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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blog...apologies to the readers...

My blogs haven't been what I want them to be lately and I apologize to the readers for that.  Since we don't have our computer right now and I've been on library computers working with time limitations, I haven't been able to take as much time.  I had another blog for day 25, but the majority of it was lost...

When I finished my original blog for Day 25 and pressed, "publish post" all that I'd written was gone minus what is there...oh well.  So the blogs are incomplete.  Maybe we should look into another blogging site...


Day 25

On this 25th day of my 30 day Prayer of Jabez challenge, I'm kind of at a loss for what to blog about.  Ever feel like you've run out of things to write or say?  That's kind of how I'm feeling right now.  I think with the whole computer dying, and having to rely on library computers, I may be feeling a bit lazy.  The pressure of having to complete my blog within the time alloted to me on the library computer is more than I can take.  Hahaha...

As the year comes to an end, I like many people have been thinking about 2010 and wondering how I can make 2011 even better.  As I stated in a previous blog, 2010 was a year of growth. 

Something that has really been weighing heavy on my mind the last few weeks is the deep desire to do more with my acting career in 2011.  I really want to be working full time as an actor in LA. 

2010 was a weird year for my acting.  It was the first year since I started acting that I did very little for my acting.  Sure I was on set doing back ground work, and I was in classes sporadically over the year.  I guess what I mean, is it was the first year since I started acting that I didn't consistently work at my career. 

I don't consider myself to be a lazy person.  I like keeping busy.  I like feeling like I'm getting things done.  And most importantly, I like seeing results.  If I'm not getting things done, and if I'm not seeing results, I have a hard time relaxing.

Many times this year, I found myself working so hard on my acting to no avail.  I sometimes wondered if my acting was what God wanted for me.  I found myself praying to God asking Him to take away that desire if it wasn't in line with His desires for me. 


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 23

I feel like I should have something profound to write about on Day 23, but the truth is, I have nothing to say.  The last few blogs have been a lot more rushed because I'm trying to quickly finish them up in the time that I have on the library computers. 

I've been praying about the possible fast for next month for clarity.  I feel like this would be a good time to reflect on my 2010.  But I only have a few more minutes left on the computer here.  I'm hoping that our computer will be fixed soon, or we'll be able to get another one so I can continue working on the blogs as I please, without feeling rushed.

For me, I think 2010 was the year of growth...

I'm thankful for 2010 because I grew in my faith.  I grew in my marriage.  I grew in the church body.  I grew in my relationship with God.  My trust in God grew.  It had to grow.  There were far too many times we were put in the position where we could either worry or trust God for His provisions.   I lived on Psalm 23 and Proverbs 3:5-6 (among others, but I think these were the main ones) all year.  Did you experience any areas of growth you'd like to share?  If so, feel free to comment.

I wonder what 2011 will be for me.  Only time will tell.  7 more days remain in my 30 day Prayer of Jabez challenge.  Completion is always a wonderful feeling...


Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 22

Day 22 of my Prayer of Jabez challenge.  I cannot believe I've been consistent for 22 days with this.  I cannot believe it's almost over.  I always wanted to do a 30 day Prayer of Jabez challenge, but never felt ready to commit to it. 

I keep having these dreams.  I'm not exactly sure what they mean.  I wake up feeling like my head is in a cloud of smoke and I'm missing something.  Some very important message that I need to know.  But because of the smoke, I'm not seeing it.

Last night, my Mother in law gave me some scriptures she's been wanting to share with me for encouragement.  One was Jeremiah 29:11-14.  I told her it was funny she'd share that one with me, because I got a journal for Christmas with Jeremiah 29:11 on the front of it, and I'd just finished writing a blog referencing Jeremiah 29:11.

Clearly God is trying to tell me something.  I'm not sure what it is.  But I have a feeling Jeremiah 29:11 is part of it.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I've been considering doing a fast in order to better hear God's direction for me.  I'm very sure that He's trying to tell me something right now.  I know it's very important because it's coming from God.  This year I've had a hard time both hearing from God and fasting.  I'm beginning to wonder if those issues are related...perhaps not.  But even when I do hear direction from God, I have a hard time understanding what it means.  So I've been thinking maybe I should fast for more clarity. 

Matthew 6:16-18 states, When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." 

I know that as a Christian I am expected to fast.  Jesus didn't tell us "If you decide to fast"  or "If you want to fast".  He said, "When you fast".  That in itself tells me He expects us to fast.  I've been praying about that for the last couple of weeks.  I think though, in order for me to break free of that cloud that seems to be keeping me from understanding the message, I may need to fast.   

It might be an adventure worth documenting...or not.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day 21

My computer has a virus, so I haven't been able to write.  My last couple of blogs were written at the library, and I didn't have as much time to put much energy into them...oh well.  Christmas was great.  God is good, and I have 9 days left in my Prayer of Jabez challenge.  It has been a great ride.  I'm so thankful to God for all He does.  The Operation Shake the Hunger turned out awesome!  We ended up having more than enough with what we got.

My Mother in law said yesterday that God won't let His people be embarrassed when we're obedient to Him.  My biggest thing was needing to trust  Him.  He knows what He's doing.  He's been around a lot longer than me.  It's funny how in my walk with Christ I can be like a rebellious teenager sometimes, always thinking I know more than my parent.  God is my Heavenly Father, I sometimes think I know more than He does, but I don't.

Our house mates got us journals for Christmas.  When we opened them up, Marcus and I knew instantly which was his and which was mine.  His Dad had been telling Him to meditate on Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want."  And one of the journals had that verse on it.  Mine was from Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."  That's from King James.  The NIV translation states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I think sometimes, much like a rebellious teenager, I forget that God is not my enemy.  He is for me.  He's able to see the big picture and everything that He allows to happen is for my good and for His purpose.  It may seem like it's a crappy situation, and He's given me a bad hand.  But much like the verse states, He knows the plans He has for me.  His plans are to prosper me, not hurt me.  His plans are to give me hope and a future.  God is good all the time.  He's got me in the palm of His hand, so I need not worry about anything.  I need only trust Him and know that everything will be fine.

I have to remember to see things not for what they are, but ask Him for His eyes to see it.  And always remember that as a child of God, I walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 18

"God is able to do just what he said he would do.  And he's going to fulfill every promise to you.  Don't give up on God, cause he won't give up on you.  He's able."  Deitrick Haddon He's Able

Those lyrics have been blaring in my head all day long.  These words ring such truth that they sink to the depths of my heart.  In the midst of a storm, it's easy to forget them.  God created the Heavens and the Earth.  How is He not able to do what He said he would for you? 

He will fulfill every promise He made to you.  He promised Abraham and Sarah a son.  They had Isaac.  He promised them they'd be the father and mother of a great nation.  Abraham and Sarah are the father and mother of all of us. 

In the midst of a struggle, it's so much easier to give up on God and succumb to the pain.  But even in our moments of weakness when we do give up and give in, He does not give up on us. 

He's able to do anything.  "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us"  Ephesians 3:20

If we give up on Him, it's like we're saying we don't trust His ability to do what He promised to do for us.

Day 17

1 Chronicles 4:9-10  And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren:  and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  And God granted him that which he requested.

Yesterday was an ordinary day.  It was the day after the last day of Operation Shake the Hunger.  I'm glad it's over.  

My frat brother, Deston, left some really great and wise words of encouragement on the Day 16 blog.  We also received two emails filled with encouraging words from a couple of people that participated in OStH.  Bethany and Allison, thanks again for your contributions and for your words of encouragement.  God bless.

I realized what I learned during the week we stepped out in faith for the Operation Shake the Hunger project. 

1)  Obedience is not easy
2)  Obedience does not always feel good.
3)  Obedience does not always look like a blessing
4)  Sometimes our interpretation of God's message gets lost in translation

1)  Obedience is not easy.  Genesis 12:1-3 "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

When God told Abraham to leave his home and go to an unknown land, this could not have been easy for Abraham.  Imagine if you will someone tells you to leave everything you know, everything that is comfortable to you, your home and your family so that you can be a blessing to others.  Abraham had no idea where he was going, he only knew that God told him to go.  He told him to go and He would bless him.  I'm pretty sure Abraham didn't even understand the promise that God told him.  However, Abraham went obediently. 

The first time I ever told Marcus I wanted to move to LA, he said something like, "LA is a nice place to visit, but I don't want to live in LA."  That pretty much ended that conversation.  Over the course of a three year period, I'd causally mention to Marcus the idea of moving to LA only to be hit with that first response.  Sometimes he would add to his response, "I had to travel all the time when I was a kid because my Dad was in the military.  I finally found my place in Austin.  I'm comfortable here.  I don't ever see myself leaving."

After many years of causually mentioning the idea of moving to LA to Marcus and getting the same response, I finally said to him one day, "I'm moving to LA.  I want you to come with me.  But if you choose to stay here, I will understand."  After this conversation, I didn't ask Marcus to move to LA with me again.  My mind was made up, and I was moving.  Marcus' decision to leave the comfort of Austin came about through much prayer. 

2)  Obedience does not always feel good.  Genesis 22:1-3 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, [here] I [am]. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

When Marcus brought up the idea of Operation Shake the Hunger, I didn't want to do it.  I used every single excuse I could to talk myself and him out of it.  I spent a lot of time wrestling with myself, and wrestling with God in prayer.  Finally, I realized it was something we needed to do.  I have never been the kind of person to ask friends or family or strangers for help in anything because of my fear of rejection.  Rejection for me, is one of the ugliest feelings in the world.  Even the thought of rejection makes me a little queasy. 

Looking at Abraham's example, it could not have been easy for him to take his only son to a place where he knew he'd be sacrificed before God.  Abraham finally had his promised son of God after all this time, and now God was telling him to offer him up to Him as a  I can't even imagine how Abraham must have felt in that moment.  Abraham's heart must have ached more and more with every step he took toward Moriah.  Yet, he trusted God and obediently continued on the journey.

3)  Obedience does not always look like a blessing.  Matthew 27:41-43  Likewise also the chief priests mocking [him], with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

4)  Sometimes our interpretation of God's message gets lost in translation.  Genesis 17:15-21  And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah [shall] her name [be]. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be [a mother] of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 16

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." Job 13:15

Today was the final day for the Operation Shake the Hunger project.  We originally prayed for at least 35 packs for December 24.  We received 4 packs.  I'm thankful for the four packs.  I'm thankful to the people and to God. 

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about a blessing indeed of God.  I wrote that those kinds of blessings are not to be confused with anything that man (or woman) can do on their own.  4 packs seems like something that we could have done on our own without prayer...

I also said that if this wasn't God's will all would be revealed.  Maybe this was His way of showing that it wasn't His will.  Maybe it wasn't.  I don't really know.  I don't really understand.  But maybe it's not for me to know or to understand it right now.  Or maybe I'm looking at it totally wrong...

In Isaiah 55:8 God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

There's no reason for me to be discouraged or feel like this project was a failure because as God said in Isaiah 55:8, His ways aren't my ways, nor are His thoughts my thoughts.  He sees things differently than I see them because He's able to see the bigger picture.

And when I look at it from a different angle, it's really not all that bad.  I mean, we wanted at least 35 packs purchased because that would have provided 35 homeless individuals with 10 days worth of meals.  We have a total of 120 packs.  That will provide four days worth of meals for 30 homeless individuals.  That's a definite win. 

Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10 reads, 7 "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:  8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.  10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest  unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto."

I'm to give to those that have a need whatever need it is they have.  I'm not to be grieved in my heart about giving either.  Nor am I supposed to hold on to what I have.  I'm to open up my hand (my purse or my wallet) and give.  And in my giving, my heart should be filled with joy, not grief.  There is no "but" or "unless" or "except" in the verses.  It just says to give and be joyful about giving.

My husband said to me earlier that anything we do for God is a blessing.  He's right.  I want to share some lines from a Smokie Norful song called Don't Quit.  These lines have been blaring in my head since yesterday:

Even when the enemy says this is it
I want to encourage you whatever you do (Whatever you do)
Just dont (just dont quit)

Ive got my own set of challenges yeah yeah yeah
And my friendships sometimes they wear a little thin
I even began to wonder if my own family is (out on me)
I'm tryin to make sense of my life
I'm tryin to over come all that's not right yeah
But sometime you know it seem so helpless hopeless (Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh)

Even when things dont go your way
You gotta hold on to your faith (Oh
Just remember that you're not made to be defeated

Even when the enemy says this is it (Oh Oh)
What ever you do (Hey)
Just dont quit (Oh Oh Oh Oh)
Don't quit (the race is not given to the swift neither is it given to the strong)
Don't give in (Cause its already written yeah)
We win in the end (we win in the end)
So hold on (even when the devil says to give up and just through in the towel I came to encourage you)
Whatever you do (just don't)
Just dont quit (Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh)

My Prayer:  Heavenly Father, forgive me for my negative attitude, that keeps me from staying focused on You and from truly trusting You.  Lord, I, like the boy's father in Mark 9:24, say to you with much humility that I do believe; please help my unbelief.  I thank You so much that even though I'm not always faithful to You, You are ALWAYS faithful to me.  Thank You, Lord for each and every one of Your promises.  But most especially I thank You for the ones that say I wasn't made to be defeated, that I have victory in Jesus, that I'm on the winning side.  Thank You also, Lord for reminding me in this song, to not quit, even when it seems hopeless.  And thank You, Father for the 120 Formula 1 nutrition packs we have to put in the homeless packs this Christmas Eve. 

I pray, Lord, that whoever may be reading my blogs will not confuse my moments of discouragement with how awesome You are.  Although I don't always understand why things turn out the way they do, I do trust You.  Therefore, I will continue to praise and worship You each and every day.  Thank You, Lord for Your love, mercy and grace.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 15

Half way there....Oh Lord hear my prayer:

Oh, Lord that You would bless me, indeed.  And enlarge my territories.  That Your hand would always be with me.  That You would keep me from evil, that I would not cause pain.  Amen.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 14

5:06 pm in Southern California.  Today is my day 14. I don't have anything specific to write about for Day 14.  Much like Day 13, 12 and 11, I continue to wait on God.  

I can't believe it has been 14 days and I'm still in this challenge.  Sometimes at the beginning of things, all I see is the beginning, and it makes me anxious.  The beginning always seems so far away from the finish line for me.  But now I'm half way there.  I can't quit.

Lately I've noticed that I have this insatiable desire to know God have a deeper relationship with Him and to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. 

I don't really have anything else to say...perhaps if I feel so moved to write more later, I will...


Day 13

Computer was acting silly yesterday.  I didn't get a chance to write.  Yesterday was cool.  I'm still waiting on God.  The hardest thing for me is giving up my control.  I have always liked feeling like I'm in control.  It makes me feel secure.  Even when I've done all that I can, I still feel the need to control the outcome.  If I have to wait, if I can't see the outcome when I want to see it, I'm not in control...

For example, I go to an audition.  I work my butt off before the audition and during.  Then I leave.  I have no control over anything else after that point.  I think the waiting part is what has always driven me a little crazy.  I want to control that part that I have no control over.  I can't control people, I can't control situations beyond my control.  That's why it's called a situation beyond my control.

Marcus and I have already announced Operation Shake the Hunger to people.  We've shared the idea with our friends and family members.  We've prayed about it and asked for God's blessing.  The rest is really out of our control.  The waiting part is hard.  Not knowing how everything will turn out has been such a challenge for me.

I have to just let it go, and give it over to God, completely.  I have to accept that I can't control the outcome.  I can only control what I do to get what I want.  I've already admitted that this project won't be successful without God's hand.  I admit a task this big is beyond me.  I've never been good at this sort of thing.  That's why I've never tried doing anything like this on my own.  I'm pretty sure this project won't work with our efforts alone.  Operation Shake the hunger needs the hand of God in order for it to be successful...

We've given it over to Him.  We've asked Him to bless it indeed.  Now we wait on Him.  That's all I have to say for day 13...

"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 12

We've had 2 sales for Operation Shake the Hunger.  Praise God for those two sales!!  Currently those "attending" the event are 9.  Praise God for that, also!!!

All week I've used my Facebook status update to remind people of OSTH.  This entire project is taking a great deal of faith.  Maybe more than I've ever had to muster up...

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit disappointed that we don't have more sales or more people agreeing to "attend" (which is really just agreeing to participate).  All I can do is continue praying and asking for God's blessing. 
Earlier I was reminded of verses from the book of Esther:

"Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place;  but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  Esther 4:13-14

Esther's uncle, Mordecai, is asking her to help her people by telling her husband, King Ahasuerus, of a plot to destroy the Jews.  This is Mordecai's response to her giving the excuse that she might be put to death by the king if she enters into his presence without permission.

He told her that she shouldn't think that just because she's in the king's house, she'll be able to escape the same fate as her people.  Perhaps King Ahasuerus choosing her to be his wife was God's doing.  God put her there so she could save her people.  Mordecai tells her that if she chooses not to help, God would find another way to rescue His people; but for her disobedience, she and her loved ones would be destroyed. 

Of course Esther complied.  It took a great deal of FAITH for her to walk into the king's presence unannounced.  Although she agreed to go ahead and approach him, there must have still been a small part of her that believed she could possibly be put to death.  She must have, because her final response to  Mordecai ended with, "...and if I perish, I perish."  Esther 4:16  That's faith, and courage...

I know there's a reason those verses came to mind while praying.  As I said earlier, everyday this past week, I put reminders on my Facebook status asking people to help us with Operation Shake the Hunger.  I'm not saying that people are being disobedient, so please don't misunderstand my words.  I think God was trying to tell me that although it may not look like enough people are willing to help us get this project off the ground, anything He sets in motion will happen.  I just have to have the faith in Him to believe that it's possible.  I also need to have the courage to obey whatever task He sets before me.

If this is truly God's will, He'll make it happen and it will truly be a miracle.  While I was talking with my Mother in law over the phone the other day, she mentioned my wording of "prayer of Jabez challenge."  She said that it is a challenge; but whatever challenges we do for God, He will bless us abundantly.  They won't be the kinds of blessings that are easily confused with the work of men.  These blessings are such that no one (not even the doubters) can deny that God had anything to do with them.  Sure, the doubters might say something about "a higher power" or "the universe" or whatever.  But really, that's nothing but God.  The universe isn't powerful enough to do that. 

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." Revelation 3:8

I believe God did open this door for us.  I believe that God is enlarging our territories and blessing us indeed with this project.  I'm thankful that God is able to open doors for me that no person can shut. 

My prayer is that God would be glorified in this project and that people will see how truly amazing the hand of God is.  I also pray that if Marcus and I misunderstood Him about this whole thing, it would be revealed, in Jesus' name.  Selah.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 11

The day was full of blessings:

Gift of two movie tickets for Hubby and me. 
Gift card from Mom
Encouraging words from Mother in law
Nice prayer walk
Nice long walk with Hubby
Second package for Operation Shake the Hunger!
unexpected Christmas card from a friend

Day started off really tough.  Phone turned idea how we're going to pay that and the car note.  Tried to stay calm, but completely lost it.  I finally decided to give it to God in prayer.  Got on my knees and prayed and prayed.  Then I prayed some more until I finally stopped crying. 

Pulled it together enough to take a shower.  Started looking for jobs to apply to.  Computer started acting all crazy and froze up on me.  Decided to go for a walk and do some more praying.  While on the walk, I lost it again.  Couldn't stop crying.  My goal was to go out and find someone that I could encourage.  I was so tore up with emotions that I just couldn't look anyone in eye.  I was in no shape to do any kind of encouraging.  I was the one that needed some encouraging...

Continued walk to a less populated area, praying, asking for God's divine intervention.  Speaking God's promises, praying Psalm 23, and speaking over and over again Mark 9:24.  "Lord I do believe, help my unbelief." 

Wishing there was someone I could call for some encouragement.  Wishing there was someone I could call and ask to pray with me for strength.  Couldn't make any phone disconnected.  Sigh...continued on prayer walk, asking for God's strength.  Trying to figure out what to do.  Since I was in no shape to encourage others, I put my focus on praying for others.  Continued speaking God's promises.  Started feeling better. 

Heard a sound in my pocket.  What the?  Incoming phone call.  It was my Mother in Law on the other end calling to say hello and encourage me about my blog and my Jabez challenge.  Wow!  God totally rocks!


I have always been a "Christian".  But I have only been a "follower of Christ" for 2 years.  I have lots of friends and acquaintances that think Christians are phony because they're always "Happy, happy!  Joy, joy!  Never have a care in the world kinds of people."  I know lots of people that think Christians are hypocrites because "they're always talking about what's right and wrong, but they never practice what they preach." 

I even know some people that get a kick out of Christians that are caught with their pants down in public.  If you don't get the reference, I mean these people thrive on the stories about Christians getting caught with minors in inappropriate situations.  They love hearing about Christians that are caught stealing money from their congregations.  They love it even more when they see stories about Christians arrested for DWI or possession of get my point. 

Those kinds of stories hurt my heart; but that's another blog for another day.  As a Christian, I've learned that perfection is not an expectation.  Sin is sin.  We've just become very comfortable with categorizing it to make ourselves feel better....

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."  Romans 3:23-24

There was a time that I felt the same way.  I felt like I could never be as "holy as them" because I just don't know how to control my temper.  I don't know how to be nice to everyone, especially those that aren't nice to me.  And I just really don't know how to be happy all the time. 

Today was a prime example of that.  I was not happy when I found out about the phones.  And I was even more unhappy because there really wasn't much I could do about it today. 

But my point is this.  As a Christian, God doesn't expect me to be happy all the time.  He doesn't expect me to be perfect either.  When I came to Him two years ago, He knew every little thing about me...every "dirty little secret", every thing wrong I've ever done, including all the tacky thoughts I've ever had about anyone, ever.  He knew how far from perfect I was, and He loved me anyway.  He forgave me for each and every single thing I ever did.  And although as Paul writes, we as Christians aren't supposed to continue in sin because we've been forgiven and redeemed...

"What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."  Romans 6:1-4

...we're not expected to be perfect.  We're just expected to rely on God to help us live our lives more like Christ. 

I say this because I'm sure some people might expect me to be happy all the time just because I'm a Christian.  It's important to remember that when God created us, He created us with emotions.  Thus, I'll take a guess that He's okay with me feeling sad, or feeling angry.  I'll guess that God doesn't get upset with me just because I'm not always happy, or I don't always act like my life is perfect.  Jesus wasn't always happy either. 

And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought.  Saying unto them, It is written, MY HOUSE IS THE HOUSE OF PRAYER: BUT YE HAVE MADE IT A DEN OF THIEVES." Luke 19:45-46.

If you can't tell from the words, Jesus was upset here.  He threw people out of the temple for using it to make money and not glorify His Father.

God is okay with us having different emotions;  He's not okay with us being ruled by those emotions and feelings. 

I'm not perfect, so I don't act like I am.  Right now my husband and I are in the midst of a very challenging season.  A season that neither one of us has ever been through before.  It's tough.  I may not always feel like smiling every moment of every day.  I might cry sometimes because I'm having a hard day or a rocky moment.  I might even get angry and want to scream to the top of my lungs.  But that does not mean that God is anything less than TOTALLY AWESOME (and not worthy to be praised--He is and always will be no matter what!). 

Cause at the end of the day, at the end of the moment, at the end of my tears, I have Jesus.  He gives me the strength to keep on going.  He gives me the joy to smile through the pain.  He gives me comfort through the storm. He gives me His peace that surpasses my understanding.   He does all this because He loves me, and because how I'm feeling matters to Him.  That may not be enough for some people, but I've come to realize that is all I need.  If I hadn't received any of those blessings on the list at the beginning of the blog, I'd be okay because again, He is all I need.  That understanding is a blessing in itself, indeed.  Everything else He gives me is just icing on the cake.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 10

Well I just want to take a moment to give glory and honor and praise to my Almighty Father. King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  Abba Father!  God is so amazing! 

Day 10 was definitely full of blessings.  God is really working in our lives and expanding our territories.  We went to sing Christmas carols tonight.  I was really nervous at first.  I don't know what I expected.  I guess a bunch of closed doors and people turning lights off when they heard us singing.  Instead, we were met with tons of smiling faces, "Thank you!"s and "You guys just made my season (my night)." 

Praise the Lord!  What a blessing to be able to bring a smile to someones' face by singing Christmas music.  I never expected Christmas Caroling to be a way of ministering to people, but it totally is.  If you're not singing secular songs like Jingle Bells (not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with that song), you can really touch someone with God's love.  Songs such as, Go Tell it on the Mountain, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Come O Come Emmanuel are truly blessings. 

Even though our voices didn't compare to the Mississippi Mass Choir (that would have totally rocked!!), we were really just singing and worshiping Jesus, and I think it came through the music.  It was also truly an honor to be able to pray with people on their doorsteps. 

Finally, when Marcus and I got home from caroling, we discovered someone had made the first purchase for Operation Shake the Hunger!!!!!!  I don't know about Marcus, but I was so excited I wanted to just jump up and down shouting praises to God.  "Thank you, Jesus!"  How exciting is that?!  I'm so excited about seeing God work in this project.  We have no idea who it is that did it, but God bless that person abundantly. 

Talk about expanding our territories.  I'd never ever gone out caroling before.  I don't even think I ever would have done it.  But I'm so glad that God presented the opportunity.  I'm so thankful for being able to go out into the community tonight and be a blessing to the different individuals. 

What can I say about Operation Shake the Hunger?  God is definitely expanding our territories with this.  Neither one of us has ever started anything this big.  To know that we're doing something this big for God gives my heart such an overwhelming feeling of joy.  I can't do anything but thank Him for giving us the courage to move forward with it.  I'm so thankful for the first purchase and I'm so thankful for future purchases for Operation Shake the Hunger.

God is so good.  I'm just in awe and amazed by His faithfulness.  And I'm so thankful that God's faithfulness has nothing to do with how faithful we are to Him.  I look forward to God's hand continuing to work in and through our lives and to His continued blessings indeed.

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:  To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night...For thou, Lord hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands."  Psalm 92:1-2, 4


Operation Shake the Hunger!

Hey, guys! Our church is putting together homeless packs to give out to homeless individuals at our Christmas Eve dinner/service. Marcus and I want to get some nutrition shake mix for the packs and are asking friends and family members to help us by purchasing them for donations. Our goal is to get at least 35 nutrition shake mix packs to donate. Each pack contains 30 packets of shake mix, which equals about 10 days worth of healthy meal shakes.

We are asking that you go to . Click on shop, under the Weight Management column click on Formula 1, the products we're asking people to purchase is the Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutrition Shake Mix Packets. There are 7 different flavors to choose from. I'd prefer you pick either vanilla or chocolate, but it's your choice.

Also, we're asking that you make your purchase between 12/13-12/21 and that you'll have the products delivered to:

Attn: Marcus & Patricia Griggs

5525 Oakdale Ave.

Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Furthermore, in the spirit of Christmas, we'll be donating 60% of what we earn to our church. Please email us at , if you have any questions or want more details. Also, feel free to share this with your friends.  PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE help us be a blessing to homeless individuals in our community this season.  Thanks for your support!  God Bless!

Marcus and Patricia

Luke 6:38 "Give, and it be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

Day 9

I forgot about the attacks...  I was so focused on what God was going to do, that spiritual attacks just slipped my mind.

After Marcus and I created the Operation Shake the Hunger event, I got my first attack.  Well that's not entirely true.  I've noticed that every time I open up the blog to start talking about my 30 day Jabez challenge, the computer starts acting weird....but that's another story. 

After the Operation Shake the Hunger Event was created, the first attack came in the form of an email.  Then late yesterday, another came through a financial attack. 

I won't focus too much on specific details of the attacks, because I really just don't want to right now...But spiritual attacks are not to be taken lightly.  As a follower of Christ, it's important to know when we are being attacked and when something is just a simple occurrence (we don't want to give the enemy too much credit). 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us of this, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." 

Whether people choose to believe it or not, we're in the midst of a battle.  Those of us who know the truth, know the instructions we've have been given.  Thus we cannot ignore them or forget.

Although we're given instruction to be on guard, we're also given instruction to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand strong against our enemy.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand strong against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  Ephesians 6:10-12

As long as we remember to put on God's armor and stand strong in Him, we have no reason to fear our formidable foe. 

After the attacks first occurred, I was upset.  But God reminded me of these things.  The enemy never bothered me when I was knee deep in sin.  He only started once I got right with God and started doing His will.  So I must be doing something right.

He reminded me that I have no reason to fear and focus on the attacks.  I need only remember that they can and will occur.  Therefore I have to be prepared with God's armor.

Finally, contrary to what most people believe, our enemies aren't other human beings:

We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12

God reminded me who my real enemy is.  So I choose not anger.  I choose love.  1 Peter 4:8 tells us, "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."

As I love, I'll keep my eyes focused on God, and keep my eyes open for His miracles and blessings.  Although I might continue to be attacked during this time, I will continue to praise Him because He is GOOD!!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 8

Prayer of Jabez 30 Day Challenge
Day 8

Prayer of Jabez

And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with much sorrow.  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  And God granted him that which he requested.  (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

7 weeks ago, our Woodland Hills church campus began a spiritual boot camp.  One of the things as a church we were encouraged to do was pray about how we could be more intentional for Christ and for God's kingdom. 

Each week, we were encouraged to make sacrifices.  The first week, we were all challenged to give up eating out.  The second week, we were challenged to give up drinking sodas, coffee, etc. while dining out.  During week 5, we were challenged to pray for a revelation of our own sacrifice. 

Marcus and I prayed and prayed...and weren't sure what we were supposed to do.  Finally, one day Marcus brought up the idea of using one of our businesses to be a blessing to others.  We are independent distributors for Herbalife.  We both have a passion for health and wellness, not only for ourselves, but for all people. 

After we talked about what that would look like, we got on our knees and began praying about it even more.  For me, at times, it seemed like we were praying to no avail.  I still had no clue how the idea would look once put into action. 

One of the outreach programs at Shepherd of the Hills Woodland Hills is a Christmas Eve dinner and service.  It is the biggest event that our campus puts on each year.  Dinner is at 5:30pm, followed by a service.  All people are invited.  The church members are encouraged to invite friends, family and strangers.  We are also encouraged to invite homeless individuals. 

A few weeks ago, we were asked to bring items to contribute to homeless packs.  In addition to feeding homeless individuals physically and spiritually, the church desires to send them away with useful items (ie. combs, brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste....) 

At this point, we still hadn't figured out how to use our business to be more of a blessing to individuals.  I was beginning to get antsy.  But continued trusting God would, faithfully, answer in His perfect timing.  After church that day, while discussing our possible contribution to the packs, Marcus suggested we use the money we make from Herbalife to purchase the products. 

I said something to him like, "That's a great idea.  I'd like it even more if we were consistently making money from Herbalife right now."

We continued praying.  He then suggested we ask our friends and family to purchase products for themselves, and let them know that the monies would go toward purchasing items for the homeless packs.  After that conversation, we didn't go any further with it.  A negative voice in my head reminded me of how sceptical some of the people we know can be.  I further thought, several people have purchased the products and don't use them.  As I stated earlier, I am very passionate about health and wellness.  I love being healthy, and want for all people to take the initiative to lead more healthy lifestyles.  I"ll admit, I enjoy making money.  But the last thing I want to do is sell products to people that won't use them.  I'd rather not make money from people if the products, only, sit on their shelf.

With that, we continued in prayer, not sure if we were supposed to do actions taking place.  Finally, last Friday, Marcus saw a Facebook post from a mutual friend.  She and her Husband bought a couple of burgers for a homeless guy.  As they were walking away from him, they noticed a homeless woman approaching that wasn't with him.  She said there's got to be something more we can do for the homeless population, and talked about an article that suggested providing homeless individuals with healthy nutrition shakes. 

Marcus shared this information with me sometime Friday night; but it kind of floated into the back of my mind.  Yesterday, he brought it up again, and even showed it to me.  He then shared the idea with his Mom, who said we've been thinking about what to do and our minds and hearts began going in that direction.  The post from our friend was God's way of telling us we need to go ahead and do it. 

My Mother in law further said that sometimes God will give us our answer.  Rather than reacting to His response, we spend time pondering His answer and whether or not we heard Him correctly. 

Last night, we made the decision to go ahead and put it into action.  We prayed about it.  This morning when I woke up, I had a nervous feeling.  Part of me didn't want to do it.  That negative voice in my head told me that it was a dumb idea and no one would ever go for it.  I was then reminded that "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27.  God can do anything, if He wants to.  I just have to put my trust in Him. 

I prayed about it once more: that God would bless our idea and give me the courage to put action behind our plans.  I finally got on Facebook and updated my status with the information.  I put the information in a note.  I created an event inviting everyone on my friend list to participate in it.  Finally, I sent an email out to friends and family members that are not on Facebook.  Talk about getting completely out of my comfort zone. 

Upon checking out the response thus far, there were 5 "No", 1 "Maybe" and 2 "Yes".  Both yes responses were from me and Marcus.  I began to get discouraged.  "Oh my gosh!  How embarrassing!  I put myself out there, and I get rejected..."   Proverbs 18:21 states that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..."

Additionally, God made this promise to each of His children, "Ask and it shall be given you....for everyone that asketh receiveth..." Matthew 7:7-8, so I changed my attitude.  I reminded myself to trust God.

The Prayer of Jabez not only asks for God's "blessing indeed".  It also asks for God to "enlarge my territories".  Expanding your territory is not always comfortable.  Enlarging of territory requires some growth.  With growth, there are growing pains.  Stepping out of my comfort zone is definitely a growing pain. 

The thing is, I asked.  I made my request known before God.  I don't believe my request for God to expand my territory was made with impure intentions.  I believe my request was made out of the desire to see how God could be glorified in my life if I put my trust in Him and let Him do His work.  Jeff Olsen wrote in The Slight Edge, "Time will either promote you or expose you."  So may God expose me and my true motives if my heart's desire isn't for Him to be glorified in all this...

In the mean time, " is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1, so I can't allow my feelings and what I see with my carnal eyes to effect my faith in my belief of what God can do. 

God is so much bigger than all the negative thoughts I've been experiencing.  If I allow my mind to focus on the negative thoughts,  I'm basically saying I think those thoughts are bigger than God.  If this is truly God breathed, and there's a way for Him to be glorified in all this, it will happen.  It will come to pass and it will be a blessing "indeed".

Day 7

Yesterday was a day of celebration.  For the last 7 weeks, our church has been going through a boot camp.   Our goal was not to become the most physically fit church in Southern California (although I'd be all for that).  The goal was to become more spiritually fit as a church unit. 

The main campus, in Porter Ranch, has been working on a Miracle in the Making.  Their miracle is to raise money in order to build a new sanctuary.  After much prayer, the leaders of our campus realized that the best thing for the Woodland Hills campus would not be a new building, but to become more spiritually fit as a campus.

After weeks of enduring many sacrifices, it all came to an end yesterday with the celebration of 5 baptisms!

Although baptism has nothing to do with your salvation, it is still a celebration in that it is a public expression of your love for Christ.  It's basically saying you're letting go of your old life in order to make way for your new life. 

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4

A baptism symbolizes the end of one thing (or death) and the beginning (or birth) of something else.  Much like in life, when we celebrate birthdays and the New Year, in baptisms, we celebrate the death of our old selves and the birthd of our new selves.  We celebrate the birth of our new life in Christ Jesus.
I also believe that yesterday was symbolic in another way.  For the Woodland Hills campus, I believe yesterday symbolized the death of old things in our campus.  With the baptisms of those 5 individuals, there was also the washing away of past hurts that were still lingering in the atmosphere of the Woodland Hills campus.   

Now there are no more excuses.  There are no more reasons to hold on to the past and continue dwelling on how painful and uncomfortable the changes have been.  With the close of our first official spiritual boot camp session, I think God is moving us forward into a new season.  It is the birth of a new season: a season full of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. 

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."  1 Corinthians 13:11 

The last 7 weeks of preparation were only the beginning.  Now, it's up to us (as individuals and a church unit) to decide if we want to continue moving forward or remain fixated on the past. 

God's pruning, molding and moving us ahead is never really easy or comfortable time for any of us.  It is, however, a time for us to draw closer to Him.  It's a time of tremendous blessings.  We need only keep our eyes, ears and hearts open and prepare ourselves for what He has in store for us so we won't miss it. 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 6

Yesterday was my day 6.  Today is my day 7.  7 days down, 23 more to go...and my Prayer of Jabez Challenge continues...

Yesterday our church had a Progressive Dinner.  For some reason, I thought that it had something to do with Jesus and Christmas.  Don't ask me why.  I found out yesterday that the Progressive Dinner was created in our church as a way for the different Life Group members to meet each other.  I attend Shepherd of the Hills in Woodland Hills, CA.   There are other campuses in the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley area.  The main campus is located in Porter Ranch, CA. 

My Husband and I began attending the church last February.  What we didn't realize then, was that the church was going through a great deal of change.  The pastor for our campus moved to another state; and once he left, several other families left the Woodland Hills campus. 

I remember back in February when Marcus and I first began attending, there were two services.  Both services were packed with people.  I noticed that each Sunday the audience crowd would to get smaller and smaller, until finally I wondered, what the heck is going on here? 

I had never been in the midst of anything like this before.  I was raised 1st United Methodist in a small Texas town (Lubbock, Texas).  As far back as I can remember, my church was small.  I used to wish I went to a big church, because for me at that time, a bigger church meant more children to play with.  In Austin, after I gave my life to Christ, we began attending Agape Christian Ministries.  My Husband and I decided to join Agape in January 2009.  That church was HUGE, and it only seemed to be growing. 

I had never been a part of a church that was shrinking, nor did I want to be.  From the beginning of our relationship, Marcus and I always did things our way.  We now lead more surrendered lives and do our best to follow God's purpose and will for our lives.  Honestly, the more I saw the church shrink, the more uncomfortable I became with being there.  I'd pray and pray to God, asking Him to put Marcus and I in the church He wanted us to be in...expecting God to send us somewhere else. 

We were even being "wooed" by another church around that time.  For a brief moment, I thought God might be leading us there.  The church was really big and seemed to be growing.  There were also several people my age that attended, and their vibe felt very much like an inviting family...
The thing is, God wasn't leading us to that church, or any other one.  As a matter of fact, rather than leading us away from Shepherd of the Hills, God seemed to continue pushing us further into it. 

When we were having a hard time trying to find a place, one of the church members graciously opened up her home to us.  Others rallied together to get us various apartment information.  I couldn't believe how helpful these people were to us.  Sure we'd become involved in one of their Life Groups.  And I'd volunteered for the hospitality ministry a few times; but we weren't members. 

When Marcus went back to Austin last summer to work, I was overwhelmed by the number of people in the church that told me, "If you need anything, let me (us) know."  This wasn't the first time someone used that line with me.  So I was like, "Thanks!"  In my mind I was like, "I'll be fine.  I'm an independent woman..."  This was the first time, however, when a group of people actually said it and meant it.  AND I didn't even always have to ask.  I can't tell you how many times I got invited to dinner, or offered a ride.  People constantly asked me if I needed a ride to get groceries or wash clothes, etc.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of love they showed me. 

I remember sitting in church without my husband during the summer and feeling a tug on my heart whenever the pastor made announcements about the campus needing help with Sunday morning set up.  Stepping out of my comfort zone, I finally decided to volunteer my time, because by mid summer, I had plenty of it. 

Then, someone on the technical team approached me later that month asking if I'd be willing to help them out.  I was hesitant at first.  I really didn't want the extra responsibility.  I agreed that I'd help out "when I could", telling myself I'd do it for a little bit. 

God had other plans.  I actually continued working with the tech team for the remainder of the summer.  When Marcus came back, I figured I'd step back and volunteer less.  Again, God had other plans.  Not only did He intend for me to continue volunteering my time every Sunday, He also had every intention of making sure Marcus was used in the church.  Four and a half months later, we continue to volunteer every Sunday.

In September, Marcus and I found ourselves a difficult situation.  Once again, circumstances forced us to search for another place to live in this city.  One day after praying about the situation and asking God to provide a place for us, we received an email.  Someone in our church ask if we were looking for a place to stay.  Long story short, he gave us the home owner's number, and it ended up being the perfect place for us to live right now.  Even better, he and his wife are our housemates!
Psalm 37:4-5 states, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."   For a moment, I thought we belonged at another church.  I thought we were at the wrong church.  God knew exactly what He was doing sending us to that church.  He knew exactly what we needed.  I believed it was my heart's desire to be at another church; a church where God wouldn't require me to do as much.  Where He'd be ok with me just worshipping and showing up Sunday morning for service and Wednesday nights for Life Group. 

The thing is, God's desire is for us to be at Shepherd of the Hills Woodland Hills.  And when we grow to love God, His desires for our lives become our desires as well.  The closer we grow in relationship with Him, we learn that His desires for us are always better than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. 

Once again, God works in mysterious ways.  I would have loved to finish my "Day 6" blog yesterday as yesterday was day 6.  Thanks be to God that I've become content with doing things His longer struggling to have control over my life and missing God's incredible blessings--most of the time anyway... 

In waiting on God, I came to realize today that The Progressive Dinner last night was not only a time for me to stuff my face with tons of delicious foods.  I came to realize that it really was about Jesus and Christmas.  John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

There's so much in that verse.  But the key part here, is that God so loved the world.  God loved us so much, that He sent His one and only son, Jesus, into the world for us.  Christmas is a time of celebration.  Celebration of the Savior that came into the world with the purpose of dying for us on a cross so that we wouldn't perish into sin, but live a life free from sin and have eternity with God.  What's a better way to celebrate Jesus than by fellow shipping with the ones we love? 

Sitting around last night, eating and fellow shipping at each home, I felt something.  I wasn't sure what it was until earlier today.  It hit me right before I began writing this blog, actually.  I felt love.  Looking back on last night, I realized that those people of Shepherd of the Hills Woodland Hills have become my family.  And I love them.  I never thought I'd say that.  But here I am.  I love them.  And I'm so thankful that I remained obedient to God by staying with my family, even though the beginning of the journey was tough for me. 

2010 was a difficult year for Shepherd of the Hills Woodland Hills.  They lost a dynamic leader along with several families and friends.  Change is not always an easy thing.  But this was obviously all part of God's plan.  I don't know what happened, and it really doesn't matter.  I do know that unknown to Marcus and I, we were a part of that plan.  God always puts us exactly where we need to be when we need to be there. 

I thought I knew what I wanted and needed.  But God always knows our needs even when we think we do.  God drew us into that church with His love...through the members of the Woodland Hills campus, God's love touched our lives in so many ways.  He opened up several doors for us there, so that we could be involved in the growth of the church.

Today is day 7 of my Jabez challenge, and God gave me revelation about my day 6 blessing.  Although we moved to LA for me to pursue my acting career, God blessed me with something even better: a loving family.  I'm so thankful to God's continued grace in my life.  And I look forward to His continued blessings, "indeed"!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 5

Yesterday was Day 5 for me in the Prayer of Jabez challenge.  5 days down, 25 more to go.  Actually, today would make it 6 days down, 24 more to go...

God really works in mysterious ways.  I know we've all heard that saying before.  But when you actually take a look at things and are able to recognize His hand at work in your life, it's amazing how He takes certain situations and makes them work out for His purpose. 

Yesterday, I was unable to complete my "Day 5" blog because the computer was acting up.  Late last night, Marcus finally got the computer working, so he began working on his blog.  As he tapped away at the keys on the computer, I layed in bed listening to music, with my eyes closed trying to go to bed.

Around 12:19 this morning, I received a frantic text from a friend.  "Guys...the taxi driver [told] me that God is gonna get us on March 21, 2011.  Maybe May 21, 2011.  It starts with an m.  [Roommates] are ignorin me, but it's important!  Unless hes a false prophet...aye yai yai...anyone have thots that can put me to sleep???"

I'll spare you all the boring details of our "text-versation" and get to the meat and potatoes of it.  My recommendation to her was to read her Bible and pray for God's wisdom and understanding.

Matthew 7:15- 16 states, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

The Bible is more than just a book with stories in it.  It is actually God's truth.  He left it as an instruction manual for us to use in our daily lives.  When we read the word and memorize it, we're able to recognize nonsense (also known as false doctrine), thus it has no effect on us.

God gave me the opportunity to share scripture with a friend.  He gave me the opportunity to be His hands and feet to her yesterday at a time when she needed to hear His truth.  When I realized I wouldn't be able to finish my blog until this morning, I was aggravated.  After I got the text from her, I realized God set the whole thing up, so that I'd have this to discuss. 

To some degree, we are all searching for the truth.  Before I had a true relationship with Christ, I searched for truth in several different ways.  Some of my favorite things to do was speak with psychics and read my horoscope so I could learn the truth.  I'd also listen to people that seemed to know what they were talking about...people that seemed to have more intelligence than I did.  They sounded so eloquent, how could they not know what they were talking about? 

Today, I'm a very different person.  Although I still read, and very much respect certain individuals with a great deal of worldly knowledge (Jim Rohn, Steven R. Covey, Robert Kiyosaki, etc.), I am able to recognize where truth comes from. 

Because my eyes have been open to the truth, I no longer contact psychics, or check my horoscope daily to find the truth. 

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, "...If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

It's important to remember what Jesus said here, and really take it to heart because often times we're too lazy to read the word of God.  We'd rather listen to what other people say, or spend time reading other books filled with "feel good philosophies".

But Jesus told us to continue in His word and we'd know the truth and it would make us free.  Free from the confusion of the false doctrine of this world.

I got my degree in Social Work.  My first job out of college was as a high school counselor.  One of my former employees was a fast talker and always seemed to have a great deal of information.  She was involved in helping raise money for our school.  When she left, she passed the torch on to me.  One of her fund raising techniques was sending letters to different companies asking for donations.  When it came time for me to mail out letters, I printed out her old ones, began addressing envelopes, and was close to mailing them out.  Fortunately, I was stopped by another coworker reading the letter.  Apparently, our former coworker had been mailing out incorrect information. 

You see, I had read the letters.  I had even heard her state said incorrect information from the letters.  I didn't, however, realize the information was incorrect.  Why?  Because to me, this person seemed intelligent with the things she said.  Therefore, I had assumed the information she'd written was correct.  I'd never taken the time to gather that knowledge on my own.  The current coworker that caught the mistake was up to speed on her knowledge of Social Work "doctrine".

It's important to remember that when we are seeking the truth, we ought not just take people's word for it.  If you know nothing about the word of God, don't just read my blog and take my word for it.  I encourage you to open up the Bible, read it and pray for God's wisdom and understanding. 

The Bible is not a book to be taken lightly.  It is very easy for someone to misinterpret the things that are stated in it.  Even someone with good intentions can lead someone astray by misinterpreting things.  God is the only one that can lead us to the truth.

In Genesis,  the serpent was able to lead Eve into sin by his eloquent lies (Genesis 3:1-5).  Again, God left us His word (The Bible) as an instruction manual for our daily lives, so that we wouldn't be deceived by the things of this world.  He also gave us a choice: we can continue in our laziness allowing others to lead us astray, or we can seek the truth through God's knowledge and be set free...


To Believe or Not to Believe...that is the Question?

Today, I spent some time on Facebook in discussion with a friend of mine.  In a nut shell, he believes that the health and wellness industry is, merely, a result of placebo.  As a Wellness Coach, I'd beg to differ!  There are too many individuals experiencing results to pigeon hole everyone into the placebo category.  Those opinions come from two old friend's, who enjoy a good banter.

However, my post isn't about the health and wellness industry.  That's a topic for another day!  Today's post is about someone's personal experience with God.  As I was thinking about my friend's comments,  I thought about how people try to disprove God.  They try to chalk Christianity up to a bunch of uneducated individuals in need of a crutch; because, their life is too difficult for them to handle.  As a believer, I beg to differ!  No one can take away my personal experience.  If you know me well, then you can't deny the hand of God in my life over the past couple of years.

People think that it's ridiculous to believe because we can't see Him!  Hebrews  11:1 states "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen."  Are there things in nature that we can't see, yet we believe?  How about gravity and oxygen?  We don't see either one of them; however, we know of their existence.  These phenomenon are based on our experiences with them not based on our senses.  It's the same thing with God!  You may not see Him in a physical sense.  But, we experience Him through the power of relationship!

You notice I said, "relationship" and not religion.  It's not about being religious.  It's about seeking to experience relationship with the Creator of all things.  Don't let religious ideologies or spiritual rituals hinder your ability to believe because you've had a bad experience with church.  We've all had bad experiences with something.  But, we still continue to indulge!  If you seek out truth, He'll reveal it to you!  As for me, I've experienced more than enough in my lifetime to know His truth!  I can never return to a state of unbelief.  He has brought joy to my life in a time where joy is not the proper response.  He has brought peace in a time where unrest is status quo.

I'm thankful for a relationship with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!  My prayer is that any unbeliever reading this post will get to know Him today.  All you have to do is "confess with your mouth and believe in your heart..." (Romans 10:9)  He'll do the rest!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 4

The Prayer of Jabez 30 Day Challenge: Day 4

1 Chronicles 4:9-10: "And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  And God granted him that which he requested."

This morning I got off to a sluggish start.  I didn't really feel like getting out of bed.  I'm kind of to the point where I feel like life is just extremely boring and monotonous.  As I thought to myself, "I don't feel like doing anything today.  Maybe I won't..."  I was wondering, "What's the point?!"  I mean, every day I get up and do pretty much the same thing.  I sometimes wonder if it even means anything.  I also wonder if what I'm doing has any affect on anyone else in the world.  It's so easy to feel inadequate.  But I have to believe that God has a plan and a purpose for me.  I know that He has a plan and purpose for me. 

As I laid in bed wrestling with myself (and God), I kept telling myself, "There are folks that didn't wake up this morning.  Lord I thank you for this day.  Please help me get motivated to get out of bed."  The sun shined through my window, as I continued laying in bed, and I thought, "Man, God.  How could I possibly be lazy on a day like today?  Why would I miss an opportunity to admire your handy work?!" 

I realized that if I wasted the day by doing nothing, I'd regret it later.  I finally threw the covers off, and got out of bed. 

The events of the day were pretty much the same as a lot of days...ordinary.  I ate breakfast, worked out, took a walk to enjoy this gorgeous SoCal weather, went through a check list of things I wanted to accomplish for the day.  Completed all tasks I desired to get done for the day!  (WIN!!!!)

While going through one of my ordinary tasks, of looking for acting jobs to submit myself to, I stumbled upon something that is now weighing heavy on my heart.  I'm guessing I'm supposed to talk about that...

I was checking out LA Casting and came across this post for a story about this 19 year old who used a live stream web site to broadcast his suicide  to the world.  At first glance, I think I deleted it to move on to the next email.  But for some reason, I later decided to go back to it and take a closer look.  After closer examination, I wondered if it was based on fact or fiction.  In search of the answer, I Googled his name. 

Turns out, much to my dismay, it was true.  I found a bunch of articles about it, along with some pictures of him.  Some of the articles I found stated he'd done it because he was "unhappy", and even that there were people watching him who encouraged him to go through with it... I was deeply disturbed by that.  The curiosity in me wondered if there was a clip of what happened lingering somewhere online.  I wanted to hear what he had to say...see if he'd explained his reason for doing what he did.  Thankfully, I didn't find one.  A little voice in my head said that if there ever was a clip of it online, it should have been removed immediately.  My little voice went on to say that no one should see such a thing; because there are far too many people who are easily influenced.

Earlier this morning I was wondering what the whole point was to my life and to this 30 day Jabez challenge.  I was wondering if any of it mattered and if I was making any kind of impact on people. 

I think it's important to remember that an impact doesn't have to be like an earthquake with the ability to destroy an entire city (in other words, HUGE).  An impact might sometimes seem to be something simple and insignificant.  Each of us has the ability to make an impact on people directly and indirectly.  We also have a choice what kind of impact we'll choose to make: positive or negative. 

When I began this challenge, in my mind, my thoughts drifted to the Prayer of Jabez book.  My thoughts were of the incredible stories I read about people and this prayer throughout that book.  I suppose my expectations were that by the end of Day 1, I'd have enough extraordinary blessing examples to write about that I'd be able to fill a book.  At the end of day 3, my patience began to wear thin because I had nothing incredibly exciting to write about.  And today I was just done.  I didn't want to do it anymore because, "What's the point?  So what?  Who cares?" 

Reading the articles and seeing the pictures of this smiling 19 year old, I was reminded that we all have the ability to make an impact on others directly and indirectly.  No matter who we are, and no matter where we are in life, God can and will use us to make an impact on someone, if we allow Him to. 

Seeing this story reminded me that everything we do matters.  I wonder if the person who had this kid's "supply" (see Day 2 blog for reference) gave up because of frustrations.  Now this kid is gone, and He had someones' "supply" and that person may never receive whatever God had for them. 

One of my frat brothers left a comment on my blog Day 3 blog.  He's a Christ follower, and I'm so thankful that he allowed God to use him to give me my supply.  I needed to hear what he wrote; because I was about ready to just quit this whole Jabez challenge. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 states, "Be strong and of good courage, fear not...for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

We have to be strong: strong enough to keep going (not in our own strength, but in God's strength), even when we feel like we can't do it anymore, or we don't want to do it anymore.  We have to have courage and fear not: have the courage that God is blessing us "indeed" even when we don't see the blessing or the benefit.  We should fear not: because God has promised that He won't fail us, nor will He forsake us (even when it looks like He has "failed us", and when it feels like we're alone in our struggles).

And we have to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).  When we hold on to these promises, He's more able to work in our lives, allowing us to be a positive impact in someones' life: directly or indirectly.  And that, is a blessing, "indeed"!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Time to Reflect

As quickly as December arrived, it will be gone.  Before you know it, we'll be ringing in the New Year.  Some will set goals and resolutions with the intentions of keeping them.  Some will set them with no intentions of keeping them.  And others will keep doing exactly what they've been doing (good or bad) without a care in the world.  Reflection must become a part of our lives if we want to see changes.  A Plan, Do, and Review for our lives is an effective way to recognize what's working and not working.  What has this year meant to you?  What lessons can you draw on from the trials, tribulations, and successes that you've experienced?

For me, the year has meant I'm still standing through it all.  It has meant that I've survived the first year of marriage to my best friend.  It has meant the creation of two businesses, while working with an autistic child during the day.  It has meant the birth of a new niece, who I can't wait to see.  It has meant stretching my faith further and further beyond my comfort zone!  It has meant the forging of a deeper and more meaningful relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

What I've learned, through it all, is I have to continue to praise Him through the good and the bad!  I'm thankful for Your mighty hand in my life!


Day 3

I struggled.  It's only day 3 and I struggled.  But such is life.  And it's okay, I'm standing on God's promises and I'll continue to fight the good fight of faith.  That's really all I can do. 

I did get some great referral information from a friend today.  (Thanks, D!) That was definitely a blessing.  And I got to catch up with some folks from my past. That too, is always a blessing.

On one of his audio sermons, Jentezen Franklin talks about how we often struggle most when we're about to birth a blessing.  So although I struggled today, I kept fighting the urge to murmur and complain.  I continued to submit to God, trusting that my blessing "indeed" is right around the corner.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 2

Day 2 is over and done with, for the most part.  As I sit here tapping away at the computer, I can't really think of anything to write so I'm just going to let my fingers (and the Holy Spirit) do the talking...

The only thing that really comes to mind is my prayer and meditation time from earlier today.  In order for you to better understand the story, I suppose I should start over...from the beginning...

It seems like ever since Marcus and I have been in LA, we've struggled with finances.  It has been one thing after another, to the point that it has become comical.  One thing that I can actually laugh about now, is that at times when we've tried harder to create an increase in our finances, things seem to get worse.  It's almost like someone talking to a brick wall and not getting a response.  So they start yelling a little louder in hopes of the brick wall opening a mouth to answer them.

I cannot think of a time when we've had this much trouble with our finances, but here we are.  In my previous life, my life before Christ, I was irresponsible with the money I earned.  But I always seemed to have it.  I didn't tithe though.  I didn't even understand the meaning behind tithing.  I'm embarrassed to say that I used to think that I was being generous when I gave $20 in church. 

I remember the first time I began to understand the true meaning of a tithe and offering and I gave to God.  I couldn't believe I'd gone all my life robbing Him.  Thankfully, my eyes were opened to the meaning of a tithe (*for those of you that don't know the meaning: it's when you give 10% of everything you gain to God*).  I was so excited that I couldn't wait to get to church that week. 

"Lord," I began to speak in my prayers before tithes and offering time, "please forgive me for not giving to you all this time.  Thank you so much for revealing to me that all good things come from you...and for the opportunity to be able to give back to you what is already yours..."

I gave that day, and my heart felt full.  I was so thankful to God for that.  I left church that day, and couldn't wait to give more to God.  A few days later, I lost my car.  I paid to get it back, then lost it again...I was really upset when it happened.  My initial thought when I woke up and found my car gone was this, "If I hadn't given to God, I would still have my car..."  You see, when I realized I'd been robbing God all that time, I had a decision to make:  Give him what I owed Him, or pay my car note and wait a bit longer. 

When I shared this story with a friend of mine, the response was, "I don't think God wanted you to do that."  I'm sure there are others that would read this story and think that what I did was irresponsible, and even stupid.  And lots of people (including Christians) would probably say I should have "been responsible" and paid for my car first. 

The thing is, I don't see anywhere in the Bible where God tells His people to pay bills first and then give to Him.  Malachi 3:10 states, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

I admit I was not a very good steward with what God gave me for most of my life.  And maybe I should have just paid for my car and taken care of God later.  But I made the choice to bless God first, because at that point in my life, He'd been blessing me for 28 years. 

As I've grown in my relationship with Him, I have come to realize how much work He was able to do through me without a car.  I also came to realize all the mess and trouble He kept me from by my not having the car back then.  It didn't seem like a blessing at the time, but looking back and seeing God's hand in all of it, I know how great He is. And all I can do is praise Him.

Anyway, I digress.  My point in going there was to explain just how nuts our finances have been since we've been in LA.  We've really had to rely completely on God for all of our needs to be met.  But He is faithful and He promises to supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:9)  So we continue to stand on that promise, no matter what things look like.  And we remain faithful tithers.  I don't care how small our finances are, I will never (yes I said it---NEVER) rob God again for as long as I live.

I do admit, that I am human and I resort back to my old ways of worry and doubt.  I was raised by a "worry wart".  My Aunt E (that raised me), God rest her soul, seemed to believe that if you weren't worried, things wouldn't work out.  This attitude was conditioned in me for the 15 years I spent with her.  So yes, at times I look at our current situation and I go into freak out mode.  I have to remember that God has got it under control...

Very early this morning I couldn't sleep, so I began praying and talking to God about our finances and asking Him for help.  At times I got so choked up that I didn't know what else to say to Him, but "Help, please."  In a moment of silence as I laid in bed waiting on God, and unable to find the words to form my continued prayers to Him, I heard a voice (more quiet than a whisper) speak, "You have to trust me."  At this point, I experienced this incredible sense of peace, and a wave of relief washed over me.  I knew it was God.  So I just spent the next few minutes thanking Him and praising Him for His mercy and grace.  After that I fell asleep.

There's a part of me that feels like one of the coolest ways God can "bless me indeed" is by increasing our finances.  But I have to remember that there's more to life than that.  Much more...Although I know that God could bless our finances "indeed" at any time if He wanted to, I'm open to whatever blessings He has for me during this Jabez challenge. 

Even though nothing else happened today, I'm not discouraged.  I'm thankful.  That occurrence was super cool.  Who wouldn't get excited about the Creator of the Universe speaking to them?!

I'm not putting any limits on just how God will "bless me indeed" over these next 30 days.  I'm just going to keep my eyes and ears open.  And be still...


City of Angels

It's hard to believe that we've spent our first full year in the City of Angels.  It seems like yesterday, that the year was just beginning.  The last fifteen months have been a walk of faith for the Misses and I.  We've gone from not worrying about much of anything in Austin to relying completely on God in this new city. 

There were several individuals, who really didn't understand why we were moving at such a bad time for California.  We're Texans, but we've felt what most Californians are enduring.  It's hard to believe the economy has been this difficult.  Fortunately, I was blessed to find work within a couple of months of relocating.  Now, Patricia on the other hand, has completed countless applications with not much of a harvest.

Everyone has this idea of Los Angeles being this great place.  There are parts of the country, that are experiencing snow storms.  Meanwhile, it was 75 degrees today in SoCal.  I'll admit that it's growing on me.  However, I'm on the jury that's still out for deliberation.  I need more than Hollywood, beaches, and nice weather to make me forget about fires, earthquakes, and traffic.  I could, easily, high tail it back to Texas without a second glance. 

I've learned a lot about myself and my wife through this trial, which we wouldn't have learned in Texas.  Our faith is growing stronger and stronger by the moment.  There isn't anything that we can't handle.  We've come to a place in our lives, that has forced us to evaluate our past and forge ahead into a our new future.  We know that there are bigger and better things in store for us.  Jim Rohn says, "it's not the blowing of the wind, but the set of the sail!"  The wind in California is blowing.  But, we've set our sail to weather the storm.

I'm thankful for the family and friends, who have kept us in their prayers.  I'm thankful for a God, that hasn't left us nor forsaken us!  California has pulled out all the punches.  But, she doesn't know the spirit of the Alamo!  So, for now, Texas my Texas has to wait!  There's gold, not at the end of the rainbow!  But, in taming the wild, western frontier!