Wednesday, May 27, 2009

True or False

"Whatsoever things are true...think on these things"
Phil 4:8

God has definitely been working on my heart about this passage in Phil. I know that tend to "over think" everything in my life. It's good for planning and remembering details, but not so great for worry, fear, or depression. I will admit that I struggle with trying to see reality and truth (maybe I just thinking that my reality is better?) :) Well, anyway, I'm so thankful for this book that I mentioned previously, Loving God with All Your Mind. I started the first chapter and already had to stop and digest it! I'm kind of slow like that...I have to journal, blog, think, re-read, and talk about new concepts in order for them to really sink in.

The first chapter was about meditating and memorizing scripture and allowing the truth from God's Word to fill my mind and heart. My husband encouraged me to start memorizing scripture each week with him. We started this several weeks ago and it's awesome to see what God has been doing in our lives personally because of it. Our summer small group starts this Friday and I can't wait to start memorizing with them as well.

Anyway, as I continued reading, the author was encouraging me to put all my thoughts through a "filter" in order to "think on things that are true." A lot of times it's easier for me to think that the world is against me or that I am a failure...rather than to take a moment and ask myself what is real in each thought. God, please help me to see what is true through your eyes. Help me to put up boundaries in my mind.

By the way, I was SO thankful to have Stephen back on Sunday! We went straight to say farewell to our dear friends, Ben and Rochelle. Ben just got back from Army Ranger training and they are now beginning their new lives in GA. Rochelle has been a great friend of mine and I will miss them very much. I definitely have shed a few tears over them leaving. This is the life of the military, though. I know Rochelle and I will be life long friends wherever we are "stationed" on this earth. Here are some pictures of Ben, Rochelle,and their adorable baby, Chanelle:

P.S. I'm asking a quick prayer request for good health as I keep catching whatever flu's or colds that are flying around! I've been at home not feeling so great for a couple days. Pray that Stephen doesn't catch it as we tend to share each others illnesses! :)

P.S.S. I am in my "finals" week at school and could use prayer that I pass these classes!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Anticipation...A Beautiful Day!

Today marks day number three that my very best friend has been away. He does not have cell phone reception where they are at so not only have I not seen him, touched him, or kissed him in three days...I have not heard his sweet voice either! I know I sound ridiculous and there are many other women who have gone months to a year without being with their husbands, but bare with me as I am just beginning this new experience. Man, absence really does "make the heart grow fonder." I can't wait to see him this evening! I am going to cherish every moment I get to have with him tonight and tomorrow. :)

I had a very relaxing and restful day yesterday. I got to make coffee and pancakes for my friends that spent the night, had a good time laughing and singing together, had an amazing time of worship with just me and God, pampered myself, I got to lay out and enjoy the sun in my backyard with my dog, and started a new book by Elizabeth George, Loving God with All Your Mind. I have a feeling it's going to be fabulous. It was given to me by my friend, Jen Sanchez, a while ago and I felt like God was leading me to read it now. I am sure that I will be blogging about it soon. I am anticipating great things from it!

I have been really wanting to visit a small church near my house. It's called, First Baptist of Lemon Grove. I decided that since I was having car issues, I would take the opportunity to walk to that church this morning. It was SO encouraging and uplifting in my spirit to worship and sing with a group of believers that I have never met before. I walked in and sat close to the the front of the church. The church family consisted of mostly elderly saints, and that too encouraged me. I thought of all the "storms of life" they have weathered by God's grace. What an amazing testimony it was to see a grandmother sitting in front of me with her grandchildren. I thought of one word, Faithful. Those children will be able to look back and remember that their granny brought them to church with the eternal value goal of one day being able to sit with them at Jesus' feet!

As the worship started, we sang together in one voice ,"It Is Well With My Soul." I remembered that the author wrote this after hearing from his wife that on her journey across the Atlantic Ocean, that there had been a disaster on board their ship and ALL of their children died. The pastor said after we sung this song, "Even when all is NOT well in our finances, relationships, economy, families, jobs, futures, and our different life situations....we can be thankful that because of Jesus, all IS STILL WELL within our souls!" I will not forget that. As I struggle with different minor things in my life today (compared to others), I am grateful that I still have peace in my soul.

I don't know when I'll get a chance to visit that church again, but I couldn't help but think what Heaven will be like! I can't wait to sing and praise God with millions of other believers from all over the world, the angels, and those who have already gone before us!

"Behold I come quickly"-Jesus....I can't wait!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hosanna in the Highest!

Good Morning!
Last night I got to spend a spontaneous 6 hours with my mom while we drove to pick up my sister, Serena, and my niece, Paisley, from the LAX airport. We had some good discussions and I was thankful for that time we got to spend together. It was nice seeing my sister after a month of her being away in Scotland and my niece is just the most adorable ball of chub! She's almost 4 months (I think) and was 21 pounds! She has a smile as big as Texas! I love that little princess.

I miss Stephen has he is on a camping trip with the young adult group where he serves as a pastor. I didn't go because...well...I just don't do very well camping in a tent! I'm not kidding...I've had some pretty crazy experiences. While camping with my mom and sisters in Yosemite with my pastor's wives at the time, Patti and Mary, and their daughters (no men!), we had a bear family come invade our camping lot in the middle of the night! We brought WAY to much food and didn't have enough room in the "bear boxes" for all of it. So I got to witness, while shaking uncontrollably in my tent, the raw strength, height, and power of several bears. One bear sniffed my tent, walked away (my friend, Heather Fisher, brought snacks into our tent!), found Mary's car, smashed the back door, ripped open the back seat, got food out of the trunk, and sat on top of the car eating his treasures! AHHH! I'm NOT exaggerating! So ya, that pretty much scared me for life. Another time I went tent camping with Stephen and our new puppy, we were in a very secluded area in the middle of the night (of course) two large mountain lions came and growled outside our tent for 3 hours!!! Once again, I was shaking in my pants! Stephen even got ready to cut out their eyes with his machete if they tried to come in. The lions were so close that we could literally hear them breathing! SO folks, this is why I don't go tent camping in the wild anymore. However, I do enjoy the beauty of God's creation, the smell of pine trees, the fresh mountain air, camp fires, looking at the stars, making a cup of coffee or coco first thing in the morning, the peacefulness and closeness that I feel with God and those around me as I am no longer bombarded with distractions.

I'd like to pray for the group up there right now. God, please keep them safe up in the mountains for the next few days. Help them to draw closer to you and build fabulous friendships. Let them come back encouraged and rejuvenated. Give Stephen and I peace and strength as this is the longest we will have ever been away from each other! Help us to enjoy You this weekend and take every opportunity to listen to Your Spirit and love on You. Thank You for my dear friends, Amanda, Mallory, and Carlee, and the good time singing we had in the wee hours of the night! I love worshipping You with them. We love and adore You Jesus!

Here's one of my favorite songs we sang last night:
I see the king of glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes
The whole earth shakes

I see his love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing
The people sing

Hosanna in the highest

I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
With selfless faith

I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and
We're on our knees
We're on our knees

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I walk from earth to Eternity

Hosanna in the highest

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Acts 20:24

"And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Vs-22-24

This verse has a lot of meaning for me. When I was 13 years old, I was reading about different single women that God called to be missionaries to foreign countries. I was TERRIFIED of possibly being called to a jungle to minister all by myself! There was no way I was going to surrender that much. I had just given my life to Christ and made a reassurance of my salvation, but I did NOT want anything to do with missions. I made that very clear to God too! Unable to shake a constant pull at my heart, I began to read the Bible and came across Acts 20:24. I couldn't stop thinking about it! "Oh no! God we already talked about this...remember??" I tried for at least 2 weeks to ignore anything that the Spirit was trying to show me. I thought of EVERY possible horror that could happen while on the mission field. I don't even like tent-camping never mind hut-living!

But we all know that God's ways are not our ways. I was sitting in church with my family at a Missions Conference (of course) when Elmer Fernandez was preaching about surrendering to Christ. I really don't even remember everything he said because I could not stop thinking about Acts 20:24. "Is your life really that precious to you, Julie?" My heart was breaking and all the walls I built up were crumbling down. I was fighting with God-IN CHURCH! The battle was long but the surrender was so sweet. "YES! I'll go...whatever it is, here I am." All I remember was Pastor Fernandez saying, "If anyone will surrender to the work of a missionary please come down to the front so we can pray for you." I didn't even think twice! I popped out of my pew and made a focused bee-line for the front. Peace flooded me, I felt like I was exactly where God wanted me to be. I asked Mr. Fernandez to sign my Bible after church and he signed, "Elmer Fernandez-ACTS 20:24." Can you believe that?! I was awe struck at the vivid stamp of approval or confirmation that God gave me that night. I will never forget that time in my life.

I am not a full-time missionary right now, but I have been able to see God use this verse to be my rock through many stormy trials! To constantly remind me that it's not about me or self-preservation...the goal is testify to the world about Christ. I married a fabulous husband who shares this passion for the mission-field and really just the lost in general....wherever that is. Currently, Stephen ministers to college and career aged men and women as a pastor and I serve at Turning Point (Christian Radio/TV). God, help us to "be" where you have us at each twist and turn down the road.

Just as Paul was not sure what was up ahead at Jerusalem, I am unsure of what is in store for Stephen and I in the years to come. However, I am encouraged that what ever befalls us, God will give us the grace to say, "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beaus, Bikes, BBQ, & Breakfast

I was just procrastinating about starting my homework for tonight by day dreaming about the past few days I've had. :) I decided to share them.

It all started when Stephen had the brilliant idea of purchasing two beach cruisers! I've always wanted a bike and this would be a fun way to spend some active time with each other. Stephen researched the where the best deal was and we headed to PB to get a pink bike for me (yay!) and a black one for Stephen. We went straight to Seaport Village and road our new bikes up to the Star of India, past Harbor Island, and then back again. It was SO much fun! Here are some pics of that:

Our Small Group (Bible Study) meets every Friday night at our house and we had previously planned to have a BBQ with them to close out our spring small group. We had a good time laughing, teasing, and just being together. Everybody brought some goods to eat and Stephen and Pete (one of the guys in our group) built an illegal fire pit in our backyard. :) lol! I have grown to love everyone in our group and really feel that they are like family. We get to be open and vulnerable with each other and just be there for one another through whatever comes up in our lives. They're awesome! Here are just a few in our Small Group...introducing....drum roll....Jen, Jenna, Pete, Toby, and Ethan:

Sunday afternoon I got to have some "bonding time" with my old pal and her new beau! Stephen and I met with Sara and Jake at Casa de Pico. It was super hot and the service was not great, but despite all that...we had a good time meeting Jake and catching up with Sara. I love the good laughs we shared and can't wait to hang out with them again. I wish the best for them and they are in my prayers:

Stephen took me to a place in La Jolla called, Brockton Villa (I think). The view over looked La Jolla Coves and the ocean air smelled fantastic. He suggested that I get their Coast Toast (french toast). It was FABULOUS! I have never had anything like it. It's so popular that they have the recipe on their website...I am SO going to try to make it one of these days. I enjoyed spending sweet quality time with Stephen. I am trying to intentionally soak in every moment that I have with him. He's my best friend and I'm so thankful for the love that God has graciously given to us. Here's some pics of us while we were there:

*Sigh* Thanks for going down memory lane with me! I guess I should get back (er...start) my homework now. Next week is finals! Please pray that I pass these classes! God Bless~Julie

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How Firm a Foundation

I have been going to see a wonderful counselor for about 8 months now. As I have stated previously, God has totally used her to speak truth and light into my life. She's been encouraging me to have my roots grounded in Christ alone. I am tempted to have temporary substitutes. But I have certainly found out the hard way that when the raging storms blow... I am left frantically trying to tape the pieces back together to no avail. I've been asking God to help me dig deep and plant my roots firmly in Him. I don't know what is up ahead but I want to this ship to be able to "weather the next storm" close by His side. I am reminded of a poem that my brother-in-law gave to me when I was 14 years old. I used to recite it every morning when I woke up as a teenager:

I met God in the morning,
When my day was at its best
And His presence came like sunrise,
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered;
All day long He stayed with me;
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind.
When I too had loosed the moorings
With the Presence left behind.

So, I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way;
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day.
(I Met God in the Morning, Author Unknown)

Monday, May 4, 2009

This past week was filled with a lot of school work and preparation for Stephen's graduation. Friday, May 1st, Stephen graduated from Southern California Seminary with his Masters of Divinity! He has been working so hard by going to school full time, ministering full time, and also discipling and loving on the young people at our church. He has such an incredible passion for people and helping them further understand the Word through teaching. That's one of the many reasons why I love him. I'm so thankful that I have a husband who I can go to if I have a theological question about the Bible that I'd like some more enlightenment on. It was such a privilege for me to watch him walk across the stage and receive not just one but 2 degrees! I posted some pictures of the graduation below. The picture above is of our weekend getaway to Oceanside Resort. Stephen's mom and dad gave this as a graduation gift to us. We just got back home and had an AMAZING time rejuvenating and relaxing together. I couldn't have imagined everything going more perfectly! :) We were both SO grateful for the trip and really really needed it.

On another note, while laying out by the pool today, I was reading a book that my husband bought called, Wide Awake. The chapter I was reading was titled, Discovery, and it discussed how many of us when we were children were so much more adventurous, curious, and excited to experience the new and unknown things around us. Then as we got older, we started to believe that old saying, "curiosity killed the cat". Maybe at one time we came a little too close to death or danger and decided that we just wanted to survive through life. We stopped dreaming and discovering and started learning how to get by mundanely through life. We stopped asking our curious questions about the world and became satisfied not knowing. ...I was really convicted while I read this because I would definitely label myself as a fearful person. I remember being so alive, dangerous, wild, and adventurous as a little girl. But along the way, something happened, fear crept into my heart and "self preservation" became my goal in life. I'm not saying that safety isn't important and that we all should go sky diving together. :) Although, that may not be a bad idea. I am just imagining how much more effective I could be for The Kingdom without the limitations that I put up for myself? What do you think about the idea of letting go, falling backwards, and having peace that God is right there catch us and take us on the adventures that are awaiting? Do you really think something fantastic is in store? I hope so! I'm reminded of this verse and pray that I would really mean it when I say it:
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." -Gal 2:20