Friday, December 12, 2008

No Wasted Leftovers

And I don't mean cookies...

I had the awesome opportunity to spend some time with some great ladies tonight. We decorated Christmas cookies and laughed...a lot! As the year and our Lifegroup both come to an end very soon, it started me thinking about how I ended up where I was tonight: in the company of wonderful women, in a city 2000 miles from my hometown--where I've lived for nearly three years already. Time has flown, for sure. I came up with a bullet-point list of the events leading up to tonight.

-January 2004: Visit some family friends in NoCal so that I could interview for an internship. During this time I headed down to SoCal with a friend to visit his brother, Disneyland and a church. My friend has a man-crush on the worship leader at this church (my friend also leads worship...he's a huge fan of this leader) so we attended. We almost didn't make it due to rainy, gross weather combined with a late evening the previous night.

-March 2006: I move to SoCal.

-April 2006: I decide it's time to find a church and remember the church I had visited. It was the ONLY church I had ever heard of or known anything about. It reminded me of the church I attended in college, so I felt at home immediately.

-April 2006 through December 2007: Loving church and attending fairly regularly but not really plugged in despite it's great Young Adult ministry. I blame me for that and my lack of being super outgoing.

-January 2008: Attend the Passion Conference with a small group from my church. I hardly knew anyone there but had really felt God calling me to get connected. I felt this was my best shot. I met a couple of the pastors, who I had been chit-chatting with about wanting to find a Lifegroup but none listed online were anywhere near my house. They then thought of a girl who they thought would be great. I meet said girl the following week at a coffee shop. The moment I walked in I couldn't believe it. I had seen her numerous times before and always thought she looked familiar, like someone from my school. As I had correctly guessed, she had been on the worship team at our college ministry. 2000 miles away. SMALL WORLD.

-Today: I am able to call this wonderful group of ladies not just my Bible study or Lifegroup, but friends.

God did a lot of things in order to get me where I am today. That is not lost on me. I am struck by the reality that God really does have a plan--and more importantly--knows exactly what's going on even when we don't. When things are hard and we can't see past our own struggles, God is right there with us. But what is awesome news for my heart tonight is that none of our hardships are wasted. God always uses what's going on in our lives to help us ultimately become exactly how He wants us. Our pain, sorrow, frustration and even joy are constantly being used by God to mold us into people who look a little more like Jesus. Bit by bit, day by day. There are no leftovers in our lives that can't be used for our good and God's glory.

How awesome is that?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Unequaled One

I spent this past weekend with a few hundred other young adults from my church. The retreat was held outside of the city, so that in itself was refreshing. The 3 1/2 hours it took to get there in traffic was not as refreshing. It was a wonderful time to meet with God (well, He met with me exactly where I was) and spend quality time with some dear friends. The sessions were good and I was loving the worship!!

Here is a journal excerpt of my reflections on the entire weekend:

Jesus is the Unequaled One. He pursues me, always and forever. No matter what. Regardless of how I treat Him or (fail to) respond to Him. I want my life to reflect Jesus' work in me. No more compromises. I am no longer going to live as if there is nothing or very little at stake.

Love God. Love others as we love ourselves. Love ourselves because we trust that God doesn't make mistakes and He only wants the best for us. He is more than deserving of our love and faithfulness in return.

Today another thought has been swirling around me head:

Am I living a life that is worth or consistent with being a Christ-follower?

It was a fantastic weekend that left me feeling refreshed and with lots of things to think about, which excites me. I had asked God prior to this weekend to break my heart and show me things in my life that deserve my immediate attention. He definitely delivered!

Here's a picture of our room (minus the boy) at breakfast. Most of these girls are in my Lifegroup:

This picture was taken during the Reindeer Games. It was basically a huge competition with five stations. This one was where we had to pull a teammate across the pool in the tubes while they tried to grab Christmas bows and put them into a bucket. About 90 minutes later my friend and I quit during our 3rd event. Oops.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

60 Degrees ( Okay, 70) and Freezing

Somewhere along the CA coast

I am pretty sure I am a wimp. I spent 21+ years living in an environment where it was pretty much hardcore winter for 6 months out of the year, where you'd often wake up in the morning hoping the streets have been cleared and that your car starts. Where, if the temperature happened to hit forty degrees, everyone was out in shorts and long sleeves.

I'd like to say it's taken me three years to acclimate to the almost always pleasant weather of Southern California, but I'd be lying. I think it took about 6 months. By the time I went back home for that first Christmas, my body had somehow forgotten what it was like to need to regulate its temperature. In all actuality, my body rebelled. I was so cold the entire 2 weeks I was there. Even riding in the car provided a place for me to chatter my teeth, despite the fact I was wearing a heavy winter coat.

This is why I am nervous. I am soon going to be spending the next few months in what I affectionately call the Tundra. I am going home for a little bit and I don't think I could have picked a better time of year: the dead of winter. I think I may die. Slowly, for sure, since that's how you freeze to death. Everyone keeps telling me that I'm being dramatic or exaggerating, but I tell you I am not. I don't care how many layers I put on, how consistently I wear long johns when I leave the house, it is nearly impossible for me to stay warm for very long. And here's the "kicker," as my mom would say: You start sweating to death the minute you walk indoors. You can't win!!

Here's an example of how wimpy I've become. I am sitting at home now with my space heater on, under a pile of covers...and according to my desktop weather alert it is 62 degrees outside. When I tell this to my family members, they all act like it is a warm spring day. Um, no. Brrr.

I will endure. Mostly because I don't have a choice.

Good thing snow is pretty. That is, until you are outside for 2 hours shoveling the driveway and then have to go out a few hours after that to do it all over again.

Here's a pic from last year when I enacted a little child labor--she had a blast, though!! (She's at the bottom of the driveway and the street is behind her--clearly the plows hadn't come through yet...)
P.S. I just checked the weather for my's lightly snowing and the windchill is 12. Awesome.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Great Raffle for a Great Cause!!!

I almost want to preface this by saying "I'm sorry for referencing this other blog so much, both here and whoever I talk to in person" but sorry. I'm not! :)

There is a(nother) great thing going on over at My Charming Kids. She has gotten together some some fantastically worthy organizations that help little ones and their families and put on a raffle to benefit them. It's called Rebel for a Cause and all proceeds go to these families in need.

So not only is it just a great cause, there is an AMAZING prize package for the raffle winner. It's a sweet Canon camera package--that's right, lots of goodies involved!! Check out the button to the left on my sidebar and it will take you straight to the contest where you can read up and get involved.

It's definitely worth your time--and your money. Only ten bucks for a ticket. Hurry, because the contest ends on December 14th.

Happy December, by the way!!!!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Today is Not Me! Monday

I've read several weeks worth of Not Me! Monday posts from MckMama over at My Charming Kids and decided to give it a shot. Why not? I never like to try out new things. Not me! :) Head on over to her site to see what she and others HAVEN'T done :)

This week I...

I did not offer/insist to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 7 people at friend's house to ensure that it went well ( 5 of whom were 20-something males who could have never attempted such a feat on their own...) Nope, not me. I am never controlling or bossy. I am always the first to go with the flow and be laid back about everything. I never get worked up about unimportant details.

I did not stay up one night until 3am reading the blogs of strangers, which I wasn't thoroughly enjoying. I certainly have better things to do with my time, like sleep. Which is why I did not force myself to finally go to bed after realizing I had to get up in a few short hours to finish thawing a turkey. I am much more organized and put together than that.

I did not decide to write this post several days ago but forgot what I was going to put in it. I never forget what I am about to do. I've never walked around with my toothbrush in my mouth for 10 minutes--without toothpaste--because I was putting away odds and ends around the room. And I would never be so flighty as to ask my boyfriend if he had seen me move my toothbrush because there is no way I would forget that I had just taken it out of my mouth and was now IN MY HAND while I asked him. Not me. My mind is way too sharp for that!