Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Good Riddance, 2007 - thanks for everything.

What a year What a year! Man, it's crazy to look back and see where I was in my life a year ago. (I'm one of those dorks who can look back in my agenda and see exactly what was going on each day because I write every event down...feel free to make fun of me haha!) So in looking back on everything, I clearly see I have learned so much this year! The Lord has molded my heart, my family, friends, and so many others have influenced me in the past year. I wish I could say I wouldn't change a thing, but where my heart is now, I think I would. I mean, it's always gonna sound more noble, or make you sound stronger if you say you wouldn't change anything, but I'm sure deep down, everyone would change something. And sometimes, I just get tired of taking the high road, and just want to break it all down and say yes, I have regrets, and yes, I would have changed some things. Wow, that sounds a lot more doom & gloom than I expected, but that's the beauty of writing - the thoughts just flow. Maybe it'll be easier to sort of list out things I've learned/discovered/wondered this past year...

hmm where to begin...
I learned first of all, that the more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you spend in the word, the more you'll want to. For so long I complained about that "fire" going out, and not being able to find what I had known before, that relationship and that passion; but I was doing nothing to ignite that fire. It's not gonna start itself, we have to help! But now, I find the more I read, and pray, and spend time with the Lord, the more I want to. I would surely suggest this to anyone! Just do it. And He will come!

This is a big one...I've discovered I give my heart away too easily. I'm hesitant, and have trust/doubt issues with relationships, but at the same time I completely entrust my heart to someone else's hands; so I'm sort of a catch 22. I give my heart away, but am also quick to doubt. Which sucks. Don't give your heart away if you're not sure how it will be handled, because it hurts too bad when it's handed back to you. This I will definitely work on in 2008!!

I've learned that I love being outside. And I try to spend as much time as possible out there. After all, God created it for ME (and you :)!) to enjoy, and we should do so. The beach in Charleston, to the Mountains up in Clemson...lovin' it!

I've learned that there's ALWAYS time for coffee with friends. There's always time to catch a quick lunch with someone, or go on a walk; and I've learned that finding these small/short times with friends are definitely vital in life.

I've learned that I'm more independent than I thought. I used to hate being alone, because I felt like I needed more friends, or felt dejected like no one wanted to hang out with me, but I've learned this is not true.

I've always prided myself in saying I have no regrets; but I've discovered that I do. Maybe one day I'll be back to not regretting any decisions I've made, or whatever the case may be, but I've learned that currently, regret is a real thing. It sucks, but it's there.

I've learned that I'm a dreamer...and that it's ok. I want to move to NYC, I want a fairy tale romance, I want to own my own store one day, and I do dream of all these things and more. We'll just see what happens. I know not all of this sounds like reality, and that the real world will hit me sooner than I think, but I have lofty dreams, and I'm ok with that :).

I've always loved music & the arts. And recently I've gone to see a few jazz ensembles play downtown. I need to make more time for stuff like that this coming year.

I've realized how good writing actually is for me, and how much I enjoy it. I know blogging is dorky or kinda silly to some, (me too actually haha) but I love to write. It helps me greatly to just release all my thoughts and just let the ideas flow. I've written a LOT in my journals (i've already completed like 4 this year) and I've written letters (most of which I never gave to the person written to - but it still helped tremendously to get it all out, even if they never heard it!). And my new favorite writing form - songs. I've only completed a couple, but I have tons of lyrics. Writing has definitely become a new favorite form of release for me.

I've come to realize your mood is what you make it. Your day, week, month, or even year is what you make it. If you set your mind to being depressed, you will be. If you set your mind to be happy no matter what, you will be. Hard to do, but I promise it's worth it! One of my favorite quotes: "Life is like a wave, you can't change the way it breaks, just the way you ride it." :) aaamen.

I've prayed to see the beauty in everything. To not miss anything, or take the small things for granted, like a sunrise, or a sunny day, or even a smile from a stranger in passing. I've prayed for this - that I'll never take the beauty of this life and world for granted. Life is beautiful - Embrace it and be thankful!

One tough thing though I've realized this year is that spiritual warfare is absolutely real. Satan is ready and waiting to plant seeds of doubt and second guessing and questioning in our heads. I've been going through some of this lately, and after talking to my mom about it realized that is exactly what it is. Satan tries his hardest when he knows we are in an intimate relationship with our God...

A simpler lesson learned: I spend way too much time on facebook, etc... I think we all do haha ;)

enough for now....but I'm hoping to carry these lessons/realizations over into the next year, all the while letting this past year go - so as to take all I've learned and make them "resolutions" of some sort. We'll see how it goes.
Goodbye 2007, hello 2008 :)

one love - C

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Let us be in Tune!

I just watched Rob Bell's Nooma video "Rhythm" and maybe it's because I'm a music nut, but it totally spoke to me. I thought I'd share with you his words:

"When I think of God, I hear a song. It's a song that moves me. It has a melody, it has a groove. It has a certain rhythm. And people have heard this song for thousands and thousands of years, across continents and cultures and time periods. People have heard the song and they've found it captivating and they've wanted to hear more. There have always been people who say there is no song, and who deny the music, but the song keeps playing. And so, Jesus came to show us how to live in tune with the song, that He's the way, the truth, and the life. This isn't a statement about one religion being better than all the other religions - the last thing Jesus came to do was to start a new religion. He came to show us reality in it's raw...that's who God is, that's how the song goes...

...The song is playing all around us all the time, the song is playing everywhere, it's written on our hearts, and everybody is playing the song. See, the question isn't whether or not you're playing a song, the question is, 'Are you in tune?'...

...An infinite, massive, kind of invisible God, that's hard to get our minds around; but truth, love, grace, mercy, justice, compassion - the way that Jesus lived, I can see that. I can understand that. I can relate to that. I can play that song."

He then goes on to talk about how when we're selfish and stingy, we're out of tune - and that it's possible - especially if you know a lot about the music - to get caught up in the technicalities that you can miss the pure beauty of the sounds. He ended on this quote:

"May you come to see that the song is written on your heart. And as you live in tune with the song, in tune with the creator of the universe, may you realize that you ARE in relationship with the living God."

Amen! Let that be our prayer - that HIS song be written on our heart, and that we may constantly be in tune with Him.

Nothin but love,

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming... :D

OK, so last night i was sitting out on my porch and it was so perfect out there...we just put our christmas lights up, and it was a little chilly, but not too cold...perfect weather for wearing my favorite sweatshirt, sitting in my favorite spot, it's almost my favorite time of year (Christmas!), and i was doing one of my favorite things - praying/writing in my journal. It was such a beautiful, intimate meeting with my Father, I just have to share what I was taught!

I hope what I'm about to say makes sense, because I'm gonna try to put into words what's been going on in my life/my head for the past few weeks, but it's gonna be kinda hard, without getting into too much detail. So I might ramble/not make sense. Anyways, maybe (hopefully) someone can relate.

Do you ever feel like when it rains, it pours? I know that's so cliche, but to me this seems to be the way things have been going in my life. One thing can't go wrong without spurring on a whole avalanche of other things, whether they are a big scary things or small issues i get over in a few hours. Some examples: my car breaking down and having to get towed (I got to ride in a police car!), My car breaking down again and having to take it BACK to the shop, My bank account getting broken into, a significant relationship falling apart, my piano getting sick (she doesn't like wine haha - she's better now though whew!), finding out I can't be in choir AGAIN next semester b/c of scheduling, my sister's health problems, my lack of money, stress about school and finding an apartment for next year, etc etc etc avalanche avalanche avalanche...

BUT please understand I'm NOT in any way looking for a pity party of any kind, or sympathy of any kind, because I am learning to roll with the punches, knowing that my battle's already won. I mean at some point, I just have to laugh. To sound cliche again, No one ever said life would be easy. In fact, we are told that this life will be HARD - and we will have trouble. But as soon as we are told that, our gracious God turns around and tells us to take heart, because he has overcome the world! (john 16:33) This is why I am able to laugh. I've realized that your attitude about life is a decision. I'm making a decision every day to start that day off trying to embrace a kingdom mindset, that this life is but a SECOND in the scheme of things. This world is not my kingdom - this is where last night comes in.

I've been reading captivating by john & stasi eldredge recently - and I love it, but I have to be honest, sometimes books like this discourage me. Sometimes I just feel like I can never get there, or never be where I'm supposed to be in my relationship with the Lord. Christian self-help books are great, and I know the authors don't mean to do this, but they can be so discouraging to me! They sometimes make me start to question what is wrong with me? or why don't I relate to this? etc. So last night I was praying, and just expressing to the Lord that I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle - that I don't understand why I never feel good enough, or like a good enough Christian (blah i almost hate to use the word "Christian" in that sense - because I feel like it's such a label...) SO almost as soon as I could get those words out and written in my journal, it hit me. I felt my father saying duh! Courtney, it IS and WILL BE a never-ending battle on this earth! As long as we're here in this world, I will be, and You will be, fighting an unending war with Satan who is trying his hardest to convince us that we're not good enough. This is not to be discouraging though - Yes, at times it seems tough, and I just want to give up and throw in the towel, but God has called ME, little ol' me, to fight this battle for HIM! I take this as a challenge - to tackle this world, and overcome it - just as HE did...yeah it's gonna be tough, but we cannot stop fighting until we take our last breath of this world, and our first breath of Heaven. Because only then will be go where we really belong - His kingdom will be our kingdom. I just need to remind myself of this sometimes - that I don't belong here, and that one day I will be home. I can't wait for the day I "trade this exile for homecoming" (that's a reference to the message translation...forgot which verse, i just thought the wording was beautiful...)

Then, I wanted to find an encouraging scripture about all of this - fighting the battle here to inherit the kingdom there...and I think the Lord showed me the most perfect, beautiful, applicable verses (amen for the word being alive!):

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have alread been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But ont thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I PRESS ON TOWARD THE GOAL TO WIN THE PRIZE FOR WHICH GOD HAS CALLED ME HEAVENWARD IN CHRIST JESUS. All of us who are mature [**me, mature? haha] should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. [**He made clear to me last night my thinking was silly!**].....[skip down a few verses]...But OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN. And we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowl bodies so that they will be like his glorious body......[skip some more]....Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT IN EVERYTHING, BY PRAYER AND PETITION, WITH THANKSGIVING, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD. AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS." Philippians 3:12-16, 20-21, 4:4-7

woo hoo!! i love confirmation of my prayers from scriptures - that my citizenship/kingdom is in heaven, not here! this life is just a split-second in the big picture! also, i think it was so refreshing to read the words "press on". I pray that I might, and we all might press on to his kingdom, no matter how yucky life can be.

Another quote i found today that seems applicable :) -- "I have been told I need to believe in Jesus, which is a good thing. But what I'm learning is that Jesus believes in me. I have been told that I need to have faith in God. Which is a good thing. But what I am learning is that God has faith in me." -Rob Bell

Finally, I'm done haha...I hope someone got something out of all my babbling. another long blog....man i need to learn how to consolidate haha! ;D

Hope you are all having a WONDERFUL day!!

**p.s. the title is in reference to finding nemo - dory's philosophy on life :D, incase you were wondering!

Friday, October 26, 2007

just some amazing lyrics...

i love song lyrics. i spend a lot of time at work looking them up online and reading them haha.
this is a song i've known for a while, but i just recently really listened to the lyrics and let them sink in.
what an encouraging song for when life gets tough! Praise HIM, for we are NEVER alone!

"Close Your Eyes" by Dave Barnes

When the future gets real tough
And silence speaks too much.
I'll reach my hands to you.
And if you feel all alone.
and hope is dead and gone.
I'll be right there for you.

I'll be all you need,
close your eyes
and just believe.

Love, it can break your heart,
But that's where real love starts.
Trust me, i'll show you.
Life, it can beat you down,
But i'll still be around.
There's nothing I can't do.

I'll be all you need,
close your eyes
and just believe.

Life is shorter than you think,
It can get lost inside a blink.
Don't let it pass you by.
And me, I've loved you from the start,
You're the blood that beats my heart.
Search and you will find me.

I'll be all you need,
close your eyes
and just believe.

Don't know about you, but I'm thankful for the promise this song reminds me of!!
Have a great weekend......

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

mmm good quotes

so my facebook page was getting too full of quotes...but i love em! so here are some more that i've found/loved recently! (Some more profound/meaningful/deep than others haha!)

"The Glory of God is man fully alive" -Saint Irenaeus

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." -Jim Eliot

"We must believe that nothing is more beautiful, profound, sympathetic, reasonable, manly, and more perfect than Christ..Even more, if someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth, then I would prefer to remain with Christ, rather than with the truth." -Dostoevsky

"I ask, Lord, as you counsel through your admirable counselor, May I receive what you promise through your truth so that my joy may be complete. God of truth, I ask that I may receive so that my joy may be complete. Until then, let my mind meditate on it, let my tongue speak of it, let my heart love it, let my mouth preach it. Let my soul hunger for it, my whole being desire it, until I enter into the joy of the Lord, who is God, Three in one, Blessed forever." -Anselm

"That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming." The Message - 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (I especially love "Ready to exchange exile for homecoming"!)

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. BE KIND ANYWAY.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. BE HONEST ANYWAY.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. BE HAPPY ANYWAY.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. GIVE YOUR BEST ANYWAY.
For you see, in the end, it never was between you and them anyway." -Mother Teresa.

I bought Carrie Underwood's new album yesterday...and these are my two favorite lyrics (plus the WHOLE song "So Small" - if you haven't heard it yet, you NEED to!):

"There's once in a lifetime,
and there's once in a while.
And the difference between the two
is about a million miles."


"God put us here on this carnival ride.
We close our eyes, never knowing where it'll take us next."

"I'd surely like to rest, but the energy gets the best of me.
It's been a wild ride, I wouldn't change a minute.
I can't slow down inside, I guess that's why I live it."

"At this moment there are 6,470,818,671 people in the world. Some are running scared. Some are coming home. Some tell lies to make it through the day. Others are just now facing the truth. Some are evil men, at war with good. And some are good, struggling with evil. Six billion people in the world. Six billion souls. And sometimes, all you need is one." -OTH

i'll probably/most definitely add to this list...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Relationship with HIM + God's truths = A Beautiful Thing

I know what you're thinking, what a weirdo with too much time on her hands. BUT, during my internship I find that I spend numerous hours a day alone in my office, with not much to do besides play on facebook haha, which gives me entirely too long to think. I don't know about you, but when I spend a long time alone, I get all introspective and think WAY too much into things, so why not write and release all my thoughts, maybe or maybe not to help someone who might or might not stumble across my page. Maybe I'm just trying to help myself not go crazy from thought-overload. Anyways, here goes.

Being alone, I do spend a lot of time with the Lord, though, which has proven to be an amazing growth process, just in the past month or so. It amazes me how true it is that if we only spend time in the word, and spend time with our Father, building that relationship, our life, and joy in this life, will grow abundantly. I feel for so long I was just floating through life, a "second chair" christian (if you don't know what that is, ask me, and i'll fill ya in...but that's another story) but in the past few months I have truly come alive in Christ. He has shown me more truths, given me more inexpressable highs and lows, and rewarded me in so many ways, just by being in constant contact with Him. I would much rather be so beautifully broken, flat on my face before Him, than just simply "happy" to live day to day. That may sound crazy, that when I'm upset, and just broken, that I'm still full of joy, but to me, that is to know true joy. When we are crushed in spirit, by standards of the world just beaten down, one thing after another, we are still joyful, full of hope in the Lord. I feel that when we're down and feel we have nothing, that is when true growth in the Lord comes in, because that's when we truly seek his face and his heart. I've come to understand that our relationship with Christ is truly that...a relationship, that lives and breathes, in need of constant care and nourishment. Let me put this into perspective...If you were in a loving relationship with a person, you would definitely want to talk to them everyday, and want to spend time with them as much as possible. Yet with God, we sometimes seem to be okay with doing a "quiet time" for about an hour (give or take) and then going about our lives. Imagine any worldly relationship where you said "Okay, I'll give you an hour a day, but after that, I'm done, and I'm gonna do what I want" Would that relationship not surely die! The same goes for our relationship with Christ, he desires nothing more but than for us to Yearn for him...not simply put enough effort into that relationship to survive. Because of this realization, All praise be to HIM, my Father and Creator, for breaking my selfish pride, and teaching me that I ultimately suck at life without Him and the guidance that our relationship provides me! He has lit the fire in my heart, and I just can't get enough. It's so beautiful a journey, while at times I'm hurting, and confused, all the while full of joy. This was a hard truth He taught me yesterday.

I've been struggling with guarding my heart in a certain situation I'm in, and as much as it's been so good for me to open my heart again, I've remembered how vulnerable opening up makes us! It's such a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs; getting built up, as well as let down...etc. etc. Thus, I've spent a lot of time trying to let go. But through this beautiful ride so far, My God has taught me two vital truths that I think every girl should know when she finds herself in this place.

The first is this, that JOY and HAPPINESS are NOT the same thing. I was praying for the Lord to fill me with his joy when I would get down or discouraged about this situation/relationship I'm in. When things were not going the way I wanted, I would pray for joy, and wonder why I didn't feel it. Why was I still hurting and worrying, and fill in the blank. But yesterday, I was out on the dyke at Clemson, sitting on a rock overlooking Hartwell (one of the most beautiful spots in Clemson, I recommend it to everyone!), and it hit me. While I've been saying "joy" in my prayers, I was really seeking happiness. I was praying for God to make me numb to the pain/worry that accompanies the excitement and, for lack of a better word, happiness in such a situation. I was wanting to just be happy everyday, experience and feel the good, but none of the bad. But God broke me and expressed to me that that is not the meaning of JOY. Like I said earlier, true joy can come in the midst of brokenness. He will not make his children numb to pain, because he is a jealous God, who wants us to seek his heart, which I so freely do when I'm feeling beaten down. I have been praying for the wrong thing, yet through that I have found comfort and rest in the fact that I still have eternal hope and joy down deep inside of me. Yes, I'm going to be hurt, and feel pain, but I'm full of Peace. Peace that this joy...aka the Holy Spirit...is living in me!

Now the second truth I've learned this week...I'm currently reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. I know it's written for boys, but Eldredge also recommends it for girls, "inviting them to discover the secret of a man's soul and to delight in the strength and wildness men were created to offer". I thought it would be a good idea to read because aren't we all searching to get in the mind of the opposite sex? Anyways...in reading this book, sure I've learned about every Adam's heart, but I've also learned SO much about MY heart, and women's hearts! The truth that God showed me yesterday was about my "Eve Complex" so to speak. Here's the excerpt that I read: **the part I really want you to get is in all caps b/c i can't figure out how to italicize yet haha**

"Eve is deceived...and rather easily, as my friend Jan Meyers points out. In The Allure of Hope, Jan says, "Eve was convinced that God was withholding something from her." Not even the extravagance of Eden could convince her that God's heart is good. "When Eve was [deceived], the artistry of being a woman took a fateful dive into the barren places of control and loneliness." NOW EVERY DAUGHTER OF EVE WANTS TO "CONTROL HER SURROUNDING, HER RELATIONSHIPS, HER GOD." NO LONGER IS SHE VULNERABLE; NOW SHE WILL BE GRASPING. NO LONGER DOES SHE WANT SIMPLY TO SHARE IN THE ADVENTURE; NOW, SHE WANTS TO CONTROL IT." And as for her beauty, she either hides it in fear and anger, or she uses it to secure her place in the world. "IN OUR FEAR THAT NO ONE WILL SPEAK ON OUR BEHALF OR PROTECT US OR FIGHT FOR US, WE START TO RECREATE BOTH OURSELVES AND OUR ROLE IN THE STORY. WE MANIPULATE OUR SURROUNDINGS SO WE DON'T FEEL SO DEFENSELESS." Fallen Eve either becomes rigid, or clingy. Put simply, Eve is no longer simply inviting. She is either hiding in busyness or demanding that Adam come through for her; usually, an odd combination of both." --John Eldredge, Wild at Heart

What a relief! I'm not just some crazy girl who always tries to control my life. Every woman battles this! It is our curse from all the way back to Eden, it's in our make-up. This is the complex that all women have, and what we battle with everyday. This truth just truly struck a cord with me, so to make sure it wasn't just me, I read it to my roommates, some of the most godly gals I've ever known (Praise the Lord for sweet Community!) and all of them agreed that this statement/passage is true, and they all appreciated it. This just solidified the fact that I'm not alone. Boys (if any are reading this) take notes. This is the heart of a woman. How beautiful is it that we are created to need to seek God's guidance, because if we don't we try to do it alone. This is an extreme comfort to me, that girls, we are not alone! We all fight the same battle...all we can do is grasp for our God's hand and his guidance.

It's a beautiful thing. But that's enough for today. I promise my future blogs won't be this long, I just had so much love and hopeful insight to pour out!!

Peace and Blessings....C