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Timeline
 
1978
Born in Tennessee on November 23, 1978.
 
October 1999
Started attending church, rededicated my life to God
 
December 12, 1999
I was baptized...and became a new creation!
 
November 10, 2005
I've decided to use this as my journal...a way to detail my faith walk and my ever-evolving journey with God. Sometimes I get so frustrated, because I don't understand or can't fully comprehend God's plans for me. Today is one of those days. I recently went through a very deep heartbreak...a very trying time in my life and in my spiritual journey where everything in me wanted to give up. Somehow God wouldn't let me. Somehow He never lets me. Sometimes I ask Him, "God, why do you love me?" It's so so far beyond my comprehension how He hasn't just turned His back on me by now. It takes me a long time to learn lessons about things sometimes. I'm very stubborn, and I usually insist on plunging headfirst into various situations and circumstances that I know I shouldn't, but it's like I have to learn my lesson the hard way. When will I change? When will I stop struggling with God and just hand myself over to Him, mind, heart, body, and soul...and stop trying to meddle into things that I should be waiting on Him for? When will I learn to "seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness," and trust that all things will be added to me? 

I love God so much, and I am so in awe of Him and His mercy and grace. He has literally picked me up from the very rock bottom and sat me back on solid ground. So why can't I just learn to trust Him? Always, always...I have to struggle. I have to pick things up in my own hands and start to try and do it myself. I know He's right there, waiting for me to stop screwing things up and hand my entire being over to Him...but I just can't seem to do it. I just can't understand His plans for my life. Sometimes I feel as though He has forgotten me...but then He answers a prayer in the absolutely mind-blowing way that only He can do...and I realize, He's always there...He just doesn't always give me the answer I want. If I would just learn to TRUST HIM. 

For example, I am very unlucky in love. I have had one relationship in the past 6 years...yes, you heard me correctly, SIX YEARS, and even that one only lasted a month and was barely a blip on the radar. I somehow always end up with my heart broken. I never get asked out on dates or fall for the right guys. I will be 27 in less than 2 weeks, and this is just not where I pictured my life being at age 27. I kick and I scream, and I fight with God, and I question HIm "When? When? WHEN? When will I fall in love? When will I find someone to love me? When will I stop being alone?" and always, always...I feel like I get the same answer..."You could not even ask or imagine the things I have in store for you." And sometimes I wonder if it's just me, thinking that in my own head rather than God putting it there, but then I think, you know, maybe it really IS God! Maybe that's what this six year wait has been all about. Maybe this whole time He's been protecting me and my heart from falling in love with the wrong person or wasting my time on someone who is not the man I am supposed to spend my life with. Is there a man out there for me to spend my life with? Is there someone out there who loves God and doesn't take himself too seriously and loves to dance and loves family and pursues God with his whole heart and soul and laughs a lot and has a tender heart for the people in society that no one else sees or cares about and knows how to have fun just being silly and appreciates me for who I am, all the complications and flaws and idiosyncrasies and insecurities that go into making me ME? Someone who will know that a single red rose is plenty, and that a trip to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone can make my eyes light up, and that reaching over and taking my hand is the most romantic gesture in the world as far as I'm concerned, and that family is the most important thing, and that my heart is fragile, so he has to tread lightly...is he out there? Is he making his way to me, just as I am to him? Did God really hand pick him just for me? Is God working out the kinks in him as he is me? All questions I would love to know the answers to...but then again, if I had all the answers, would there really be a need for faith?
 
November 11, 2005
I am really loving this ability to just pour my heart out here and hold nothing back and leave everything I'm thinking and feeling and experiencing and wanting here...all here, in one place, for maybe the world and maybe no one at all to see. Do you think there's any chance God ever reads webpages? =)

Sometimes I get so mad at myself, because I feel like I am living in the past and refusing to look ahead to my future, and I wonder, what is it I'm so scared of? Why can't I just let go and trust God? That seems to be my real problem area...the ability to trust. I mean, God has brought me this far, right? Why would He just start letting me down now?

You know...there was a time, not too long ago, when I turned my back on God. I had had it up to my eyeballs with organized religion and hypocrisy and being told that you have to fit into this mold or that mold to be a "Christian," and I think I just reached my breaking point. I can remember telling my mom, "I honestly don't know if I'll ever darken the doors of a church again." And it was so unlike me and so out of character for me...I can remember saying the words and hearing them come out of my mouth and thinking, "God is really going to do something to get my attention if I don't get back to where I need to be." But yet I stayed right where I was, stubborn and prideful and wanting to live my life the way I saw fit instead of allow God to lead me...and you know what? Not too long after that, God quite literally took me out of the place I was in in my life and put me on a  totally different path. It was like He just reached down and picked me up, out of my circumstances, out of my desires, out of my sins and my plans and my ideas of what my life should be like and sat me down in a completely different place. And I fought it. I hated it. I mourned the loss of my old life and my old routine and my old plans and ideas and I got angry with God and I moaned and I whined and I fell down at His feet and in the end, you know what happened? I was able to look back on it all and see the divine sovereignty of God. The fact that He loves me enough to completely stop me in my tracks and change the course of my entire life is pretty humbling. I mean, me! Little old me...and yet, to God, I am important enough to pick up, dust off, patch up, and hand a whole new life to. I've always known in my heart that God had special plans for me...and when I tried to divert from that course, as hard as I fought it, He reeled me back in. He stole my affection once again. And isn't that just like God? To make a powerful appearance in the 9th hour, just to prove the joke is, in fact, on us and He's been there all along...just watching and waiting for the right time to intervene. Isn't God magnificent? 

Often times I think that God's love just isn't enough for me, and I need the love of an earthly mate to really feel complete...and I think that's why He hasn't given me an earthly mate yet, because He's just watching and waiting for me to realize that He's all I'll ever need. And I'm getting there. I'm really getting there. Being the God that He is, I know He knows me well enough to know that it takes me awhile to come around sometimes. But oh, won't it be a grand day when I finally do? =)

I have no idea if anyone actually reads these postings of mine or if anyone looks at my site, but if you are reading this and you've turned away from God for whatever reason...stop reading, right now, stop whatever you're doing...and GO BACK. Learn to lose yourself in Him again. You'll find you've really missed Him once you return to His loving, unconditional arms. He's still there. He was there as you cried...he was there as you struggled...he was there as you sinned...always, always, He was there. He will never leave you or forsake you. Take it from someone who knows. Return to your first love. He's waiting with open arms.
 
 
November 14, 2005
God is so amazing! I am so excited to share an answer to a prayer that has long been a desire of my heart. Recently, as I have drawn closer to God, I have really been praying for Him to bless me with a few really great Christian friends that I can count on and spend time with and pray with and share what's on my heart with...and He has been so faithful! I have a cousin named Emily who is close to my age who I have always been close to and hung out with...but lately we have been hanging out a lot more and it has been so great! She has a roommate named Lisa, and both of them are amazing Christian women, and the time we are spending together has been such a joy. I know God strengthened my bond with Emily and brought Lisa into my life. It's always so amazing to me to see the answers to prayer manifest themselves right in front of my eyes. God is so good, and so faithful.

I am really starting to learn that if I just pray and have faith and trust God...the answers to my prayers begin to fall into place. It's really been a process for me to get to this point, because I have always had a lot of trust issues...but I really think I am starting to get there. He continues to prove Himself time and time and time again. I don't always get the answers to prayers the second I pray them...as a matter of fact, more often than not, there's a waiting period. I think this period serves as a time of testing, a time for my faith to be tried and proven to be sincere or not. When I doubt and waver from my belief, a lot of times the answer to my prayer is delayed because I am not standing on faith and trusting God to take care of me. When I pour my heart out to God and leave my requests at His feet and don't pick them back up again and try to work everything out myself, I see results. Amazing results.

I really feel that at this time in my life, God is really trying to get me to lay down a lot of people and events from my past. I am still clinging to certain friendships and situations that clearly don't have room for me anymore. I don't know why I am so stubborn and refuse to let go. I know when I let go, I leave room for God to bless me with new friendships and situations. I think it's just painful to realize that the life I once led no longer wants me anymore. I have come to a fork in the road, one leading into the future and one taking me back to the past...and I can either choose to move forward and embrace what God has for me, or I can stay on that long, dead-end road known as the past. I really think I am ready to shed the old and look ahead to the new. Whenever God sees fit to remove something or someone from our lives, He always blesses us with a friendship or a situation that is 100% better than what we used to know. And I am so grateful that God always fulfills His promises to us and does not let us linger in that fruitless struggle known as The Past. Thank you, God...that I can release my past, my mistakes, my strengths, my hopes, my struggles, my friendships, my weaknesses, my finances, and my future to You and You will use it all for Your glory. Thank you for always being so faithful and never giving up on me even when I give up on myself.
 
November 20, 2005
I haven't written in a few days. Sometimes life just seems to get in the way. I'm not sure why, but it seems as thought every time things start going good in my life, I lose my need for God and kind of leave Him in the dust. I don't mean to...that's not my intention...but still I do it, every time, without fail. It usually takes a heartbreaking moment or a rude awakening to snap me back to the reality that I am nothing without Him. It is really so true..."I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." Apart from Him, left to my own devices, I make a mess of things. Why don't I ever learn? And why when I do learn, must I learn the hard way? It's like that new Carrie Underwood song, "Jesus Take the Wheel." I desperately need Him to take the wheel...take it from my hands...at times, wrench it from my hands...before I screw things up again. I love the Lord, yet at times my spiritual walk seems so ineffectual. It's like I want to talk the talk without walking the walk. I want things in my life to change. I want to have a closer walk with God. I want to be victorious over sin and sadness and failure and temptation and pride and the flesh and depression and worry and confusion and debt and anger and unforgiveness...yet I don't want to do what it takes to get there and to allow God to work through me. I want to be used by God and bless others and be the woman of God He created me to be, yet I don't want to make the sacrifices I am going to have to make to get there. I'm just so tired of cutting corners and being lukewarm and complacent and satisfied in my life. I'm tired of nothing ever changing. I'm tired of being frustrated and letdown and led astray by things that seem great at the time but always turn out to be nothing but a disappointment. I'm tired of being defeated. I'm tired of being insecure. I'm tired of pouring every last bit of myself into friendships and relationships and circumstances only to find that I have nothing left over for God...and yet I still wonder why it is that things don't turn out the way I planned and people don't live up to the standards I have set. I have to be willing to get back to a place where I am teachable and sensitive to God's voice and obedient to His word...instead of doing everything my own way and then watching it fall apart. I am tired of just existing. I want to walk in faith, in ruthless faith and trust and confidence that My God knows the right way to go and the right decisions for me to make, and that everything else is merely a distraction. I feel like so many times in my life, I have had the path to my destiny laid out before me and I have chosen to deny it and follow my flesh. I have always thought God had this really great plan for my life, yet when it comes times to make the choices that would lead me straight to my destiny, I run in the opposite direction. There has to come a time in my life when I put my foot down and refuse to keep settling for just existing and make the choice to live.

God...please show me the way. Please forgive me for walking in the flesh and not in the spirit. Forgive me for choosing to do things that I know are not in your plan for my life. Forgive me for being weak. Forgive me for not reading your word enough, or praying enough, or seeking your face enough. Please help me to do what it takes to be back on track with You. Please help me to deny myself and my desires and my ways and my plans for my life and to begin to embrace the course You have laid out before me. Help me to be obedient to your commands and to seek You with my whole heart, mind, body, and soul...holding nothing back. Show me the way to go and help me to have the discipline to follow You. Lead me, Lord. Order my steps. Give me the courage to not be afraid to do things that others might not agree with, and to give up things that others might embrace, as long as it keeps me walking in harmony with You. Please don't let me miss my destiny. Change my heart, Lord. Renew my mind. Help me to let go of the relationships and the areas in my life that are not pleasing to you and that are keeping me from everything that You have for me. Help me to have the strength to lay everything down at your feet...the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Jesus, take the wheel.
 
November 21, 2005
My birthday is in one day and it has really given me a chance to reflect upon my life and where I am at and where I want to be. I am most definitely still a work in progress! There are times when I get discouraged, because I feel as though okay...here I am, about to be 27 years old, I live in an apartment furnished in my parents hand-me-down furniture, and I'm still driving the same car I was driving 6 years ago. I think it's easy to get so focused on where we're at, it's impossible for God to show us where HE wants us to be. And the truth is, I'm thankful for everything I've been through, because all of it, every last minute of the struggles, the triumphs, the pain, the love, the laughter, the tears, the hardships, the lessons learned, the mistakes, the accomplishments, the failures...all of it has gone into making me the person I am today. Which is not to say I'm this perfect person who's got it all figured out, because I'm not. Not by a long shot. But I am a pretty good person. I love God, and although I might not always pray as much as I should, or read my word as much as I should, or trust God to follow through like He never fails to do --- that's okay, because I really do love Him and want to please Him. I always find my way back to Him. And in the end, isn't that really what we're made of? When the lights go down and the masks come off and pretense goes out the window, what's left there is a girl who very much loves her God and wants to carry out His will for her life. I fight him on so many things, and struggle to understand and make sense of His will, and doubt Him, and question Him, and wonder what on earth He's thinking and how on earth he could take me down the road He has me on...but in the end, it always comes back to me and Him. Face to face, Father to daughter, Messiah to mere, weak human. He tests me sometimes, I think, to see just how strong my devotion to Him is, and I know I let Him down sometimes. I am fallible, I make mistakes, I run from Him, and then I come back, kneel at His throne, and wait for His still, small voice. It was once prophesied over me that "He's never been very far from you," and I know that's true. As alone as I have felt at times, I have always somehow understood that He was there, drying my tears, lifting my head high again, and wiping away the clouds and the pain and the confusion and the disobedience. Sometimes I can even feel His presence in the room, smiling at my silly blunders and shaking his head in wonder as only a proud papa can do. God is so good.  
 
November 23, 2005
Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me!

Lord...right now, in Jesus' name, I claim my 27th year will be the best year of my life. This is the year it will all begin to fall into place. This is the year I will be the best I can be...I will live my life with no regrets and no fears and no insecurities. I will stop being controlled by what others think of me and worry only with what God thinks of me. I will be bold, I will be confident, I will walk in security and peace, knowing that I am exactly who God made me to be and He loves me!

Thank you, Lord, for another year...another month...another week...another DAY...to serve You and live for You and honor You. Thank you for bringing me into my destiny. Thank you for healing me of years of insecurity and self-loathing and fear. Thank you that I don't have to judge my happiness according to how many people like me or approve of me or show me attention. Thank you that I can walk in freedom! Thank you for healing my heart and my emotions and my mind and my body and my spirit! Thank you for bringing me through all the darkness You have brought me through so I could see another glorious year!!! Thank you for always being by my side...and bringing me into a closer walk with you...and loving me unconditionally. Thank you that as long as You love me, what everyone else thinks of me just doesn't matter. Thank you for every day You give me on this earth to see the sun shine and hear the birds sing and hug my niece and watch her laugh and walk in friendship and love with my parents and listen to music and feel the wind blow across my face and watch the sunset and smile and grow and learn and cry and love and LIVE! Thank you that this year will be the very best of my life so far. I love You, Lord!
 
December 10, 2005
It's been awhile since I've written anything. I've been going through a bit of rebellious phase, I think, which is what happens when I decide I can handle my life better than God can. Always, always I am proven wrong. I'm not exactly sure where my spiritual life is taking me or what God is trying to do in me right now, but I know there's a bit of stretching and pulling going on inside my heart. I know I disappoint God so much sometimes, but still He remains faithful. Most of the time I can't understand why. It's just beyond me why He cares so much. Haven't I used up all my chances yet?

God has made it glaringly obvious in my life that when He is ready for me to get out of a situation, He will pull me out or do whatever it takes to get me away from it. Often times, it's done in such a baffling, unexplained way that I know it has to be God. And ultimately, I always look back and realize the reasons why...but what I still can't understand is...what is my purpose in life? What does it all mean? What kind of difference does He want me to make in the world, if any? How does He plan to use me? So many questions...so few answers.

I really feel as though I am searching right now...searching for the meaning of life, searching for happiness, searching to discover God's will...searching. Though I might stray from the course from time to time, I always manage to follow the yellow brick road home. I think God sees that and honors that. Not because I'm worthy, but because He's miraculous.
 
December 14, 2005
I feel like I am moving into deeper relationship with God. I think lately, life has really been testing me and revealing to me the necessary steps I have to take in order to realize all that God has for me. I have been cutting corners for WAY too long...just getting by, making the absolute least amount of effort I can make to draw close to God, and sometimes not even that. Why do I allow my flesh to rise up and conquer me? Why am I so weak? Why do I compromise just to feel comfortable in my life, when obviously comfortable is not what God wants for me? Nothing in history worth having has come at a comfortable price. So what makes me believe my destiny will come without some serious sacrifice, serious commitment to seeking God, and serious refusal to settle for anything less than an intimate, 100% honest and real and no-holds-barred relationship with Jesus Christ? After all He has done for me and brought me out of, why is it even a struggle to follow Him and seek Him with my whole heart? Why am I so stubborn and so determined to do things my way?

I think that there has to come a point in a person's life where the line in the sand has to be drawn, the determination to pursue Him has to outweigh the struggle to stay mediocre, the decision has to be made, once and for all, to seek Him with mind, heart, body, and soul...with no looking back. No compromise. No excuses. As scary as it is, I think I am reaching the point where I am ready to do that. I think without that line in the sand, the complacency stops being a habit and starts being a way of life. And I don't want that. I don't want to wake up 20 years from now and wonder what I could have had if I had just denied my flesh, picked up my cross, and followed Him. I want to be a God chaser. I want to be real, and true, and ruthless, and persistent in seeking His face. I want to stop being satisfied with the mediocre and start striving for the miraculous.

Lord, on this day, December 14, 2005, at 5:31 p.m., I am making the decision to follow after You, to pursue You, to seek You, to please You, to love You and serve You and honor You and KNOW You...in ways that I never have. I will deny my flesh and take up my cross. I will stretch my faith and leave my comfort zone of sin and compromise and complacency and I will walk in truth and light and purity and obedience. I want to know You, Lord. I want to see Your face. I want to draw closer to You than I ever have. I want to know what You have in store for me, because I know it's beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself. I want to be changed. I never want to be the same. I don't want anything less than what You have for me. I won't settle for anything less. Please help me, and strengthen me, and walk with me, and guide me where I need to go. Help me to make right decisions and be surrounded by Godly people and live my life in a way that is pleasing to You. Work through me and speak through me and help me to love others and forgive those I have harbored unforgiveness towards and minister to those that need a touch of grace and mercy. Help me to be loving and pure and righteous and merciful and kind and honest and strong and filled with faith. Help me to trust You with my whole heart, and to surrender my entire life to You, holding nothing back. Draw near to me, Lord, and help me to draw near to You. Help me to say and do and think the right things. Protect me from attacks from the enemy, and help me to stand strong when the attacks come. Renew my mind. Transform my heart. Lord...I don't ever want to try and do things on my own again. Stop me when I would try to. Help me to be humble and to admit when I am wrong and to surrender to You all aspects of my life. Prepare me for my destiny, and give me courage and hope and faith when I would want to give up.

Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me, Lord. Thank you for being patient with me when I didn't deserve it. Thank you for being always near when I call on You. And thank you for the times when You have gone ahead of me and paved the way, and saved me from myself.

I love you, Lord.
 
December 17, 2005
I have to say that I have been feeling very lonely lately. I'm not sure if it's the holidays or the fact that I'm reaching the age where most people are already settling down and getting married or what. I just know that I walk through the malls and see the happy couples and the babies in strollers and my heart aches. It aches like it's never ached before. There have been times in the past where I have had a fleeting desire to be married...to be one half of a whole...to find that person that, as cliche as it may sound, completes me...but usually within a few minutes, the mood has passed and I'm back to my single life without a second thought. But lately...lately, something is different. The ache is just sort of always there. It never really leaves. I feel so alone sometimes, my heart literally hurts. And I'm not really sure what to do with that hurt. I can't make Mr. Wonderful materialize into thin air. If only it was that easy! POOF! There he'd be. But it's not. It's far more difficult. And in my case, it often seems even more daunting...if you take into consideration my overall bad luck when it comes to relationships. Sometimes I think that God might have it in His plans for me to walk this earth alone. And if that's the case, what can I do about it? I will have to make peace with the situation and learn to be happy as just me, without a "better half," without a hand to hold, without a shoulder to lean on and cry on and lay my head on. Just me. I know that I have to reach a place of peace and contentment with that, but it's so hard. My heart longs to have someone to love. I have so much love to give, and yet no one to give it to. I know I should be loving God with my whole heart during my singleness, and I do, I really do...but is it really so unreasonable for me to want a human hand to hold? Is there someone out there for me? Or will I wander this earth alone?

I really do want to please God and carry out His will for my life, and if I am meant to do that as a single person my whole life, that's what I will do. But I dream of a wedding and babies and a white picket fence. I never used to. I always thought I wanted to focus mainly on my career and worry about marriage and family years down the road. Furthering my career was what mattered to me. And now all I can seem to see and want and wish for is to find someone to love. Is it even possible that there might be someone out there, just for me? Is he wondering where I am and what I am doing tonight, just as I am he? Is God preparing each of us for the other one, even as I type this? Will I find him around the next corner? Is he waiting and wishing and hoping and praying for me, just as I am for him?

Or is this it for me? Am I meant to serve God as just me, and me alone? Is there some greater purpose that can best be accomplished if I remain alone my whole life? Whatever the case may be, I have to focus on God and not allow my vision to be clouded. I have to learn to accept the fact that He might have plans for me that a husband and children wouldn't allow me to fulfill. It's so hard to let go of my dream of falling in love...but I know I can't cling to something that just might not be in the cards for me. I have to let it go...submit it to God...trust in Him...and let Him decide. In His infinite wisdom, He knows what is best for me and I must trust that. I must move out of the way so He can work through me. I have to let go of my plans and allow His plans to be fulfilled.

I sure would love to be in love, though.
 
December 18, 2005 - 1:45 p.m.
God is calling me to a place of forgiveness that I'm just not sure I am ready for yet. I am not an angry person, or a bitter person...in fact, I tend to get over things very quickly and move on, rather than hold incidents and circumstances that have proved hurtful to me againt those who committed the act. But even still, there are people no longer in my life that I feel I have been harboring in my heart some unresolved resentment and anger and hurt. As I have eluded to in past journal entries, a few months ago I went through a major transitional period in my life, during which pretty much everything in my life was turned upside down and shaken around...leaving me with a life that didn't even resemble the life I had once had, only moments before. During this time, certain things happened that left me hurt and empty and confused and feeling as though the bottom had completely dropped out and I was living a nightmare. The people involved in this shake-up hurt me worse than I have ever been hurt in my life. Even worse, they were people I thought I could trust...people I called friends. And these "friends" broke my heart...actually, no...shattered my heart in a way that left me feeling as though I would never again be the same. And truthfully, I never was the same, and I never will be, because I learned certain lessons during that time that I would never trade for a second because they were lessons that I needed to learn to teach me more about myself, and standing strong in the face of chaos and great pain. At the end of the day, I learned that I am so much stronger than I have ever given myself credit for, because I remained standing when a lot of people might have simply given up. So I guess what I am trying to say is that I am grateful, as strange as that might sound, for everything I went through, because it has made me a much stronger, more spiritual person...but at the same time, I fear that I am holding on to some residual anger towards the people that hurt me, and I don't want to cling to anger and unforgiveness. I want to let it go, once and for all, and allow myself to be free. You can never really be free as long as you are bound by the chains of bitterness, and hatred, and resentment. The question that I am left with, however, is how to proceed from here. A part of me feels that I should humble myself and send these people perhaps an e-mail or a letter and apologize for my part in the matter, and for anything I did to set in motion the events that led to my ultimate heartbreak. Is this the right decision? I'm not sure. I tend to think that it is...but my pride is getting in the way just a bit. My flesh resists taking such action and admitting that I played a part. I am also fearful of being looked at as someone who is just trying to crawl back on my hands and knees in the hopes of being "allowed back into the fold," so to speak, and that couldn't be further from the truth. I don't want my actions to be misconstrued...and since the people I would be dealing with are not Christians, I think perhaps they wouldn't take what I was saying at face value. They would be looking for some ulterior motive, where none exists. Perhaps I shouldn't worry so much about what these people will think and concern myself only with doing what needs to be done to cleanse my soul. I'm just not sure what the right decision is. I pray that the correct answer will come to me and I will know what to do, without any hesitation. I refuse to allow myself to be bound to these people and events, thereby stunting my spiritual growth. I am just going to trust that God will work it all out in my mind and in my heart, so I won't doubt what to do, but will know 100% what the right decision is.
 
December 21, 2005 - 12:03 a.m.
I can feel God changing my heart, little by little, day by day. I can feel my will realigning with His. For the first time in a long time, I feel really sure that the place I am in is exactly where I need to be. I have a feeling He is about to do something really big. I don't know when and I don't know what...but I feel a difference in my walk with Him. The past few days I have experienced a real reawakening of my desire to read my word and to pray and to seek Him. I can feel His presence in the air...such a peaceful, calm, expectant feeling. That's why I love the late night, early morning hours. It's like the world is fast asleep and the busyness of the day is long gone, and the quiet stillness invites His presence. Sometimes I feel as though He is literally sitting quietly in the corner of the room, waiting on me to call out to Him. That might sound silly, but there are times when I feel His presence so strongly, I am certain He is here, right beside me, smiling at His creation with the love only a proud father could display. So many things in my life I still don't understand...so many pieces to the puzzle that just don't quite seem to fit together yet...but the great thing is, He's already got it all figured out and sees where this path is taking me. He knows every step before I take it...every thought before I think it. He's ordained everything in my life to happen exactly the way it has to bring me to this place...a place of true surrender and searching and expectancy. A place of obedience and humility and brokenness.

I was discussing this with a friend earlier, the way that EVERY SINGLE decision, big and small, goes into shaping the events of our lives and making us the people we are. It's amazing when you begin to trace back the really big moments in your life to the sequence of events that led up to them, how small and insignificant each little decision can seem. But take one step out, or change just one little thing...and the entire course of your life can be changed in an instant. For example, in my life, something as silly as being given free concert tickets once set in motion a chain of events in my life that eventually culminated in the biggest upheaval my life thus far. And if you trace that back, it leads back to the decision the record label made to send this person the tickets...who then made the decision that he couldn't make the show...so he decided to pass them along to someone who did...made the decision that the someone should be me...and the ball started rolling from there. It rolled a little at a time, through a chain of events that each required a dozen little decisions on the part of numerous people and then BAM! One day, as a result of that one little act, my world was never again the same. And what's interesting is that although it has never been the same, and although I went through several months of hell, I can now look back on everything that has happened and be grateful. Truly grateful...because as a result of everything that I have been through over the past few months, I have discovered that I am a whole lot scrappier than I once thought. I have a strength, deep down inside of me, that I never would have realized was there without the tough times. I have also learned that at the end of the day, when everything else is stripped away, all I really have that is certain is God. Everything else can be lost to me in a split second...the world I had built so carefully up around me, the routine I delighted in, friends I thought I could never live without, a career I thought I was building, and the Me that I thought I knew. It can all be gone in the blink of an eye. It was all gone in the blink of an eye. And guess what I was left with? Guess Who stuck around when no one else did? Guess Who refused to give up on me? Yep...you got it! God. So I guess when it comes down to it, regardless of the trials and tribulations I have been through, I am thankful for them because they have played a huge role in making me ME. They have carried me to the place I am at now, a place I never would have realized if I hadn't had everything else that mattered to me (except for my family, thank God) taken away. He is able to use even our toughest times as stepping stones to higher ground. And through our suffering, we learn mercy. Through our hurt, we learn to forgive. Through our pain, we learn to cry with others. Through our fear, we learn to stand on our own. Through our tears, we learn to see clearly again.

And through our heartbreak, we learn to love
.
 
December 25, 2005 - 3:00 a.m.
It's very, very early on Christmas morning, and I felt it on my heart to say a special "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" I have to wonder at this time of year...does He look down on the earth and all of His creations rushing about, full of Christmas cheer, and smile, or does it grieve His heart to see how material Christmas has become? I like to think that He smiles at us, in all of our human foolishness, and nudges us a little, toward the more meaningful things...until our hearts are stirred and we begin to ponder on the true meaning of Christmas.

I have found, in my 27 years, that Christmas Eve and Christmas Night have such a peaceful feel to them...as if, for one brief, shining moment, the world is at rest...still and calm and as it should be. In the dark serenity of these early morning hours, I have a chance to glance past all the material things I have been given this Christmas and search for the glorious wonder of what this holiday is all about. Perhaps at the end of the day, it doesn't matter so much that we try our best to give worldy possessions as tokens of affection for our loved ones. Perhaps He sees the motivations of our hearts behind the giving, and He knows that it comes from some place good. Because, after all, didn't the wise men give material possessions, out of the abundance of their hearts, to the Baby Jesus?

The Baby Jesus. What a truly amazing thought to reflect upon...the fact that our Lord and Savior came to this earth as a small, defenseless infant...when He literally holds the whole wide world in His hands. What a wondrous God He must be.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. I hope the angels in Heaven are throwing You one heck of a party! Thank you for gracing this earth with Your presence for 33 years...and for doing in just 33 years what no other living, breathing creature that has ever lived could ever accomplish...save mankind.

Merry Christmas to all...and to all a good night!
 
December 25, 2005 - 3:08 p.m.

Is it better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?

Hmmm...not sure why I'm thinking about that question, but it's on my heart today. I honestly don't have the answer. I often wonder if I have ever really been in love...the kind of all-consuming love that awakens your heart and heightens your senses and changes the world around you to a vibrant, colorful thing. I always picture falling in love as something similar to the scene in "The Wizard of Oz," when Dorothy walks out of her dull, gray farmhouse, into the brilliant, magical place called "Munchkinland." Everything is rich with color and radiant with wonder. Even Dorothy herself is prettier...as the viewer can now see the rosiness of her cheeks...the sparkle of her eyes. I suppose that's what a woman in love looks like.

"True Love is the only heart disease that is best left to 'run on' - the only affliction of the heart for which there is no help, and none desired." -- Mark Twain

So have I ever really been in love? I can think of really only one time in my life when I might have been. And that ended. I often wonder if he has ever made his way to this website...the person I am referring to. My heart tends to think he probably has...and that maybe, just maybe, he might even read these musings of mine. And if that is, indeed, the case...here is my tribute to him...a small way of saying thank you for the times we shared. Because after all, what spiritual journey would be complete without love realized, and love lost?

After A While
By: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans...
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
you really are strong
you really do have worth.
And you learn...
and you learn...
with every goodbye, you learn.


 
December 29, 2005 - 2:00 p.m.
It's almost 2006!

WOW...that's hard to believe. This past year seems to have flown by in some ways...yet, in others, it seems like a hundred years ago since the start of 2005. What a year this has been...so many struggles, so much heartache, and still so much revelation about myself and my spirituality. God has been so faithful this year. It makes me reflect upon last New Years Eve, and how I had no clue, entering 2005, what I would endure this past year. I look ahead to 2006 with much expectation and hope...because I really feel that this will be the year that it will all come together for me.

I guess it's the time to start making New Years Resolutions, and what better way to try and stick to them than by documenting them here?

New Years Resolutions - 2006

1. Pray more
2. Read my bible more
3. Find a church that I can get plugged into and where I feel at home
4. Eat healthier
5. Exercise more
6. Defeat my insecurities
7. Do at least one thing a week that requires me to "step outside the box"
8. Take ballroom dance lessons
9. Be a better daughter, sister, and friend
10. Start doing better about saving money

This is all I have come up with so far...I'm sure there will be more, though!

I really want to walk in closer fellowship with God this year. I want to seek Him more than I ever have before. I want to know, without a doubt, that I am walking in His will for my life. No more doing things on my own. It's time to get serious about being a God chaser. I really feel in my heart that He has a special plan for me and my life, and it's time to start uncovering what that is. So many times in the past, it seems that I have stopped right before I got to the finish line of figuring out what my destiny is...and I don't want to do that again. I don't want to allow fear or laziness or complacency to rob me of my future. Whatever God has in store for me, I want to know it and realize it and see it come to fruition. I have always known in my heart that God has called me to live my life to a higher standard, and while I struggle with that sometimes, I really feel that I am ready to embrace my calling and do what it takes to see my destiny fulfilled.

So what does 2006 have in store for me? Anything and everything.

And that's truly an exciting thought
.
 
January 1, 2006 - New Years Day - 3:15 p.m.
The first day of 2006...wow! What a joy it was to let go of 2005 once and for all! Speaking of which, that keeps with the theme of what has been on my heart - letting go.

For me, letting go has always been a struggle. Whether it be letting go of a friend, or a job, or a romantic interest, or a situation, or even the past...I have had great difficulty in releasing things in my life that I just simply didn't need to cling to. I'm not sure why it is so hard for me, but I have literally fought, time and time again, to let the natural order of life take it's course and to let go of people or places or circumstances. I had an epiphany a few minutes ago that this is what God is calling me to do at this point in my life...let go.

This time, I feel that He wants me to let go of all aspects of my life and let Him come in and take over. This is a really scary prospect for me, because I keep such a tight grip on life in general, I can't imagine handing over the reins to anyone, even God. How silly is that? I think in my life, I am so desperate to remain in the "driver's seat," and in control, that the idea of not being the one steering the ship terrifies me. I have a real problem with control. I always have to be the one in control of every single aspect of my life. Even when my friends and I go out somewhere, I have to be the one driving. I always have to be the one handling all aspects of any given situation. So when God knocks on the door of my heart and makes it clear that He wants to be the one in the driver's seat, it causes me to resist and to try and fight Him about releasing all areas of my life to Him...even knowing that He can handle things a lot better than I ever could.

When I think about the truth of what He is asking, it really is such a peaceful feeling, to think that I can "let go and let God." A cliche, yes, but the truth, nonetheless. I don't have to struggle anymore. I don't have to beat my head up against the wall in frustration anymore. I don't have to work my toenails off to keep every aspect of my life in order and running smoothly. I don't have to keep searching high and low for romance, because He will be in charge of that, too. I can hand it all over to Him and allow Him to do with it as He sees fit. Not my will, but Yours be done. While it's a little scary for me to contemplate letting go of my need to always be in control, it's also very freeing to come to the realization that I can give up the fight and allow Him to take on my battles for me. I can rest in His promises and know that it will all be alright. I can allow Him to complete His will through me instead of me charting my own rocky course through life. What a comforting feeling it is to not have to have a constant inner struggle going on, and to not have to endure constant frustration when things don't turn out the way I think they should.

That is my number one priority heading into this brand new year...to release the past, the present, and the future of my life into His hands and to allow Him to take over. I can be still and know that He is God. I can stop doing battle with myself and with life, and I can wait on Him. It is time to stop trying to desperately cling to things in my life that aren't good for me or pleasing to Him.

It is time to let go and let God.
 
January 20, 2006 - 2:10 a.m.
It's been nearly 3 weeks since I have written anything. I'd like to say I have stumbled upon the meaning of life in those 3 weeks, but I haven't. I'm still just trying to find my way in life, as always. It's been a restless time lately. I'm not sure why. I just feel like there is something that I'm missing...like there's something out there I need to be doing that I'm not. I don't mean career-wise, I think I mean more on a personal level. Almost like I'm missing the boat or something. This probably isn't making any sense at all. I think what I'm feeling is that I need to be pushing myself to be a better person...a better friend...a better daughter...a better sister...a better me. I look around, and I see how people spend so much time getting so caught up in doing the most trivial things in life...things like getting all dressed up to go hit the town and mingle with a bunch of strangers and impress the opposite sex...when some of these same people haven't made an effort to be kind to their mother or tell their father they love him or do something sweet for a friend, for no reason at all, or do something to better their community. It might sound silly, but why do people work so hard to impress people they don't even know, while ignoring the people that matter the most, people standing right in front of their face? Just something that occurred to me. It just seems to me that the most important and valuable things in life are often cast aside, in favor of things that don't mean a thing. Why is that?

On another note...I am currently reading "The Power of Positive Thinking," by Norman Vincent Peale. It's a really great book. I am really working on turning my eternally negative mindset into a positive one. It's amazing to realize how powerful thoughts really are. "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is." I have been guilty, especially over the past several months, of having a really pessimistic outlook on life, and especially on love. I think God is really working to change my thought life and my attitude. I used to believe in magic, and romance, and fairy tales...and unfortunately, I seem to have lost that somewhere along the way. I would really like to get it back. I miss that girl. I miss her innocence, and her childlike faith, and her eternal belief in happy endings. What would that girl tell the girl I am now?

I think she would tell me to smile...to lighten up...to hum a little in the shower, and to sing a little in the car. She would tell me to look up at the stars more and maybe even make a wish on one, and most of all...to believe that the wish really could come true. She would probably tell me to walk barefoot in the grass and dance in the rain and pick a dandelion and blow all of its wondrously white fuzzy petals away, as hard as I could. She would insist that I dream more and sleep less and laugh until I cried and eat cotton candy simply for the fun of feeling it melt in my mouth. She would remind me of yellow brick roads and white picket fences and knights in shining armor...of summer days and ice cream trucks and sandcastles and fireflies.

She would point me in the direction of my own north star... and whisper in my ear that it's okay to be me...
simple, human, fallible, wonderful me.
 
January 28, 2006 - 2:12 a.m.
I feel something very strongly on my heart tonight -- the importance of loving people in the way that God has called us to love them. I think I am guilty of being too judgmental, too overly critical, and too conditional in my dealings with others. God has called us, as Christians, to love others...and how much time does the average person really spend genuinely loving others? I want to begin to be radical in my love of people...I want to love them unconditionally, without holding back, without limitations or expectations or reservations. I want to allow the love of Christ to shine through me. I have always been the champion of the underdog. Even when I was a little girl, I was always the one defending those that, for whatever reason, had trouble defending themselves. But I think an element of that side of me has been lost throughout the years...causing me to grow hardened, less moved by the plight of others. And that is a sad state of affairs...one I sincerely want to change. If we truly want to honor God and ask ourselves "What would Jesus do?" and minister to the needs of those that are hurting and weak...it has to start by simply loving people. Sounds so simple in theory, yet it can be such a difficult practice to live out.

I want to really start listening to people, and reaching out to people, and loving people...expecting nothing in return. I think that if more people would just simply love...this world would be a much better place. I want to take the time to smile at a stranger or say thank you to a waiter and be generous in tipping or go out of my way to start a conversation with the girl that bags my groceries. I want to be a ray of sunshine in the life of someone who is walking in darkness. I want to honor God by ministering to His children. I want to allow His goodness, and mercy, and compassion, and love to be evident in every life that I touch. I don't want to continue walking this earth, completely oblivious to the needs of those around me. I feel that to love someone, genuinely love someone who might not deserve it or who has hurt me in the past or who I don't even know...that is a true miracle. A miracle that can multiply with each life that I touch.
 
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