Friday, September 25, 2009

love Him.

I think I want to write this post, just for kicks. I have been here in Florida for a little over five months now, and for some reason, more than any other month... September has been the most difficult.

Why, you ask? I really wish I knew! This month has been filled with a whole lot of tears, lonely days, and yes, late night chocolate and ice cream binges. I'm not ashamed to admit that that's just what I do when "things go wrong." :)

But it's not really that anything has gone WRONG... it is more about my heart, and how I have chosen to respond to the circumstances that God has thrown my way. I have allowed myself to get frustrated, when I should have humbled myself and talked to God in prayer instead. I have placed my hope in people, and in dreams, and in potential... all to be reminded that it's not supposed to go there at all! People let us down. Our dreams may not be God's dreams. We must place our hope in Him and Him alone. Unfortunately, I had to (once again) be reminded of these things... and I confess to you that it did not feel all that great.

I know God has brought me to West Palm Beach for such a distinct purpose. It is so beautiful to see His plans unfolding, and though things do not always go the way I think they should, they are nonetheless "going." God is in control of my life today, just as much as He was around this time last year... just as much as He was when I was forced to pack up my wedding dress and empty an apartment just comfy enough for two. He is in control of my life today, just as much as He was when He called me to Ecuador, and just as much as He was when He opened up the doors and prepared the way for me to come to West Palm Beach. It is simply undeniable.

So, when things get "cloudy" or I start to feel lost, my mind wanders. My mind wanders, and it is so imperative that I remind myself of where God has brought me in this journey, and the simple fact that it is okay to not know what the future holds. It is okay to not have it all together. It is okay.

After all, who can comprehend the plans of the Lord? Who can direct His hand as He moves in our lives and in our world? Where were We when He laid the foundations of the earth? Can we command the morning? Can we bring the rain? Can we control death?

We are but dust... vessels in the hands of God, who will use us if only we allow Him to. That's up to us. We can choose to wallow in self-pity, or we can choose to trust that God is working everything together for good in our lives so long as we hold on to hope. When we begin to feel discouraged about the "what's next," let us be reminded that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

These very words are a challenge to you, and to me... let us let go of OUR blueprints, focusing not on the circumstances before us, but rather on the very action that will bring all of His precious and glorious plans to pass: loving Him.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

my ode to fall.


So, apparently today is the official first day of the "fall" season. It's time for Pumpkin Spice lattes, outdoor hikes, stopping to admire the bright orange and red hues luminating from the trees, and, of course my personal favorite, cuddling up on the sofa with a great book in hand and no where else to be but there. Ah, how sweet it is to enjoy the fall season!

I guess us local Floridians completely by-pass the beauty of fall, given that it has been a steady 91 degrees since I arrived here last April. I wouldn't even have thought about fall had about ninety-nine people on Facebook not reminded me of how much THEY were enjoying the cool weather of the coming season. I think it about broke my heart today when I realized that Floridians do not even experience a hint or a hue of fall... instead, they get a whole lot of summer, and a season they identify as "Winter," yet only because around that time, in comes the mad rush of tourists who flee from THEIR igloos up north. I suppose that now that I live here, I must incorporate myself into this category as well. Know that I will do it, kicking and screaming all the way.

That being said, here's my ode to fall. I will think about you every day while I am stuck inside a cool, air-conditioned home... dripping with sweat, bursting with envy that the thought of wearing a sweater or a scarf is just completely out of the question, all the while wishing I could feel you. See you. Experience you. Step on some crunchy, colored leaves. Something. Anything.

Maybe I'll see you next year. Until then...

Monday, September 7, 2009

by your side...

As I was heading home from publishing my previous blog post, something personal, I heard Tenth Avenue North's song on the radio, By Your Side. It is such a beautiful song, and I believe that it encompasses every word I wrote in my previous post. I encourage everyone to watch this video, and more importantly, listen to the lyrics of this song. They are so powerful, and so personal.

You can watch the video here:



Enjoy :)

something personal.


There is something about the moon that always speaks to me. At night when it is dark, I love to search the sky to find its bright light, and when I find it, I love to fix my eyes upon the masterpiece that it is; the vast array of details that gives it its beauty simply takes my breath away, for more often than not, it shines its light in such a way that it seems as if someone painted it in the sky just for me to enjoy. Perhaps it is naive or selfish to think that God has placed something so beautiful in the sky just for me, but some days that's exactly how I feel.

The other night, in particular, I saw the moon in a way that I had never seen it before. The week previous to this encounter, I had been wrestling with the idea of what it means to be in a personal relationship with the God of the universe. Since I became a follower of Jesus over four years ago, that's what I have always been told: God wants to be in a relationship with you, and for that reason, Jesus had to die. Don't you see it?

At first I did... I truly did. When I was seventeen years old, God spoke to my heart about the way I was living and how empty my life had become. I remember so vividly the night when I realized that all of this "God stuff" was really true, and that maybe, just maybe, I could find hope to step out of the shame and the depression that had somehow come to define me. Little did I realize, I was stepping into a relationship that would change everything about who I was and how I viewed the world around me.

When I first met God, I began to talk to Him as if we were sitting at Starbucks on a blind date, just trying to get to know each other or something. I couldn't wait to talk to Him about my day, and I would ask Him questions about my life, how to get over my past, and more importantly, I would ask Him to help me learn how He wanted me to live my life as a new believer. The more I talked to Him, the more I wanted to know Him... and the more I learned about Him through reading the amazing stories written about Him, the more I wanted to please Him and do what He wanted me to do.

I had been touched by His love, and it was absolutely captivating. I was like a newlywed, basking in the joy of getting to know someone who loved me; someone who thought I was the most beautiful person in the world, and someone who was always there, just waiting for the next opportunity that we could spend time together. Have you ever experienced God in this way?

This particular evening when I saw the moon, I stepped out of my car and towards the doors of my house, and as I always do, I lifted my eyes to the dark sky and searched for its bright light. When I found it, it silenced me, and in the quiet, I realized something that I had somehow forgotten along the way: God sees me, and He desires to be in a relationship with me.

I broke down in tears, because there I stood... eyes lifted to the heavens, and I felt so unveiled; so broken, and so exposed. It was in that moment that I realized what had happened to me along my personal faith journey: I had forgotten that I had been created to experience God in a personal way; that He desired me, and He wanted me, and He had chosen me. Instead, I had chosen ritual over relationship, and had traded my newly-wed love for God for the mere image of being seen as a "super Christian." I no longer talked to Him like I knew Him, or even desired to know Him. I simply prayed when it was was convenient, or when I told someone I would, or at the very least, when I desperately needed something; surely He would still answer me, right?!

As I have realized over these past few days, if we fail to experience what it means to know God in a personal way, we are missing out on the joy and purpose God has for us. This is the very relationship we were created to be in, and it is the very relationship that your heart may not even realize it is searching for. Are you broken? God desires to put your life back together. Do you feel alone? His love will fill the depths of your heart when the world walks out on you. Do you feel like no one really knows you, or that you are unlovable? You have a maker who knows everything about you; every thought you have, everything you have done, and everything that you need. And guess what, He still loves you.

Please, please... do not waste your life apart from truly experiencing what it means to KNOW God in a personal way. He loves you, and He will continue to pursue you until you realize that He is there. There will come a day when you see that He has always been there, and that He has never desired religion from you, but instead, that He has desired YOU. Just you. All of you.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to encounter something personal?

Write me. Leave a comment. Or better yet, next time you are faced with the darkness of the sky, search for the light of the moon, and maybe, just maybe, God will meet you there and He will show you these things for Himself.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable!
I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me
!
psalm 139:13-18

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

august

I cannot believe that it is already September! These past four months here in West Palm have been such a stretching experience for me, yet overall I can say that August has by far been my greatest month here to date. Here's why.

My parents spoiled me by each coming down to visit me on separate trips. My dad came first, along with my step-mom Kelly and her niece and nephew, and we spent three days at a Resort Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. I didn't realize how much I missed and needed my family until reuniting with them after such a long time. My dad and I road-tripped down the coast, all the way from Ft. Lauderdale, past Miami Beach, and then finally to Key Largo, where we set sail on a glass bottom boat. It was simply amazing!


My mom came down two weeks later for my 22nd Birthday and her visit could not have come at a more perfect time! This was her first time in Florida, so we spent some time exploring West Palm, visiting City Place, seeing some of the beautiful beaches, and hanging out with the family and kids I live with. It was so great for her to get a feel of how my "everyday" life is here with the Apicella family, as sometimes, living with four kids can get a little chaotic :) She handled it well, and was so impressed by how much these kids cling to me. The entire experience was a simple reminder to me that I have been brought here for a purpose and should continue to love and cherish these precious little ones that God has placed in my path. It was also wonderful to have my mommy here in the house with me for three whole days.


If there is one thing that has "awed" me throughout this past month is how God has so graciously given me some really amazing friends here in West Palm. They are such a blessing to me, and their compassion and kindness has made such an impact on my heart. For my birthday, a few of these AMAZING people threw me a "birthday dinner" at my favorite water-front restaurant, "Waterway Cafe." My friend, who does not bake mind you, baked me a Peruvian style cake covered in strawberries and peaches. People showed up and loved on me that I didn't even realize would! Here are some of my favorite snapshots from the night:


This is Marcela, the mastermind behind the whole evening and one of the sweetest people I know. Ella es mi hermana de Peru :)


To make this short and sweet, here's "everyone." These are my brothers and sisters from Grace Fellowship, including my precious mamá. They are so amazing!


And... this is Lindsey, the sister I never had. I love her so dearly!

I feel so humbled and undeserving to have had such a great few weeks. God is so wonderful to have placed me in such a place of love, and purpose, and joy, and continual ministry. What I thought was going to be a rather difficult month turned out to be one of great blessing and peace. Though I often times find myself restless and confused, I know God has great things for my life. I cannot even begin to tell you how broken that makes my heart feel, knowing that I fall so short of who I should be, yet God continues to keep His hand on me. I am most definitely a testimony that no matter how far you fall, or what you have been through, miracles can happen and God can most definitely transform lives. Even from this time last year, God has done an amazing work in my heart, and I am blessed beyond measure to say that I am slowly, but surely, on my way...

Thank you, my sweet and precious Jesus, for an amazing August.
love,
me