JOURNALING IN JULY.

Untitled-1

One of my favorite aspects about journaling is that afterwards, you are left with a collection of all your old thoughts, agendas, and insights. Our ability to retain information and memories is slimmer than we’d like to believe, and a record of old words serve as a time portal back into the yesterday’s. Past journals offer perspective: a better understanding of where you are going and an attitude of thankfulness for how you have gotten there.

I looked back at all my journal entires of July on the train one day, and I was shocked of how eventful the month was without even realizing it. As I knew it, another month had just came and went. Weekends seemed too quick and workdays were too long, but as I read through my prayers and recollections, I was reminded of both little and big things that had taken place. I was filled with thankfulness and inspiration. It was cool. (:

Here is a peek at some of my journal entries: (click to enlarge)

thisisjuly

If you don’t journal already, I encourage you try it for the month of August! If you have ever asked yourself if God’s hand is  present in your life, this might help you. Journaling forces you to slow down, and in those moments of reflections is when God’s presence is evident.  You see the promises the Lord has declared over you, and how they are personally manifesting in your life! God is always, always working, slow down or you might miss it.

Journal about anything and everything. (: Talk about the highlights of your days and your weeks, and even vent about the worries that consume your heart. Share your blessings and express your wishes. God hears all of it. I believe that putting language to your emotions has the ability to pull them from the depths and hidden corners of your heart, onto the surface where it’s accessible to be touched, processed, and communicated. And when you are able to communicate it with yourself, you are more able to communicate them with God.

Good luck! (:
I’d love to hear your journaling adventures, please share below.

Advertisements

10 things I learned in June

HAPPY JULY! 🙂

Each month, my favorite blogger, emily @ chatting at the sky, shares on her blog some of the things she learned that month. Some things are significant and impressive, and others are small and light. For this past month, she invited all of her readers to join along and share the new knowledge June has personally brought them!

So today, I am linking up with Emily and sharing the bits and pieces of things I recently learned. (:

10 things i learned in june

1. Always, always check the expiration date. When I first came home from Italy in early May, it took me a really long time to unpack. I left my suitcases untouched for weeks, and along with it, my sacred face wash. So I just used a random face wash I found under the bathroom sink, and I noticed that within days my face started to break out uncontrollably. IT WAS BAD. LIKE WHEN YOU ACCIDENTALLY PRESS THE WRONG SQUARE ON MINESWEEPER AND SUDDENLY THE WHOLE SCREEN IS FILLED WITH RED X’S AND IT MAKES YOU SQUEAMISH. DO YOU KNOW?

I could sit still for two hours, minding my own business, and next thing I know, new raging red bumps are invading my chin. So what did I do, used that effing face wash even more. I attributed the breakout to the fact that the US doesn’t recycle and my new Italian skin couldn’t handle the polluted air and water. (No, I’m just kidding, I just feel like I haven’t said any pretentious European stuff in awhile.) Anyway, but after about three weeks, I noticed one day six digits engrained on the bottle cap. And it read: 03/13/07…… THE FACE WASH EXPIRED IN 2007. Lesson learned, Biore. Lesson learned.

2. Pic-tap-go is the best photo editing app out there. It was the best $1.99 I have ever spent.

3. The OT is great and changed my June. (see why grace is so sweet)

4. Running isn’t that bad. I mean, it is in the sense that it hurts different parts of your body before, during, and AFTER the run, but it also releases a wave of endorphins and changes the way one perceives themselves in the mirror. So, I guess it’s worth it?

5. I have a bottomless stomach for Mexican food.

6. Everything, and I mean everything, is all about perspective. An experience is not innately “good” or “bad,” it’s how you look at it. And YOU have the ability and power to choose how you want to look at it. EREGO, YOU HAVE THE ABILITY AND POWER TO MAKE A SITUATION GOOD OR BAD. So, how is today? Is it good or bad?

7. Good coffee, good handwriting, and a good journal affect my mood. Like, a lot. It is what helps my soul BREATHE and if I go for too long without it, I grow anxious, frustrated, and out of touch with myself.

8. Home videos are so cool and I really want to get into them. My inspirations: lovetaza

9. God is my boss and no one else. (there’s a story behind this one.)

10. Tina Fey is great. That’s all.

see what other women learned this month here.

a beautiful god

God didn’t have to create a world that was so beautiful.

He didn’t have to use so many colors and even different shades of those colors. There’s turquoise, sapphire, iris, cobalt, violet, teal — and those are just in the blue family. He didn’t have to make the sun so bright and radiant that it warms the entire earth and makes the water  sparkle. He didn’t have to create a whole new world under that water with sea animals and  vegetation; and in order to witness, we must hold our breath and bring ourselves beneath the surface. He didn’t have to make birds sing pleasant melodies and penguins wear chic tuxedos and flowers smell the way they do.

But He did.

He made the world so beautiful that it inspires and awes people daily. He made sunsets so captivating it makes people want to fall in love, and he made starry nights so stunning people spent their lives chasing after that exact scene. He didn’t have to, but he did.

And I think that says something about our God. Something indeed.

And you know what is even MORE fascinating?

“The same hands that created all of this, they created you and I. What a beautiful God.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mBaEZ_zb30

reading the ot : why grace is so sweet

[ exodus and leviticus ]

Since last month, I’ve been going through the OT. Started in Genesis, now I’m almost done with Numbers. (< to be read as “started from the bottom, now we here). Just kidding. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was learning a lot and I decided to share what the Lord is revealing to me as I read each book. Starting with exodus and leviticus. (:

in a nut shell: (exodus) God declares the ten commandments as well as a very extensive code of conduct by which the people must obtain in order to keep the promise land pure and pleasing to Him. (leviticus) God explains the practices and rituals that must occur in order to abstain from and compensate sin. And the harsh consequences if they were to disobey. And boy, there’s a lot.

After reading 7+ chapters a day about which part of the animal is pleasing to the Lord, how many times to flicker blood at a curtain, and the specifics of what a robe should look like, I was EXHAUSTED. Exhausted and exhausted — and pretty bored. There are several instances when God strikes down people because they disobey, and each time I read that, I make a face. “No, my God would never do that…” I got this impression that God was petty and difficult, and I didn’t see why this was relevant to me. So, I wrestled… and wrestled, and wrestled. I would read, wrestle, read, wrestle. Rinse and repeat. (I could have just said I wrestled a lot, but I didn’t think that quite hit the mark of what this wrestling looked like.)

Then I realized I was asking myself the question: is sin really THAT big of a deal? Is it that bad that God would just cold knock out people… because of a, because of a technicality foul? And I think the moment that phrase formed into a complete sentence and left my mouth, I knew my answer. And I knew why I couldn’t see the relevance. And I knew I needed to repent.

Reading those chapters was exhausting because God exhausted every code of conduct and ritual… because sin WAS that much of a big deal. It was so much of a big deal that He needed to send his only son to save us all from it. And I didn’t see that.

If you’re like me, then at the first glance (and maybe the second and third, too) the OT seems outdated and stale. And you’re right, your walk and growth is not of the OT, but it is certainly not void of it. In order to appreciate and understand Jesus’ crucifixion, and why the grace came out of it is so sweet, you need to know what it looked like before grace. How can you call news good when you don’t know what news bad looks like?

And this, this is surely good news.

A friend of mine once painted this illustration about a baby eating really good food. Let’s call the food steak because I really like steak. Sure, the baby can enjoy the steak (because it’s steak, and who doesn’t enjoy steak), but the baby doesn’t know just quite how GOOD that steak is, because he hasn’t acquired a palette to appreciate and discern yet.

In a similar way, I am like that baby. I live and walk in grace, but do I fully know what that costed? Am I thankful for freedom because I “like” it the way the baby likes steak, or am I thankful because I understand what I am free from? God struck down those people in the OT because He HATED sin. And God is a God who doesn’t change, He STILL hates sin. But what did change was that He didn’t want us to just compensate and cover our sin with sacrifices and practices, but He sacrificed his son so that he could cleanse our sin. Once and for all. Now God looks at me (and you!) and sees someone pleasing to His eye.

Each day, the gospel is meaning a little something different for me. I pray daily that the cross will be relevant and real, and not just in my faith and growth in an arbitrary way, but specifically and exactly for what THAT day entails. Both the little and big.

More gospel, please.

Home Sweet Home

Words cannot express how sweet it feels to be home.

“Relaxing,” comes to mind, and “peaceful” and “cozy” work okay, too. Still, they seem to fall short of the mark.

As incredible as spring break in Spain was, it was also a very long time to be away from reality. While the eleven days were, indeed, filled with sunshine, GNO’s, and boat rides; it was also a week of living out of a suitcase, sharing shower stalls with complete strangers (and spiders), paying for clean water , sleeping in thin, itchy linens and cold airport floors, taking public transportation, and eating out for every single meal. Don’t you want to take a shower just by reading that?! The little gestures we also had to pick up such as keeping our hands on our purse  at all times, locking things up in lockers even if we were just going to the restroom, and distrusting strangers with cameras were just blatant reminders that we were not home.

So after one fun, but hectic, eleven-day trip, it was nice to be comfortable and safe — things only your own home can provide.

So how am I spending today? 

Catching up on television shows. I watched a few episodes of, “Revenge,” and I plan on starting, “Dexter,” with my roommate tonight. I remember it being popular in high school but I never got into it then. With the help of Netflix, it’s never too late to get addicted to shows no longer running.

Reading blogs. I use Bloglovin’ to keep track of all my favorite blogs based on read and unread posts. Since I was away from the computer for so long, I have hours and hours of un-open inspiration and stories published by my favorites to bury myself in. This can occupy me for HOURS.

Eating healthy. We leave for Greece in a week and the world is not ready to see this in a bathing suit. Like I said, I ate out for every meal for whole eleven days. That’s too many churros con chocolate, sangrias, and carbs that were not needed for this belly. So today, I am forcing myself to eat vegetables and drink water.

Doing errands. I have an application to fill out and fall 2013 classes to plan. I also aim to respond to all my emails before I sleep tonight. There’s something therapeutic and refreshing about  a clean inbox. And these are all chores I can do from the comfort of my own bed and laptop. Isn’t it the best when you can be productive and lazy at the same time?

None of today’s tasks are remotely spectacular or impressive. Today is for small and simple. We can try big tomorrow (or at least start by putting on real pants.)

How do you like to unwind after a long, hectic week?

it’s not about starbucks

I have a thing for Starbucks. (Or have you not noticed?) And as an advertising major, I always stayed comfortable with the reason for that affinity being its excellent advertising. It must be. 

And I still do think it kind of totally is. I mean it did completely change coffee culture in America. To not only get people to like the drink in the cup, but be proud for holding that cup in their hand, and creating this habit of staying in the store. It became not only a coffee shop, but a living room, an office space, a hang out. And that’s what all brands around the world spend millions and millions of dollars each year trying to achieve. To mean something and be able to express it in words and images and share this idea to the people. And then the hardest part? Be so real that they believe it. 

And hey, Starbucks did it. It  means something more than caffeine and it has become so interlaced with my own life that I’ll drop +$4 on one cup and post a pic on Instagram for the 90th time.

For me, Starbucks is the place where Jesus and I meet and have our best conversations. Lessons learned, healing found, truths exposed. Some small, some big. Both always mattered.

And today, I’m pretending I’m at Starbucks. I’m sitting at my kitchen table — something I rarely do because my roommate and I are barbarians who like to eat our meals on the couch with feet up and tv on.

But right now I’m sitting here. Headphones plugged in, a cup of coffee in hand, and the Word opened in front of me.

Why? Like I said. This post is not about Starbucks. Not at its core anyway.

It’s about Jesus. And how important it is to be taking care of that relationship with him.

In Italy, it’s been hard to find that intimacy with Jesus. I stayed in bathrooms, laid in bed, and I told myself it didn’t matter the location of my quiet time. Which is entirely true, because one more reason why our God is so great is that he is with us at all times. But the flip side of that same coin is that since we are conditional and physical people, the location of the quiet time CAN matter… If the room is noisy, our ears will listen for people’s voices rather than the Lord’s. If our bellies are empty or eyelids are heavy, our limited concentration will take us towards dreams of food and sleep, not his Kingdom. Because I am a very conditional and limited person, because I am human, I can’t turn my worrisome and anxious heart off with the flip of a switch.

Even though God is with us at all times and we can squeeze in prayers on our walks to school or on the train, He is also our King and not only deserves, but COMMANDS our full attention. And sometimes we can’t reach so deep on the train or in the supermarket. Jesus went to the mountain to have his intimate moments — maybe your mountain top is a private room, getting on your knees, prepping with a worship song, lights turned off. Whatever it is, coming back to the heart of worship is absolutely needed.

For me, dates with Jesus at Starbucks worked for us. And today, I woke up and my soul was CRAVING a date with him. And so as silly and stupid as I felt, I put myself in a position where I knew my eyes and ears and heart and mind would be at His fullest attention. So it’s not about Starbucks, it’s about finding a way to give Him your fullest and undivided attention.

A cup of coffee is just a plus. (;