the opportunity to go back to my old high school and speak to the students enrolled in a Christian Leadership course. I estimated about 15 or so to be in the room. It seemed that there were mostly sophmores and juniors were in the class. I had felt God telling me to go to this class while I was on Christmas break back about a month ago. I was finally able to go and I had no idea what God wanted me to share. I usually never prepare anything to speak about when I am scheduled to just because God always shows up and tells me what to say. When I arrived (I got there a few minutes early and everyone was at lunch) I sat in the teacher's chair and just asked God what He wanted me to say. I felt in my Spirit, "just be honest, tell them your experience." The students arrived and I was surprised at how many I did not recognize. It's amazing how I went from knowing everyone when I was a senior, to come back two years later and know hardly anyone. I got up there and just started talking about my high school experience and how I was ready to finally step out from under that Christian covering and education that I had all of my life. Not that I was wanting to step away from God, but I wanted to finally step out on my own, just me and God. When I told them that, many of them seemed surprised. More surprised that I was standing up there saying that in front of a staff member. I know that they are having those exact same feelings that I had during my later high school years. I shared with them my college experience so far. I talked about how different things seemed to me at first. I told them it was the little things that got me the most. Things like not praying and taking prayer requests before class, not having a Bible in class, professors not wanting to learn your name (or anything else about you, for that matter). I told them that I was in a state of shock. I said that the thing that broke my heart the most was the lack of truth taught in the classroom. Many people on a college campus have no clue what the truth is. They go with what they feel is best and that, sadly, most of the time ends up what they make out as truth. I just really encouraged them to know and have a true and intimate relationship with God. I hope and pray that they saw and heard the passion that I hold for God. My prayer for those students, as they are making their way towards different college campuses, is that they would have true relationship with God. Talking to Him and spending time with Him every day. Knowing that they do not have to feel like their drowning in the world, because the Lord has already overcome the world. There is a chance that I get to go back on Wednesday if they have anymore questions. I am praying that the Spirit will fill me with wisdom to share with them. Above all else, I want them to feel my honesty and that I am not getting told by the staff what to say. I truly do believe in walking in full alignment with Christ and I want them to experience that.
       Another thing that I stressed to them is being obedient to God's plan. I shared with them the plans that I left my high school with and how every single one of those plans were ruined because that is not where God wanted my life going. I told them that because of my obedience to God's will, I am now walking in freedom and would not change one thing that He has decided for me.

      If you do not own this book, "Breaking Free: Day by Day," written by Beth Moore. I highly recommend it!! I was reading the devotion for today and I found it to be so good! I will share it with you:
"'My body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate and without water.' -Psalm 63:1
'What do you usually do when you're hungry or thirsty? You seek what will meet your need. If you ignore your physical needs long enough, not only will you be miserable; you will be ill.
You can easily recognize the signals your body gives for food and nourishment, but great wisdom lies in learning how to discern the signals your spiritual nature gives. The most obvious symptom of a soul in need of God's satisfaction is a sense of inner emptiness- the awareness of a 'hollow place' somewhere deep inside- the inability to be satisfied. Let this longing drive you to your Savior.'"

      I am also reading another book by Elizabeth Elliot! It is called, "Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity." I am quite the sucker for a good love story, but what is even better about this book is it is about a bunch of different love stories, ordained by God. That makes me feel a whole lot better knowing that people have/had the same exact thoughts that run through my head everyday about true love. I no longer feel too incredible crazy and know that there is still hope for me! Anyway, I wanted to share a version of 1 Corinthians 13 that I had never heard before. I think this is my favorite way of it being worded! 
"This love which I speak is slow to lose patience- it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. 
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen."
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Phillips

I know that was a heck of a scattered post, but I have had a lot going through my mind lately! :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11 New Beginnings!!

I've never been one to make new year's resolutions. I know this is about to sound extremely pessimistic, but I have always thought, "why make new year's resolutions when they're only going to be broken after two months?" This year is different for me, though. I can feel it. I know that God has a lot in store for me in 2011, not that He hasn't had anything in store for me in previous years. This year just feels different.
There are a few things that I would like to accomplish this year:
1. I want God to continue to teach me, stretch me, challenge me and use me. I want to know God on an even more intimate level than I know Him now. I need to strive not to live so much by a schedule, but to trust Him and all that He has for me. There are no surprises with God. Every bump in the road that I will face this year will be no surprise to God. He knows exactly what is going to happen. It is my choice of how I am going to react to it.

2. If my school route stays on track for graduation in December, I want to be in tip top shape when I am walking across the stage. This year brings many exercise classes, lifts and cardio. It is going to be tough, but I really think that I am going to enjoy it.

3. Strive to be more self-less. I want to reach out to those who need a friend or someone to listen too. I want to be someone that others know they can rely on. I want people to see me a loyal and as someone who will always be there for others.

4. Take better care of my body. I need to be more consistent. I need to stay on a regular routine and be committed to taking great care of my physical self. Exercise regularly, eating properly and taking care of my skin. For Christmas my mom bought me some great Merle Norman skin care products that I have fallen in love with! I've never had acne or anything like that, but I want my skin to be in good shape as I grow older and this stuff is amazing!

Those four things may seem little and a bit silly, but they are important to me. My prayer for this year is that the Lord will continue to mold me into the woman that I am meant to be. To be used for His purpose and to not get distracted by the little things that do not matter in the long run. I am looking forward to going back to school in a week to see what is in store for the semester!

Side note: I have no idea what happened to my pirates! The Military Bowl was absolutely terrible! Our defense has been weak all season, but I know that it is better than what they played like this past week. I hate that the season had to end like that, especially for the seniors. Thank you to all of the senior Pirate Football Players for giving us your all over the last few years. It has been a pleasure attending games and having a great time. There is nothing better than being a Pirate! Even after that ugly loss, my heart still bleeds Purple and Gold!