Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Entry # 35: Thoughts.


Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to be someone I'm not, or like I'm trying to act or sound a certain way to gain approval or admiration, and I'd like to change that. This inner "codependency" as some refer to it is something that I've seen before, but it has come to light again more recently, and with the Lord's help, I'd like to address it, somehow. Also, I've been thinking about what direction I'd like this blog to take, and as of now, I have not decided yet, but for today I'd like to just share thoughts.

Alex's thoughts for the day:

-Fall is absolutely my favorite season: Leaves, cool cloudy weather, snuggling under the comforter with Isabean, sweaters, scarves and boots, warm drinks, pomegranates, persimmons and pumpkins, brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. Love it.

-Lately, I've realized that even my most "righteous" acts are tainted with sin and self-interest. From serving in a ministry to how I interact with friends, I've noticed a selfish component, a need to get something in return (and soon!). And when that something doesn't come, annoyance (which revealed the true motives. yikes.), frustration or anger soon overwhelms.

-I just finished my Mother-Baby rotation. Babies are my favorite. And that's all I can say without violating HIPAA and risking getting kicked out of my university's nursing program.

-I've been avoiding buying shoes with even the slightest heel because I've felt insecure about looking too tall, especially around my more "petite" Filipino peers. The feeling of being too tall, fat, talkative, dog-lady-ish, what have you, has been a recurring theme in my mind lately (that, or not "_____" enough) and it tires me out. I'd like to believe that on any given Sunday,  it's okay to wear boots with a little heel and be tall. Even though wearing them might make me taller than 95% of the people in the church (exception: Uncle Ben) Bahaha.

-I chopped off five inches of my hair! I was kind of sad. But kind of happy. It's a strange thing, the relationship between females and their hair.

-About a week ago, I read this amazing blog post by a lady I truly admire. In it, she talked about how all of her life she idolized the idea of having a family. One thing she touched on that really resonated with me was how even as she blogged and wrote about how having a family/marriage/baby etc. would never truly satisfy her, her heart rebelled loudly against what she was writing (I feel you, sister.). This disconnect between mind and heart is something I've been experiencing lately. My mind tells me that a family/husband/baby/skinny body will not be my end-all-be-all-all-satisfying thing in life, that God is good, that He's sovereign, that He's been faithful before and thus, can be trusted to be faithful again, But sometimes my heart doesn't quite feel it. One could refer to it as an "I believe! Help my unbelief." moment.

-I think I'm getting better at setting boundaries and communication. A few weeks ago a friend asked me to participate in something I wasn't comfortable with (not like, drugs, or anything. it was ministry-related. ha!) and I was able to explain why it made me uncomfortable and even suggested some alternatives!  This was no small victory, considering I have passive-aggressive-grouchy-pants tendencies! "God's grace." says my mind.

-Audrey Assad's latest album is just wonderful. Free Clinique lipgloss is also just as wonderful. Also oven-roasted brussels sprouts, homemade gluten-free pumpkin bars, and puppy kisses.

-I'd like to work on prayer and reading the Word very regularly, despite my crazy schedule.

-I'd also like to bake my first pie before the year is over.

Have a blessed week, friends!

-Alex


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Entry # 34: Adventures in Seamstress-hood!


First sewing project completed! Feeling mighty proud of my new skirt! :)

I had a cute helper.  She may have been a little bummed that I was sewing instead of playing fetch with her. Bahahaha. That face!

Please notice me. Please, oh, please, oh please, oh please.

All done! :) And with just enough fabric left over to make a little somethin-somethin for Bella Bean. 

Have a wonderful week! Thanks for reading,

-Alex

Entry # 33: Crooked Things Straight

If I believe in God, in a Being who made me, and fashioned me, and knows my wants and capacities and necessities, because He gave them to me, and who is perfectly good and loving, righteous, and perfectly wise and powerful, -whatever my circumstances inward and outward may be, however thick the darkness which encompasses me, I yet can trust, yea be assured, that all will be well, that He can draw light out of darkness, and make crooked things straight.
-Thomas Erskine

So, so thankful for this hope this week.

-A



Friday, February 15, 2013

Entry # 32: A Valentine's Day Reading List

Went on a Valentine's Day afternoon jog (complete with confetti!) with this love-bug before Bible study

Oops, this is a little late, but I wanted to share this Valentine's Day reading list by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin of Boundless:

http://www.boundlessline.org/2013/02/a-valentines-day-reading-list.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boundlessline%2Fblog+%28Blog%3A+Boundless+Line%29

Hope you are encouraged by one of these articles, wherever you found yourself this Valentine's Day!

And I couldn't have said it better than Suzanne:  "Consider this my Valentine's Day gift to you. It's more substantial than a Hallmark card and less fattening than chocolate. Wherever you are in the journey toward true love, know that God adores you (John 15:13). His love for you is deep and unfailing. Happy Valentine's Day!"

Have a wonderful weekend!

-A


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Entry # 31: All I can say without violating HIPAA! :)


This past week was all sorts of wonderful.

I survived my first few days of clinical rotation! Praise the Lord. I absolutely loved it! Going into last week, my feelings were a mixed bag as I found myself eager to finally experience hands-on patient care, while at the same time, doubtful of my ability to carry out and remember each step of the nursing skills I had learned last quarter. 

At the end of this week, I can only say that I am blessed beyond measure.

 This week I found myself physically tired from my 4:45 a.m. mornings (thank God for coffee!!!!), emotionally drained from sharing in the experiences of my patients (not gonna lie. there was lots and lots of crying after leaving my clinical site [and also lots of praying and singing!]), and mentally exhausted from juggling my clinical days with  midterms and skills check-offs (lots and lots of zoning out in class. oops.). But I also found myself with so much joy because I see God using this time to teach me to depend on Him, to hope in Him.

This week I find myself rejoicing in the fact that I have never been more sure that nursing is the occupation that He has intended for me.

I have never been so confident that God has foreordained and planned every little detail of my life--from the family I was born into, to past trials, to the timing of when I got into nursing school, to which patients I happened to interact with, etc. etc.(everything about me!) to utilize them for my good and His ultimate glory. I saw Him at work this week! And this gives me great confidence in the plans He has for my future. 

 (I wish so badly that I could explain and say more in detail, but I'm trying to be very sensitive about not violating HIPAA!)

 I feel so, so blessed, to be walking this journey and I am incredibly thankful for the hope that only Christ offers.


Have a blessed week,

-A

PS- I just realized, I really like to use parentheses! (If you haven't already noticed).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Entry # 30: Developing Patience and Learning to Trust God

Away distrust! My God hath promised; he is just. -George Herbert

Earlier today I was able to catch up with my very dear friend, Nicole. I was incredibly blessed to talk to her and hear about all that's new in her life. We had fun reminiscing about memories from high school, and we also shared our current joys and struggles. (not to mention a few nursing school horror stories [bahaha!]).

Somewhere in the middle of our conversation, while talking about our walks with the Lord, I shared with her how I see God putting circumstances in my life to develop patience and trust in Him. While these circumstances are painful at times, I feel like I am slowly beginning to get a grasp on what James meant when he said to "consider it pure joy" (James 1:2-4) whenever we, as Christians, face trials, and what Paul meant when he said we "glory in our sufferings" (Romans 5:3-5) because we know that despite the difficulty and grief of what we see before us, we can find joy knowing our difficulties are being used to sanctify us and develop perseverance, a stronger faith, more godly character, and hope.
 
But even though I know in my head that I should be considering these circumstances as joy, I find the principle so difficult to apply. While talking to my friend Nicole (thank God for patient friends!) about my circumstances, I felt a lot like Paul in Romans 7, babbling on and on about knowing what I want to do (or in my case, what I want to think), but doing the opposite.

For example, I told Nicole about how this past week, there was one night where I stayed up until past 2 a.m., heart racing, mind reeling, feeling discouraged about past failures, comparing my life to the lives of others (hello, facebook!), over-thinking, worrying about the present and future, yet at the same time, knowing it was wrong to be thinking that way. Verses that challenged my thinking were even coming to mind, but I ignored them. I was being the poster child for the opposite of Psalm 46:10. Did I even just say that?

Anyway, as I was going through this ugly process of worrying, being impatient, not trusting God to provide, and not trusting that His grace is sufficient to cover everything-- past, present, and future, (because really, that's what it came down to) I was simultaneously experiencing the Holy Spirit's conviction regarding the way I was thinking. I knew that I wasn't looking at my situation from a biblical perspective, but at the same time, in a very weird way, my illogical, fickle heart wanted to wallow. It felt strangely good to get into a "Woe is me!" mode, to tell myself the lie that God doesn't have my good in mind, and play my Taylor Swift emo ballads, while feeling sorry for myself.

But praise God, that, even though there was a lot of unhealthy thinking and sorrow that night, His grace was greater still, and He granted me joy in the morning (the same joy the psalmist described in Psalm 30:5). I don't mean that I woke up instantly happy and optimistic the next day. Rather, as I drove to class the next morning, praying and being very honest before God, He changed my attitude as He gently reminded me of the craziness and magnitude of His love for me, evidenced through Christ's completed work on the cross.

I was also reminded of something I jotted down in my notebook a few weeks ago, a sentence that I wrote to summarize a sermon I had listened to.

I wrote: "Since God has already met my greatest need, salvation through Christ, how much more can I trust Him to provide for all my lesser needs?" (Matthew 7:11)

God has already given me everything I need through his son, Jesus Christ. All my other needs, desires, and yet-unknowns (whether they be future career, marriage, ministry, whatever they may be), this side of eternity, are still smaller than my need for a Savior. Moreover, all of the worries, fears, failures, and weaknesses that  kept me up that night--that, in my mind, are huge, are not so big that God's grace does not cover them; in fact, His power is made perfect in them! (2 Corinthians 12:9) Therefore, I can (and should) trust God. He is good, and I can trust Him to give me what is good for me, and to withhold what is not.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. -Psalm 13:5
 
Let us trust in God's sovereignty and character and His work for our eternal good, and let us rejoice that even when we fail to trust in Him, His love for us doesn't change. (Romans 8:38).


Thanks for reading!

-Alex






Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Entry #29: Ebenezer (with some fun references to TSwift, Adele, and St. Augustine)


From the week of January 6-11, 2013

God is good.
I have not been able to say that for so long. So long, honestly.
Or I have chosen not to.

For the past few years, on and off, I allowed trials, pain, confusion, uncertainty (and not trusting God) about things to come, and questions to gnaw on my insides, making my vision blurry, leaving me with nothing but doubt and a dying faith. I wasn't filling myself with God's life-giving Word or His Presence. So, slowly but surely, I began to forget.
Tunnel vision was all I had, and it wasn't His light I saw at the end of the tunnel; no, only my problems. Just like Saint Augustine, I found my heart "restless, until it rests in Thee, O Lord," as I preoccupied myself with other things to drown out my convictions and distract my mind from the state I was in.

But God showed himself faithful. Despite my unfaithfulness to Him, He chose to continue to pursue me, to remind me how much He loves me, and show me new glimpses of Himself, and all of a sudden He is a new kind of real to me, and it's like a new romance, where in the words of Taylor Swift, "I just want to know You better, know You better, know You better now."

I have to admit that just like Adele, "I know I have a fickle heart, and a bitterness, and a wandering eye, and a heaviness in my head." But unlike Adele to her lover in her song, I don't have to ask God, "Don't You remember the reason You loved me before"  Because first of all, He never stopped loving me, and second, He doesn't have a memory problem. He knows everything about me (Psalm 139). I don't have a reason to doubt his love. Furthermore, miraculously, amazingly, what God does choose to forget about me is my sin, and because of that fact, I never have to hold any guilt. (Psalm 103:12) I feel like I've gotten a glimpse of what David meant when He said his cup overflows.

I'd like to list a few ways just in the past few days I've seen God at work.

 Sunday-
-Our pastor preached on how to pray when we are running on empty. He said that when we pray we should "remind" God of His promises to us (not meaning that God forgets, but rather meaning that we claim His promises to us) because He loves to answer us and prove He is faithful. I was able to remember this later on Tuesday, where I was praying the simplest promises I could remember, like, "God, You promised to draw near to me if I draw near to You," and "God, You promised that You have a plan for me to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me hope and a future."

-Conversation with a brother in Christ of mine about ebenezers. (Ebenezers are reminders of God's faithfulness. See 1 Samuel 7:12) We can look to the past and see how God has been faithful which gives us peace and joy in our salvation for the future.

Tuesday-
-Prayed on my ride to school that God would  forgive my unfaithfulness and deliberate disobedience against Him. Named and asked him to help me with the questions I've been wrestling with. Asked him for healing and help in two friendships that turned sour within the past few years. Asked him to help me identify what the unhealthy pattern was there. Asked him to give me a desire to love him and grow closer to Him. Asked him to renew me, and to teach me to trust Him with my future. Asked him for guidance and direction with a relationship with a friend of mine. Prayed that he would help me to love Him, so that I could love others. Truly love them, and invest in their lives. (Something I've been failing at, miserably, lately)
-Really got back into the Word

Wednesday-
-Was able to be used by God to be able to encourage two discouraged sisters in Christ. (Had me thinking: why would God use me? After I have failed him? In my (un-biblically thinking) mind, I was or should have been on some sort of probationary period, where I need to please Him before serving Him, but praise God He uses us despite our imperfections.)
-Got the courage to make amends and write a letter of apology to a sister I hurt in the past with my actions.
(God granted me the desire to be at peace with her instead of harboring bitterness)
-Boundless published an article that helped me to identify the unhealthy pattern I have in some of friendships. (It boiled down to my insecurities, neediness, and me making my friendships conditional.) It couldn't have been chance that this article would be published the day after I was asking to God to examine me and show me the unhealthy pattern in my friendships.

How crazy. I don't even know how to put the events of the past week  into words right now. How this week I've experienced a strange, mysterious coming-together of so many things: my pastor's message, a brother-in-Christ's words, a prayer, an article, all converging at the right time, to teach me, mold me.

...But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. -Luke 15:20. How deep His love for me.

May this blog post serve as an ebenezer for me, for I know that another time will come when it will be so hard to believe, and I will so easily forget.


-Alex