Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Good Girl.

     This week, I started reading Emily P. Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl: letting go of the try-hard life. 

     In the second chapter, Ms. Freeman talks about her own "overblown and exaggerated" expectation and definition of what being a "good" girl is. As I was reading, I began to think about my own possibly twisted definition of what being a good girl is and my/others' expectations (the author also asks at the end of the chapter).

The Good Christian:

     My definition of being a "good Christian" is one that convicts my heart on a daily basis. When I sit beside the good Christian girl I am supposed to be, she looks nothing like me. She has quiet time with Jesus every morning and/or night. I don't. Sometimes, when the chaos of life doesn't get in the way, I will make time for Him. She reads the Bible every day. To tell you the truth, I want to and I crave it. However, sometimes, watching TV, etc, is more appealing. She wears modest clothing. I do and I hide behind my clothing. You will possibly never see me wear something provocative. I want people to know by my appearance that I am a Christian. A good one, for that matter. Wearing modest clothing to represent that you are a Christian isn't bad or means that you have to look frumpy. However, am I doing it for my sake, for my reputation...or because I truly want Jesus to be what radiates from me? She doesn't ever become angry. I can not tell you how many times during the day I struggle with this. I try. I really do. I want that "gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4). I want people to know and accept me as a good Christian because of my demeanor. She goes to church every Sunday. Goodness. My picture of the good Christian girl sitting beside me is very dissappointed now.

The Good Daughter, Sister and Future Wife:

     I live away from home (due to college and now work) and I call my parents every day. It is an unspoken rule between us. A sense of control for them. We usually have a 15-30 minute conversation. It is usually closer to 15 minutes. She obeys and honors her father and mother (Ephesians 6: 1-2). I remember learning the verse in my very strict private school Kindergarten class. That is what good little daughters were supposed to do and if you felt/did otherwise, you were wrong. Part of me wants to talk and part of me wants to have time for myself. I must confess that most of the time, I call them because I am afraid that they will become angry if I don't. She has good relationships with her siblings. She talks to them and cares about them every day. I live with my sister, so having a "relationship" with her seems easy. Sometimes, it is not. Sometimes I am afraid to ask her questions (she is somewhat a private person), to really know what goes inside her heart. Often, I only ask, "Are you ok?" and a "Yes" will suffice. With my brothers, it is a similar game. One lives at home and the other one is away at college. I often say a quick "Hello" to them on the phone or by Facebook. Sometimes, I feel I am a more "caring" person with my patients and my patients' parents (who tell me their entire lives/problems) than I am with them. She tries hard to become that Proverbs 31 woman. Don't we all good Christian girls want to become that woman for our future husbands? I feel ashamed when I fall short of her. Around the time Greg proposed, he texted me part of that chapter. I felt good. That meant he had seen all my hard work. "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." (Proverbs 31:25) Truth be said, I am anxious, and sometimes afraid, at the days to come (because I have no control over them).

      I can write a lot about what my definitions and expectations of how a good girl is supposed to be. For your sake, I won't. These expectations are not bad things. Not at all! However, like Ms. Freeman mentions, "...they are misused by good girls...there is so much I believe I should be, there is also much I believe I lack. And so my tendency has been to hide." (pg. 32)

     Hiding is what I do rather than trust and receive the acceptance I have already been given in Jesus.

     Maybe you do, too. He doesn't want yours and my twisted definitions and twisted expectations of who we should be. He doesn't want us because we can cook, clean, bake, wear modest clothing, or go to church on our standards. He wants us to do it out of love for and in Him. He wants to be what radiates about us. He wants us to find our identity in Him - and only Him.

Do you see the man in red? Brave.
     How are you hiding? I would love to hear your thoughts!

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well...Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everylasting." Psalm 139: 14, 23-4

Much Love, 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thy Neighbor

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

This is the first and greatest commandment. 

And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22: 35-40

Have you noticed the teachers of the law only asked Him for the greatest commandment, yet He gave them two?

I bet Jesus knew one couldn't be done without the other.

I hope you are having a nice weekend!
Much Love, 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Love Story.

Hello y'all! Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought it might be fitting to share a love story of brokenness and healing.Grace.

Summer 2010. 

No summer classes, most of my friends were in town, there was a family reunion every weekend. Love was in the air. When summer was over, I would return to my top university, begin classes, and live with my sister. It seemed like a great start to a great summer. 

Years before, I had given pieces of my heart away to a good man I was not going to marry. We met when I was 14 at a church retreat. We had both come from good Christian families. I knew his family and he knew mine. I had planned my entire future with him.

Out of respect for him and his family, I will not share exactly what happened that summer. However, I can tell you that a few weeks, about three, after the summer break began, I was broken and alone. Also, I found out I had not been accepted into the nursing program at my top university for that semester. Both of my parents had jobs, my sister began working at a local nursing home, my closest friends were getting married, were moving away to another city and/or state, or had a relationship, and my brothers were just to young to talk to.

Above all, I was angry at God. I thought I had accepted Jesus as my Savior since I was young. However, I did not have a relationship with Him. I couldn't feel or see Him in my life. My life was great and now it was all going down hill. He must have abandoned me. Why God? I am a good girl! I didn't talk to Him that summer.

I was depressed. I wasn't diagnosed with depression, nor I ever went to a doctor, but I knew I was. My family knew I was. I didn't tell anyone, not even my closest friends, about what I was going through.

Turning point. 

Later that summer, my mother began spending more time with me and we began exercising, along with an aunt and a cousin. One of those afternoons, while I was working out, the director of a private university nursing program called me. I had been accepted into the program! I was going to become a nurse. Didn't need You [God] for that! 

Or so I thought. Summer began to end and I traveled to Minnesota with my sister to spend time with my sister's boyfriend and his family. My parents did not allow my sister to go by herself. I was still depressed and I did not want to go. For my sister's happiness, I did. So, I became the third-wheel. 

One of those evenings, a tall, handsome, young man came to join us for a cook-out we were having. All I knew was his name and that he was best friends with my sister's boyfriend. I didn't pay much attention. The four of us, along with other friends, spent a neat end-of-summer weekend together by the lake. My sister and I returned back to Mexico/Texas to continue our lives, separately, this time. 

That first week of nursing school, I met my now close friend Katy B. She was talking to another of my nursing friends about a church she attended, how she was part of the worship team, and something about a guy. I, sitting on the other side of her, asked her what church she attended. Katy told me it was a Christian non-denominational church and proceeded to invite me. I told her I would go that Sunday. So out of my comfort zone for the Catholic girl in me. 

This church was weird. First of all, church was held in an elementary school's cafeteria. People immediately started talking to me as I entered the doors. The pastor wore a regular button-up shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. When the music played, people lifted their hands and arms in the air. The Catholic girl in me felt so uncomfortable. However, there was something about this church that was calling my name. To make the story a little shorter, I decided to stay. This girl, Mackinzie M., asked me to join her community group (like a bible study group). I met people who would later become my best friends. People who genuinely cared for me and loved me for who I was. This group of praying-out-loud-hands-in-the-air-during-worship people became a family to me for two whole years. 

Church Family
In the middle of it all, I began praying for a relationship - if that is what God wanted for me. I began reading books and blogs. I began praying for my future husband. This tall, handsome, young man I met in Minnesota began to pursue me. He contacted me through Facebook, later through phone, and much later in person. My heart was slowly healing and he knew it. He kept gently pursuing me and when the time was right, he told me he loved me and accepted me and my heavy baggage. He said he wanted to pursue marriage with me. After a whole lot of praying and a series of events, God led him to talk to my parents and ask for their blessing. We were engaged September 2, 2012.

Above all else, I met a living God. A living Jesus who pursued and desired nothing but a genuine relationship with me. I got to slowly know Him and what He was doing in my life. For the first time in my life, I began to understand and feel the love of Christ.  I met him face-to-face that hot September 2010 night, in my apartment, as I cried and knelt before Him. I asked Him into my life and decided to follow Him - unconditionally. I saw and heard Him in Katy B., Mackinzie M., Michael F., Heather E., Greg V., Diana Z., and many others. He was there. He was always there. In the middle of my depression - He was there. He had a plan. He used my brokenness from a previous relationship and "failed" academic endeavors to bring me to Him. He died for me. He died for my sins. He died because he loved me and wanted to heal my brokenness through a relationship with Him. 

Engagement/Birthday Party at my house in Mexico
I am now living under His perfect plan.

I am loved. I am redeemed. I am Under Grace.

So are you. Open the eyes of your heart, He wants you to see Him.

And yes, I now unashamedly lift my hands during worship.

Thank you for reading this. Happy Valentine's Day to my family, Greg, my friends near and far, and you, dear bloggers!
Much Love, 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The love of Christ constrains.

My sweet friend, Rachel S., posted this on Facebook today:  

"For a love relationship to be healthy there must be a mutual loss of independence. It can't be just one way. Both sides must say to the other, 'I will adjust to you. I will change for you. I'll serve you even though it means sacrifice for me.' If only one party does all the sacrificing and giving, and the other does all the ordering and taking, the relationship will be exploitative and will oppress and distort the lives of both people.

"At first sight, then, a relationship with God seems inherently dehumanizing. Surely it will have to be 'one way,' God's way. God, the divine being, has all the power. I must adjust to God -- there is no way God could adjust to and serve me.

"While this may be true in other forms of religion and belief in God, it is not true in Christianity. In the most radical way, God has adjusted to us -- in His incarnation and atonement. In Jesus Christ He became a limited human being, vulnerable to suffering and death. On the cross, He submitted to our condition -- as sinners -- and died in our place to forgive us. In the most profound way, God has said to us, in Christ, 'I will adjust to you. I will change for you. I'll serve you though it means sacrifice for Me.' If He has done this for us, we can and should say the same to God and others. St. Paul writes, 'the love of Christ constrains us' (2 Corinthians 5:14).

"A friend of C. S. Lewis's was once asked, 'Is it easy to love God?' and he replied, 'It is easy to those who do it.' That is not as paradoxical as it sounds. When you fall deeply in love, you want to please the beloved. You don't wait for the person to ask you to do something for her. You eagerly research and learn every little thing that brings her pleasure. Then you get it for her, even if it costs you money or great inconvenience. 'Your wish is my command,' you feel -- and it doesn't feel oppressive at all. From the outside, bemused friends may think, 'She's leading him around by the nose,' but from the inside it feels like heaven.

"For a Christian, it's the same with Jesus. The love of Christ constrains. Once you realize how Jesus changed for you and gave Himself for you, you aren't afraid of giving up your freedom and therefore finding your freedom in Him."

-Timothy Keller, "The Reason for God"

Much Love, 

Friday, February 8, 2013

There is always something to be thankful for.

1. Working the same night shift with my sister (she is also a pediatric nurse) - it makes work and life more enjoyable.
2. My amazing night shifters (co workers). I often, very often, hear on the floor, "Hey ____, are you doing ok? Do you need any help?" If so, they go out of their way to help out a fellow nurse who may be having a rough night.
3. Cold, sunny mornings in Texas - let's enjoy them while they last!
4. Conversations in the car with my sister on the way home.
5. Breakfast - favorite meal of the day.
6. Quiet time with Jesus.
7. My bed. Need I say more?
8. Being woken up at 1350 by a phone call from my fiance. I can't find the words to say how blessed I am to have him in my life.
9. Sweet phone call from my Daddy with my Mami talking in the background. Classic.
10. A warm shower.
11. Diana cooking lunch for both of us. She places the chicken inside a zip-lock bag and dumps seasoning inside it as she mixes it (a great way to season chicken without the mess). She then proceeds to place the zip-lock bag with the chicken inside it, inside the oven. Our apartment smelled like something was burning. Needless to say, the bag melted. We still ate the chicken. Don't worry, we made sure there was no plastic left overs (now that I think about it, it probably wasn't a very good idea to eat it). It was very funny!
12. Encouraging blogs!
13. A red journal who patiently waits for me to open it and write on it.
14. A warm, quiet apartment.
15. Christian Hymns. ...I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back...
16. Greg's texts while he is at work - even a simple "hello".
17. Lemonade. Goodness.
18. Forgiveness and Grace.
19. My blog.
20. You - my three followers.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him: tell of all his wonderful acts." 1 Chronicles 16: 8-9.

What are you thankful for today?

Much Love,