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Life from Grace

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happenings of life

The Unexpected Savior

When Jesus came to earth, he did not come remarkably with loud procession and exclamation, he came quietly, born of a not particularly special woman, in a smelly stable, in a crowded town.  When he grew up he did not overthrow the invading Roman empire and give the Jews back their homeland, he preached of loving ones enemies and dying to oneself to live again.  When he was about 33 years old he died a sinners death, alone, on a cross, while even his closest of friends betrayed him.

All expectations the people of the time had for their promised and coming Savior were broken the moment God chose an ordinary man and women to do the extraordinary.  Jesus broke bread with sinners, he performed miracles on the Sabbath day, he associated with the unclean, and in doing so made enemies of the very people who should have recognized who he was, the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were masters of the Old Testament law, the Mosaic law, and were charged with teaching the people and with aiding people in the atoning of their sins, but they could not even recognize the multitude of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled upon his life, death and resurrection.  The Jewish people were expecting someone who would defeat the Romans for them, but instead he died at the hands of the Romans.

My point in all of this is that God works in unexpected ways.  Even in the Old Testament times God acted in unexpected ways as well, choosing a Hebrew raised in the household of the Pharaoh of Egypt to free the Hebrews from their bondage, among other examples.  If God has continually worked in unexpected ways to reveal His majesty, His justice, and His grace, why should I expect Him to act any differently in my life?  God’s word says that He is able to immeasurably more than anything we can imagine, but do we really expect Him to do big things in our lives, or is that just the God in the Bible who is able to do these things?  Well I’ve got BIG news for you people, the God of the Bible is still God today, and He WANTS to and is GOING to do big things in YOUR life.

I’m saying these things because I feel like I always try to limit God to only doing things that I want, in the way I want it, and when I want it.  In other words I want God to work the way I expect.  But obviously that is not how God works.  God is not limited by the plans that I can fathom and the ideas that I create, in fact, I often think that he rejoices in taking my plans and blowing them out of the water, and that’s a GOOD thing!  He rejoices in doing this because he says my beloved daughter, you may think this is good and will bring happiness, but I have something BETTER for you in mind.

The past three weeks have put me at the end of my rope.  I felt hopeless and defeated by this world.  I had no desire to read the hope of God’s word and no desire to try and be encouraged through others, I just wanted to live in my own perpetual pity party.  But thankfully that was not God’s plan for me.  You see, I was so discouraged because God was not giving me what I wanted and not acting the way that I expected.  I met with a good friend last week who was also struggling with some issues and we whined together, but then she convinced us to turn to God’s word to find hope, and by the end of our time together, I felt a little more encouraged.  Encouraged enough for us to pray together.  I’ve been thinking about the whole Unexpected Savior topic for a while so I decided to pray for God to work in both of lives in an unexpected way.

This past weekend God showed up in unexpected ways in both of our lives to the extent that it was impossible for me not to fall on my knees and give HIM all the glory.  There is no way that what has happened in my life recently was of my own doing and I think that’s why God chooses to work in unexpected ways.  God wants AND DESERVES ALL the glory in my life, yet it is so easy to brush him off and push him aside for later when he works in the expected ways; the ways I want and when I want it.

So at the end of this all I want to ask each one of you who reads this one simple question.  Are you expected God to work in unexpected ways in your life, or are you falling into the trap of placing Gods work under human standards?  God seeks to show you His power and His love, just not always in the way that you expect it!

If we all prayed for God to work in unexpected ways in this world and actually believed that God would follow through on our prayers, imagine what would be possible!

Also, this song came to my mind while writing this post, so take a listen, it’s a favorite of mine! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyv1jUDLY3s

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Temporary Home

     I am three into my undergrad at college and have to experience a long bout of homesickness….until this year at least.  Or rather more like this semester.  Neither my house at school with my wonderful housemates, nor the house that I spent 7 years in with my parents before coming to college feels like home anymore though.  It’s not that I long to be home with my parents or that I particularly dislike anything about my school, I think it’s more of a longing for the stability that lies with my memories of being home with my parents.  Whatever we went through or wherever we went, whether good or bad, we did it together.  We cried, laughed, fought, and forgave together.  Maybe it’s the proteins I don’t know for my Cell Bio midterm this week or the bony features and muscles I have to master for the anatomy lab practical coming that are causing high levels of anxiety, but lately I find myself more and more sentimental and longing for the stability I felt in my last two years of college.  Or maybe it’s the uncertainty and fear of the looming GRE exam and still a thousand patient care hours to get before applying to graduate school that’s getting to me.  

Anyways, I’m a person who craves stability, and currently my life doesn’t have that.  I don’t know where I’m working this summer.  I don’t know where I want to go to graduate school.  I don’t know if I should to graduate school.  I don’t know what I’m doing in my future. I don’t know where I want to live after college. I don’t know when I’ll be able to have long extended times to hang out with my sister and family anymore since we’re basically have a country away from each other. And last, but certainly not least, who knows if I’ll ever be in a long term relationship that leads to marriage.  These are the thoughts that go through my head on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  I think that the sheer multitude of these thoughts that have been present in my mind this semester is what’s been making me homesick.  

Maybe I shouldn’t even call it homesickness.  

Maybe a better word for it would be adulthoodfearness.  

Yep, I went there.  Making up English is a favorite pastime of mine. (Along with my Franglais skills).

 

No one just tells you what to do when you’re an adult anymore.  When your friend is applying for jobs after graduation already and she’s only a junior too because that’s apparently what her professors said that accounting companies were looking for nowadays, no one’s going to tell you what you should do after graduation.  Friends are applying for positions at top companies and I’m just like, I would like a job that pays money – although I wish being paid in m&m’s was acceptable – so I can pay rent. And so I can buy food. Because food is good.

Okay, well, complaining is great and all, but how do we solve the problem presented?  How do I stop the anxiety and the worry from piling up like this?  I could very easily tell you the Christiany answers that have been drilled into my head since I was little such as the following:

Matthew 6:31-34 “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Or this one. 

Matthew 6:27 “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?

Don’t get me wrong, I love these verses and think that they can be very helpful, and often I find comfort in the many verses I read a day, but I don’t want to answer my question this way because sometimes these verses just stress me out more.  I know what you’re supposed to do in order to become less anxious; to submit all  you’re anxieties to God in prayer and he will care for them, but knowing that I still struggle with this bothers me still even though I know that I’m human and I’m flawed.  Even if I strive for perfection in everything.  

      So how do I cope with the feelings of homesickness/adulthoodfearness and make them disappear for a while?  Chocolate helps. Calls for the family help.  Friends help.  Not locking myself in my room all day because I think that no one likes me and wants to hang out with me helps.  But actually this wall of photos I recently put up in my room really helps a lot.  A compilation of a multitude of people who have helped me get where I am today.    Image 

This collection of photos has friends from both high school and college in it and I think it has really helped me calm anxiety about future friendships and relationships because I have seen how many great people I have met in this stage of life and have become confident that even in the scary world of post college graduation that I will meet so many more people who might one day end up in this wonderful collection of people.  

Also, knowing that I get to see my adorable dog Wolfy – short for Wolfgang – in a month for spring break helps too. Image

Unrealistic Expectations?

So I’m sitting here, watching Cinderella on TV and I remember multiple times when people have told me how Disney movies like Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and others have given women today unrealistic expectations for the male species.  Well I for one, hope that they haven’t.  While I don’t live in the fantasy that one day I will fall in love with a Prince who will rescue me from danger, sweep me off my feet, and take me to live happily ever after by his side in his castle, I do live with the expectations that they guy I fall in love with will possess the other qualities presented in these films.  

Cinderella taught me that love needs to be sought after.  The Prince didn’t allow anyone to define for him who he could and could not fall in love with, and when he did fall in love, he fought for her.  I hold hope that the man I fall in love with fight to stay with me no matter what may fight to keep us apart – whether that be an evil step-mother intent on marrying one of her other daughters away or other things in this world that fight to keep our attention away from each other.  I hope that the one I fall in love with will love me like the Prince loved Cinderella.  I hope that he loves me for who I am, not where I come from.  I hope that he’ll look past my crazy family and see that past circumstances don’t define who I am and who I can be.  No one grows up with a perfect family, and maybe my future Prince will see that like Cinderella my past has taught me patience and how to forgive those that hurt you.  

Beauty and the Beast taught me that there is no one perfect method for falling in love, that relationships are not easy, and that there will be trials.  Although this story taught how appearances aren’t the most important things in a relationship, this story also showed me how love is a gradual process.  This was not love at first sight by any means and that doesn’t happen for a lot of people, so I don’t that expectation that I’m going to fall in love at first sight.  Rather I expect falling in love to be a gradual process starting with friendship.  Belle and the Beast didn’t have a perfect relationship either, they fought, but Belle believed in forgiveness and second chances, and so do I.

Finally, Snow White taught me how my Prince should be someone who shouldn’t be afraid to take initiative and confess his love for me first.  While Snow White was singing away at her well wishing for her true love, along came her Prince confessing his love for her.  While I don’t want someone to come up to me and state how much they love me without ever going out on a date, I would like for a guy to take initiative and ask me out first.  Call me old fashioned, but I’m just not the type of girl to take the first move so I need someone with initiative and Snow Whites prince was that guy.

So while I don’t expect to fall in love with a prince, I do hope to fall in love with someone who will take initiative, fight for me, and learn to fall in love with me in a gradual process where we both make compromises for each other.  

So thank you Disney for the multiple lessons your films have taught me!            

Life with a Gluten Intolerance: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Being gluten free is one of the hardest and best things that has happened to me recently.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been on a gluten-free diet since the beginning of the summer, it was not fun in the beginning, and sometimes still isn’t now, but the difference it makes in my health makes it worth it.  Since I’m tired of people not knowing what gluten is and having to explain it a billion times, here’s a refined version of what I know.  You can google search gluten allergy and celiac disease though and become an expert if you’d like.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barely, and rye.  Potatoes are still good, rice is still good, and a bunch of other starches and carbs are still good, sometimes people forget that.  In people with a gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease, their bodies are unable to break down or digest this protein in the small intestine, which is where the majority of all the absorbance of nutrients in body happens.  Being a physiology major and doing my physiology major paper on the absorption of gluten in the small intestine I could go on for a long time (about 10 pages) on this topic, but fear not, I won’t.  Like any allergy, it’s an overreaction of the immune system to something that isn’t necessarily harmful to the body, but it doesn’t behave like the typical break out in hives and go into anaphylactic shock allergy that most people think of.  Since the digestive process takes a few hours to occur, the symptoms of a gluten allergy can take a few hours to appear once the gluten is ingested.  In the most serious form of gluten intolerance, known as Celiac’s disease, the body’s immunological response is to attack the small projections known as villi that line the small intestine and aid in the absorbance of nutrients.  Results of intenstinal biopsies of Celiac patients demonstrate that the small intestine becomes almost porous and mesh like covered with holes from where the body as attacked itself.  Without these villi, the body is unable to absorb essential nutrients like vitamin B and calcium causing malnutrition.  A multitude of other symptoms occur from this allergy, most of them being GI tract related, but they can manifest in other ways as well such as migraines and interestingly enough asthma, both of which occurred in my case.  These symptoms can also last a long time as well since it takes a while for the body to get rid of the gluten and recover which is why it is so important for people like me to stay away from gluten.

Being gluten free is difficult, I’m not going to lie, and frustrating, but also strangely rewarding.  Sometimes I think to myself, the allergy can’t be thaaat bad, but then like the other night I accidently ingest a cheese-it or two and then wake up in the morning feeling nauseated and extremely fatigued, both some of the symptoms of what happens to me when I ingest gluten. Oh, and I had an exam in a class that day too, so I sat on the city bus on the way to class just praying that I wouldn’t be sick during my exam because that would just not be fun.  And then there’s the times when my housemates all make cookies and I’m forced to sit and endure the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies, but not be tempted to eat them.  I’ve also learned that I hate having to plan ahead if I go somewhere about if there will be food that I can eat, but I’ve just taken to eating before I go anywhere, or just bringing with food I know I can eat.  Grocery shopping, I also dislike grocery shopping more than I did before…and I didn’t enjoy it to begin with. Sometimes I find myself wondering why God would choose to put this obstacle in my life when frankly I thought I had enough on my plate to begin with, but I now see this as another way that I need to depend on the Lord.  I am reminded that I am not now nor have I ever been or will be perfect in this life, but that’s okay because the Creator of the heavens and the earth IS perfect and he longs for us to cast our burdens on Him.

Now that you all know my woes of this lifestyle, let me lighten the mood a little by saying why it’s been a good thing as well. 

1)      I’m forced to actually think about what I’m putting into my body.  Thinking about what I’m eating has caused me to consciously make healthier decisions.  Not that I don’t eat a bowl of ice cream once in a while…because I definitely do, but I also eat more fruits and vegetables and meals cooked from scratch than before.  Even cooking from scratch has been healthier because you’re not ingesting whatever additives or preservatives have been added to precooked foods. 

2)      I feel good.  For the first time in at least a year, my body finally feels good.  No more daily migraines or unexplained stomach aches.  Dr.’s always told me I had a form of the stomach flu whenever I went in complaining, but if that was truly it I would’ve had the stomach flu like 4 times last year. Highly unlikely.

3)      It’s inspired me to make my whole lifestyle healthier.  I actually try, not always succeed, to sleep more, which is a crazy statement for a college student.  I actually exercise on an almost daily basis now too, which is a far cry from even what I did in my high school days. And I enjoy it. Never thought I would have said that.  I take a weight training class twice a week, and then try to either run or do a core workout on the other days. 

4)      I’m a better cook now.  Unlike a lot of the typical college student population I can’t live on a diet of ramen and prepackaged meals, so my cooking skills have improved.  That’s always a good thing to have, because who doesn’t love home cooked meals over ramen?!

Well. If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading! You probably all know more than you ever wanted to know about gluten and my experience without it, but I hope you understand more about why I choose to respectfully decline that delicious cookie you offer me!  

20 Years Young

Birthdays only come around once a year, and I’ve never been big into celebrating mine and exclaiming to everyone that it’s my birthday, so this year I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my facebook account and saw all the well wishes that had been left for me there.  I don’t mean to sound selfish here, but there is just something special about people rejoicing in the fact that you’re alive.  I’m going to steal this from a fellow blogger now, but she said exactly what I was feeling. “Why should I feel bad that other people take joy in who I am?  Instead of being filled-to-overflowing by a little loving from people, why do I try to brush it off or nullify it?”  There is nothing inherently bad with letting people rejoice over you, it’s when we loose the humbleness aspect and let it go to our head to create a superficial version of ourselves that it becomes a bad thing.

Even Jesus rejoices over us and takes delight in us. Psalm 149:4 states “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”  Why should we not take joy in the fact that the greatest person in the universe chooses to rejoice in our lives even though we are sinners that have to be saved by his grace? (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God).

Sometimes in the midst of all the craziness of life, it can be difficult to remember to be grateful, so here is a list of 20 things that I am grateful for in my 20 years of life.

I am grateful for…

  1. chocolate, because chocolate always understands.
  2. warm blankets to snuggle under during the chilly winter days.
  3. the piano because it always relaxes me.
  4. the guy friends in my life who show me daily what it looks like to be a man after God’s own heart.
  5. the women in my life who demonstrate what it looks like to walk with God.
  6. my family because they have always loved me no matter how crazy I am sometimes. 🙂
  7. Walt Disney because he created Mickey Mouse.
  8. all the people I met in the Wisconsin Dells last summer.
  9. those beautiful spring days when all the flowers are blooming…despite my allergies. 🙂
  10. hypoallergenic dogs because they’re adorable…especially mine. 🙂
  11. the opportunity to receive a higher education.
  12. books by C.S. Lewis because he always knows how to say it.
  13. roommates who are better at baking than I am. 😉
  14. swing music because it’s the only music I know how to dance to.
  15. my friends who introduced my to Dr. Who because it’s just awesome.
  16. lazy summer days spent outside.
  17. frozen pizza…because some days I just don’t feel like cooking.
  18. coffee. ‘nough said.
  19. everyone who has invested in me to make me who I am today.
  20. my Healer, Protector, Warrior, Lover, Savior, and Lord.

Finding the Peace and Joy this Christmas

Christmas is almost here, and let me tell you, I could not be more ready for it.  The year 2012 has been full of ups and downs and this past semester has been on full speed since the first day it started.  This Christmas, I’m just looking forward to having some time to myself just to sit down, take a breather, and process what’s been going on in my life.  But at the same time, Christmas time can also be one of the most stressful times of the year what with the gift giving and the family visiting and such.  This Christmas I aim to find the peace in all the hustle and bustle and bring myself back to the “reason for the season”, if I may use such a cliché term.  But truly, Christmas is about celebrating the gift of Jesus Christ born as a babe that has been given to us.  I think we could all benefit, well at least I know I could, if we took some time to reflect on just why this is so important to our lives anyways and why we are actually celebrating this holiday.

As I was thinking about writing this post, I had to stop and think about what it actually means to find peace.  I had to ask myself the question of what do I actually need to bring myself to peace with and how can I go about this?  Throughout this process, I discerned that I need to come to peace with Gods plan for my life.  Those who know me probably know that I may be just slightly a little bit of a major control freak.  I like to be in control of decisions and happenings in my life and I always like to have a plan for things.  I’ve been trying to work on this trait for a while, but let me tell you, it’s not an easy thing to get rid of, it’s layers deep.  I was practically positive when I entered college last year that I knew what I was going to do, but low and behold I already changed my major.  That whole process was challenging because I had no idea what my new path would lead me down, just that I did not want to be where I was, but now I can look back realize that God knew exactly where I needed to be and had everything in control.  I keep on going back to the example of Peter and Jesus when Peter walks on water.  I see so much of myself in Peter in this section.  The passage goes like this:   “And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”” (Matthew 14: 28-31).  God was protecting Peter from all the craziness, the blowing winds the crashing waves, that could have caused him to stumble and sink, and Peter was walking in peace with God.  But still, Peter doubted that God could handle this situation and then he began to sink.  I find myself trying to give all of myself to God, but as soon as something gets hard I try to control the situation myself, which really makes no sense at all, because I think that it just must be too big for God to handle.

So, long story short, this Christmas I’m finding peace with God’s plan for my life, for my future career, relationships, and other aspects.  There may be troubles in the world, but God has already OVERCOME the world.

I’m finding the peace and joy this Christmas by celebrating the person who overcame the world and allows me to find peace in this life.  What are you celebrating?

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