Monday, November 10, 2014

Meditation Monday: Praying for Your Church

A very encouraging inspirational
quote about prayer
Prayer. Its an ancient practice that is meant to help us be in communion with our God. Being in church, it doesn't take long to realize that prayer doesn't come naturally to most people, and even its hard for people to even know how to begin. I have written a few posts on prayer (you can read them here and here ), but I struggle with consistency in my prayer life. Over the past few years, the Lord has taken me on a journey to broaden my prayer horizons. One of those areas that was broadened was my obedience to pray for the local church body. Here are a few things that I pray for my local church.

1. Church Leadership
This includes praying for the lead pastor, any associate pastors, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders in the church. I pray that the leadership of the church would seek God in their own lives before they try to lead the church and seek God in the direction to take the church. I also pray that there would be unity among the leaders of the church and that the Lord is clear about where the leaders should lead the church.

2. Strong Marriages and Strong Families
When families and marriages are strong, that can only be good for the church. I pray for men to be the leaders of their home, and I pray for women to be partners with their husbands in leading their children in knowledge of the Lord. A strong marriage is a great testimony to the Lord and brings glory to God through their faithfulness to each other, and their repentance/forgiveness when they sin against each other.

3. Singles
Many times, singles lead a very different lifestyle than a family, and it can bring a plethora of talents, gifts and spheres of influence to the church's fingertips.
I pray that singles find community within the church, and that they would seek discipleship and mentorship. I pray that the Lord grows singles in both maturity and numbers. I pray that singles pursue positions of leadership and seek to serve the local church in unique ways.  I also pray that singles are strengthened through their obedience to sexual fidelity (faithfulness to God given sexual boundaries) and that they honor God with their minds and bodies.

4. Non-believers
In each church, there are always people that are part of the community of believers, but who aren't believers. I pray for their salvation, and that the Lord would bless their attendance and turn it into repentance and response to the gospel.

5. Finances
Lack of finances isn't something that is unexpected in the local body, but I pray for the leaders to be smart with the money, and they are being good stewards of what the Lord has provided to meet the needs of the church budget. I pray for the Lord to uniquely cover unexpected costs, and for more members to be loyal to tithing.

6. Cultural Diversity
There a famous quote from Martin Luther King JR, and he said that the most segregated hour of the week was Sunday at 11 a.m. This is mostly still true today, and I can see it in the last several churches I have been a part of. So, I pray for cultural diversity. I pray for cultural sensitivity and awareness. I pray that the Lord provides the people to make it cultural diverse. I don't pray for color-blindness, but cultural appreciation and celebration. I pray for grace, and I pray that we focus on Christ being the common ground, not our cultural preferences.

This is not an exhaustive list, but its a place to start.
Is there anything else you pray for your church? Leave a comment below :)

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. At the end of this post, there will be suggested posts, check them out. Also, you can use the right side of this blog to explore other topics as well. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. If you are blessed by these posts, go ahead and leave a comment, I dare you :)  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Singleness Saturday: Why Am I Still Single?

Closeup of a happy young woman smiling isolated on white backgroundDo you ever ponder this question? Does the way you answer this question leave you feeling empty? Does it create more questions than answers? Do you long for a better explanation and more comfort?

I can tell you, the reasons you are single are not because you have done something wrong, or because of the way you look, or because of you at all. Its all about God. The reasons that you are single all center around who God is and how He wants to display His glory among His people.

God's ultimate desire is to see all peoples come to know Him as Lord and Savior. Everything that He lets us experience is to draw us closer to Him.

Here are just a few encouraging reasons you might be single. 

1. God is faithful and gracious.
"But you, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15
"Because of the LORD's great love we are consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 
"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you with bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6 
When we as so unfaithful, God is faithful to His promises and to His people. Understanding that God is faithful to His Word, we can be certain that God is going to make complete what He started in each of us, whether or not that includes marriage. God's desire is to make His name known and to bring glory to Himself. Marriage (and singleness) is a gift of grace, meaning that those that are married are married because God allowed them to be, not because of their merit or qualifications, or that God was happier with them than He is with you. In God's unfailing love and faithfulness, God bestows grace upon grace, and its all for His glory and making His name famous.

2. God is sovereign.
"Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." Psalm 115:3 
"For I know that the LORD is great, and that our LORD is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." Psalm 135:3
God's sovereign is defined as God has the absolute right to do with His creation as He desires. He takes pleasure in everything He does, since He desires to bring glory to Himself. Trusting in God's sovereignty is very comforting, since I know that He is at work to accomplishing the things in my life. Yes, there is human responsibility in all the decisions that I make, but God's sovereignty its always at work.

3. God desires to bless his people.
"But the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love." Psalm 147:11 
"The LORD will again take delight in prospering you." Deuteronomy 30:9 
God takes pleasure in blessing His people. He blesses His people to bring praise and glory to His name. Singleness can feel like a curse sometimes, but if you are single its because God wants to bless you through it, and in turn bring praise and glory to His name. God's blessings are not like a cosmic vending machine, so we don't always get the blessings that we want, since God sees our lives on a much larger scale than we ever could. But God chooses to bless His people so that we bring praise and glory to His name.

4. Singleness brings glory to God.

Church pastors talk a lot about how a Godly marriage displays God's glory and is a ministry among God's people. Very seldom to they then turn around and explain how singleness brings glory to God. Because of the lack of attention singleness is given by churches, those that are single are left feeling left out of being able to bring God glory through our singleness.

Through my walk with God, there are a few things that I have learned about what it means to bring glory to God through my singleness. It includes embarcing where the Lord has placed me, and being obedient to Him in this season. There are certain things that He asks of singles, being pure in both thought and action is one of them, and another is to be undivded in my service to Him. But both of these take their own forms in marriage.

At the end of the day, as I fall asleep, I must trust that God wants to see the best for me. Knowing that He is faithful, sovereign and desires to bless me, and that my life stage does bring glory to God, rest comes easier.

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Stitch Fix Friday: Fix #2 (August)

Here goes my second Stitch Fix experience, in August. I am a little late in getting this post out, the end of summer and the beginning of the school year has been quite the ride. Below are the list of items that I got in my August Fix. 

In the box, there are always several items in it. Of course, there are the five pieces of clothing/accessories, there is always a personalized style card, a return package, and a price list.

In my first fix, I only kept one item, which I absolutely love! This fix, I asked my stylist to find me a few items that are orange, since that it one of my new school colors. Below are the items that I received in my fix. The ones that I am wearing, I kept. The ones that are on hangers, I set back. All items were sent back because they were too small, not because I didn't like them.

The style card! I love these, they give you great ideas about what to pair with your items.

Loved this top, but alas, it was too small in the bust... story go my life!
These skinny jeans were too small, but I would love to try something like this again.
This was a nice skirt, but it was too small and too short.
I love this sweater, it is oversized and it stays open, with no buttons. Its a great orangey/pink color, and its a great addition to my sweater/cardigan collection.
The white and orange stripped sweater is soft and warm, a great idea for a teacher. I loved it and I am excited to wear it this fall/winter.

This was a great fix, if you would like to try it, check out the website! And check out my first fix!

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. At the end of this post, there will be suggested posts, check them out. Also, you can use the right side of this blog to explore other topics as well. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. If you are blessed by these posts, go ahead and leave a comment, I dare you :)  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Stitch Fix Friday: Stitch Fix #1 (July)

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 

Maybe you have heard about this new website called, Stitch Fix. The way it works is that the company will ask you to fill out a style profile, and give them what kinds of things you would like to see, and how much you would are willing to spend. You can even include your Pinterest style board in your profile. They assign you a personal stylist and they send you five pieces for you to try on in the privacy of your own home. There is a $20 styling fee, and then each piece is priced separately. If you like items, you can checkout right online, and the ones that you don't like, you send back in the provided packaging, which is already paid for. To read more about how it works, you can read it on their website.
At the time I filled out my style profile, the largest size that they carried was a 14. I was currently a 16, so I committed to losing the weight to get me to be a 14. When I had reached a 14, I arranged for my first Stitch Fix in come at the beginning of July.

I was excited to receive my first fix, and excited to see what my stylist would pick out for me.

In the box, you get these style cards to help you match up what your stylist thinks would go well with the pieces. There is also a paragraph that describes why your stylist picked it for you, and any other information. I thought it was so informative and helpful!

So here are the pieces that my stylist picked out for me. Most of the pictures are of the clothes, not on me, because several of them where either too small, or I just wasn't satisfied with the way they fit.

Pieces #1 and #2
This outfit was actually the one I was most excited about to try on. My stylist said that she wanted me to try these on together, so I did. The green pants are skinny, but they have a lot stretch. These pants felt really great as I put them on and they were comfortable, but when I looked in the mirror, I just think that they showed too much. I sent this item back.

The white shirt is a kind of style that I have never tried. Its a flowy shirt that I usually stay away from, since I have this perception it would make me look bigger, or pregnant. I knew that once it went over my head, it was going to be tight. I have a larger bust, so most shirts in my pants size are too small. This shirt was also sort of see through, which I always have a problem with. I sent this item back.

Piece #3
This blue shirt was very similar to the white shirt, except there is a lace back and its not see through, but the same problem that I had with the white one happened with this one... it was too tight. I sent this one back.

Piece #4
Anyone who knows me well, know that I love cardigans. They are a staple in most of my outfits, and I love them! This had a lace front, and a knit back. For me, the cardigan was too short. My torso is already short, so this made look even shorter. I sent this back.

Piece #5
I prefer to where patterns on my lower half, since I have a smaller lower half, the patterns seem to give the sense of more proportion. So when this houndstooth skirt showed up in my fix, I was super excited about it! Its a slip on skirt, with no zipper, and with an elastic waist band. I love this skirt! I kept this one.

My overall first experience with Stitch Fix was awesome! I expected my first fix to have some things that worked and some things that didn't. I can safely assume that in each fix that will happen, but I know as each fix comes, and I send back my feedback, then each fix can only get better. I have told them that I am currently losing weight, so that my style needs and sizes might change, but so far so good.
If you would like to try it out, check out this link and sign up, its a wonderful way to expand your wardrobe and try new things, without having to spend hours and hours at the mall or outlets. Try it out!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday Thought: Why I Don't Like Formulas...

Add maths

As a math major in college, I learned a lot about how formulas can model nature. And when it comes to modeling weather, plant growth, ocean currents, or the probability of certain events, I am fine with formulas. Formulas are created in such a way that they can take into account a certain number of variables and factors. So, even in the best models for weather, there are still an endless number of factors, so the formula can only be limited in its understanding of how weather works. But when it comes to trying to model God, formulas are impossible.

If weather has an endless number of factors to do considered, then consider the Holy Spirit. How many more factors need to be considered when God is involved? One of the largest reasons I have strong feelings towards people who try to make the Christian life until a list of formulas is that most of these "formulas" actually can't take into consideration the input of God. You see it all over the blogosphere (the next few examples are just simply titles I have made up on the spot... I am not actually specifically talking about certain posts on other blogs, just the type of post in general)... "5 steps to a better relationship with God", "10 ways to receive blessings from God", "8 essential steps to a better prayer life", etc. And in the world of single bloggers, "Five Steps to the Biblical dating/courting relationship". While these posts have merit to them, they offer encouragement and a call to action on the part of the reader, the scary thing about them is they set all the responsibility on us as people, and leaves little room for God to move.

In the human aspect, these formulas limit our liberty that we have in Christ. The very nature of our relationship with the Lord is that His Love breaks the bonds that we have to the Law and to sin. These formulas and steps just leads to a new law. This very process tells us that if we put in the work that we are told to, then we will get out of the process that we want. This makes our relationship with God much like losing weight. If we consume a certain number of calories (sermons, community, fellowship, etc.) and then we exercise (the spiritual disciplines) on a regular basis, then we will get the results that we want (i.e. the blessing that we are seeking from God). Don't misunderstand me, we will be blessed by those things, and we will grow in our relationship with God, but if we are using them in a way to try to get what we want from God, then our prospective of who God really is, is flawed.

This type of writing leaves much to be desired, since the Lord is not bound to those formulas. Just because someone writes it as a list of "to-do's" doesn't mean that Lord sit there a reads that post, and says to Himself, "OH, is that how I am supposed to be working among my people?". These lists and formulas to a better "whatever" leads to putting God in a box. It leads the people of God to want God to work like a formula, and do things that are expected. It can also cause us to view God as a dispenser of blessings and gifts, if we can carry out a certain number of steps, or a works based relationship with God. Yes, a relationship with God takes work, but the ultimate goal of working at our relationship with God is NOT to get what WE desire, but to be in communion with God. We work at our relationship with God not to try to receive His blessings (if this is your goal, then you will be disappointed), but to just be in relationship with the Lord.

I don't want my God to do the expected. I want my God to work in the exact opposite, the unexpected. I want Him to work in mysterious, glorious, and out of the box ways. I want Him to defy nature and formulas.
Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Traveling Adventures: Summer 2013

For the last two years, I have posted about the traveling adventures with my friend, Kelly. Two years ago it was Germany, last year it was a cruise. This year we visited Los Angeles! But not only did I visit LA with Kelly, I also took a three week road trip with a teacher friend. We visited each major city from DC to Boston and ended the trip with a relaxing couple of days on Cape Cod, Mass. And yes, after 18 days on the road together, we are still friends. Even after that I spent another seven days with my family in Upstate New York.

Taking advantage of these kinds of trips is something that I didn't quite appreciate until this year. I mean, how many people that are married and/or with kids can just take off with two of their girlfriends and not come home for a totally of 40 days!? I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to have the summer off, and thankful to have this time to explore the world. Here below are just a few of the pictures that were taken on both the trip to LA and the road trip. Enjoy!

First Professional Baseball Game in California
First Time to In and Out
In the Amish Schoolhouse, this saying you have to pass on your way in

This is what you have under on your way out. I loved this :)

Amish Village: a family's set of clothing

Statue of Liberty

Today Show with Hoda
Cape Cod way our last adventure before I sent my friend home
and I went on to my family reunion

My family at our reunion

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Singleness Saturday: Praying Through the Tears

1996 Jocassee Quiet Solitude
I *think* that I am not alone in this, and that everyone has that "thing". That one thing that they have been praying for years and they watch as other people receive the blessing that they themselves have been praying for. Its the thing that usually brings you to tears when you pray.
It might be getting into the college or university of your choice, the perfect job, a wonderful spouse, a long awaited child, a working car, a place to live, or a comfortable savings account.

It comes to no surprise to my regular readers that being single is that "thing" in my life. Its an area of my life that teaches me repeatedly about my need for dependency on God like nothing else in this season of life. It drives me to prayer, and it usually leaves me crying out to God. Marriage can easily become an idol in my life, and I frequently have to prostrate myself before the Throne to give it all up. The Lord is truly using this time of singleness as a time to bring me closer to Him. In the midst of thinking that I am completely alone, I remember that we have a savior that can sympathize with us. He prayed to the point he started to sweat blood! That is some intense praying. While I have some prayer sessions that have more tears than words, I have never prayed hard enough to draw blood.

Another point of encouragement is that I don't always understand what He is doing, but I do know who He is. He is faithful to complete what He has started.
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."- Philippians 1:6
This might not include marriage in my life, but I know that whatever He has planned is going to bring Him glory. When I keep this in perspective, I can pray through the tears, still asking Him to bring marriage, and also relying on Him is stage of life. Whatever comes my way, He will be there asking me to rely on Him, and guiding me through.

Whatever your "thing" is, whatever brings you to tears and makes it hard for you to pray, please remember that the Lord is doing something with the pain, with the heartache, with the struggle. He is growing you, stretching you, teaching you in grace.
I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.  ~ Charles Spurgeon

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 
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