Thursday, November 1, 2012

10 Month Anniversary - Oct. 31!

 Us, on our 6 month anniversary, June 30, 2012. What a wonderful summer it was, and this date was one of the highlights. :)

My love story part 2: Before meeting him

In light of our 10 month anniversary yesterday, I decided to share a bit more of our story, from my perspective!

After the talk with my dad, I started ignoring boys. I really had no need for them in my life, what can I say, I was in elementary school! Instead, this was a time when I was really outgoing and had lots of girl friends. I was involved in church, my home school program, and had lots of wonderful neighborhood friends, as well as an awesome family. I was content and really didn't need anything else!

However, at this time in my life, boys were not so nice to me. I remember at church, they would pick on me endlessly. They'd take my toys, they'd pull chairs away from me, I have a very vivid memory of one boy even pulling up my dress! (He probably doesn't remember, but I still hold a grudge on him to this day) Grown ups would say stupid things like "Oh sweetheart, he's just doing it because he likes you!" Well that was the last thing I wanted to hear, after what my dad said, I didn't want anyone to like me! I just wanted to be left alone. Besides, I was certain that none of those jerks liked me. Even if they did, they'd never have a chance. ;)

Just when I was at my wit's end, one boy came along, and he actually DID like me. And he wasn't a total jerk because of it! At first, when it was subtle and simple, I basked in the attention. I didn't care for him at all, but if he wanted to flirt with me while I ignored him, then so be it. Unfortunately, life isn't that simple! Things escalated quickly, for 4th grade that is. Right around this time, a new summer camp started at church, called Theatrical camp. TC was a 2 week camp that met for 3 hours every morning, we rehearsed and at the end performed a Christian musical. It was for kids 3-8 grade, so as 4th graders, my class didn't have huge roles. But it was still so much fun overall, and it continued to be the highlight of my summer until my last one in 8th grade!

Anyway, back to this boy. In one of the songs in the play, I was picked to dance with him. I mean, he picked me to be his dance partner. It was a fun little swing dance, I thought nothing of it. He however took it very seriously. Even after the play was done, he just wouldn't drop it! For the next several months, every time he saw me in the church hallway, he would yell "HI SWEETIE!" I tried everything. I told him to stop, I ignored him, acted like it was no big deal, even started getting angry and exclaiming "leave me alone!" but nothing worked! I even got brave enough to use the line Dad gave me: "Go talk to my dad!" but not even that stopped him!

At the beginning of 5th grade, I was done. I was just done with boys. I came to the conclusion that they either hated me and were jerks, or they liked me too much and were annoying. I decided that they just weren't for me and I wouldn't ever like a boy.

That was the month when the Christmas play practice started. Along with that came a boy who was so different than everyone else, he completely changed my mind, and my life, to this very day.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

RNR - A New Chapter Beginning in my Massage Therapy Journey

When I tell people that I'm a massage therapist that has Rheumatoid Arthritis, they are usually shocked and a little doubtful. It's a known fact that massage therapists tend to not be in practice for their entire lives because frankly, giving massage wears your body out. So going into the business, already having problems with my hands, not many people expect that it will last long for me. However, as I learned while attending massage school, arthritis really has no affect on my joints, in fact for the 6 months I attended school, I was almost completely pain free!

Even though it isn't an issue right now, I am always looking for ways that I can save my body and elongate my career. I was looking for a continuing education class to take this fall, and I came across a flyer for one that taught a modality called RNR - Reconnecting Neuromuscular Responses. One of the first things that caught my eye was that it said it was "Very easy on the therapist, especially their hands!" It had me sold right there, but when I continued reading, I became very impressed with all the benefits of RNR. To list a few, RNR is very beneficial for shoulder and neck pain, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, bunions, TMJ, headaches and migraines, sprained ankles, and much more! I knew that this had to be the class for me!

About the technique: RNR is a neuromuscular massage technique that supports the relationship between the nerves and the muscles through the golgi tendon organs. Golgi tendon organs are nerve endings located in soft tissue fibers throughout the body. When a person experiences pain, the pain signal may cause splinting, which is a contraction of one group of muscles around another to immobilize them. Splinting is a wonderful mechanism; however when this signal is turned off, the healing process may be hindered. RNR helps the body remember to turn off the signal, so healing may be facilitated at a faster rate.
I was very impressed with all the new information I gained from taking this course. I now offer a 45 minute full body RNR session. For the session, the client remains clothed, and there is no oil or lotion used. The goal is not to provide a relaxing environment but rather an environment where the client is able to heal. Anyone can benefit from RNR; it is especially beneficial for athletes or any person who is physically active!
RNR is intended to heal aches and pains that you've carried around for years. I recently discovered this technique through a class, and it has changed the way I massage for the better! I am not yet certified in this modality but am hoping to continue learning and practicing until I am able to be. RNR is not a new technique, but there are very few practitioners in the country. To learn more about it and read testimonials from people who have been receiving it for years, visit

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Love Story: How it all began

I'll never forget the day my dad asked me this question.
“Has a boy ever asked you to be his girlfriend?”
My mind started racing. Was this the boyfriend-girfriend talk my friends had gone through with their parents, when they learned that they could have a boyfriend if he was nice. (keep in mind, we were 5.) I didn’t really have my mind set on anyone, I just thought it’d be nice to know what my parents thought of this. I knew several guys at my church, one of them was even a close friend, just because his parents and mine hung out a lot. Though I didn’t care for anyone in a special way, I, like every other girl, just wanted to feel like a princess. And like every princess, I wanted a prince.
Disney movies were a big part of my childhood. Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast were among my favorites. However, when I watched them, my mind was shaping around the idea that these princesses were much older than I. We don’t see what the childhood of these princesses was like, yet while watching, I get the idea that up to that point they have not dated or given their hearts to other boys. I always assume the fact that up until that point where the movie begins, they have been single, waiting for the right time, and the right guy, to come steal their hearts. That was the kind of romance I was hoping for.
My friends did not feel the same way. I had some wonderful friends that I was very close to. For the most part, we just loved playing with dolls, riding our bikes and playing make believe games. But I recall that at a very young age, they started talking about boys. I really thought it was stupid. I was also much more sheltered then they were though. As my parent’s first child, I know they protected me more than my friends were…and more than my younger siblings for that matter. But that’s another story. Anyway, I was also going to be homeschooled rather than sent to public school like they were. They would talk about who they thought was cute, who they had a crush on, and who they thought was pursuing them. (again, keep in mind, we were 5. I keep bringing this up because I’d like you to realize how dumb it sounds!) 
Back to the question my dad asked. Had a boy asked me to be his girlfriend? “no”, I answered truthfully, anxiously wanting to know where this conversation was going.
“Good,” said my dad. “If any boy ever does, tell him to come talk to me first.”
Somehow, my 5 year old mind thought that this was an instant no. No boyfriends. I didn’t really mind, honestly. Yet for some reason, my mind took this further than I’m not allowed to have a boyfriend. At this point, I thought my dad had told me to not have any boys as friends either. My dad never specifically said I couldn’t, just that I had to send them to him first. I just didn’t think any of the guys I knew would ever want to talk to my dad. He wasn’t scary or intimidating to me, but I understood that he would be to other guys. 
That’s all I remember about this day. My life didn’t really change after that, for the most part. I kept up my friendships with girls. I avoided and ignored their boy talk and gossip. However, I stopped talking and befriending boys at this point. Not because they had cooties, but because I wanted to save them from any trouble of having to talk to my dad.
Did not having boys as friends affect me in a negative way? Some might think so. But I don’t. Just like in Disney movies, I opted to go on and live my life, respect my parents, and grow and mature to be who I’m meant to be. I knew that someday one boy would come and sweep me off my feet and carry me away.
However, it didn’t end up to be that simple. I mean, if it did, why would I be writing a painfully long and detailed story about how I came to meet my soulmate?!

A little room make over!

I redid my bedroom for $30!

1 can of paint: $30
...that was it :) I borrowed a comforter/pillow cases from my sister, and just made everything else fit in!
It does great things for my productivity!
Top pic: My bookshelf, Wizard of Oz pic (yes I realize it's backwards!) and the stuffed animals that made the cut :)
Bottom: Bed, desk, window...pretty self explanatory! I love this place!! I've never felt more organized in my life!

The Impact Massage Therapy School Had on Me

Throughout my entire senior year of high school, I was positive that I knew exactly what God wanted me to do with my life. I had made up my mind before it even started, and I was quite stuck to it. I mean, why wouldn't God want me to go to a private Christian college? All I wanted was to learn and grow closer to Him, so this just HAD to be what He wanted for me. It didn't matter that it was so early in the year, I turned down every other option or opportunity that came my way.
I will never forget the day when I got the phone call that changed everything. It was from the college, and when I hung up I realized that God was closing the door. It wasn't meant to be, and I knew that all those plans I had made would have to change. I was rather embarrassed, and at my graduation party I still told everyone I was going to this Christian college, even though I didn't really have any idea what to do.
The week after my graduation, I remembered one school that I had heard a bit about that I decided was worth looking into. Carlson College of Massage Therapy. Massage was not something I wanted to do, but I thought it'd be a cool skill to have so I could work and pay my way through another school, majoring in whatever I REALLY wanted to learn. My mom and I visited, and I decided I did like it. It was affordable, relatively close to home, and a short program that I could just go through then move on. I sent in my application the next day.
Talk about taking a leap of faith! I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know why God had put this particular school in my path. I wasn't totally excited about it. I was not at all interested in the medical field, I wasn't particularily fond of touching people, I was dreading having to take anatomy and physiology, and I had just found out that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. My fingers, wrists, elbows, ankles and toes ached... great idea, choosing a career that requires using your hands 90% of the time, right?!
I don't even know what brought me to school on the first day. I was even scared about driving all the way out to Anamosa on my own. I had minimal public school experience and was very nervous about meeting all new people, and having to be at school from 8:30-4 every day! Somehow, I made it there. And praise God that I did!
Every single day since then, I have seen a new reason of why God wants me to be here. I have always wanted to help people in life, and this career has given me a new way to reach out and touch people's lives. It started in the classroom, making friends with the coolest classmates I could have ever hoped for, and getting to be with them for a good portion of the week. Now, it's reaching out to the community. Volunteering at races and hospitals was a great experience, and in just 11 days I get to start clinic and work with all sorts of people!
Like I mentioned before, I was not at all interested in the medical field. So how did I get here you ask? Well somehow, I was under the impression that massage was a luxurious, relaxing thing and had nothing to do with health or wellness. BOY WAS I WRONG! But I learned that I actually really do like it~ learning about the human body is so fascinating to me. Anatomy and Physiology were SO much easier than I thought, and just learning about how God created us was incredible. This has opened my mind up to so much more that I could do after school, I am so thankful He tricked me into coming here ;)
Not only has Carlson helped me come closer to God and become better at relating with people, it has also helped me physically in miraculous ways. Two and a half years ago I was in a car accident, where I was hit from behind and pushed into the car ahead of me. Ever since then I had this neck pain that wouldn't go away. It caused many headaches and much pain every day. Through receiving massages at Carlson almost daily (benefit of being a student!) I am happy to say that the pain is almost completely gone, and everyday I can live and feel great physically. I can testify that what we're doing at school is really working, and I can give relief to people having the same pains I had.
And about the arthritis? I haven't had pain in months! You could say it's because school is encouraging me to eat healthier and take better care of myself. Or maybe because I stretch my joints every day before massaging. Maybe it's from receiving massage. Well whatever it is, I know God is at work, and He led me to this school for multiple reasons. This being one. I say it's a miracle.
When I give a massage, I always start with a prayer. I pray that God would lead me as I do the work, and I pray for whoever I'm about to work on. It always makes me feel more positive, and I truly feel like I am using my hands in the way God intended for me. I am so excited to start clinics, and then graduate and move on to do whatever He has planned for me. It's all so exciting :)

August 19, 2011

I read John 2 last night. I ended up just focusing on verses 1-12. It's about the time when Jesus was at a wedding, and he turned water into wine. I've heard this story my entire life, beginning in my beginner's Bible, and honestly I never thought anything of it. I mean, Jesus did lots of miracles, I would think like feeding the 5000 or bringing Lazarus back from the dead were so much more important, I'd overlook little miracles like this. But when I read it this time, I was intrigued by it and found it quite peculiar. We don't even know who the newly married couple is, or how Jesus knew them. It only says, they were invited to the wedding. At the wedding, they ran out of wine. Jesus' mom sees this and comes to him and tells him they've run out. He says it's not his time, but later, he does perform a miracle. He turns water into the best tasting wine, ever!

After i read it, i thought... wait who cares? water is good for you, why did they need wine? what's the big deal? why did Jesus invest in this seemingly small issue? I read the footnotes at the bottom of the page, and learned that the wedding ceremonies/reception could last like a week, and to run out of wine was a social embarrassment, basically. But still i thought, what's the big deal? why did Jesus see any reason in doing this?

Then I thought, well how many times a day do I come across a problem, one that seems big to me but isn't really a big deal... how many times do i face a potentially embarrassing situation that I pray to get out of immediately? And when I pray, things always work out somehow. Maybe Jesus is just showing me that this is how much He really cares. Yes, he's so powerful he can feed a crowd of 5000+ with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and raise a dead man back to life, but he also cares about the little details.

He sees my problems, no matter how big or little. I can be like his mom, coming to him and pointing out, Hey I'm really struggling with something... I really miss my friend and I don't know why we have to be separated now. And just like in the story, Jesus is saying to me, "my time has not yet come". I just need to stay strong, to keep trusting, and to wait for His answer. And sure enough, someday, his miracle, big or small, will come ~ just at the right time. God's time.

My Verse for 2011

 At the beginning of this year (2011), I chose my "theme verse for the year". I do this every year, instead of resolutions that only last 2 weeks I choose a verse to meditate on and remember all throughout a year. This year, I had an idea that there would be a lot of changes happening, with graduating high school and moving on. So far, I've been right. I came across this beautiful verse with a promise in Isaiah and knew right away it was mine. It was one of those that surprised me and caught me off guard, and now 8 and a half months later I'm still learning what it means.

Isaiah 43:18-19 "Forget the past, do not dwell on former things. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

I'm relating this to a little analogy. I love to drive. I've been in the drivers seat ever since i got my permit, the very day I turned 14. But 2 years ago I was in a car accident. I was stopped at a red light on a busy road during rush hour. A car, 2 cars behind me, ran the red light behind us, hit the car behind me, who hit me, I hit the car in front of me and he hit the car in front of him. It was epic, and terrifying. I wasn't hurt, but ever since then I've been absolutely paranoid of any car driving behind me. I find myself watching that car through my rear view mirror far more than I look out the windshield!

This is exactly the way my life is as well. I spend far too much time looking back at all the nice things in the past, but when it comes to the future or even the present I couldn't care less. I long for the former, easier days and just kind of drift through life. This is silly. I can't control my past any more than I can control the car behind me. All I can do is look ahead at where my life is going, and be sure that I don't make the same mistake that was made 2 years ago.

This seemed very applicable to me 8 months ago, and it is even more so now. I feel like God is saying to me, "yeah I know I did some great things for ya for the past 4 years. But stop dwelling on that and look at what I'm doing now! If you don't start paying attention, you're gonna miss the best part!!"

I know I am very discouraged and sad about all that's changing. But I believe it's happening for a reason and the best is yet to come. There's a light at the end of this tunnel, and i will continue searching until I find it.

Does God want me to be a Massage Therapist?

July 2011

 I made the "official" decision to go to the Massage Therapy school. Sent in my "yes", scheduled my registration... the next day, I got my blood result test back that I had taken several weeks ago. I learned that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.

It's not that bad... very low on their scale, actually. Some days I completely forget about it. Other days it is simply present but I barely notice. But about once a week, it is an excruciating pain that constantly feels like a guinea pig's teeth are clamped down on my joints and won't let go. I'm supposed to go back to the doctor in 6 months to determine if this is getting better or worse.

Honestly though, I am not going to let this getting my way. This isn't God saying no. At least not yet. God can work miracles. He can work through me despite my weaknesses. I've changed a lot of things since I found out, I'm eating healthier and exercising more. If God is leading me to be a massage therapist who has arthritis, I am all there. And I'm really excited to accept this challenge. 

How Did I Get to Massage Therapy School?

When I was in middle school, I absolutely hated school. I thought it was pointless. I was homeschooled and I did all my work and I was good at it, but I found no pleasure in learning or giving up so much time to this. All I wanted to do with my life was get married, have a dozen kids and homeschool them myself. That was success enough for me. I certainly didn't need college to achieve this. I viewed college as a very expensive way to find a husband. I had no personal educational goals, I just did what my parents asked and would vent in my journal night after night about how pointless life is. Have you ever read Ecclesiastes? My journals sounded a lot like that.

As for serving God and living out my faith, at this point in my life I was very positive God did not want me to be a missionary. I was extremely shy and insecure and had no desire to ever leave my hometown. I went to church  every Sunday, helped in the pre-school children's program, and volunteered twice a week downtown, serving meals and co-leading a Bible study for kids in low-income families. This was all enough for me. It was comfortable and easy, and when my time of serving was done each day, I could come to my comfortable home and be safe and have everything I needed. I had a pretty regular quiet time, and I was pretty sure all this was good enough to get me through life.

Did I mention I was shy? I was pretty comfortable being mature and talking to adults, but as for people my own age, I had 3 friends. 3 people that I could talk to about silly everyday things. 3 girls that I could have fun around and hang out with. I didn't talk to anyone else. I wasn't really open or honest with my 3 friends. When I was at home, I was always locked in my bedroom, alone. Maybe shy isn't the right word to describe my personality. But that's what I always blamed my people problems on.

When I volunteered with kids though, I truly felt like I could be myself and enjoyed every minute I spent with them. I was happiest when I was volunteering and working to make others happy. I loved to just love on the kids, at church and downtown, and I loved sharing my faith with them. All I thought of this was that I should have tons of kids someday. I didn't think there could be any other options.

And then, I started high school. I was scared and felt unprepared to move on and start new things, but I knew that it was time for change to take place. I couldn't keep living with no goals or purpose. I got involved with my church youth group and started making friends. I still hated school yet did it to make my parents happy. I was still happiest when I was volunteering with children. Then in January of 2008, my freshman year, God began a work in my life that I never could have predicted happening.

I signed up to go on the winter retreat with my youth group. The topic was on missions and serving. It began on a Friday night, and from the start I could feel something happening. I knew God was working on something but I had no idea what. I didn't totally fall in love with the idea of going off as a missionary somewhere, but I made the decision to go on the high school mission trip to Mexico.

Mexico changed my life. I left on the trip, a shy and insecure girl with none of my new friends going with me. I had no idea what to expect. I journaled throughout the entire trip, recording everything I was feeling, and it's still amazing to look back. Through everything that happened, I could see God working all around me, showing me His love in so many new ways. I had never felt so joyful in my entire life, and I knew that I had no other desire than to serve God like this for the rest of my life. This is what He had been showing me all along ~ I am happiest when I'm helping people and sharing His love. And when I am stepping out of my comfort zone, all the pressure and distractions of my stressful life here vanish and all that matters is the work that God's doing. I love being in that place where I have no idea what's going to happen next, all I can do is trust that God will provide me with everything I need to make it through each hour. I knew that I was living for something bigger than my own happiness, I was living for His glory.

Coming home was difficult, but I wouldn't forget all the things I had learned over that week. I was given more opportunities to serve people who were affected by a flood later that year. The next spring I got to go back to Mexico with a different team. The summer after that I went to Czech Republic to teach English and share God's love with teens there. A year after that I went back to Mexico. Each trip was different in many ways, such that they all taught me something different about God and myself and life, but they were the same as I felt Him speaking to me throughout each trip, and showing me how much I love this sort of thing.

The last issue was college. I still didn't see a point. But I made up my mind that I would be open to it and look for what might be a good fit. My biggest struggle at this point was, do I go to a Christian college, where I could learn about my faith and become a stronger Christian, but not have many ministry opportunities, OR do I go to a public university, with tons of opportunities to share my faith but also many things that could challenge it. I wrestled with this for so long. I did lots of research, until a teacher that I highly respect recommended one school to me. It was a Bible school, close to home, small and affordable. The more I looked into it, the more I liked it. I prayed so much about it, but couldn't feel God saying yes or no. So I decided to follow this path and see if it was God's will.

I visited the college, twice. The more I got to know it, the more I liked it. I was pretty sure by August of my senior year that this is where I wanted my journey to continue. I started telling everyone that this is where I was planning to go. Everything about it made it a perfect fit to me. I thought it would be the perfect transition, and I knew I could get an excellent education that would tell me everything I needed to be a missionary. Sure, I applied to a couple different colleges to be safe. But my mind was made up.

The only 2 doubts were 1. This is way too easy, am I supposed to do a harder, more challenging thing that takes me out of my comfort zone? and 2. The cost. While it was one of the most affordable private colleges, I would need a lot of help to get through. And seeing as all I wanted to do with my life was serve people, not necessarily making an income, it really wasn't practical. So I prayed a ton, and finally came to an agreement with my parents. There was a scholarship that would help immensely. The admissions people told me that they were very impressed with all that I had done and that I was DEFINITELY very applicable for it. So I decided that if I got the scholarship, that would be God's way of saying yes.

I did everything I could, I had all my paperwork in months early. (Seeing as I had this awful case of senioritis, that's really saying a lot) I called the school the week of the deadline, just to make sure. They said, "You're all set! Great job with getting that done. You'll be hearing from us very soon!" Their exact words.

A month later I still hadn't heard anything. I called them back because well... it was May and this was really the final decision. I asked why I hadn't heard anything, and they simply replied, "Sorry, we never got your reference form. You couldn't be considered for this scholarship."

In that moment, despite all that just happened, I felt perfectly at peace with it all. I had prayed so much and done everything I could possibly do. In the end it was all up to God, and His answer was no. I didn't tell many people at first, I was honestly rather embarrassed. In fact, I told everyone at my grad party in June that I was going to this college, even though I knew that wasn't true.

All year though, I had always had a different school in the back of my mind, that I considered to be my "plan B". I gave this school a call, and a couple weeks and 2 visits later, I'm now all set to be attending a massage therapy school just a half hour from home. I couldn't be more excited right now. I'll be getting to do something that i love most, which is helping people. And I know there are so many ways that I could use massage therapy on the mission field. I know this is only the beginning of my journey and I'm so excited to see where God will take me!!

Healing Broken Hearts

Taken from "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. I read/wrote this on May 27, 2007

"Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked, that means pain.
 There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.
 God loves that person—even more than you do—and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for them, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, God can give us the perfect way.
I was still in kindergarten in these matters of love. My task just then was to give up my feeling for him without giving up the joy and wonder that had grown with it. And so, that very hour lying there on my bed, I whispered the enormous prayer:

“Lord, I give to you the way I feel about him, my thoughts about our future, oh, you know, everything! Give me your way of seeing him instead. Help me to love him the way you do. That much.” "

My thoughts on this:

I believe that reading this book at that time  was totally God ordained. It was no coincidence that I read this; I knew right away God was showing me something. Instead of blocking that love, letting it all go to waste, or worse—turn into hatred—I needed to give all these feelings over to God, and let Him turn it into something beautiful; something that would seem impossible to our imperfect human nature—to love someone that had hurt you so much.
I prayed that prayer right after reading it. I prayed God would help me see him* the way He did—an imperfect person, just like me. And because of God’s grace, He took away all the hatred inside of me that was tearing me down, hatred that would have destroyed me. He filled me with compassion for that boy, and that special love that only God could give me.
And now here I am, three and a half years later. There’s been many ups and downs through it all. I’ve prayed that prayer many many times since then, and by God’s grace this has ended up to be one of the greatest relationships I have ever had with anyone. I know the future is very uncertain, but I can say without a doubt that I can take whatever is coming, and I trust that God has a plan, the best is yet to come. Don’t ever forget that.

James 1:2-3

Based off a Trekkers Bible Study, November 6, 2010

Count it all Joy
"consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2-3

How easy is that? Think about it. Let's say you FINALLY get a puppy after waiting for your parents to say yes for 12 and a half years. (personal experience) Can you count it all joy? Duh! Can you count it all joy when you're snuggling with your new puppy? When he's exploring your house and pees on your favorite shoes? How about when that puppy cries all night and you end up sleeping with it on the kitchen floor? Can you count it all joy? Well he was still new... What about when it's -30 degrees outside and your puppy needs to go out, AGAIN. Can you count it all joy? And when you just open the door and let him out and stay inside, a half hour later realizing he's not in the backyard anymore and you have to go look for him? Find any joy in that?

Ok maybe my examples are silly. But obviously there are things in life that can be harder to see positively than others. When something bad happens, how many times is the first thing that comes to mind "Count it all joy"? How many times can you count it all joy?

Why should we? The verse answers that question. "You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance". Perseverance, or steadfastness, or like a stronger faith. That's what we're aiming for. Trials do not reveal to you the steadfastness or the perseverance you already have, they develop it. You can't have strong faith without it. Read the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. You'll read phrases like "Blessed are those who are persecuted, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the poor in spirit". Do you see any "Blessed are those who have no trials and go through life all happy and live happily ever after?" Um, no. Trials are a part of life, you can always choose to live in denial or to escape from them, but then where would your rewards be? Where would your trust in God be?

Can you imagine a life that had no ups and downs, simply just a straight, easy ride? Personally that sounds pretty boring to me. I don't see how that life would be worth living. If I had to choose, I would much rather live a life with many ups and downs, so I could learn, so I could grow, so I could develop stronger faith. Trials can really suck, yeah I realize that. It's like satan knows EXACTLY the thing you don't want to be tested on, and he goes right at it. Maybe there's ONE thing in your life you just want to hold on to, but that's the one thing God seems to want to take away from you.

I have never really asked for a trial to happen. I've never been one to pray "Jesus, bring the rain". But in the end, I am always thankful because I can see looking back how much stronger my faith has become. But just think, what if I could learn to thank God and count it all joy while the trial is happening, because I KNOW He will work it out. Because I KNOW he is working it out every moment of the trial. And I KNOW that my faith is getting stronger each day while I wait.

What is joy? Something I once heard, "Happiness comes from happenings, Joy comes from Jesus". Joy is like being content with life. Joy is experiencing the kingdom of Heaven every day in life. Joy is having a complete relationship with God.

No trial that God gives you will ever exceed what God has given you. What should you do? Immerse yourself in the Bible so that you start to think like God, and so that you know scripture enough to help you stand firm during trials.

Prince of Peace

Based off of the Beth Moore Bible study, "Breaking Free"

Jesus not only came to bring us life and salvation, but also to bring peace.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
~Isaiah 9:6 fact, he calls Himself the "Prince of Peace"! He's the one that created it anyway!

This is what the Lord says -- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea
~Isaiah 48:17-18

Ever heard the song, "Peace like a river"? We used to sing it in Sunday school when I was in preschool. The words simply say, "I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul". Today I was just reflecting on those words. Peace like a river. Notice how it's compared to a river rather than say, a pond. Picture a pond: completely still, quiet waters. Definitely the first thing that comes to mind is peaceful.

Now picture a river. Sometimes it moves quickly, other times it is still. There are many twists and bends and corners where you can't see what's coming up next. If you've ever gone canoeing or rafting on a river you know what I'm talking about - the last word you would use to describe your experience is "peaceful". Yet God still uses that example, and when you really think about it, it is a beautiful picture.

Life can be like a river. Full of complications, joy and sorrow, and you never really know what's coming up next. That's why God uses this example. Peace like a river - meaning through all the ups and downs of life, you can still find peace in Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry abou itself.
Matthew 6:34

May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so you may overflow with hope from the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Take my will, conform it to Yours

How do you know if the voice you're hearing in your head is really God speaking?

I visited a Bible College yesterday. I had heard a bit about it and liked what I was hearing. I visited, expecting to really like it. I was right - it was EXACTLY what I've been looking for. Small and personal, with teachers who care more about your education, they really care about your life and they strive to build [personal relationships with every student on campus. They're more than just your teachers, they are your mentors. Besides that, they teach what I want to learn, share all my beliefs, and understand my passions. I couldn't imagine anything better.

But is that what God wants for me? Am I supposed to move to a beautiful small town, where I will undoubtedly grow tremendously in my faith and learn everything I need to know to prepare me to be a missionary? Or does He want me to do the hard thing... going where I'm not comfortable, where I'll have to rely on Him more, where I'll have to work to get deep Biblical teachings for myself, and where I'll have to work harder to build relationships with people? I am by nature very shy and reserved, I cannot even tell you how scared I am of leaving my home, my family, my friends, my first and only love. The thought of college terrifies me. It really does. I am so thankful I have a year left to enjoy everything one last time. And to discover where I'm really being called to. Help me, Lord!
***Transferring old blog posts onto this blog - This post is from July 27, 2010***

Last night I went out with a group of friends to see a movie together. We're all pretty close, we worked together in Mexico and are practically family now. Anyway, I just couldn't focus on the movie for the entire 2 hours. I was overwhelmed with emotions about the future and all the changes that could, and probably will occur within the next year. To my embarressment and complete utter horror, I started crying and just couldn't stop. I don't want to move on. I don't want to leave. I don't want to say goodbye.

How do I know if the voice I'm hearing is really God speaking?

I feel like He's asking me to do something. Something harder than I've ever had to do in my entire life. I honestly don't believe I'm strong or secure enough. I feel like my whole world has been resting on this rock for so long, I've practically grown into it and become one with it. I don't know if the rock is supposed to be there supporting me, or if it's really holding me back from being where I should be. To remove myself from the rock would cause major cuts, bruises, and scars that would last a lifetime. It might even be comparable to loosing a limb. It's been the best possible thing, and the worst possible thing to ever enter my life. It's torn me down the most, but it's also built me and formed me into a strong, fearless child of God. How do I know if it's really what God wants for me?

Help me Father, make my desire Your desire, make my will Your will. Your will be done.

My Life Verse

October 11, 2009
This is the story of how God sent someone in my life specifically to give me a Bible verse that would become my goal and focus in life. I go back to it now and again and always think about how I am carrying out this verse.

One Sunday morning, I was sitting alone in a classroom, just flipping through my Bible. Suddenly, a woman I'd never seen before saw me and came in and sat next to me. "I want to show you something!" she said excitedly. She opened my Bible and turned to John 15:15-17 and instructed me to read aloud.

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's buisness. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask for in My name. This is my command: Love one another."

"isn't that so cool?!?" she exclaimed, "God, the creator of Heaven and earth, the Author of life and the prefector of our faith, chose ME! He chose me to bear His fruit! I just think that's so amazing!!"

She then got up and left. I haven't seen her since.

But what she said has stuck with me, the verses have been on my mind since then. I feel like God sent her to me to answer questions I had, questions about what I'm supposed to do with my life, right now in high school, such an important time. So now I just want to share with you what God has been showing me through this. I want to focus on verse 16 for now, I think it's important because God gives us a command.

Verse 16 says: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit - fruit that will last..." Like this woman said, isn't that amazing that God chose us?!? Just think about how big God is. He created the universe. He holds it all in His hands. He knows everything that goes on. From the beginning of time till the end, He is at work everywhere. He is so big, He does not need a single one of us to fullfill His plans. He can do it all on His own. Yet He CHOSE us to bear fruit!! Isn't that amazing?? To know that He sees us all at our worst times. He knows all our faults, He knows that we deny Him and chase after such stupid worldly things, He knows that we're going to mess up, yet He still chose us to bear His fruit!!!! PRAISE JESUS! He truly is so incredibly forgiving and merciful, He truly does love us more than we can comprehend!! Prasie God!

So what exactly does He mean by 'go and bear fruit'? Well the answer is found earlier in that chapter. John 15:1-14. In this passage we see that God is like a Gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we as Christians are branches. Bearing fruit is like living out our faith, and showing the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. Bearing fruit is going through every day, displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That's what God has chosen us to do.

So what if we don't? Well, we see that if anyone does not remain in Him, if anyone doesn't live out their faith, they are thrown away and into the fire and burned. This puts such a heavy burden on my heart for Christians who don't live out their faith. We need to realize how BIG of a deal this is! What Jesus did for us is BIG. What people choose to believe in is BIG. Where we will spend eternity is such a big deal!! So why do we live our average lives like we don't care? Aren't people so precious, so wonderfully and fearfully created by God, that we could go and share with them the joy and peace we experience through God, and that there is hope for them??

We definitely can't do this alone.. verse 4: "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me."

Is it worth it?? You bet it is!! Verse 7 "if you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you."

"This is my command: Love one another".

Trust and Obey

***I am transferring old blog posts from one site to this one, as google's site is much easier to use!***

From July 23, 2010

During this time, I was beginning to make the big decision of where to attend college. Later on, you'll see what really came of this. It was a wild ride, to say the least!

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what it would take for me to be able to say I trust God 100% in every aspect of my life. When I think of my future, all I really want is to have absolutely nothing that would hold me back from doing anything and everything God calls me to do. I just want to live a life of total dependence in God, relying on Him to meet every need. Maybe this sounds completely foolish to some, but I see this whenever I go to Mexico. I read about this in biographies about missionaries. I want this to be my reality: serving God wherever He wants, but when he closes one door and opens another, being willing and able to jump up and go wherever I'm called.

Okay, so as you can imagine, with being a senior in high school and all one of the biggest questions in my mind is what's next? Where am I headed after this? For the longest time, I've lived with just the mentality of, the college God wants me to go to will be the one that gives me the most money. The cheapest one. The one that offers me a full ride scholarship. Because what sign is clearer than a full ride?

But just yesterday I came to a new realization: where's the trust in that philosophy? If I were just given a full ride to some school, that question would be answered, and I would pretty much have zero financial issues whatsoever. Well, maybe with my choice of career that might be ideal, but where does the "trusting in God" play in to that?

So, that's just the thought I had. I'm not at all saying I will turn down any schools that offer large scholarships, just simply thinking about the possibilities. Just thinking of how much God could do if I surrender the subject of money to Him, stand back and let Him work everything out in that amazing way He always does. Because when the situation seems more difficult or impossible to us, it just gives God a better chance to show us how great He is and how much He can really do. And in the end, there's no denying that God worked everything out, and He gets all the glory, just as He deserves.

God is always there, waiting for you to surrender that one thing you can never imagine giving up. All I can say is give it all to Him, stand back and watch Him work in ways we can't even imagine. Better than your wildest dreams :)

When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
but to trust and obey.

Welcome to My Blog!

Hi, I'm Jessica. I am a Christian, a massage therapist, and a student. I am currently living with my parents and my 5 younger siblings, along with our 2 dogs and 1 cat. I enjoy writing of all kinds, cooking, playing piano and cello, and being with my friends and family. I am in a long distance relationship with my high school sweetheart, the most wonderful guy I've ever met.

Why am I starting this blog? I have always loved journaling and writing out my thoughts. I consider myself to be a more shy and reserved person, and because of that I feel like I have so much I want to say that I just don't. What better way to start talking than to start a blog that the whole world can see?! ;)

In this blog, I will be posting as much as I have time for. The topics of my posts will vary, some subjects that will come up will be my spiritual walk, my journey as a massage therapist, health and wellness, stories and lessons, and anything else that I think fits in!

I am not doing this to gain popularity. My only hope is that someone who needs to read anything I have to say will find this blog and that it will impact them however the Lord wills.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do posting!