Friday, October 18, 2013

Goodness

People often say that God is good when things are going "their" way. Made an A on a test? God is good. A family member get a new job? God is good. A person healed of cancer or any other disease? God is good. You have lots of friends who love and support you? God is good. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not downplaying God in those situations. God is good! All of those things are great, and it's wonderful and necessary to recognize God in those situations and give Him glory. But what about when you bomb a test? What about when you get fired from a job? What about when a friend or family member isn't healed from a physical or mental disease? What about when you feel alone and isolated in the world?

God is STILL good. 

Let me repeat: God is still good. 

As a Christian, our purpose is to glorify God with our lives by loving God and loving people--no matter what. We have a very limited view of God's big picture plan. Unlike humanity, He is sovereign over everything. Therefore, things that seem to be spiraling out of control from our perspective don't surprise God in the least. He is GOOD, even when we don't understand what is going on in our lives. 

I pray that in every situation, you can claim that God is good. Even when life is chaotic and you're going through a major storm, I hope you are be able to proclaim His goodness and faithfulness in the midst of the heartache, the pain, or the hurting to everyone you encounter. He will never leave you nor forsake you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Checklists

"Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly."

Sometimes, I need a little motivation. It's easy to get stuck in a rut of doing the same things day in and day out. It's easy to live a life based on the "checklist mentality", subconsciously (or consciously, either way) getting tasks done without much thought behind them or time spent processing your actions and beliefs. It's easy to have surface level relationships with people, to always work for another day, to ignore the blessings that exist in your life right now. However, when life is structured around a checklist like this, can you really experience full joy and contentment? Can you really live a life that you'll look back on when you're on your death bed and praise God for everything that occurred? Can you really know people, and I mean know who they are in the very fiber of their being, and develop those lasting, legacy-leaving relationships? I have a hard time believing that's possible.

Don't get me wrong, deadlines and to-do lists have their place in the world. I don't know if I could function without my planner! The problem lies not in the checklist itself but in how we respond to it. Our to-do lists are not meant to take the place of careful thought and consideration. When we read the Bible, it's not to be able to mark something off a list--it's to dive deeper into a relationship with the God of the universe and discover more fully His beauty, love, grace, and mercy. When we spend time with friends, it's not to make sure our friendships are secure--it's to build relationships of closeness, depth, trust, and care. When we do homework, it's not to maintain a good GPA (although that's a nice side effect)--it's to learn and grow in knowledge and truth. I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. Life is a choice. When we build the foundation of our days around crossing off items on a checklist, we make the choice to intentionally live in a way that will not and cannot bring the deepest satisfaction that God intended. 

The quote above came from an article about things most people regret on their death beds. The article ends with the quote, which sums up the whole article. In the quote, it lists three ways to choose LIFE. 
1. Choose consciously--make an effort to think about the decisions you make on a day to day basis and the "motions" you go through. Why are you living the way you are? Are you living surface level, or are you going deep with God and the people around you?
2. Choose wisely--seek wise counsel about the way you are living. We all make mistakes. Discover ways to improve your life. Ask God to guide you as you make decisions because only He can direct your path wisely.  
3. Choose honestly--remain true to who you are. Don't change your personality because someone wants you to. Always strive to become more and more Christ-like, and allow the passions God has given you to bloom. 

I don't want you to think I am a master of balancing my to-do list with my desire to live life to the fullest, because I definitely am not. I am still learning about how this whole "life" thing works. However, God has been pushing me more and more toward living a life of contentment and joy, and I am so thankful. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Reminder

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." --Hebrews 13:8

Goodness do I need to be reminded of that! So much in this world changes rapidly and unexpectedly. I can barely keep my head from spinning in circles. Imitaring the world's ways, I would fall pretty immediately from exhaustion and a chaotic existence. But I stand on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and the truth of his death and resurrection. He is the same God as the one I served yesterday. And the day before that. And the month before that. And the year before that. And, well, you get my point. He will always be the same, forever and ever and ever into eternity. My God will NEVER change. 

I am so thankful to worship such an almighty God. His love will never fail me. His grace overwhelms me. He will never leave me. He sees me in my deepest, darkest moments yet still cares for me. I don't deserve anything, yet I've been given everything, and I am certainly blessed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sleep

I hate not being able to sleep. And yet here I am at 3:29, trying to do something that will distract me from the anxiety cycle about not being able to sleep. Here's kind of how it goes:

I really need to sleep.

Why am I not falling asleep?

What's wrong with me?!

This is a serious problem.

What am I going to do tomorrow? I can't function without sleep.

Crud.

Wait, I need to stop thinking about this.

Don't think about not being able to sleep, don't think about not being able to sleep. 

Don't do it!!

...I really need to sleep.

It's a bad cycle to get into. If doesn't help matters that I have a cold and know that I need sleep to fight off infection or that I am coughing and sniffling, which makes it harder to sleep. Body, PLEASE cooperate with me! God, give me rest.

Because I really need sleep.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

20 things


Hi friends! This is a blog post I read earlier today from Relevant Magazine. I think it has a lot of wisdom for people of all ages, even though the article itself was talking about things people in their 20s need to know how to do. Enjoy reading, and let this challenge you (I know it does me! Ex: I need to work on #4...)


First things first, most twentysomethings are too hard on themselves.
It’s one of the downsides of a youth-obsessed culture. We tend to think if we haven’t published our first book, planted our first church or gotten married by the time we’re 30, then we’re on the fast track for a lonely, penniless death which will be mourned by none. Sure, some people get famous when they turn 25. Some people also swim across the English Channel.
Your twenties are a prime time to explore and grow, without all the baggage that comes with settling down and making your mark. (Jesus Himself was an unknown carpenter in a reviled corner of Israel until He was 30.)
That said, there are a few things every twentysomething should know how to do.

YOUR TWENTIES ARE A PRIME TIME TO EXPLORE AND GROW, WITHOUT ALL THE BAGGAGE THAT COMES WITH SETTLING DOWN AND MAKING YOUR MARK.

1. Make a Great Breakfast
Ideally, you should be able to craft a great meal for any occasion, but this is the most important meal of the day and so, it’s the one you should have down. Use real butter, large eggs, fresh mushrooms, cheese, whatever, but know the ins and outs and invite a lot of people over to eat it with you regularly.
2. Argue Kindly
An increasingly rare trait, but you’ll be better for it. Learn how to have your own opinions (and make sure they’re actually yours—not just something you “heard somewhere”) and how to put them firmly and politely, in a way that invites spirited conversation. It's a rare and wonderful thing.
3. Hold a Conversation With Someone of Any Age
Whether the person you’re talking to is eight or 80, you should be able to hold a meaningful, intentional conversation with them. Remember to ask a lot of questions, be more interested in who they are than in who you are, and strive to make their day.
4. Parallel Park
Nothing menial about it, and not nearly as hard as it looks. Practice a little. Become an expert. Dazzle your friends.
5. Defend Your Media Choices
Whether you like Kendrick, Kings of Leon or Ke$ha, you should be able to articulate why. The media we consume affects us, and you should be able to explain to yourself why you’re listening, watching and reading the things that you are.
6. Limit Your Online Life
This cannot be over-emphasized. The inability to manage an online presence has toppled promising careers and made fools out of otherwise competent individuals. You should have a good grip on how often you use social media and what you’re using it for. If you find most of your free time spent on the Internet, it’s time to make some choices. If you’re checking your phone at every awkward pause, delete that Facebook app.
7. Approach a Stranger
Whether it’s for directions, a favor or even just to pass the time on an airplane, knowing how to strike up a conversation out of the blue is a marvelous skill. Ask them questions (don’t lead with information about yourself), be approachable (not aggressive) and look for clues that they’d rather be left alone.
8. Stand Up for Yourself
Whether it’s your boss shooting down an idea before you’ve explained it or a guy shouting rude comments as you’re walking by, you should know how to keep from getting walked over.
9. Say “I Was Wrong”
A relationship squabble. A professional tiff. A theological debate. Whatever it is, you should always be looking for where you might have messed up. “I was wrong” is a magical little sentence that diffuses conflict and brings peace to any situation. You should have it at the top of your go-to phrases.

10. Brew a Great Cup of Coffee or Tea
Look. Once and for all, turning on the coffeemaker and brewing a pot of coffee is totally fine. But you should also be aware how to make a perfect cup of coffee or tea. For yourself. For your friends. Do a little reading. Perfect your technique. It’s a skill you’ll be glad you have forever.
11. Tip Generously
What’s just an extra buck or two to you can completely make your server’s day. Make it a habit to tip generously and, if you’re really feeling daring, write a brief thank you note on your check.
12. Maintain a Mentor
Your twenties are a great time to invest in a mentor. Find someone you want to be like—be it your pastor, a friend or even a peer—and commit to meeting with them regularly. It takes a little humility and a lot of dedication, but there is no ceiling to the value it will add to your life.
13. Bite Your Tongue
Know how to pick your battles. It’s OK for you to be right without getting everyone to admit you’re right. It’s OK for you to be offended by something without everyone knowing you’re offended. Understand when you should go to bat for what you’re thinking and when you can let it go.
14. Stay Well Rested
Late nights will come (if you’ve got kids, they’ll come pretty frequently) but our generation has forgotten the value in a good night’s sleep. Push yourself to go to bed earlier. Utilize your downtime wisely. Resting is just as important as being productive. In fact, you’ll be more productive if you are resting well and often.
15. Respond to Criticism
Defending yourself against criticism is easy. Graciously accepting it is harder, but the improvements it can make to your life and work are wild. Remember that criticism usually isn’t meant to be a personal attack and, if you can learn to take it in the spirit it's offered, people will have fewer things to criticize you about in the future.
16. Write a Cover Letter
Filling out an application is a pretty simple process but, in all likelihood, the job you really want is going to take more than a list of references and previous employers. Cover letters require some effort, but it can be the difference between “don’t call us, we’ll call you” and “when can you start?”
17. Be Alone
The Millennial generation prizes community, which is very good, but it tends to come at the cost of fearing loneliness. The truth is, being alone can do you a lot of good. Be able to sit quietly—reading, writing, praying or just listening to the silence—and use that time to truly evaluate how your spirit is. Loneliness is exercise for your heart. Do it regularly.

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT’S URGENT AND WHAT’S IMPORTANT, AND KNOW WHICH ONE MATTERS MORE.

18. Recommend a Book, Movie or Album
It's harder than it sounds. It’s easy to sound like a pretentious snob or a gushing fan when you’re telling someone to check out something you love. Be able to explain not only why you love something, but why you think someone else would love it.
19. Prioritize the Important Over the Urgent
There are two types of demands on your life. The first and easiest to focus on are the urgent: paying your rent, getting ahead in work, etc. The second and much harder to tackle are the important: your spiritual life, your relationship with your family and looking after the health of your soul. Know the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important, and know which one matters more.
20. Hold on to a Good Friend
There’s going to be a lot of transition in your twenties as both you and your friends float from job to job and location to location. You’ll have to say a lot of good bye’s in the midst of it all, but you should know when you’ve found the rare friend who you don’t want to lose, and you should be able to prioritize staying in touch with them beyond the occasional text message.
The author thanks Liz Riggs and Jeff Rojas for helping him come up with these ideas—and giving him a few to work on himself.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Energy

"As I lose lung capacity, I find that fewer things are fun to do. So many things take too much energy. I like to save my energy for things that make me happy."--CF Roundtable blog

You know what is scary for me? Thinking that I may not have the energy to keep doing the things I find enjoyable. I know that eventually, this wearing down happens to everyone. You get old, your body needs sleep and rest. You can't keep up with the same pace of life as when you were young. But for most people, that doesn't happen until the later stages of life when EVERYONE is slowing down. You age gradually with your friends. CF patients, however, tend to slow down a lot quicker than average. It takes so much dang energy to breathe and for our bodies to function at all! We clearly need more sleep and rest to keep going. Our energy reserves get used up in a hurry. But right now, I'm still able to live an active life. I go to school, work, go to church activities, hang out with friends, and stay involved in extracurricular activities. Yet unless a cure is found for CF, I know that the day is coming when I won't be able to enjoy the activities I do now. Until that day, I'm going to take pleasure in the things I have energy to participate in. I'm also not going to overcommitted myself so that I can remain joyful and positive, not stumbling through life tired of everything and everyone, like a frazzled, exhausted young woman. How would you approach life differently if you realized how much it can change in a relatively short amount of time? Just a question for you to think about today.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Doctor Day

PFTs-60%!!! Finally back in the 69s club, woo!
Weight/appetite-Good (Two good weight checks in a row..what is this?)
Symptoms-increased cough and sputum production
Plan of Action- oral Bactrim for 2 weeks

Today, I went to my regular CF check-up. I am proud to say that my PFTs were slightly improved, my weight was stable, and Dr. Fullmer told me that I should write a how-to book on managing CF in college. Honestly, CF appointments always make me a little anxious. I detest being "judged" on my "performance" based on a set of numbers I do not have full control over. Maybe that's the control freak in me coming out, I don't know. I do all I can to stay healthy, but sometimes it's just not enough. When I have a bad report, I feel disappointed in myself, almost like there was something I should have/could have done better, even though I know that's not the case. CF is so unpredictable, as well! I could be feeling great and have awful lung function tests, or I could be feeling horribly sick and have really high numbers on the PFTs. Who knows? CF is a frustrating disease, especially at appointments when you have to explain all aspects of your bodily function repeatedly to everyone who comes in the room. 

However, this appointment went much better than I was expecting. I am SO thankful for all of my wonderful friends and family who were praying for me throughout the day. I don't know how I would manage CF without their prayers, love, and encouragement!