Monday, January 27, 2014

Living in a broken world...

So I watched the Grammy's last night (or at least the part I tolerated before giving up and going to bed). I realized something while they were on, as well as in the hours after I turned them off and tried to sleep. My mind raced all night with thoughts like:

"What is this world coming to?"
"How do I raise a God-fearing child in a world like this?"
"When did things get so messed up?"

You see in the past few weeks I feel like horrible news surrounds us - both locally and globally. Random "road rage" shootings happening in my small rural county, mall shootings, school shootings, parents murdering their children, multiple meth labs being found in my area, human trafficking is all over the news lately, and then there is the ever looming threat of terrorist attacks... The list could continue for a very long time.  

I feel disgust when I think about it, but also I feel heartbroken. I feel angry. I feel scared.

But as I was contemplating all of these emotions, I suddenly heard that voice of peace. (Not an audible voice that woke me like a scene from a horror movie), but the still small sense of peace I get when I know God is trying to get my attention!

Of course I am going to have feelings of disgust toward the things of this world. The bible even warned me I would.

But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
Galations 3:22 NLT

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
1 John 2:15-17 NLT

I am not trying to say that the Grammy's are something you should stay away from. It's not my job to decide that for you. As you continue to develop a relationship with God, He will convict you of certain things that He doesn't want you to participate in, or watch, or listen to.  These things can be different for each of us. God knows us completely. He knows what may cause each of us to struggle. And those things can be different for each of us. So I encourage you to listen and pay attention to how and where He is directing you. 

This world is a sinful place and I was made with a desire for more! We all were! We were created with a desire for heaven! If I wasn't feeling disgust for the things of this world, what would that say about me? 

I think this is what God means when he warns us to be "in the world, but not of it!"  I have no choice but to live here. And I don't think God wants me to live in torment while I'm here. I can and should make a life for myself and I'm allowed to enjoy the things that God has placed into this world. But when ungodly things of this world become pleasurable to us, we need to take a step back and reevaluate our lives and our commitment to Christ! Because like the verse above states, "For when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you."  Friends, we cannot pick and choose which parts of the bible we live by.  If we really want to follow Christ, we need to strive daily to do as He has commanded us.

So ask yourself today, who are you truly desiring to serve?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bucket Lists, Dreams, and More

I have never sat down and made an actual pen to paper "Bucket List" because I don't want to become so focused on getting the selfish things in my life, that I forget to remain open to God changing my dreams and aligning them to his!  In fact, many of these dreams are completely different than they were 5 years ago, because He has already changed me so much!

But I think it's important to document our dreams so that, among other reasons, we can look back later and see if and how we have changed over the years.

I thought it would be fun to list some of the things that I would absolutely love to be able to do or achieve over my lifetime (In no particular order)!  Some are realistic, some are very far-fetched, but all are close to my heart!

#1 - Buy a vintage camper and remodel it

I have to really work on my skills first, but I know I have it in me somewhere! I have such wonderful memories of camping with my family when I was a child. Don't get me wrong, I love a nice cruise or a beachfront hotel, but just thinking about taking Miah camping makes me nostalgic! I would love to find a cheap airstream camper and spend the next several months (or years) updating it to make it fit my family perfectly!!! Imagine vacations in something like this!! I just can't think about it and not smile!!

#2) Spend some time in Missions

I'm not talking about committing to a year long (or more) mission field. I have the utmost respect for people who do that, but it is not something that I have been called to pursue. But I would love to be in a financial position someday where I can go and spend a few weeks a year in some third world countries ministering to the locals, helping at an orphanage, etc.

#3) Remodel a Farm House and become more self-sufficient

I am combining a few dreams into one here, so bear with me.  

I desperately (Probably more than any other dream I have) want to be able to buy a farm house on a few acres that is in desperate need of some love! I want it to be cozy, not too large (who wants to clean something huge!?).  But large enough to entertain because it is one of the things I love to do! This is a small sample of the vision I have for my "someday" house.

 I picture the exterior to look like this (but without the fence in the front yard)!

A stellar front porch is a MUST! I have such wonderful memories of going to visit my grandparents and swinging on the front porch swing!  I can just picture how wonderful it would be to sit on a porch and watch the sun rise and set over the mountains in the distance.

I have always swooned over long dining room tables, but my current house only holds a small round table for 4.  I would love to be able to have big dinner parties with family and friends!

And lastly, I really want a fireplace in my next house, mainly because I have never been privileged enough to live in a place that has one!  There is something so warm and cozy about them (especially on days like today when my car thermostat read 0 degrees)!!

The next part of this multi-level dream would be to become more self-sufficient. I would like a large garden area on my property where I could grow the majority of my own food.

A few years ago, Jere and I had the privilege of going to spend a few days in North Carolina with a man who is the reason I am so inspired to have a garden! I may have this completely wrong, but if I remember right, he had around an acre of ground covered completely in the most incredible garden I have ever seen! We walked outside and picked fresh kale for our dinner, and I before I left, he let me pick a bag of the sweetest, most incredible blackberries I've ever had in my life! 
(P.S. - I'm waiting to see if he reads this and notices that I swiped the picture of the tomatoes from his Facebook page!!)

I don't know if I will ever get to the point of being able to manage such a large garden, but it's a goal to work toward. I wish so badly that I could do more gardening now (not because I enjoy it, but because I want to reap the benefits). I hope that with time I will begin to enjoy it more.  But for now, that dream will have to wait, because I have to put up with my microscopic townhouse backyard in a development infested with rabbits who destroy absolutely everything I plant.

And the last part of this dream is to be able to give my baby girl the farm she so strongly desires. My sweet (almost 5 year old) daughter does not walk anywhere... she gallops. She has to put her horse in the trailer hooked to the back of my car before we can go anywhere.  And there hasn't been a day that goes by in over a year that she hasn't asked me if we can move to a farm (And promised to clean all the horse poop)!  I am definitely not a farm girl... I do not like to get dirty or smell any of the smells that would come along with having a farm. But all of our visits to farms to let my little girl see the horses is slowly changing me. I will never own a big farm, but I would love to have a small mini horse or pony for her someday!

Look at these sweet things, who wouldn't love one of these!

The list of things I want to accomplish would go on forever (open my own real estate company, expand my business of refinishing furniture, expand our Alphamerican clothing line globally, etc etc etc) but instead of expanding on all of them, I'll stop there because I'm sure you are all tired of reading!!!

As much as I love dreaming, it is very important to make sure that my most important goal in life is to serve. That is what Christ has called me to do!  I having committed to living my life for the Lord and in doing so, I must give over control. But I still believe that having dreams and goals is a wonderful thing.  However, I must also remember that they cannot take over and become my main focus!  His plans always need to supersede mine!

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,    so my ways are higher than your ways    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

I'd love to hear about some of your dreams and things on your "Bucket List"!! Please comment below....