Saturday, October 7, 2017

I am Elizabeth Bennet

I am Elizabeth Bennet.

I'm a sucker for love stories and Jane Austin's Pride & Prejudice is a classic!  One aspect of the story that I enjoyed was figuring out which characters took turns being the pride and prejudice.  When it came down to the main lovers, I always viewed it as Darcy was the pride and Lizzie was the prejudice, but then I came to the conclusion that Lizzie was both proud and prejudice.   I'll be honest that I wanted to strangle Lizzie's neck or run in the story and slap her prideful little face and tell her to allow Darcy to change instead of concluding he was this monster he really wasn't!  But today, I realized I was just like Lizzie; the very traits I struggled with in her were within me.  I've always been one to judge off of "first impressions" and generally I'm pretty good at reading people and knowing if it will be a potential partnership or friendship.  But sometimes, just like Lizzie, we can make a judgment and be so set in our opinion that we could miss something we never would have expected.

Let me lay the backstory.  A week ago I added yet another job to my schedule and my first day was last Wednesday.  This was a job with a professional cleaning service so my first day on the job would be at a house that would take almost all day, where myself and another new girl would be training beside the boss and another seasoned worker.  We arrived at the house where I'm introduced to everyone and that was when I met J.  (I will just refer to her as J for privacy purposes.)  The very first interaction I had with her was not even fully between us.  She spoke a couple words such as "hello" and "I'm tired" and "what are we cleaning" and then stopped to stand between me and the homeowner.  That interaction then turned into me watching J interact with the homeowner in a way I thought was rude and impolite!  And right then and there, at that very moment, I said in my heart that I didn't like J.  And I was right.  I wouldn't like her.  J was rude.

The whole 6 hours I was working with her were very frustrating and really forced me to work on my patience and my Proverbs 15 "soft answers."  I worked hard to make sure I wasn't cleaning in the same room as her, but when I did end up having to, everything I did was wrong according to her.  When that day was over, I made the same mistake I always seem to make.  I told God I "never" or "didn't want" something to happen.  "I don't ever want to have to be paired with J" was a reoccurring thought as I drove home, but just like every other time I told God in my heart that I didn't want something or I hoped something would never happen to me, He would always make it happen just to teach me a valuable lessons.  And this would be another one of those moments.

I received my schedule for the following work week and probably sat there for a good minute in silence.  I was scheduled to work all of my shifts with J.  At first, I was furious.  Then I was dreading each of those days.  In my mind, the only comfort I had would be I would have the other new girl would be working along with me and I would only be working alone with J on Friday.  I walked into the first day very weary and I don't think I said much at all.  As time went on, I tried to make myself seem more open, but by the end of our time on Wednesday, I was seeing a totally different side of J.  She was actually just a really genuine person who just had a lot going on in her life.  As I pondered how Wednesday had progressed I realized I had just witnessed a very stressed and overwhelmed J when I first met her.  People's circumstances influence their behavior at any given moment and I just neglected to take it into account.  By the time Friday came, I told myself I wanted to prove myself friendly and wipe the slate clean of any prejudice.

And you know what?  Friday was the best day ever!  J and I formed such a bond that we were sharing laughs, had our own little catchphrase, and were sharing stories and just talking.  By the time we finished for the day and were walking to our cars,  J made the comment about how she really hoped we would be paired together again.  And you know what?  I hoped so too.

I learned many valuable lessons wrapped up in one experience, but the greatest flaw I identified in myself was the ability I had to make assumptions and struggle to view someone differently later.  Because of that, I really struggle to let go of those views and give someone a second chance.  But this experience with J really taught me what I am missing when I write people off.  Also, it made me think about other friendships or acquaintances I have that maybe need the same chance as J.  I also saw the pride in my heart that made me see myself as better or perfect and everyone else as needed to rise to my standard.  It's not like I have bad days or any flaws, right? 😜

I identified my pride and my prejudice.  I was faced with the mirror that made me realize the flaws I criticized in Lizzie were actually the unrestrained monsters in myself.  What I so desperately wanted to fix in Lizzie were things I didn't want to face in myself.  But that's what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:

Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I'm a hypocrite.  The very things I want to fix in other people are the areas I need to fix in myself.  No one will attain perfection while on this earth, but a humble spirit - that recognizes fault, admits shortcomings and seeks to pursue Christ-likeness - will walk that path of sanctification.  Take note of those shortcomings you are so quick to judge or give people and prayerfully consider that God may be trying to work on an uglier sin in your life.

May this be all of our prayers!

Love, Emily

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Identity Crisis!

     Some people say finding your identity is discovering “you”; it’s the greatest adventure in life to discover “you.”  And they’re not wrong.  Identity is important because it describes ones view of themselves; it’s what shapes how you approach life, which results in what you will chose to be committed to in life.  So what is your identity?

     There is an ancient Indian story that tells of six blind men who attempted to describe an elephant based on what part of the elephant they were examining with their hands. The 1st felt the leg and decided the elephant was a pillar. The 2nd touched the tusk and determined it was a solid pipe. The 3rd grabbed the tail and proclaimed it to be nothing more than rope. The 4th suggested he was feeling the thick branch of a tree after feeling the trunk.  The 5th felt the belly of the elephant and argued that it was a wall. And the 6th found the ear of the elephant and said it was a big hand fan.  In the end, a man blessed with sight enters and sees the whole picture that it was, in fact, an elephant.

     All of those men were right.  The elephant did have all of those features.  But when you add all of those features together – the long trunk, the thick tusks, the large ears, and the rough tail – you have the full picture: an elephant.

     This story is often used to describe our need to see the big picture, but when talking about our identity we can’t just back up and look at ourselves in 3rd person.  That’s just not possible.  Only God is able to see the complete picture, both of our life timeline and us.  But often, we make the mistake of finding our identity without realizing that in our blindness we have seen only a tiny part of the big picture.

     For example, someone may play a sport really well so they finds their identity in the fact that they are an athlete.  Another might be really pretty and therefore find their identity in external appearance. Still someone else may be gifted musically so they search for glory in where they can excel.  The problem is, this is such an incomplete picture. Those are all just one thing that stands out about them and they cling to it.  They glory in the one “good thing” about them and place they’re worth in it.  But is that really what our identity is?  Are we really just one good thing?  We can get so caught up in petting our strength or flaunting the gifts we have so that when everything is going smoothly, we are happy.  But when we meet friction – injury, finances, loss, or a setback of some kind – we can so easily begin to feel a sense of being lost and question our worth.  After all, you had put everything into that and now it was gone.

Matthew 6:19-21    
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

     This passage warns us about putting our treasure here on this earth.  And that’s essentially what we are prone to do.  Not only with possessions, but also with the idols we create.  What we identify ourselves as can so easily become an idol in our lives.

But the rest of that verse tells us to lay our treasure up in heaven.  Just as we won’t be happy with earthly things that pass away, we won’t be satisfied with where we are in ourselves if we constantly look for the next fulfillment here on earth.  We can get wrapped up in being popular or amazing here on earth or we can seek eternity.

1 Peter 2:9-10
“…for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

     What is wrong with finding your identity in the things that you can do, the way you look, the friends you hang out with, or so on? For starters, everything I just mentioned in that sentence can be taken away from you.  Someday you may no longer be the athlete you once were. What you see as “good looks” may change.  Arthritis may set in and you will no longer be able to play music with the ability you once had.  But your actual identity, the part of you that truly and accurately describes who you are at the core of your being, cannot change. Your true identity is in Christ, your creator.  He made a “you” that is unique.  He gave you talents and gifts that are special to you, yes, but He also made more than just those “one good things” we can so easily decipher or single out.  He sees the full picture and planned the “you” He wants from before the beginning of time.  But it’s not until we begin to understand what it means to find our identity in Christ.

     What does that mean?  It’s like the verse in Matthew was saying.  We are placing our worth in heaven, but not only in Heaven and in the work of eternity, but in Christ Who is heaven.  We are choosing to fill our hearts from the well of Christ and seeking for Him to complete us.  And the more we search and drive after that, the more we became molded into the “me” Christ made us to be.

Love, Emily

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Reason for the Stitches

When an artist sits down to begin working on a masterpiece, they don't just slap everything down at once.  It's a process of time, one layer at a time.  God is also the greatest artist Who is working on each of our lives.  Below is a little something I wrote 3 years ago, but came across a little while ago and decided to share.


Before I was born, You already had a plan for my life.
It is like a beautiful tapestry.
You create it one stitch at a time;
One day at a time.
It is designed to be unique with no match.
You begin with my family.
They are the perfect match for me.
You then choose the colors and pattern to define "me",
After all, You know me far better than anyone.
You had a reason for all those stitches.

You begin to plan out every day carefully.
Each little scraped up knee and pet I would own.
All the kids who would become my friends.
Every play date with Daddy or story time with Mommy.
The moment I heard of Your sacrifice for me and accepted.
You had a reason for all those stitches.

You then planned farther.
As You began to weave the moments I will treasure,
a gentle smile touches Your lips.
The laughter and joy was added in by Your skillful fingers.
As You wove the moments of pain,
Your brow furrowed in sadness.
You felt the heartaches as You wove them with Your powerful hands.
It broke Your heart during the trials and the sorrows.
The times I doubted, a tear rolled down Your cheek.
But still, You kept weaving.
You had a reason for all those stitches.

You shaped my future with a purpose.
The plans I would make had Your prints on them.
All the places I would go included Your provision.
Every person I would meet showed Your planning.
You had a reason for all those stitches.

You also had another tapestry.
This one belonged to another;
Unique and special, just like mine.
You took some from that one and began to weave it into mine.
Another gift from You.
The more You added for me, the more it took shape.
You had a reason for all those stitches.

My pattern began to take shape the farther You went.
You saw my Ups and Downs.
Even my Highs and Lows.
Nothing wasn't added without a purpose.
The times I would fall,
You provided hope.
Even the times I would feel lost,
You held up the light.
With every moment came a promise.
A tender, loving kiss of Your love and provision for me.
And Your love reaches so deep in each stitch.
Because You had a reason for all those stitches.

At the end, You stood back and smiled.
It was Your perfect plan for me.
And only You see the final masterpiece.
Only You can see every trial and every heartache to come.
No tear or frustrated prayer will every take you by surprise.
It is Your will.
No laugh or moments of joy will be less than perfect for me.
It is Your plan.
No opportunity or beautiful friendship will not be needed.
Because it is Your means of drawing me closer to You.
That is Your reason for all those stitches.

Love, Emily

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You're Beautiful!

We've probably all heard, at one time or another, the song by One Direction, "That's What Makes You Beautiful."  And just from reading the title you might have just started singing it in your head!  But even though it may be one of those annoying songs you hope you never hear or else you can't stop singing it, there is a lot of truth to it.

In society, nowadays, girls feel the pressure unlike any era before to fit in and look perfect.  If you don't look like the model or the actress on the cover of the magazines in the check-out line at Walmart, you're not beautiful.  And that's not true.

  In Psalm 139:13-16 it says,

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

God made each of us unique and special!  When we pick ourselves apart and say that, "I don't like this nose or these hips because I don't look like Janet," we are telling God He messed up.

God didn't mess up.  He made a beautiful piece of art when he created you.  Everything about you makes you YOUnique.  Don't ever think that because you don't have a feature that's just like someone else that you aren't beautiful.  You are beautiful.  You just have to look in the mirror and know that. Because when you know you're beautiful, everyone can't help but think the same because of how confident you are about it. :)

Love, Emily

Lead Me To The Rock

It has been a whirlwind year since the last time I darkened the "New Post" screen for this blog.  I've grown, traveled abroad, conquered huge milestones, and seen God work in so many ways.  But just like every mountain is exhilarating at the top as you gaze at the view, you always have to head back down at some point and then the valleys reach deeper than you feel is fair.

My mountain top was amazing.  I was on a spiritual high coming into my Junior year and I felt like nothing, not even 13 hour jet-lag, could pull me down.  But then I heard the news of my mom -- possible breast cancer.  You never, ever really know what it's like in that situation until it happens and then everything you've been telling yourself about how "easy it would be because of what I know to be true of God" is forgotten as you stare in shock at your desk.  Yes, I've watched others go through this, but I never realized just how scary, dark, and hard that road was until I stood at the beginning of it.  I struggled to work a night job, have a full day of school, get all my requirements for school done, and keep my head in the books while my mind constantly raced back home to my family.

After a couple visits to the doctor, my mom was finally scheduled for surgery and it looked like there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.  But no sooner had that light begun to appear, when another bomb fell, knocking me to my knees again.  News I had never dreamed of hearing popped up on my phone screen right as I was leaving for work.  I can't remember anything that night, I was so shocked.  I fought tears as I held it together with a fake smile for days, but I couldn't escape it.  Every time I sat still, my mind constantly played back that news.  It felt like every time I would straighten back up and thought I had a handle on it, I was buckling again.  I've felt drowning before in situations, but this felt like I was literally drowning.

I'm sure we've all, at some point or another, reached rock bottom like that.  You don't know where to turn or what to think.  You just fight to keep yourself strong in front of other people and look like you have the best life, but on the inside you're screaming.  However, we have the ability to flip the switch in our brains, but we focus on the wrong things.

We're not remembering the view from the top in the right way.

We feel entitled because of where we just were, but now God is bringing us low to remind us of one important detail.  We were standing at the top of the mountain, but were standing on Christ; the true Rock.  Each trial or hurtle was placed before us to force us to not just look to the top, but keep our eyes focused upward as we pulled ourselves up onto the Rock.

Christ is mentioned in scripture as the Rock 59 times!  And every time, he is mentioned as being the constant steady, higher place when turmoil surrounds us.

Psalms 31:1-3
In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.

Psalms 61:2
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalms 91:2
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"
And there are so many more that say similar things!  They are a steady reminder of Who we are looking to climb as we face our mountains.  Once we see Christ as the Rock, we can begin our climb, steadily.  But once we reach the top, it's not just our personal victory, but Christ holding us up.

Interesting Reads:

<3 Emily

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What If I Remain Single?

     My biggest fear is being alone.  It always has been.  I've never been afraid to stand out, to laugh at myself, or be the easy-to-get-along-with girl for anyone, but I've always be conscious of the fact that I'm single and no guys are interested.  Is there something wrong with me?  Am I too tomboyish?  Too sarcastic?  Too talkative?  Too much of anything?  Is there something about me that is keeping me back -- trapped in my darkest fear?

     I've always wondered if I changed something about myself that I would have someone love me, but so many people say, "Don't change yourself for ANYONE!"  And they're right.  Don't ever feel like you have to make yourself more of something in order to get that cute person of the opposite sex to like you -- be yourself and the right person will fall in love with you no matter what.  But, might I add to that above statement that you shouldn't change for anyone, except for God!  If He is working on an area in your life then change it!

     However, as girls, we always search for that security that a guy can give.  We long for finding that significant other and being cared for and protected.  But what if you're like me and single?  What if there isn't someone out there for you and you're doomed to be alone?!  These worries have plagued my mind many times and I still struggle with relying on God in this matter.  No bodies perfect. :)  But the Bible says that we should "cast all of our cares [worries] on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7) and He has our whole lives planned out.  He has seen our future even before the beginning of time; He planned it out and orchestrated every last detail.  Wouldn't you think He had the very best in mind for us and who we were long before He created man?

Matthew 6:25-27 says, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not like more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you no much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

Worrying over something He has already ordained is not going to change it.  We just each must come to the point where we say "I'm willing" to whatever path He has chosen for us; whether single or married.  Besides, God has created us all different and many of those who are single are made that way because they have the capacity to love more than just one person.  So what if your singleness is just God trying to show you how much more you could love or do?  What if He is trying to show us His will for our lives?

For many, singleness is only for a season, but as long as you're in that season -- be ALL there!  Seek for the opportunities to minister in ways that you probably wouldn't be able to if you were married.  Go work with the children's ministry, support some little league games, jump in a ministry because you have the hours to fill it, ect.  Walk through the doors God is opening for you and don't focus on being alone.  Focus on the One who has always loved you. :)


Some interesting reads:
26, Unmarried, and Childless

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Where Is God When I'm Hurting?!

I'm sure we don't have to sit for very long in order to think of times where you were hurting.  Maybe even it's happening right now!  A loved one passes away, a good friend moves away, a pet dies, your crush doesn't return your feelings, your bf/gf breaks up with you, family struggles, ect.  These present times are full of turmoil, but pain is nothing new.  Ever since Eve took a bite out of that apple, pain has been a common occurrence in this world; being a stranger to none.  But some of my life heroes are the brave men and woman who shine through the dark clouds; their smiles through the tears and their laughter in the sorrows have always captured my attention and been such an encouragement.  I understand what some of you most likely are thinking, "Sometimes the storms in life are too strong!  I cry out to God, but He feels so distant!  Why can't I hear Him!  Where is God when I'm hurting?!"

The answer, in Isaiah 63:9, 

"In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old."

The answer is that when we are hurting, God is hurting.  Remember a verse in the Bible that talks about the tiny sparrow that falls and God cares for it?  And yet He cares for us even MORE.  The verse above speaks about how God feels His childrens' pain and sincerely will experience the hurts we feel in our hearts.  It pains Him so much to hear and feel our tears and anguish!  But why is it that we feel He doesn't?  We've got to face the fact that hurts are apart of life; we all experience them.  But God wants us to view these trials as stepping stones.  After all, when you're training for a marathon you're not going to feel 100% great when you first begin.  Your legs are burning, you're out of breath, and you feel like you'll never be able to make it!  But when you keep persevering you'll see the finish line.  Same thing here in a trial.  God is putting us through trials and hurts to nock off the rough edges in our lives, purify our faith to make it stronger, and make us more and more like Him.  However, if we DON'T see God's purposes in these hard times we'll end up with bitterness and that will turn into a hate towards God and those who offended.

Believe me, I never caught my hurt before it turned into a full out fledged bitterness.  I literally HATED those peoples' guts for doing those things to me.  I practically let it fester and boil!  And when you are bitter against someone you're literally killing them with your mind.  You're murdering them with your thoughts!  We don't want to call it that, but we are really a murderer.  That was a rude wake up call for me.

Another thing, other people are watching you through these trials.  There was a family in our church who had a son named Bryce.  Bryce had been diagnosed with cancer ever since he was very young and fought it all his childhood.  Bryce and his parents went through so much and we all knew they were in pain and suffering, but yet they still had that smile on their face.  Their testimony through that, even through Bryce's death, reached many lives.  They saw that trial as a chance to show Christ to others!  The outcome is probably not what they would have preferred, but through Bryce's testimony in the hospital, and ultimately in his death, he reached far more people than he probably would have if he had been cured.  You may not think so, but people who know (or will find out) about this situation you're going through will be watching you.  Maybe even unsaved friends at school or relatives!  They'll see how you respond to this and if/when you chose to respond right you'll have the opportunity to show Christ.  This is your chance to be a witness! :D

The third point, God wants to change you through the hurt.  There is a reason He is having us go through these trials, upsets, disappointments, and hurts; it's to mold us more into His image.  Think about a rock with sharp and jagged edges.  You're not gonna get those points off with a cloth, are you?  No.  You're going to need chisels, hammers, and heavy duty power.  Same with us.  We have edges that God is going to continue knocking off and He does that through trials.  We'd never get those things taken care of with an easy going life, but when trials comes it forces us to be rubbed against that grader that shaves those edges off.  It's a process God intends to pull us though, don't worry.  He WILL help us though...and that is the last point.

God will NEVER leave us.  Just like I said before, He feels our pain and He'll be right there to help you through.  He feels and hears our tears and cries and when we're hurt all we have to do is go to Him.  RUN to Him.  Allow Him to work and pull you through.  Cry out to Him!  Voice your fears and disappointments; your concerns and confusion.  Let your heart pour out to Him because He never left, He's still right there.  He's just waiting to hear from you. :)

Take a moment to get on your knees and THANK Him for what He has brought into your life.  Tell Him that you have identified your need of His help and ask Him to shine through your life to others who are watching.  Ask Him to help you forgive those who've wronged or hurt you.  Talk to Him about that circumstance that has worried you for so long.  Just talk to Him!  You can't build a relationship with someone if you just read about them or wave now and then.  You talk.  So why don't you spend some quality time talking with your Heavenly Father. :)