Zechariah 7: 3-10

"....speaking to the priests who belong to the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, "Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?" Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, "Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves? Are not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous along with its cities around it, and the Negev and the foothills were inhabited?'"  Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah saying, "Thus has the Lord of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another."

Wow!!! Paraphrased... what is your true purpose in fasting? What type of tradition are you trying to hold up? What's being accomplished? And lastly, do you really know why you do what you do!

A bit of background, because I'm loving getting the opportunity to study Zechariah and His prophetic ministry amongst God's people....
During the 5th and 7th month of every year, the Jewish people conducted a time of fasting to remember many of the historical events that had happened in their past... Such as the brining of their temple. Or the assassination of one of their great leaders named Gedaliah. Present day would be the Holocaust. Whatever events there way, that would entice a mournful atmosphere would represent why they chose to have annual times of fasting.

So they approach the prophet and the priests to inquire of the Lord "should we mourn and fast as we have done annually for years?"

In that moment of reading this I begin to wonder what triggered the sudden break in their tradition? And I can only assume that the Lord God had been convicting their hearts to turn away from empty rituals. Acts that no longer are directed toward God but rather are for show. God challenges them by asking "Are you doing this for me?"

And the answer was no...they were not! Sometimes we can do things the "Christian way" without giving much thought to why we do it. Giving money to the homeless, inviting others over for Bible study or just a meal, lifting our hands in church, etc.... There are two motives that can battle against each other with our actions! The first motive is that truly I want people to see God! I want Him to be honored and adorned. I want the world to know what kind of love He possesses... A love that saves! The second is us, me, motivated. I want the homeless man to see me, I want those that I invite over to adore my home, I want people to see me lifting my hands in worship to see that 'I' am actively in worshiping God.

The temptation is not far from any of us... How scary is that! But the reality is, we as Christians get one opportunity, one life, to show fourth the glory of God! And thankfully He tells us how to in the proceeding verses!
- administer true justice
-show mercy and compassion one to another
-do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the alien or the poor
- and in your hearts do not think evil of one another

Simple and straight forward? Not really... Because even in doing these 'actions' we can still become tempted to unintentionally make these our medals. Even as the rich young ruler in the NT stated.. 'but Lord I already do all these things' Mark 10: 17-27... But it gets very real when God tells us, as He did the Rick young ruler 'Don't be content with just following this list... Go the extra mile. Sell all of your belongings!'

It's only then that it becomes less about us and more about Jesus and the other. So my challenge today is this... Be intentional with how I talk and walk as a Christian. No more 'christian-ese' lingo or absent minded Christian deeds. No more prayer or scripture reading out of obligation. I want to pursue God and do good because it's who He is in me! Living, moving and being! Thank you Lord for allowing your prophecy back then to impact our hearts even now! I love you with a renewed focus today!

Sweet. Blessings. From. Above.

With a heart transitioning into a season of gratitude, my entire being is captivated with God's faithfulness. Nothing about this past 11 months has seemed 'sane' rather it's felt like an emotional roller coaster..... Up the hill of trust, down the hill of doubt. Up the hill of joy, down the hill of sadness. Up the hill of sensitivity to God's presence, down the hill to the depths of loneliness.. Yet as I write presently, I feel like I am on top of the hill of gratitude.

This past weekend my sweet sister surprised me with a trip down to Mount Vernon, my second home. A place that has and will forever be an ingrained resting place... dwelling place... The land where I began to understand the Lords prevenient Grace and His Love toward me and others. It's where some of my sweet family live and on this trip I was able to experience God's love all over again! 

Some of the best moments involved:
-Car ride with my incredible sister
-Being in the presence of my sweet boss who opened her home to me and shared with me a few of her passions
-Getting to stay at an incredible inn
-Had some incredible time of fellowship with my sister as we shared all about God's goodness and faithfulness. 
-Got to visit my Trinity Worship Center, where God blessed me to worship and fellowship during my season as a student. Loved getting to just hug on all the ladies and to know their genuine touch
-Was able to go out with my mentor and her husband! The conversation was such a blessing, but the greatest blessing of all was being in their presence as they shared all that God is doing at church and in their own lives!
- Then we picked up little sis and went hiking at a waterfall that has always been the image of God's perfect creation
-Lastly was able to catch up with Alexis who in every sense of the word, is a refined fighter for the things of God! Getting to see her and listen, most likely for the last time, was a blessing to say the least
-Then we got back on the road, stopped at Denny's for some dinner and Frozen Yogurt... then we were home!

While I loved every single moment.. truly I was smiling from ear to ear, my favorite moments were the drips of God's overflowing love that He released into my heart. Over these past 11 months, being in the constant grain of serving gram, working at Marcs and the nursing review, I have seen God's unparalleled faithfulness through my finances, my physical health, my grams health, and even my mental stability... and i've praised Him for it! But this opportunity that I was given to get away, and to lay beside the still waters with God, opened up my eyes to seeing just how much, if not more, that He has also cared for my heart! 'My heart.... God isn't concerned so much about how I feel?' was a statement of the past! Because in this mini retreat God has shown me His intimate arm of love, wrapped around my heart, massaging, renewing, repairing and caressing all of the damaged areas. God has cared for me in every single way... yet above all else He has renewed my hope in Him and for His will. 

I could go on and on and on.. but I want to end with this: God is close to the brokenhearted!Psalm 34:18

He has been with me every moment... collecting my tears and storing them for such a time as this! Where I get to reap the harvest of seeing His goodness! I see you Lord :) And I love you! 

Coffee Trips..

So it seems I have begun this new journey of tasting all the great coffees of the world... specifically small coffee shops around the world!
Interesting journey to be on but so worth it while the Lord has me on this journey of new experiences!

Currently I'm a part time employee at Marc's in Aurora. And while this particular placement seems so ironic and forgive me Lord 'below' what I was trained to do.... I see that you are teaching me the art of serving! Especially in the small beginnings!

So here I am. Gram is doing ok, a bit of pain here and there but she is having more ups (Thank you Lord)

Quite an interesting, funny journey...
And now I just remember that I didn't get soy milk :) O the journey!

Well Lord... What do you think!

It appears that Wooster is giving me 3 different options to pay off the loan, which I've pasted below....
1.       Pay off the money over 24 months by sending checks in monthly.
2.       You can consider taking a position at WCH now (a position other than RN) and have the money taken out of your pay check. We would like to help you find employment here until you obtain your RN license. (go to the hospital website and look under the employment tab. We can also check the internal postings to see where we could fit you in too)
3.       Pay money monthly til you obtain your license then take an RN job here at WCH and work off the remaining amount you owe as a scholarship. (once you start working as RN you will stop sending money and what you still owe is your scholarship)
4.       Combine option 2 and 3….
Father, option 2 sounds incredible.... but I'm nervous to move too fast. What do you think? What is your will? What door have you opened? I sense that fear has stepped in because I want to be cautious and not walk outside of your will--- I want to heart your voice. But I also feel as if this could be from you because they already told me 'no' once before about being an aid. Then there is pride that steps in... but I am humbled. Savior, Luke 12:31- Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added.

I'm doing the best that I can... I'm seeking you! If it's your desire, I do pray that the pay would be right for traveling back and forth, then I also ask for a supernatural peace! I love you so much Lord and I trust you! 

I'm not a nurse

3 disappointments Lord. I'm done with this test and I'm done with nursing. I'd rather you just had declined my desires 7 years ago. I love you but I don't love the situation.... I'm moving on with my life. Only you can perform the miracle because truly I'm done trying.

Not forsaken!

Truly I miss this place so much. I'm in Mount Vernon for the weekend to watch the kids.... But honestly it's hurting more than ever. As I walked through Walmart and saw familiar faces my heart broke for 2 reasons.
1. I spent the last 5 years here... Growing, healing, mending , being stretched and broken. Many of my most challenging days were here and some of my most rewarding experiences were here. Mount Vernon has become my second home and to not be here again, coming back for another semester does hurt.
2. Being here reminds me that I'm not where I want to be. And selfishly father I'm hurt by this reality. I'm not a nurse. I have no job. I don't feel like I'm moving forward. I'm just here, a season that I don't want to be in.... But I'm here.

And I'm yours! So please take these broken pieces and with your own hands design a masterpiece! I love you and my heart with heaviness is clinging to yours!

What an Incredible day!

I've really struggled in these past few weeks to see you Lord passionately. To be zealous about the things that move your heart! I've become complacent.... doing the least when all along you've been 'warming, burning, my heart' to remain excited! But I was on the verge of losing my deep joy for you, until today!

I was able to go and visit a church with gram called Abundant Life Church of God! We've heard plenty of amazing things about the church but what helps them to stand out is their youth. Today, as we entered into the church we were instantly welcomed with hugs and handshakes! And while that was great what has captivated me every sense was the worship! God we got to worship you in a way that I've longed for. Not that it blessed me, because it did, but I was able to lay before you all of my brokenness and my pain and celebrate you as the redeemer of it all! It was so Freeing :) And while I don't know if gram enjoyed it as much because it was different than what she is use to--- I can't help but thank you Lord for being apart of a service, majority youth, where you were center! Brick upon brick, stone upon stone!

And to top the message, the word that you presented through Justin was phenomenol! Romans 12- Never lose our zeal for the Lord and what He is doing! He shared about Phineas in Numbers 23 being said of having the same zeal as God for God's people! Justin reminded us that zeal what is done in our private times with the Lord and will always be blessed outwardly! Incredible reminder to fight never to lose this zeal that you have given me Lord!

If its your will Lord I would really love to go to bible study on tuesday! I have always been a spiritual leader in my relationships around me and I thank you Lord becuase it's all by your guidance but I will be so excited to grow closer to you with a group of men and women my age! My heart has been revived Lord, I was created for community, and it appears Lord that you have opened the door for it to be so! Jesus I'm excited once more!

You have turned my mourning into dancing! What an incredible day!

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