Monday, May 28, 2007

I'm HOME!!!


What a wild vacation. Seriously! I saw the Rockie Mountains, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and a bunch of other smaller but almost as cool sights! We travelled through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, back through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and back into beautiful Illinois.

Along the way, we saw all different varieties of cows, got sprayed by a passing truckful of hogs, made friends with a strangely evil-looking bird, got chased out of the hotel pool by some sort of winged creature (can you hear the screaming?), and exclaimed "Holy cats!" more times than I like to admit. I could post some of the funny pictures, but the custody battle for them (between me and my sisters) hasn't even begun!

In case you're wondering, the pictures at the top of this post were taken by me. The first one is from New Mexico, and the second one is from the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thoughts From The Road

Hey Everyone!

I'm somewhere in Oklahoma and it's late, late, late! We left Nevada yesterday morning and we still have another day of driving ahead of us. It's amazing to me how BIG America really is! I'm a city girl, so I keep being shocked at how much of our country is farm land, ranches, and open space. I'll have some pictures to share when I get home!

This has been a strange vacation for me. I didn't really want to go! I felt like I was supposed to go, but I didn't know why.

From the beginning, this time has been powerful. Two of our cousins ended up sleeping over in our hotel room for about 4 nights! That was interesting and funny! Imagine: five s ranging in age from 15-21, two beds, a small couch, and ONE bathroom.... yes, a potential recipe for disaster!! Haha, actually, we had an amazing time with them! Not only did we have a ton of fun, we had the privilege of leading them to the Lord!! Wooohooo!!

So, yes, I have a lot to share. Lots of funny stories to tell, and hopefully, some of the pictures I took will be in focus!! I miss ya'll and I'll see you soon!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another Look At Our Testimony

All right folksies, this is the last post about faith and trust. (Do I hear cheering?? O_O) I hope you all got something from it! If nothing else, it's helped me to be bolder about believing God for big things.

Remember how I said that I have a history or subconscious database of expected behavior for my parents? That history of expected behavior helps me to lean on them when I need help. Well, I wanted to tell you that there is a history of expected behavior for us in our relationship with God! It's called our testimony!!

Think back. How many times has the Lord saved you from something? That time a car almost hit you, or the time you didn't think you had enough money to pay a bill but it got paid somehow, or the time you needed help with school, or the time your car wouldn't start, or the time you got lost. What were the first words out of your mouth? "Oh Lord!" These are all things that you asked God for help with. Maybe you weren't even a Christian then, so you didn't have a reason to trust God, but you asked Him for help anyway. And He came through for you.

Those memories and those experiences help us to get into the habit of relying on God. But if we just take those victories and forget about them, they don't really do us any good. As we share our testimony, not only does it encourage the people listening, but our own hearts get blessed! I can't tell you the number of times that I've been sharing something the Lord did for me with someone and it ministered to me! I'll be telling someone about a breakthrough, and hearing that story again encourages me in another area of my life. It makes me want to jump out and believe God for big things, just entrust my life to His hands fully! Dwelling on that act of God's mercy and love will help bond your heart to God's.

Psalm 71:5&6
O Lord, you alone are my hope. I've trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother's womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!

So share the victories that God has given you, big or small. Someone out there needs to hear it, plus you'll be cheered by telling it!!

God bless you all!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Something Cool

This was something I found on another blog and it revved my engines. Hope ya like it!!

"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Grab life by the mane. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion!"

Road Trip!!!!

Hey Everyone,

This Monday, my family is heading out to Nevada! It will take us about three days to get out there, we'll stay for about a week, and then head back. So I'll be gone from this blog for the next two weeks.

Don't worry though!! I've got some posts all lined up for while I'm away, and I've asked my dear friend Becca to post for me! I just won't be able to respond to any comments because I won't have internet.

This trip is going to ROCK!! Seriously, my sisters and I get wild (well, it's wild for us, lol) on vacation! We're going to take loads of pictures and videos, so you'll get to see us kicking back. Aka, eating reeses for breakfast, cracking REALLY bad jokes, and basically goofing off. *sighs* Man, this is going to be fun!

See ya when I get back!!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Revelation About Faith And Trust

So cool, that last post had a lot of interesting thoughts and observations. But where was I going with all of that? What's the result? Where's the revelation? (Watch closely now, because this is going to hit you fast!)

Exercising your faith produces trust! Faith (mature faith) becomes trust!

Wham-O. Are you still there? I did warn you!! That's a pretty big claim to make without evidence, so I'd like to share a couple of stories with you. God has taken such good care of me. He always gives me favor with people, and He'll pay my way if I give Him even half a chance!

When I was in college, one semester the bill came and I didn't have the money to pay for the part that wasn't covered by loans. My Mom was handling all my financial stuff at the time, but with this bill, she did something different. She handed me the bill and she said, "I don't know what to do about this. You're going to have to deal with this." This was soon after I turned my life over to God, so I took the bill and went upstairs to my closet. In the dark, surrounded by hanging clothes, I started talking to God. "Dad, I don't have the solution for this. I don't have the money for it. There isn't anything that I can do."

"But You have the solution. I know You want me to finish school, so I'm going to believe that You'll pay this bill for me." Immediately, Phillipians 4:19 popped into my head.

Phillipians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Over the next couple weeks, I made up a confession and spent time in my closet just thanking God for taking care of me. The due date for the bill came and passed, and then the school contacted us. It turned out that they were going to increase the amount of my loan to cover the part I couldn't pay! Praise the Lord!

Now, I'm not saying, "Trust God for loans to pay all your bills temporarily" but at the time, that was where my faith was. I could believe God for that and, while I'm certain I was limiting Him and His goodness, it was still a break through for me! We all have to start somewhere, so don't feel badly if you start out believing God for something small.

When you decide to rely on God's provision for you, exercising your faith like that produces a history of expected behavior. It changes your mindset from "I have to take care of myself." to "God always provides for me!" In the beginning, it doesn't make logical sense to trust in a Being you've never seen for your welfare, but to your spirit (which is always in the presence of the Lord) it makes perfect sense! Eventually, you can train your mind to line up with your spirit. You can come to a place where you EXPECT God to take care of you. (This is that renewing your mind stuff we talked about earlier!)

Jeremiah 29:11&12
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

You'll grow to the point where, whatever the challenge, the first thing you'll want to do is talk to God. He will be your answer for every question. It will spring up out of your heart naturally, without your having to do anything particularly fancy or spiritual.

About a year ago (after the incident with the school bill), I had to go to the hospital for some testing. Because of some issues with our health insurance, it wasn't covered. My Mom didn't know what we were going to do about the bill, since we'd been having some financial difficulties. I had been spending time with God, reading my bible, and getting to know Him better, so I honestly wasn't very worried. In my heart, I just couldn't work up any concern. I don't remember my exact reply to her, but I do know I reminded her of the school bill and said the Lord would take care of it.

(Side note: When you are first learning to rely on God, some people are going to have a hard time when you say that God will take care of you. It can sound to them like you just don't want to deal with the issue. My advice is to be very nice, very respectful, and don't get mad. You don't have to force people to agree with you! God will bless you whether anyone agrees with you or not!)

Some time later, my Mom called the hospital to set up a payment plan. I wasn't around for the beginning of the phone call, but I wandered into the room as she was hanging up. Boy, was she excited!! "Sam, guess what!!! I just called the hospital and they said your bill has already been paid!" I started laughing and Mom grabbed my arm and gave me a little shake! "It gets better! I asked the lady if the health insurance had covered it after all, and she said NO!! She said that she can tell that the health insurance didn't pay for it, but the balance on that account is zero!!" God had supernaturally paid my medical bill!

If some of you are stuck in religion, you're going to have a hard time with what I'm about to say next. I never prayed about that bill! I never asked God to pay that bill for me!! The previous challenges that I'd faced had proved in my heart that God was my only source. The image of my Father was so clear in my heart that it didn't matter what came against me. That bedrock trust gave God the freedom to just keep the blessings flowing on my behalf!

Proverbs 3:5&6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

I'm going to close now. I tried so hard to keep this message short, but oh well. ^_^ There is one more chapter to this series, and I'll try to resist posting it for a couple days. I hope this is blessing you!!


The Difference Between Faith And Trust

Do you ever hear someone say a word and think you know how to spell it, but actually, you don't? You look at the CORRECT spelling and think it looks weird?? Happens to me all the time. *shakes head sadly* Worse, I'll think that I know something - that I understand it thoroughly and completely - when really, I've just memorized a fact. There isn't any depth of understanding, it's just a one-dimensional fact.

Earlier this week, I started thinking about trust. I know what faith is, but what is trust? I was tempted to get out my concordance and the dictionary and work it out logically, but instead I turned to God. (He'll teach you things if you ask Him. Sometimes, He'll use a song to talk to you, or another person, or sometimes, you'll just hear His words in your heart.)

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Proverbs 3:5&6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

These were the verses that automatically jumped to my mind. One has a song that I love attached to it. The other I accidentally memorized from a Kenneth Hagin tape! (He had a unique, memorable rhythmn to his speech.) Since I wanted to exercise that spot in my heart that is always connected to God, I decided not to look anything else up. I just stretched out on our couch and kept repeating these verses over and over, mulling and chewing on them, listening for the Lord. Eventually a train of thought started.

Proverbs 3:5&6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Trust is natural. It's not something we can force. I trust my parents because they took good care of me when I was growing up. When I needed food, they fed me. When I cried, they comforted me. When I almost fell off the couch, they caught me. All of this interaction has built a history or subconscious database that lets me know what to expect from my parents in any given situation. When I ask my dad for help, I don't have to think back on all the times that he's come through for me, but I could if I wanted to.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is a choice. Faith moves me to do something. It could be anything. I might make an internal decision, or give something away, or speak a confession, or go do something, but faith contains some sort of action. In the bible, the lady who had the issue of blood hoped to be healed by Jesus. So she (I could take this back even further, but I'm going to be nice. =P) decided to find Jesus, left her house, traveled to where Jesus was, pushed through the crowd, stretched out her hand, and touched the edge of His cloak.

Trust is natural, confident reliance on something. Faith is acting like you have a natural, confident reliance on something.

You still with me? Good! I've noticed that I try to cram a lot of information into one post and I'm thinking that for some people it's a hard slog! So, I'm going to make my posts shorter, but more often. I'll post more on this subject in the next day or so. Be blessed!