Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you to anyone who has read this blog even once. It challenged me to think more about how I have been blessed, and I realize that I am blessed with many more things than just what I posted here. God has been present with me through all of the ups and downs I have been through, and He is always with you too. Even when you're in the toughest season of your life, please try to remember that you are NEVER alone.
Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I challenge you to consider what you're thankful for, both today and every day. Just like we don't need a specific day to express our love to someone, we don't need a specific day to give thanks. I won't be keeping up with this blog daily as I have been this month, but feel free to check back every once in a while for a random thankful post! God bless you, and happy Thanksgiving. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 24

día veinticuatro: Today I am thankful for my brother, who turned 24 today! I am blessed to have a great friend in him, no matter how much he picks on me. :) Happy birthday, Ben!!
Dear Lord, thank You so much for my brother Ben! He really is a friend as well as a brother. Thank You for creating him just as he is. He is such an intelligent man - use his knowledge and skills to glorify You. Ben is an inspiration to me because of his determination and his strength. God, You have placed some challenges in Ben's life, and he has worked so hard to overcome them and succeed. He takes having difficulty with something as a challenge and faces it head-on. God, I have never known Ben to give up. He is such a fighter (but the gentle kind). God, thank You for his great determination and all that You have helped him achieve because of that. Thank You for his education and place in a steady job right now. But showing his determination, he seeks a full-time job. Lord, work to allow him to obtain the full-time position in Materials Management. Be present in that situation and use Your mighty hand to get Ben what he needs. Of course, whatever happens is according to Your will and Your plans. If that position doesn't work out, show Ben another opportunity. In everything, may Ben continue to use his determined spirit.

God, thank You for making Ben so strong. He is strong physically, but I thank You especially for his emotional strength. He has an incredible faith that everything will be okay and a great handle on how to act in a given situation. In tough times that can cause even the strongest people to break down, You have assured him that You are with us. Thank You for Ben's faith in You. Continue to pull him closer to You always. Use him to share Your wondrous love.

Thank You for the relationship that Ben & I have. It's a typical older brother / younger sister relationship with bickering and silly disputes, but there is love covering every moment of it. Thank You for his genuine care over me and how my life is going. Thank You that we can talk about things and be a support system for each other. He has always protected me and wanted the best for me. I am so blessed to have him as a brother and a brother in Christ. Surround him with a community of believers that gives him fellowship and with whom he can share some fun times. Bless his life in any and all ways. Grow us closer together, no matter if we're physically together or not. Lord, thank You for Ben, the best brother that I could ask for. Amen.

Day 23

día veintitrés: (Day 23, yesterday) Today I am thankful for my dad. Things have been rough over the pasta few years, but I am still thankful for the love and support he gives Ben and me.
Dear God, today I want to thank You for my dad. Not just for the dad he was to me before my parents' divorce, but also the dad he's been since then. Lord, it has been really easy for me to avoid seeking a better relationship with him again because of the wall I've put between us. God, continually open my eyes to all the things he does for Ben and me and the love he continues to show. He's always wanted to be a good dad to Ben and me... thank You, Lord, for that passion of his and the ways he has shown that. While I do not appreciate some things he has done, I do realize that everything happens for a reason. I also realize that You have been by my side during everything that has happened. Thank You for being a perfect Heavenly Father, especially in times when I have felt that my earthly father has fallen short. But God, even in the tough times of separation, divorce, and remarriage, my dad was never too far away physically or emotionally. He never decided to turn his back on the family, whereas many people would. Thank You for Dad's devotion to us. Thank You that he has done what he can to try to improve our relationship, even when I have been the least interested in that. Lord, continue to work forgiveness in my heart. Show me what grace really looks like and how I can extend that to my dad. You have forgiven us of any sin we commit - You even gave Your Son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. Whenever we mess up and confess it to You, You tell us it's okay and work in us to change. That is grace, over and over and over. Help me take hold of that and give some grace to my dad.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." -Ephesians 4:31-32
Thank You for the relationship that my dad and I had as I grew up. Help us attain something like that again. Lord, help me to be my smiling and laughing self around him again. Thank You that he has never given up on me. Thank You that You, God, never give up on me. Work in this relationship and help me show Your unfailing & unconditional love. Amen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 22

día veintidós: (Nov. 22, yesterday) Today I am so thankful for Andrew Hudgins and his wonderful family. I couldn't ask for more caring people to be such a big part of my life.
Dear Heavenly Father, today I want to thank You for the incredible people I was able to spend this past weekend with. God, thank You for Andrew and his family. In giving gratitude for Andrew, I don't really know what to say or where to begin. God, he is such a blessing in my life. Thank You for creating him to be exactly who he is, and thank You for him accepting me exactly as You've created me. Lord, I feel comfortable being completely myself around him. You've blessed me with more than a boyfriend in Andrew - You have also given me a best friend in him. Spending time with him and talking with him is so effortless, God. It doesn't matter what You have us doing or saying. Thank You for all the fun we have together. Thank You for being able to spend time together in the first place. We've been doing the long-distance thing for much longer than expected, but You have made our relationship stronger because of that. Thank You for giving us the time and means to talk to each other (online, phone, Skype) and spend time together. God, You've made it so enjoyable just to be in his presence that I never want to leave. Thank You, God, that we were able to be such good friends before we started dating. That was a huge blessing to me, and I feel that it's definitely the way You wanted it to play out. Thank You for Your hand in every part of our friendship and relationship. Thank You for making Andrew so caring, thoughtful, & loving. God, he is so set and growing in his relationship with You. Thank You for Andrew's continual push of me toward You, as well. He does everything he can to make sure I'm in a good and growing relationship with You. God, thank You for being the center of my relationship with Andrew. I am so blessed to have a boyfriend who cares so much about glorifying You in whatever he does and whatever we do. Thank You for our shared morals and values. Lord, thank You for showing me Your love through Andrew. Your unconditional love is shown to me so clearly by our relationship. Thank You for placing Andrew in my life at a time when You know I need that love the most. You have sent him to me to provide such incredible support. He doesn't/can't even realize how much he has helped me and continues to do so. You have placed him by my side (literally, next to me) while I've faced the hardest thing I've ever gone through. And he is still always here for me during the effects of that. God he is a constant reminder to me that You are always with me and always loving me. Thank You for working through Andrew to bring me closer to You.

Thank You also, God, for the amazing family that Andrew has. Thank You that he has grown up with abundant love and support. Now they are also showing that love and support to me. Lord, Andrew's parents are so generous in many respects. They are making my transition out of my house so much easier. Thank You for Mr. & Mrs. Hudgins' generosity in allowing me to store things at their house. You have given them some room to spare, and they are sharing that blessing with me. Thank You for their sincere & generous offers to help me move bigger things there, as well. When that time comes, I pray that it is a generally easy process. Lord, thank You for the Hudgins' sincerity and hospitality. I feel so at home at their house. They open up their doors and their arms to me at any time and for however long. Lord, thank You for their generosity and their love. Just as it's easy for me to spend time with Andrew, it's also easy for me to spend time with his family. God, I really look forward to seeing Erin more when I am back at school. Thank You for making her a JMU Duke! I pray that You allow us to spend quality time together frequently. You have made Erin to be such a nice and funny girl. She is such a genuine joy to be around. Thank You for the fun and laughs that we are able to share together.

God, I always look forward to the next time I will be able to spend with the Hudgins family. Thank You for the long weekend I was just able to spend in Altavista, and thank You for my upcoming weekend in Roanoke Rapids. Bless our time there in celebration of Thanksgiving. I look forward to meeting more of Andrew's family, and I pray that they will enjoy meeting me, as well.

God, thank you for Andrew and his family. It is incredible to me how You have placed me in such a great relationship when I've really needed some extra love. I pray that my relationship with Andrew will only grow and become deeper. Help us work through any problems that may arise in the future. Most of all, may I remember how blessed I am to have Andrew in my life. Thank You for all he is to me and all he does for me. Thank You for showing me Your love through him. Amen.

"They were sitting
They were sitting on the strawberry swing
Every moment was so precious

They were sitting
They were talking under strawberry swing
Everybody was for fighting
Wouldn't wanna waste a thing

Cold, cold water bring me round
Now my feet won't touch the ground
Cold, cold water what ya say?
When it's such
It's such a perfect day
It's such a perfect day

I remember
We were walking up to strawberry swing
I can't wait until the morning
Wouldn't wanna change a thing

People moving all the time
Inside a perfectly straight line
Don't you wanna curve away?
When it's such
It's such a perfect day
It's such a perfect day

Now the sky could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time

Could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time

Could be blue,
Could be grey
Without you I'm just miles away

Could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time"

-Coldplay, "Strawberry Swing"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 21

día ventiuno: (Nov. 21, yesterday) Today I am thankful for the gift of marriage for my friends who are recently engaged or newlyweds.
Dear God, You really have a way with placing people together. There is meaning behind every interaction we have with someone. You plan so carefully to put us with the one we will spend the rest of our lives with. On behalf of all those who are currently engaged or have recently gotten married, Lord thank You for the gift of marriage. I pray that we can all see what marriage really means - both in the earthly relationship and in our relationships with You. God, work in each couple to lift each other up to You. At no point should You be anywhere but the center of the relationship. The other day it really hit me that this is the stage of my life I'm really in. That day I learned that two of my friends are engaged (not to each other - two separate couples), and I got a message from another trying to organize a bridesmaid luncheon. Lord, in this exciting time in each engaged couple's life, let them be aware of how blessed they are to have found each other. Bless their marriage and may it last happily for the rest of their lives. God, I thank You specifically for Heaven & Russell's relationship. Thank You for my aid in it in the beginning (way back in sophomore year of high school...), and thank You for holding them together ever since. Lord, it is really evident how much they care for each other, and I am confident that they will never lose that love. Bless the planning process leading up to their wedding next summer, and bless the rest of their lives together from there. I pray that they can & will continue to support each other through anything. Thank You for their strong friendship & relationship, and thank You for allowing me to be such good friends with them. God, marriage means a lot, and I pray that we don't lose sight of that. It is meant to be a lifelong commitment, and I pray that You can help everyone keep that commitment. Work in marriages to promote fair and right and loving treatment all around. May the love in a marriage be the sharing of Your unconditional love, God.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." -1 John 4:10-12

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20

día veinte: Today I am thankful for being blessed with good general health.
Dear Lord, today I want to thank You particularly for something I take advantage of. You've kept me in good general health my whole life. A cold here, maybe a stomach virus there, but Lord You have kept me away from so many illnesses. Even fairly common illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, and mono have stayed out of my body & out of my brother. Thank You for giving us strong immune systems and knowledge of how to kill & keep away harmful bacteria. Lord, thank You for the creation of immunizations. Vaccines are such clever things - to actually insert a version of the illness in someone to build up their immune system against it. You equip us with the means necessary to make our bodies healthy & strong enough to fight. (Similarly, You are with us as the Holy Spirit inside of us, always prepared for any tough season of our life.) God, we are so fortunate with vaccines and medicine and vitamins... may we use those as we are able and make them available to more people in the world. Thank You for the medical organizations that go out and treat those who have nothing with which to fight. Keep supplying them with materials to help them and materials to leave with them. Work through those caring individuals to teach the sick & those related to people who are sick how to properly care for them. Through those experiences, I pray that Your love can be shared across the nation and across the world. Lord, You are the Almighty Healer. Heal all those who may have little hope. Give them faith and optimism in You, and equip them with the physical and emotional strength to fight. Thank You for Mom's faith and strength as she battled cancer. Lord, thank You that she is healed and comfortable with You now. Although we didn't get the miracle we were praying for, we got a different miracle. Lord, in any bad illness/disease, give people hope. Place people in their lives to support them and love them in every step of the process. Also, don't let those who are sick be defined by their sickness. Thank You for my grandma, who has beaten breast cancer as well as coped with her husband's sudden suicide and her son's death to AIDS. God, despite all she's been through, she is so happy and outgoing. She has a wonderful faith in You, and that is an inspiration. Thank You for blessing her with loving family, friends, & community. Lord, thank You for my health and that of my loved ones. Please keep us all safe & healthy, though we know You're with us no matter what.
Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. -Psalm 103:2-5

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 19

día diecinueve: Today I am thankful for music!
Hey God :) Thank You for helping me arrive to Andrew's house safely today. Please bless this weekend & all the fun times we have, glorifying You all the while. Today I am thankful for music and what a great companion it is at any time! Lord, You made the drive up alone today a fun adventure because I had something to entertain me. You work through different kinds of music to set my mood sometimes. Today I listened to a roadtrip mix CD from Andrew, Taylor Swift, & Sugarland. The whole time I was singing along, just loving life. You used the music to keep me in a good mood about the car trip. Thank You for keeping me safe on the narrow, curvy country roads. Without the music, I would have gotten tired of the trip & even more anxious to just get to Altavista. Thank You for using music to calm me down, also. Schoolwork is very rarely fun, but music makes it better. You actually use music to help me focus on my work... I love that. Thank You for using music to bring people together. Concerts are such fun events, & my friends and I often look back on them with awesome memories. Lord, thank You for introducing Allison, Jessica, and me to Kelli at the Paramore concert. What are the odds of that friendship being made? You have made Kelli to be a really great, caring girl, and I can't wait to get to know her better. Please work out a time over winter break for us all to get together and have fun. Thank You for using music to bring us to Yourself. Worshipping You with music connects me to You on a more personal level. As I sing those songs to You, God, remind me that they're not for anyone else... just You. Thank You for allowing music to be the biggest joy in some people's possibly tough lives. I love seeing people from all over the world singing and dancing to the tune of their own music. God, secure that happiness & fun-loving spirit inside of them. Thank You for making music a way to express ourselves. What we listen to & the music we make ourselves are all parts of our own individuality. Lord, thank You that music comes in all different genres and that people are drawn to unique styles. Please work in people to realize some bad content in songs and avoid that. May the music we listen to be uplifting and glorifying to You, God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 18

día dieciocho: Today I am thankful for my education and finding such a great college experience at JMU.
Dear God, I am so blessed to be attending a four-year university that has so much to offer. Lord, thank You for my education from the start. You have blessed me by placing me in classrooms with great teachers ever since kindergarten. Even when I had a teacher/professor that wasn't as enjoyable or easy to work with, You still taught me valuable things in the class and made it a worthwhile time for me. You have often placed me in classes with my friends - thank You for establishing them as study buddies from the start. But thank You also for placing me in classes where I knew no one, especially in college. Continue to work in situations like that & help me make new friends from the start of those semesters.

Thank You for placing me in a good school system growing up, & thank You for so carefully placing me at JMU now. Lord, I enjoyed having a choice of where to go to college, & I am so blessed that You pointed JMU out to me. You've placed me at a university with so much to offer both academically & nonacademically. JMU has a wide array of majors to choose from. You helped me find a college that accommodated my strange original mix: a Modern Foreign Language major, Medical Spanish minor, & Pre-Physical Therapy. And Lord, it is further clear to me that You placed me at JMU for a reason - a school with a great Education program. It was so easy for me to switch from Pre-PT to Secondary Education. And even when I needed extra classes to take, You connected me with the right person to tell me all about the ESL minor. Lord, be with me as I continue on in my Education classes in preparation to be a Spanish major. Be with me & support me in the transition.

God, my receiving an education goes so far beyond which school I'm at, though. I thank You so much that schools are available to me. They are very present here, and my family is able to pay for my education. Place high goals & dreams in the minds of children, no matter where around the world they live, regardless of educational standards there. Give them hopes and dreams for their futures, & facilitate the means for them to achieve what they desire & what You desire for them. Thank You for placing me in a society where going to college and earning a degree is kind of the norm. At the same time, keep my mind and heart open to any future You have set for me. Thank You for equipping me with what I'll need in a competitive job market... but if You call me somewhere that something less is required, humble me to that and may I graciously accept. Regardless of how You use my degree from my education, use the experiences I've gained for my future... I know there are many more fruits to show from these college years than just a certificate. Thank You for my educational experience and all the adventures along the way. Amen.

Day 17

día diecisiete: (Nov. 17, yesterday) Today I am thankful for the ability/freedom to worship my God wherever & whenever I wish.
Dear Lord, today I am particularly thankful for You and Your constant presence with me. Along with that, I am actually able to acknowledge that presence whenever I wish. I feel so blessed to be able to own a Bible, Your Holy Word. I feel so blessed to be able to read it at home, on campus, at a park... wherever I'd like. I feel so blessed to be able to openly talk about You with my friends. I feel so blessed to be able to pray to You in any capacity, at any time, wherever I'd like. Lord, we are so free. We in the United States are so free to follow whatever religion we choose to follow. Lord, thank You that I am able to follow You, & thank You that You equip me with the means necessary to deepen my relationship with You. You are so good, God, & I pray that people all over the world can experience Your love and Your Word. There are countries that are deprived of the Bible, deprived of learning about You through written Scripture. God, provide for them and mold their abilities to receive Your Word. Make it possible for them to receive Bibles, & give them a passion for You and the strong desire to know more about salvation through Jesus. But God, there are also so many people with great access to Your Word who ignore it. Work in their hearts to know how fortunate they are to have such a treasure at their fingertips. Lord, work in my own heart as well. I confess that I am not studying Your Scripture as frequently as I should. Lord, work in me to plan and keep a schedule that involves deep interpretation of the Bible. Thank You for the Bible studies I am a part of with Imani and with Andrew. Facilitate good conversations in each of those settings, and reveal to us the information You want us to learn. May we hear Your heartbeat in those words, Lord.
"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." -Psalm 119:105
Guide us, Father, with our awesome ability to worship You. Speak to us through Your Word & through our prayers to You. Thank You for your providence - thank You especially for providing Yourself to us. Amen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 16

día dieciséis: Today I am thankful for the Spanish skills I have learned over the past eight years & my ability to use them to keep in touch with friends.
Dear God, today I thank You especially for the ability to communicate with people in other parts of the world. Thank You that You created human beings to be capable of acquiring language skills different from their native language. Lord, in an incredibly diverse world, You make it possible for us to relate to and befriend others, no matter where they live. Thank You for teaching me the Spanish language from the first school year I was able to. I am also thankful that You have molded my mind to make me able to pick up on the Spanish language fairly easily. Lord, You made it so easy for me to continue my Spanish education. You made it so I could take every Spanish class offered at my high school, including AP & advanced conversational classes. Thank You for placing me in exciting classrooms with genuinely kind teachers. You've worked through them to get me where I am today. Thank You especially for Yencer, who was a teacher as well as a friend. You have given her gifts of encouragement and teaching... teaching the highest-level Spanish classes can't be easy. Going into college applications, thank You for pointing the Spanish major out to be something important. Lord, You have kept me a Spanish major from the beginning, despite changes in my career path involving how I'll use the language. Thank You for blessing me with great, fun college Spanish professors. Be with my awesome professor & advisor Dra. Harllee as she is on medical leave this semester. Thank You for the many ways Dra. Harllee & I can relate & the ways she has helped me. Lord, You are so passionate about enhancing my Spanish ability that You sent me to Spain to study abroad this past summer. I was able to interact with the other students from JMU, as well as people who live in Tarragona. Thank You for working through Belkys & Kevin to organize that trip & show us all around their beautiful hometown. Lord, they are such a caring couple, & I am so excited to see them & their little son Patrick back at JMU. Thank You for connecting some of the girls & me to Alejandra & Dariela, Belkys & Kevin's nieces. Lord, I love keeping in touch with them. Please use our friendship to enhance my Spanish conversational skills further. I pray that I can see them sometime in the near future. Thank You for also placing me on mission trips where I can use my Spanish. El Salvador was a particularly great experience for me... in so many ways, but partly in being able to communicate with the Salvadorians. You blessed us with time to spend with our sister church's youth group, & I loved getting to know them. I also pray that I can see them again sometime & that they are doing well. God, continue to challenge me in using my Spanish. Break me out of my comfort zone and help me practice my Spanish on a new level. Lord, take me where You may... lead me, Father. Place me in situations where I can become more fluent. Thank You for this gift of communication You have graciously given me. Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 15

día quince: Today I am thankful for the Passion conferences and the unbelievable scholarship I have received that allows me to go to Passion 2011!! God is so good.
Dear heavenly Father, I am so overwhelmed, excited, and humbled right now. Lord, You are so sovereign and glorious in so many ways! God, thank You so much for making it so that I can go to Passion 2011 in Atlanta this year. You've made it clear to me that You want me to be there, & I am so excited about being able to attend. You have led me through each step of receiving the scholarship I have gotten. Firstly, Lord please be with the loved ones of Sarah & Lea... they were such followers of You Lord, & I praise You that they're with You right now. May the car accident they were involved in eventually make sense to their loved ones. Comfort them & heal them in ways that only You can. Thank You for the people at Passion who have created the ten scholarships available to applicants who have lost an immediate family member in 2010. God, their willingness to provide for those who God is calling to Passion & in a way make it so that Sarah & Lea are there is astounding. Thank You for making me a part of this story. Thank You for making my eyes glance upon a link on Twitter that took me to the Passion blog, Lord. Thank You for opening my eyes & my heart to the story I read about Sarah & Lea. Thank You for moving me in the few days following that to the point of submitting an email sharing the story of my mom's battle. Lord, You really have a way with making good out of a bad situation. I know my mom is just looking down on me right now, smiling ear-to-ear and so excited for me. God, thank You for that knowledge. You have provided so much for me. You worked through my mom to fund my Passion 2010 experience, and God it's clear to me that You're still working alongside her to make Passion 2011 happen for me. Lord, thank You. I still can't quite find the right words to express my gratitude, but Lord You know my heart. Thank You for knowing me, knowing what is right for me, & knowing who I need in my life. Lord, thank You for humbling me with this incredible opportunity & experience. I know that my days at Passion this year will be all the more meaningful because of Your work in my life. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 14

día catorce: Today I am thankful for the religious leaders that God has placed in my life (both closeby & far away) to show me more about His love.
Dear heavenly Father, You truly place people in our lives for a reason. You've placed religious leaders in my life for guidance toward You, inspiration, an extra boost of support & faith, and genuine friendship. God, You put my pastors closeby to support me, especially during this tough time that my family is having. God, thank You again for placing me so purposefully in the congregation of GBUMC & on staff this past summer. You have allowed me to grow closer to Danny, Thom, Janet, & Jeff, and in that You've brought me closer to You. I am so honored & blessed to be a part of their lives & have them in mine. Thank You for organizing the lunch today with Ben, Thom, his wife, Danny, & his wife. You blessed us with such a nice time to catch up and enjoy the fellowship & some laughs. Thank You for their sincere concerns & offers to help. God, You have placed such caring & loving individuals in my life. Thank You! Thank You that they teach me more about You than they probably know.

Lord, another kind of religious leader I'd like to thank You for today is the kind that guides me from afar. Thank You so much for Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley, Joel Osteen, Beth Moore, & people of the like. Thank You for blessing them with the gift of teaching about You and teaching about Your Word. Thank You for their great grasp of these gifts and all that they do to employ them for the benefit of others. You have a thing for getting me to listen to the perfect podcasts at the perfect time. Those are Your words spoken through Your children! Thank You for teaching me through such captivating speakers who are so relatable. Someone else who has spoken to me about life is Shane Claiborne. Lord, thank You for showing me his lifestyle as an ordinary radical, living solely for You. Please help me adopt a lifestyle & a love like Shane has. You've blessed me to be caring, God, but I know there is so much more I can do. Shape & mold me to reflect Yourself. Use religious leaders of all sorts to Your glory, God. May people really listen to them & then listen to You as a result. Thank You for those positive examples & leaders & inspirations in my life. Work in me to be a leader of others to You. Amen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 13

día trece: Today I am thankful for realistic & beautiful opportunities that may help shape my future.
Dear Lord, today I thank You for all the opportunities You've helped me capture so far, and I also thank You for the opportunities I now face & the ones I'll be facing in the near future. God, You place options in front of me regarding summer plans/job, plans after college, how to spend my time now... You show me that there is a lot for me to experience in this world, but You also are teaching me that I need to come to You to determine what opportunities to take hold of & which to let slip by.

God, I pray over how I spend summer 2011. Bless the summer camp applications I am putting in. Be with me during my phone interview next week, & also be with Jackie on the other end. Lord, help me to not show them the person they want to see, but rather the person who I truly am. If YouthWorks! is where You want me next summer, give grace to that conversation and give me the words to say. Help me communicate clearly and effectively to answer their questions fully. But God, if it's another opportunity that You'd rather me seize to use me elsewhere, show me that & guide me to that. As I fill out more applications, give me a feel for where I will grow the most & help others grow the most. God, thank You that all of this is in Your hands. Thank You for relieving me of stress & worry, since You've got it all under control.
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33
"Estas cosas os he hablado para que en mí tengáis paz. En el mundo tendréis aflicción, pero confiad, yo he vencido al mundo." -Juan 16:33
Thank You that You already have my whole life planned out. And thank You, Lord, for my knowledge & faith that everything will play out to Your perfect plan. Thank You for the many opportunities You bless me with, Father. Open my eyes to more opportunities of various kinds that will enrich my life and my extension of Your incredible love to others. Lord, may I see opportunities in people - opportunities to make more genuine friendships & opportunities to care for people in more ways. God, thank You for blessing me with a promising future. Thank You for equipping me with the proper things and the faith to go out in the world & hopefully make a difference. Give others these opportunities as well, especially those who feel like they have no voice & no resources. Provide for them as You have provided for me, God. In all the opportunities You place before me, may I see which one will glorify You the most. I desire to serve You, Lord, no matter what that looks like at any point in time. Bless our open house tomorrow, & may others see opportunities for their future in this home. Amen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 12

día doce: Today I am thankful for always having plenty of food to properly nourish myself.
Lord, food is something that You have always blessed my family with in excess. You have kept our pantry, refrigerator, & freezers full. If there is ever a point when we are running low, You make it so easy for us to replenish our supply. You place us near a variety of grocery stores, always stocked with what we want & need. You give us money so we do not have to worry about being picky and selective about getting just bare essentials. Lord, we are so blessed with nourishment. Health is really at our fingertips. God, with these privileges help us make smart decisions regarding how we feed our bodies. We are really Yours, and so may we treat our bodies as Your holy body.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
God, I know those verses are applicable in a variety of meanings, but may we see from them that our bodies are Your body here on earth. So help us care for them as we are able. God, thank You for blessing my family, my friends, & me with plenty of food. Help us use it wisely! Use us to provide for those who perhaps don't even know what the inside of a grocery store looks like... no matter what the reasoning behind that. May we realize just how good we really have it compared to many, many other people in this world. You make our land able to produce fruit & vegetables. You allow our population to have food of all kinds readily available to us. Thank You, Lord, for the promise of a full stomach every day. May we not waste food that could be put to better use. Open our eyes to how we can really help impoverished people in the long run. Show us what that looks like, & help us carry that through with abounding love. Lord, thank You for providing for us constantly in many ways. It was so easy for Ben & me to go grocery shopping today & purchase everything we need. Even when it wasn't as easy for us to do that time-wise when Mom wasn't doing so well, You worked through teachers & neighbors & my church to keep us well-fed. Thank You, God. Show us how to extend that love to others. Nourish the world and keep us healthy with adequate food. Thank You, Father. Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 11

día once: Today I am thankful for each person associated with the US Military - past, present, and future. They do brave, remarkable things to protect our freedom every day. Happy Veteran's Day, and thank you.
Dear God, thank You for all of the freedom that we experience as Americans living in the USA. Specifically, thank You for the people who have made that possible and are currently risking their lives to sustain that freedom. That is a true act of putting others before yourself. So selfless, so brave, & so patriotic. God, bless each member of the US Military. Thank You for all the veterans. Heal any disabled veterans physically, & heal them all mentally. Lord, I know being on active duty takes a toll on a person, but You can be the constant peace throughout it all. I pray that You are with each person out there defending our country right now. Protect them and may they somehow feel Your comfort.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong & courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9
In their most uncertain and scariest of moments, fill them with confidence & strength. Replace any fear & doubt with knowledge that You care for them. Lord, You care for them deeply, and You also care for their loved once left at home. Be with them and also comfort their fears. May they find strength & blessings from You, especially while their loved one(s) is/are away. May they be proud of their soldier & able to warmly welcome them back with a safe return. Lord, the men & women of the military go through things I can't imagine myself lasting through. Thank You for working through them as You do. They are truly heroes. Bless those who fight for us, who have fought for us, & who will fight for us. Thank You for their willingness to serve in so many aspects. Provide for them in a multitude of ways. Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 10

día diez: Today I am thankful to have a closet & dresser full of clothes, just readily available for my dressing needs.
Lord, I come to You today in praise over something I take for granted too much (one of the many things I take for granted). Clothing is something so normal to us in mass quantities. Lord, You make it so easy for me to travel to WalMart, or to a mall, or to Target, or to another department store... or even just get online!... to purchase clothing. You equip us with the money necessary, but is that really what You want us to spend Your money on? God, teach me further that all I have is Yours, not mine. Thank You for all the clothing You have blessed me with. No point in my life have I felt deprived of a proper wardrobe, but there are so many people in this world with just one set of clothing to wear repeatedly each day. Thank You for introducing me to people who fit that description, both introducing me to the idea & actually putting friends' faces to the issue. They are such beautiful people who deserve so much more. Lord, use me, use my friends, use Your many followers & anyone wanting to bring justice to this sad situation. Help us part with the clothing we honestly don't need anymore to provide for those in need. Thank You for the confidence that a simple tshirt can make someone's day. Near & far, people are in need. Thank You for opening my eyes to that. Use me to ring joy to their lives however I can.
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" -Isaiah 58:6-7
Thank You for making it relatively easy for us to donate to people in need. May they openly accept the donations and know that they come with love. Lord, thank You for my ability to give some of my clothing while we were in El Salvador. Thank You for providing for the neediest people of that community through us. Keep providing for them, as well as the many people around the world with both similar & different physical needs. Work in us to know how to share, & further to know why we share. Help us love our neighbors as ourselves. God, thank You that I have options of what to wear each day. Each outfit & article of clothing is evidence of how blessed I am. Amen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 9

día ocho: Today (Nov. 9) I am thankful for Amber Brady, the most amazing freshman random roommate and housemate I could ask for :) Happy birthday!
Dear God, thank You so much for creating Amber Brady to be exactly who she is and for placing us in each other's life. I can't count how many roommate horror stories I've heard, & I am only able to tell stories of belly-aching laughs & great conversations. Lord, You showed me even before we met that You had a hand in making us roommates. You placed us both in the Huber Learning Community, then there was such confusion of what dorm we were placed in & we had different roommates, then things were sorted out & You put us together. God, I knew it would be great when we first talked on the phone... for three hours straight. When does that ever happen?! You helped us get along really well from the start, & that hasn't changed. Even the first day together, move-in day, I was able to see how awesome her family is. Thank You for giving me another family to be a member of! They are so thoughtful, caring, & generous, and they show it quite well. Lord, bless that family and cover them in Your abounding love. May they worship You in good times & run to You in bad times. Every day, hold them together and help them display the same love that You give unconditionally. Father, Amber has become a sister to me. You really blessed me a lot by placing her in my life, God... thank You. Thank You for the millions of laughs we have shared, regardless of the time of day or mental state. Thank You for all the ways she has supported me. Thank You for using me in her life. May she know, God, that she holds a really special part of my heart. You have blessed us with a bond that some people may never know (but I hope everyone does). Lord, You have created her to be truly beautiful, inside & out. Thank You for her sincerity, her sense of humor, her passion for those she loves, her love for the Steelers, and so much more. God, I am just overwhelmed with the way You placed us together. Thank You for working through both of us so that she joined our small group freshman year. Thank You for the conversations we shared that revealed some deep parts of ourselves. Lord, thank You for vulnerability, accountability, & confidence in our friendship. I know that I have a true friend for life in Amber. Thank You for blessing us with the opportunity to live together literally every year of our college years. God, be with Amber in her every day joys & sorrows. May she be able to feel Your calming & comforting presence always. She is such an amazing follower of You, Father. Never let her love for You go. Work through her to show many other people Your love. You've done an incredible job using her to show that unfailing love to me. Draw her closer and closer to Yourself each day. There are always more areas in which we can grow, & that is such a cool thing, God. In any stormy season of her life, let her know that You are there. Thank You for blessing her with a community of believers who lover her (thank You for making me part of that community!). God, thank You for the positive way she's impacted my life & for giving me a sister in her. Thank You for making her a huge part of my college experience. Bless our time together when I'm back in January, & bless our time apart now. Lord, thank You for Amber. Amen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 8

día ocho: Today I am thankful for the travels I have been able to experience, as well as the travels I will experience in the future.
Dear God, today I want to first thank You for giving me a passion for seeing the world. I am so captivated in thoughts about living the lives of different cultures & really seeing how they work. It is incredible to me to think about how insanely diverse this planet is. God, I thank You again for having kept me a resident of Virginia... that has helped me develop such a curiosity to see other places. Thank You, God, for allowing me to travel as much as I have so far. Through my travels I've seen many more examples of Your beautiful creations. Thank You for relaxing & fun vacations, all the way down the east coast, all the way up the east coast, in Canada, & in the Caribbean. You have blessed my family by allowing us to take vacations and escape our regular lives for a while. We really enjoyed each one of those. So many people don't get breaks from work or necessary funds to travel... so thank You, God, for making those possible.

The next trip I want to thank You for seemed like a vacation, but it was also so much more. Thank You, Father, for sending me to Spain for a month this past summer. It is a huge blessing for me to be able to go. Thank You for the study abroad experience! You made it so that I became really close with some people on the trip... thank You for those connections & all the connections I had with the others on the trip. Lord, bless Kevin & Belkys. They did such an amazing job planning, coordinating, & leading the trip. Thank You for their desire to show us their hometown and teach us about its culture. You have made Tarragona to be such a unique part of Spain, rich in the Catalán culture and Mediterranean life. Thank You for all the travelling we did while on the trip, as well, to different parts of Spain and to the city in France. The world You created is beautiful; please help us take care of it appropriately. Thank You for everything about that trip, especially for Your use of it to enhance my Spanish skills.

Lord, the travels that really mean the most to me are the ones that I clearly felt You pushing me to go on. Being able to serve You by serving other people is a privilege that I have been able to enjoy. Thank You, God, for showing me New York City. On that mission trip, You showed me how You see & how You love every different borough of NYC. As my first mission trip, You opened my eyes there to helping people on a whole new level & rejoicing in You all the while. God, my trip to El Salvador is probably the most impactful trip You've sent me on. Helping our sister church & their community in Ahuachapan was amazing. That's where You really taught me how You are the same, loving God all over the world. Not only did I grow close with the other people on the trip, but I also was able to spend time with the Salvadorians of the youth group at our sister church, Nuevo Jerusalem. We were also blessed with many kids to play with while they were waiting on their parents at the medical center we ran. Thank You for showing me the hearts of the Salvadorians, as well as more of my own heart. I pray that I can return there one day & see some friends again. I want to do all that I can to help them in any way they need. God, thank You also for sending me back to Central America for a second time. You used my Spring Break to let me serve You in Costa Rica. I hardly knew anyone else on the IV trip, but that quickly changed. Thank You for using us in various ways in the Shiroles community. Thank You also for allowing us to work with the missionary family there. I also want to thank You for our leaders from Students International, Cailah, Aiyla, & Krista. They are all wonderful people. Thank You for giving us the right mindsets while we were there - to serve You wholeheartedly. May we continue to have that mindset in our everyday lives, God.

Thank You for providing me with all the means to go on these trips, especially in going to Costa Rica, when I raised the exact amount of money I needed. Provide for me, Lord, in further travels, & send me out more. Thank You for my passion to go. Protect the missionaries that are out serving You with all of themselves right now. Help us never lose sight of why we serve. Thank You for keeping me safe during my travels - please continue that. May I keep a steady sight of where You call me toward at any given time.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -Matthew 28:19-20

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 7

día siete: Today I am thankful for always having a clean, dry, safe place to live.
Good morning, God. Today I want to thank You for the houses You've provided for my family to live in. Accordingly, thank You so much for providing the funds necessary to my parents to purchase the houses. I realize that You have blessed me with so much protection & safety & comfort, and giving me a real home to live in is a huge part of that. You've made every house I've lived in absolutely perfect to fit the needs of my family at that time. The house in Deep Creek was fitting for what we needed as I grew up until age ten, and the house in Great Bridge has been perfect for us ever since. You moved us into more living space, something we've enjoyed. You also moved us into another great school district, which provided an education to Ben & me. Both places we've lived, we've been so incredibly blessed with neighbors... awesome, fun, supportive neighbors. You made it so Ben's best friend lived next door to us in Deep Creek. In Great Bridge, You made it so Courtney & I moved in across the street from each other in the same summer. I was blessed with many babysitting jobs in the neighborhood, especially next door. God, bless those kids & their parents. You've allowed me to see them grow so much, & they really are amazing people. Thank you, God, for giving us neighbors who are supportive through anything & help in any way that they can.

Back to the root of what I'm thankful for today, You have kept me dry from the rain, warm from the cold winter, cool from the hot summer, and comfortable in my bed. There are too many people in this world that can't say they have a shelter like that. They can, however, say they have a god like You, Lord - the one & only provider of unconditional love & eternal life. So some may ask why You don't provide for the homeless people or people without adequate homes. The truth is, You do provide for them - You provide us to them. WE are Your hands & feet in the world. God, rid this world of the ignorance & apathy that fills so many people. Help people uncover a passion of serving & loving those less fortunate than them.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself." -Philippians 2:3
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever You did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" -Matthew 25:40
Lord, work through us who have so much to provide for those who have so little. May my constant safety in a house open my eyes to those without that in their grasp. Even at school I have a house that You provided with three awesome housemates. The house is exactly what we need right now, & so are You. We need You always. Use me to show Your love to others, Father. Thank You for giving me all You have given. Bless my house in Great Bridge today, as there is an Open House from 1 to 4. May the people who enter those doors see what a blessing that house has been & what a blessing it can continue to be for their family. Amen.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 6

día seis: Today I am thankful for living in the state of Virginia and taking advantage of all it has to offer.
Dear Lord, today I praise You for the beauty I was able to experience just a few hours ago! The Shenandoah Valley and mountains of Virginia are covered in red & orange trees right now, and the sights are so pretty. You sure did put some thought into Your creations, Father. You make the leaves change color around this time every year... I know not of a scientific purpose or reason, but it really reminds me of how awesome of a God that You are. That is certainly reason enough.

Ever since I was born, You've kept me a resident of Virginia. It seems like there's some reasoning to that, since my parents & brother moved from Pennsylvania right before I was born. While many others have moved all around, You've kept me a Virginia girl, only having moved once (& twenty minutes away, at that). Thank You, God, for making it so I was raised in Chesapeake. It is a generally safe place to live, and I enjoy being close to big cities without being in the center of them. In living twenty minutes away from the oceanfront, You've allowed me to discover the relaxation and fun I experience at the beach. You've made it a place of recreation & fellowship for my family, my friends, and the youth at my church. That was such a fun time each Tuesday of my internship.
"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand." -Psalm 139:17-18
You've placed me just an hour and a half away from my dad's mom in the Outer Banks, making it easy for us to take many weekend trips to see her when I was younger. You've also placed us close to Mom's cousin and his family in Norfolk. I've found this to be a huge blessing recently, as Steve has helped us immensely with so many things since Mom's passing. It's incredible how much relief You have provided through him. Because of my living in Chesapeake, I was able to make the amazing friends I have today. Thank You in particular today for Heaven & Patrick - born 22 years ago today. Be with them in their celebrations and may they know that You have wonderful plans for the rest of their years here on earth.

God, You let me to a different part of Virginia when it came time for me to go to college. This brought many more fantastic people into my life, & it also has allowed me to experience life in a different part of the state. I think it's so cool that You've placed me first near the beach & then in the mountains. Even though the two places are only 4 hours away, there are contrasts in temperature, in lifestyles, in jobs, and so much more (to a certain extent). By keeping me in Virginia for college, You've kept me close to my family, and this semester in being at home, You've made me able to visit JMU frequently. I went apple picking with Andrew in Charlottesville today, and the sights we saw were so beautiful. Help us see the beauty of Your creation no matter where we are & no matter what the circumstances.

Father, I don't know where You will take me later on in my life. May I follow wherever You lead me, though. Thank You for my placement in Virginia for now, and all the experiences I've had in a small but diverse area. Amen.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 5

día cinco: Today I am thankful to be able to drive and have a reliable car.
Good morning, God :) Today I come to You with praise over something more tangible. God, thank You for providing convenient means of transportation to me. Thank You also for creating me to be a safe driver. You have instilled qualities in me that tell me how fast is too fast, how to stay away from distractions while driving, and how to watch out for dangers & dangerous people on the road. Thank You for working through my mom & dad & driver's ed teachers, who have shaped the way I drive today. Through all these qualities you've built in me and people you've blessed me with, You've kept me away from speeding tickets and accidents. Lord, thank You for keeping my passengers & me safe on what can be such a dangerous road. I've also been really blessed to have a car to drive since I first got my license. You provided my dad with the Grand Prix as a company car, & then You provided our family with the means necessary to purchase it from his company. That car was so faithful to us/me and kept me going from the time we got it just up until about a week and a half ago. It was 12 years old and still kickin'! Lord, thank You that the biggest problem I recall ever having with that car was having to replace the window motors & get ride of corrosion in the starter. Thank You for using that car to keep me safe through the years. Thank You also for helping me to buy a new car for more substantial reliability. Be with Dad as he makes the payments on it, & be with me as I pay him back once the house sells. Provide for me the funds necessary for gas, insurance payments, the car itself, etc. I have faith in You, God, that You're helping me in this situation. Thank You for showing me my mom's approval of the car as well, as I was unexpectedly able to get it on her birthday. Lord, please bless me as I drive my car, bless my passengers, & bless the reasons for the trips I take. Use all of me and all of my resources, including my car, to Your glory. Use them to help me carry through with my purpose here on earth. Keep me safe on the road, God, & keep everyone else safe, too. Heal those who have been affected mentally & physically by car accidents, & let them know that You are there. Lord, bless my trip to JMU today! Amen.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4

día cuatro: Today I am thankful for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, both at JMU and at ODU.
Hey, God. Today I specifically want to praise You for an organization that has allowed me so much joy and fellowship since the beginning of freshman year. I can clearly see You at work in the leaders of the chapter at JMU. You have remarkably made s the largest IV chapter in the country... like, what? And we're still growing! Thank You God, for giving believers at JMU open hearts and open minds to share Your good news of love and salvation. Amidst changes of room locations to accommodate our large group meetings, help us keep our minds NOT on frustrations of getting used to a new room and maybe a new dinner location, but rather on the big significance. A bigger chapter means more fellowship in Your name & Your grace & Your family... if that means we move to a new room, awesome. So be it. Keep expanding our chapter, God, and bless us with the leaders & resources necessary to make it as effective and centered on You as possible. Small groups just blow my mind. All of them are different, of course, but God You work through the leaders and in the hearts of all the members so much that we become very close to one another in a short period of time. That You for facilitating vulnerability, openness, support, encouragement, genuine interest, and overall LOVE in those small groups. To anyone on the fence about joining a small group or even not currently interested, God move their hearts toward joining one. I was so entirely blessed by joining one from the get-go that first week of freshman year. You made it so I was able to form quick friendships with those girls on a deep level, and I am also so blessed to still be such great friends with them... some of them as my amazing housemates. Thank You particularly for Helen & Anna Grace, God. They have done so much to guide me to You no matter what I've gone through. Small group was one of the first times that my mind has really been involved in the Word, & Helen and AG have done such an amazing job to facilitate that. You placed the two of them together as leaders for a reason. They have a real sisterly love for each other, & I feel really privileged to be part of a group that they generously extended some of that love to... Your love, God. Thank You for their investment in each of our lives - knowing that they really care has such an impact on me as a freshman, a sophomore, a junior, and even as a senior. God, thank You for making the leaders of IV at JMU just as they are. Keep working through them in ways I can't even imagine. Bless future leaders, as well. Above all, keep all of their hearts focused on You and not distracted by anything else.

Not only have You provided JMU IV to me, God, but in this time that I am at home, You have placed IV at ODU in my life. Timing was really perfect, as Allison was also interested in joining ODU IV. Lord, You're showing me a lot through that group. Just like it's so powerful for me to see people in other countries worshipping You, I love seeing the leaders & members of that chapter of IV doing the same. They have slightly different methods of going about small groups & large groups, but we're all there for the same reason. We're al there for you & because of You! You reunited Mary & I in such an unpredictable way. We met in 2007, saw each other again at Passion this past January, & now she's one of my small group leaders at ODU. Thank You so much for strengthening & deepening our friendship. I am completely enjoying getting to know her better, and she has made the transition to an ODU small group so much easier. Thank You also for the other girls in Imani & my other leader, Rachel. You are just so incredible for bringing us all together in that new sisterhood of my life. I pray that I can keep in touch with them easily & frequently when I am back at JMU.

God, thank You for Your great providence of exactly what & who I need. Thank You that organizations like IV and Campus Crusade for Christ exist. Please be with each group that worships You, & may they keep You as the center always. Thank You for my involvement in IV in various ways & all the people I've been blessed with through that organization. Please be with me as a potential small group leader next year, & keep working through me, God. Put a blanket of comfort & confidence over me in knowing that it is not my work, but Your work through me. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3

día tres: Today I am thankful for Great Bridge United Methodist Church, the pastors and families of which have lifted me up to Christ and supported me in so many ways.
Lord, I come to You today in awe of the difference one body of believers can make. I praise You today especially for GBUMC and all the work You do through the people in that church. God, ever since I first set foot in that church in March 2007, people welcomed me in & You blessed me with an incredible extended family. Thank You so much for working in each family's heart to give them such a welcoming nature in any situation. Through mission trips, youth groups, weekends at the Lake, and even my internship this past summer, I have been able to grow so much closer to then and so much closer to You. In saying all of this, I also praise You greatly for my friendship with Haley. You have used her a lot to help shape who I am today, and I know I am a better person because of our friendship. God, not only has she welcomed me as family in going to church with her every Sunday at the beginning & opened my eyes to Invisible Children... she's also given me another sister I never had. Her family is such a dear part of GBUMC, & I praise You for using them to show me so many aspects of Yourself - Your love, Your providence, Your comforting nature, & Your promise to always be here with me & help me. Everyone at GBUMC has shown me these truths about You, & I am so grateful. I praise You also specifically for Jeff and all the guidance You provided through him this summer. Thank You for working through him to show me how to form relationships with the youth & lead effective youth groups. He is such an inspiration to me. Thank You for placing him in that position at our church. I pray for his interactions with the youth and impact he has in their lives. Lord, keep working through him and keep supplying that energy & passion. Help him also in his marriage to Jen & in their parenthood to adorable Colten. Bring so much joy and love to that family. It is so hard/crazy to think that I was a newbie at youth group in 2007 then three years later I was the summer youth intern. God, if that's not a testament of the way You work through people to life an individual up, I don't know what is. The past three years have been anything but easy with my parents' separation, a rough divorce, my mom's diagnosis & battle of cancer, my dad's remarriage, and Mom's passing away. But through all of that, I can be thankful. YOU are the only way that I can have hope and faith amidst all these trials. You have used the faith community of GBUMC to support me incredibly through every step I've taken. Something that can absolutely not be overlooked is my joining the church Nov. 2009... significant to me because Mom joined with me. Thank You for extending welcome through that church to not only me, but also to my mom and my brother. The members of GBUMC play a huge role in the reason why Mom is with You right now. It was no coincidence or accident that she started coming with me every Sunday and even going the Sundays I was gone. Thank You so much for providing such a caring group of believers to my family when we've all needed it the most. Thank You for bringing me so much closer to You through GBUMC at the most perfect time, Lord. Bless all of them. Amen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2

día dos: Today I am thankful for the beautiful life my mom was blessed with, and I am even more thankful for the abundant beauty she's experiencing right now. (John 3:16)
>>For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I am SO thankful for the life Mom had on earth & for my blessing of being her daughter. I really couldn't have asked for a better mother. Her time here was shorter than most, but in that time she taught me a lot. She especially taught me how to care for people, which is how God used Ben & me to care for her in her most painful times. Lord, thank You that she is in ultimate comfort and peace right now. I pray that I can remember that she is always looking down on us, extending that comfort our way. In the sickness, she became weak physically. I know she is strong again now, and Oh God I am so excited to see her again someday. Thank You so much, God, for using me to get her back to going to church. I didn't even realize that's what I was doing at the time, or know the significance of that. God, thank You for all that You offer in regard to forgiveness, peace, and grace. The last few years of Mom's life were particularly difficult - harder than I can imagine - but God You were with her and with us every step of the way. Thank You for being with me now during this tough, confusing grieving process & showering my family in love & support.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28
So Lord, today I especially want to thank You for my mom & all that You blessed me with through her. Thank You that she is no longer in pain; thank You that she is rejoicing with You right now. That is such an incredible thing to imagine, and an even more incredible thing to know. Thank You for eternal life through Jesus. Amen.

Day 1 (11/1/10)

Today is day one of my goal in action, so here is my current Facebook status:
día uno: Today I am thankful for the Lord God Almighty, who takes hold of my right hand and says, "Do not fear; I will help you." (Isaiah 41:13) I hope you know that He says the same thing to you.
I am so thankful for You, Lord. Earlier as I sat here in such a blah mood, You challenged me with the Thankful challenge. I decided not to do it this year. You quickly changed my mind & developed it into something further. You placed Isaiah 41:13 back on my mind, a verse that Andrew & I memorized a couple of weeks ago. In my funk of a mood right now / recently, You help me. You help me through anything & everything. Help me remember that every second of every day, Lord. Andrew & I went to RISE church yesterday morning (in the basement of Blue Nile) and loved it. Amanda spoke about FEAR and referenced the section of verses in John when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45). She said how we are Lazarus; God raises us from the dead. He brings us from our lowest times and fills us with life. She said we are also the community from the story. God is always with us, even when we doubt Him. I doubt Him a lot, and I also doubt myself. I essentially doubt that He'll work in me. I couldn't be farther from the truth with that, though.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13
God, thank You for giving confidence in overwhelming abundance. Thank You for your constant, unconditional love. Thank You for adopting us as Your children & accepting us as we are, broken. Thank You for Your perfect healing power. Thank You for Your help in any and all situations. Thank You for being here, there, & everywhere. You're so good, God. Amen.

Preface of the Project

Yesterday I was sitting around and trying to figure out how I can get out of a funk I've been stuck in recently. Last year I posted a Facebook status each day of November leading up to Thanksgiving, detailing one more thing each day that I am thankful for. I was reminded of this by my boyfriend's Facebook status, which shows that he's doing the same thing this year. After some internal debate, I decided it would be good for me to repeat that project, and I also decided to keep track of the things I'm thankful for in my journal. I'm going to post those journal entries in this blog. They'll probably be a mixture of journaled thoughts and prayers to God. In sharing these, my aim is NOT to boast my relationship with God or prove that I'm spending time with Him, but rather to share the things that He has blessed me with - the things that I am most thankful for. I also hope that maybe someone who reads this will realize more and more how many things God blesses them with, even through the toughest of times. Happy early Thanksgiving!