Posts Tagged With: God

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know (Valentine’s Edition)

Valentine’s Day and I have a love-hate relationship. I love love. I love celebrating the fullness, depth, and variety of love that this world has to offer. I love getting cards and candies. I hate how Valentine’s Day has come to be a day of exalting romantic relationships, while disparaging singleness. I know I am single and do not need extra reminders–20% off Something Sweet For Your Sweetheart, Top Ten Ways To Know He’s Your Man, Half Off Dinner With Your Other Half–everywhere I look.

Earlier this week, I stopped by Kohl’s after work. I went in to just have a jewelry associate measure my fingers so that I could finally know what ring size I am. I had found a couple of beautiful rings online, but didn’t want to buy the wrong size. Before I got to the jewelry department, sales racks caught my attention. 60, 70, and 80% off are the prices that I can afford at Kohl’s. I looked through a few sales racks, and then found myself meandering through the departments. After awhile, I did make it over to the jewelry section. I was in no rush, and continued to take my time as I looked over the many beautiful items. I did get my fingers sized for rings as I chatted with a sales associate.

I was about to leave the store and run a few more errands before I went home, but a couple of sales racks that I had not looked through before grabbed my attention. It couldn’t hurt to look through a few more racks. I looked through the clothing, not looking for anything in particular, and not even expecting to find anything that I wanted to buy. I knew that I was going to be buying myself a ring online soon, and didn’t have extra money to buy clothes that I didn’t really need.

In my relationship with Jesus, I have found out, through many experiences, that Jesus loves to surprise my heart in very intimate ways. He knows my heart and knows what it takes to make me smile, to fill me with joy, and what it takes for me to feel–and know–that I am loved by Him.

* * *

Months ago, my sister and I were at Kohl’s. I saw an adorable pair of jeans by Lauren Conrad. Up until last year, I had never even heard of Lauren Conrad. When I went Easter dress shopping and a beautiful dress from Lauren Conrad fit me like a glove, I became a fan of her clothing line. The day I was with my sister, I tried on a pair of Lauren Conrad jeans. Finding jeans that fit me is a huge challenge, as I am small and short. Most times, I end up buying short jeans and have to have them hemmed. The Lauren Conrad jeans fit me perfectly. I showed my sister and was beaming with joy. Unfortunately, Lauren Conrad clothing is a bit out of my price range, and her jeans are no exception. I left the store without the jeans, and soon forgot about the experience.

But Jesus had not forgotten.

* * *

I passed hanger after hanger on the sales rack, unimpressed with the selection before me. I saw a pair of Lauren Conrad jeans among the articles of clothing. I recognized them instantly as the ones I had loved many months prior–light blue with small white hearts printed on the denim. My heart started to beat faster with excitement as my fingers worked faster to get to the jeans. I’ve learned from almost every past shopping experience to not get my hopes up, especially in regards to jeans, especially in regards to jeans on the clearance rack.  My heart couldn’t help but to be excited–could they really be my size?! I pulled them off of the rack and looked at the tag.

The jeans were my size–a size that rarely makes it to the clearance rack, because of its popularity. This one pair in my hands was the only pair of this design left in the entire store–and online–and it was my size.

I turned the price tag over, to see if they really were on clearance, or if another customer placed them on the 80% off rack out of convenience. They were on clearance, and within my price range.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Some people might say that my finding a pair of jeans is not God at work–it’s simply that I was lucky that day. Some people might say that there are more important things for God to be taking care of than giving me a pair of jeans as a gift from His heart. To me, these jeans–jeans that I would never have considered buying a couple of years ago because of their delicate beauty–are a visible sign of God’s faithfulness. Between the time that I found the jeans and ended up buying them, I did not pray, asking God to bless me with those jeans. I didn’t save up money for them. I simply continued to delight myself in the Lord and follow His leading in this adventure called life.  Even when we cannot see it, God is at work in our lives. Sometimes, He is quiet, simply because He is working on preparing a surprise for you.  The Bible speaks multiple times of our Heavenly Father giving good gifts to His children. Sometimes, the good gifts He gives come in the form of designer blue jeans, on the 80% off clearance rack at Kohl’s, with an additional coupon that I used from my e-mail, as an early Valentine’s Day present.

I have not forgotten you. Happy Valentine’s Day, my beloved.


He is our Portion, and we are His prize

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking

So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss

My heart turns violently inside my chest

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us

Categories: Simple Joys | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

March: The Celebrations Continue (Part One)

Of all the months that span the season of winter, March is my favorite. Perhaps the fact that makes my heart happy during March is the fact that winter ends and spring begins. Perhaps it is because I have had many wonderful experiences in March over the years. Whatever the reason is, March 2013 has earned its place in the record books.

The month started with what was supposed to be a normal family dinner at my grandmom’s house. My cousin, his wife, and two children were preparing to leave the United States to serve overseas as missionaries. They had made a trip up to New Jersey (from Tennessee) to see family and friends in this area one last time before they moved to their new country. At the last minute, my grandmom was unable to host guests at her house, due to a plumbing issue. My grandmom, at first, was worrying about how the dinner would continue. She had already made the food. Understandably, she was upset. Thankfully, my parents volunteered our house as the location to gather for the meal. My dad drove over to her house to help her transport the food back to our house.  Mom-Mom even brought over a jar of chocolate chip cookies, because what is a family dinner without dessert?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been inspired by people who chose to live overseas as missionaries. One of  my lifelong dreams has been to serve as a missionary overseas (for more than just a week). Since I am unable to do that right now, the next best thing is to soak up everything that my cousin has to say about his new country. My cousin’s wife was unable to attend our dinner, because she was visiting a friend (in the area) from college. I had not been able to see my cousin or his two boys since 2009, so our family dinner brought peace and joy to my soul. I would have loved the night to last longer, but before my cousin left, he did extend an offer for me to visit him and his family in his new country (or one nearby). We agreed that the next photo we took together would be in a different country. I cannot wait for that day!


The young adult group at my church decided to go out to lunch at a hibachi restaurant after church on March 10. It was my first time at a hibachi restaurant–I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that the time spent with friends would be treasured in my heart, no matter what happened. I loved the entire experience. After we finished our luch, a few of us walked across the parking lot to get coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. I have yet to acquire a taste for coffee, but I enjoyed the conversations that were taking place. A handful of us then decided to get ice cream. Wonderful conversations–the type that make you linger and savor every moment–were a grand finale to the day. My heart was teeming with delight once I finally made my way home.


There are two days in the month of March that I celebrate because of their major significance in my spiritual life. March 13 is the day I was baptized. March 15 is the day that God spoke to and wrecked my heart on my first overseas mission trip. To me, these days are just as important as my birthday. I always do something special on March 13th and 15th as a way of remembering these meaningful moments. This year, I celebrated by treating myself to Chick-Fil-A on my lunch break at work (Fun fact: Our Chick-Fil-A opened on March 15, 2012. Yet another reason I love March 15ths!). I ordered a breakfast sandwich and ice cream, even though it was only 9 or 9:30 in the morning. A celebration isn’t a celebration without ice cream!


Since 2013 is the year of immeasurably more, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that God had even more incredible gifts to give me.  Yet the night ended with God showing off His goodness to my heart in very intimate ways. God knows how to give good gifts, and every March 15 since 2008 is proof of that–including March 15, 2013.  My heart was surprised when God lavished His love on me that night, but in the best way possible.

Categories: 2013:Immeasurably More | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Today Is My Happily Ever After


I have never been a “girly girl*.”  The few pink things that I enjoy are strawberry lemonades/smoothies, the inside of a medium-rare steak, bubble gum, and the second dot in Flickr’s logo.  The only makeup I own and know how to apply is a handful of containers of nail polish.  I tried to read Pride and Prejudice, but could barely make it through the first chapter.   I work at Home Depot, and am proud of the fact that I can lift bags of mulch, pieces of lumber and 60 lb bags of concrete without any help.  My childhood consisted of playing outside, taking on boys in sports, catching frogs, and being called a princess.

I have yet to watch a Disney movie where the princess does not have a “happily ever after.”  Or any chick-flick.  The “happily ever after” comes after she is swept off her feet by her prince and challenges are overcome.  It is easy in everyday life to view your “happily ever after” as a day far off in the future,  a day that will only happen when x, y, and z are completed.  Perhaps it is when you will get your dream job, or perhaps it is your wedding day that still seems as if it is an eternity away (especially if you are still single while your friends start to get married). Perhaps your “happily ever after” will come after you’ve overcome an addiction or faced a fear that has gripped your soul for far too long.

I say that today is your “happily ever after.”  I know that your heart is probably full of confusion, hurt, disappointment, unanswered questions,  and dreams that have yet to be fulfilled; yet your heart also holds peace, joy, happiness, and excitement.  I can say that with confidence because my heart is the same way.  There is no prince in sight to sweep me off of my feet, but he’s not here yet because he probably still has some dragons to slay.  People say and do things that are hurtful, but you can release them into the beauty of forgiveness.  I eagerly anticipate the days when more of my dreams can be fulfilled, but how I choose to live today will determine what the future looks like.

I am still a princess, not simply because my mom has called me that since I was a baby.  I am still a princess because my Daddy is the King of Kings.  Because of the goodness of God, I am here today, alive, & free from sin and full of love, faith, joy, and hope.  I have wonderful memories and a future ahead of me that is held by the hands of my Creator.  It has not been an easy journey up until now—my heart still bears the now-healed scars from previous hurts—and the future will not always be easy, but who said that adventures would be easy?  Explode my soul, explode with praise because a few years ago, you couldn’t imagine being here today after first seeing the trials you would have to overcome.  A few years ago, you didn’t know what it meant to become freer in how you worship God.  You didn’t realize how beautiful you are, or that the deepest hurts from others can be forgiven and healed.

Drop whatever is preventing you from living today as your “happily ever after.”   Leave it at the foot of the Cross.  Once you do that, you are free, and “whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36). You only get to experience today one time in your entire life, so why would you want to live it as anything but full of joy?

Today is my “happily ever after” simply because I am a child of God.  My identity is found in Him alone.

Mi nombre es Susan, y yo soy una princesa.

*Over the past year or so, I was in circumstances that required me to dress up–weddings, a funeral, job interviews, certain photography events, etc.  I even bought a purse with a ruffle on it.  EVEN SO, I am still a complete tomboy at heart.

Categories: identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thirty Day [ish] Worship Journey–Day 3

I’m finally getting back to a project that I started last year.  I realized that even though I wrote about day three of my worship journey in my journal, I never posted it here–I went from day 2 to day 4.  My apologies.

Psalm 5:7-8

But I, by Your great mercy, will come into Your house; in reverence will I bow down toward Your holy temple.  Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies–make straight Your way before me.

Mercy means “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also, lenient or compassionate treatment.” God’s mercy is a GREAT thing.  Since He’s perfect, our sins are beyond completely repulsive and offensive to Him.  Even so, He loves us.  The punishment for sin is death, yet Christians don’t pay for their sins by their death.  Christ’s death was sufficient.  God’s mercy has been shown to man since the banishment of Adam & Eve from the Garden of Eden.  At the time, it didn’t seem merciful, yet it was the most merciful and loving thing God could have done.

Categories: 30 Day Worship Journey | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 26

A picture of something that means a lot to you

This is from Passion 2010 and one of my favorite images from my senior exhibition at college.

Categories: 30 Day Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 25

A picture of your favorite day

This prompt stumped me for awhile. God has blessed me with more amazing days that I can even remember–His grace is overwhelming. In the end, I settled for an image of a day that marked a huge shift in my relationship with God–March 15, 2008.

I laid my heart before God, and as a result, fell more in love with my Savior every day of the trip. As a direct result of truly encountering Jesus, my priorities in life have been shifted. To me, truly nothing else matters anymore, save following Jesus, no matter what. I don’t know where that path will lead me, but I know that I’ll be on the right path, doing what matters.

Categories: 30 Day Photo Challenge, growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journey to Adulthood

Only a few minutes earlier, I realized how close I am to being DONE with school FOREVER. It definitely is a weird concept to grasp. I remember being younger and thinking how COOL going to high school would be. College was something I could only partially understand. I had ideas of what college would be, and even those ideas astounded me. I couldn’t grasp the depth of knowledge that I would receive from college. College was a HUGE deal to the younger version me. I remember thinking it would be a huge deal to graduate college, because then I would FINALLY be a grown up.

A few minutes ago, it hit me. I’m living in the moment that I’ve been waiting for since I was a little girl. MY senior show will be in the art gallery in just over two weeks. I will have my work framed and on a gallery wall, just like in the picture. Come Friday, I will only have a month left of college…ever. Living in the moment now doesn’t seem as amazing as I thought it would when I was younger. When I was younger, I didn’t know of stress, worry, jobs; I didn’t know what “being a grown-up” would actually consist of. I remember feeling this way towards the end of my senior year in high school. I enjoyed the feeling, but I knew that I wasn’t really a “grown-up” yet–I still had college itself to experience.

Living in the knowledge that my life right now is a moment in time that I’ve waited years for is surreal. It’s hard to believe that it is actually happening. I want this moment to slow down so I can savor it before it becomes simply a memory. I don’t want to rush around and lose sight that I’m living out my dream, with this breath that is in my lungs right now. On the flip side, I’m also very excited to see what God has in store for me next. :]

Right now, I’m living out my dreams. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Dreams do come true. I am soo close to being a college graduate.

And I’m sleeping in SpongeBob pajama pants tonight.

Life is good.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thirty Day (ish) Worship Journey–Day 4

Thirty Day (ish) Worship Journey—Day 4

Psalm 6:4

Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.


Today’s phrase= unfailing love


God’s love never fails.  I can say that to be true not only because it is Scripture but because I’ve experienced it in my life.  In order to be fully able to say that His love never fails, it is necessary to be put in situations where we think it is possible for God’s love to fail.  Uncomfortable situations.  Situations that we would never choose to be in. Situations where the ground is falling out from under us.


God’s love didn’t fail me when my grandfather had cancer.

God’s love didn’t fail me when my mom had cancer.

God’s love didn’t fail me my freshman year of college, my toughest year in college.

God’s love didn’t fail me when my former track coach died in 2008.

God’s love didn’t fail me when my grandfather died suddenly in 2009.

God’s love didn’t fail me when my cousin’s son died after only two weeks of life.

God’s love didn’t fail me in high school when a friend of mine got in a car accident that she shouldn’t have been able to walk away from.

God’s love didn’t fail me when my mom and I got into a car accident in high school.

God’s love didn’t fail me when my grandmother had a mini-stroke when I was sitting right next to her.

God’s love didn’t fail me when I had an especially difficult week at camp in 2009.

God’s love didn’t fail me when I faced difficulties at camp this past summer.

God’s love didn’t fail me when I was overwhelmed with stress and schoolwork.

God’s love hasn’t failed me when I doubt Him.

God’s love hasn’t failed when I choose other things above Him.

God’s love hasn’t failed for my friend who is currently in the hospital from a very serious car accident this past Tuesday.  He’s still in Trauma ICU.  Aside from praying and comforting his fiancée, all I can do is trust in God’s unfailing love.  It hasn’t been easy by any means.   I am trusting in the fact that God is painting on a bigger canvas than I can ever see or imagine.  I am trusting that God will use this pain for good.  I am trusting that His name will be highly glorified through this situation.  I am trusting that God really is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

I’m reminded of a few additional things:

1.) Quotes from Louie Giglio at Passion::DC (part of the Fruitcake story for those who know Passion conferences)

we don’t have an option if there is pain in our life…the only option we have is if we’re going to use that opportunity to make Jesus famous, or whether in that moment, we’re gonna collapse under a theology that really wasn’t anything to start with and crumble under a faith that had never been tested by fire and have all the wonderful little statements we’ve made about God to shrivel up right in front of us because we’ve never really thought it all the way through.  and I want you to think it through with me today because your life has got some difficult days coming….in the midst of them, there is a God story to be told.  it might just be told the loudest in the midst of the pain in your life.

[“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.”]

…He’s not talking about little bitty, piddly, “I can’t find my keys” trouble, He’s talking about heart shaking, faith shaking trouble.  The kind of trouble that when the bottom drops out on us and we don’t have any idea where to turn—THAT kinda trouble is the trouble He’s talking about here.



Carried you edit

Categories: 30 Day Worship Journey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thirty Day (ish) Worship Journey: Day 2

I know, I know, I’ve been slacking a little on this. Life has just been crazy busy and I wasn’t even near a computer at all this weekend to post.

Psalm 4:7

You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

Today’s word= JOY

Many people think that joy and happiness are interchangeable. While these two concepts are related, they are not identical twins. Happiness depends on circumstances, which can change in an instant. Joy is a deep-seated emotion, built upon hope and confidence. Joy also reminds me of delight. The word delight reminds me of a message that I heard from Louie Giglio. Since “delight” is not in the common vocabulary today, Louie spent some time defining delight:

What is delight about? Delight is, you know, it’s horrible. It’s about delight. It’s about lighten up. It’s about that glow thing, that people looking at you funny thing, like, “What are you on? What are you doing? What’s your deal here?” You’re like, “It’s delight. D-E-L-I…G-H-T. It’s about the fact that God is doing something in me. I’m pursuing Him. I’m discovering Him. I’m after Him and when I get my hands on Him, I’m finding out that He’s really all that He says He is. I’m carving out priority for Him. I’m going after Him. I’m seeking for Him. I’m looking for Him. I’m making time for Him. I’m including Him and wanting to be included in Him. I’m choosing to put God in my heart, in my emotions, in my affections, in my decisions. In the daily flow of my life I’m going after God as a first choice prize. Not as some sort of tag-along, traffic cop for when I need some help, but I’m putting Him in first place in my heart and beginning to delight in Him.

Joy is permanent, especially when one’s hope and faith are in Christ. In my life, even when trials come, I find joy in Christ. Joy is why “smiling is my FAVORITE!” and why it’s hard for me NOT to smile. =] Joy is not easy to describe, but when it is in your heart, you definitely know!

Psalm 43:3-4

Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

Categories: 30 Day Worship Journey | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mountain of God

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

This was part of the topic that we discussed last night at Bible study.  Even though I had read this passage before, something entirely new came to light as we were reading it.  At the beginning of these verses, God asked Elijah what he was doing here.  God wasn’t asking this because He didn’t know what Elijah was doing there.  God is all knowing.  God was testing Elijah to see where his heart and his motives were.  God did the same thing with Adam and Eve back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7-9).  God wasn’t looking for a literal answer.

In order to fully understand the implications of God’s question, it is important to understand what happened right before Elijah had this conversation with God. Elijah was a prophet for God, speaking the words of God to the Israelites.  The Israelites had been messing up and not listening to God.  God used Elijah to call them out on their actions.  They didn’t like Elijah, obviously.  Elijah knew that he was speaking the Truth, so he organized a challenge.  The challenge went like this:

Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us.  Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.  I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord.  The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Baal never answered.  The Lord answered with fire from heaven; “when all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God!  The Lord—he is God!’”

God just came through for Elijah in a huge way.  Elijah was probably feeling on top of the world, until his life was threatened.  When God questioned Elijah about why he was on the mountain, Elijah didn’t mention what God has just done—Elijah only saw the death threat from Jezebel.  One circumstance completely changed his outlook so drastically that Elijah ends up whining and complaining to God.  Instead of answering Elijah with words, the Lord simply tells Elijah to go outside because He, the Lord, is about to pass by.  Instead of answering Elijah with words, God simply reminds Elijah of who He is. After He passes by, God, with the tenderness of a father again asks Elijah the same question.  He asked again to see if Elijah’s heart had been changed.  Elijah gave the same answer.  God then responded with the words that address Elijah’s complaint—Elijah is not the only one in Israel who is living for God.

God allowed Elijah to end up in the wilderness in such a dire situation to test him.  I was reminded of a sermon that my pastor gave last summer.  Part of what he spoke about was why God allows us to end up in the “wilderness”—why we go through trials.  Sometimes, we end up there by our own choice because we disobey God.  Other times God takes us to the wilderness as part of a “time-out.”  God also allows us to enter the wilderness after a major spiritual victory. This was the case for Elijah.

Hebrews 12:7, 11 tells us:

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Verse seven in this passage is especially crucial—the command to view hardship not as hardship but rather as discipline.  In this context, “hardship” and “discipline” are interchangeable.  The verse could then read as “…No hardship seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

As our discussion progressed, one of our questions was “How might God’s healing of a person who’s suffering affect those around us today?”  My hand shot up instantly because I knew this answer in my heart.  When God heals someone who is suffering, He is doing the same thing that He did when He passed before Elijah on the mountain.  He is showing that He is still God.  He is showing that He still cares.  He is showing how He has a bigger plan in store, of how He is painting on a canvas bigger than we can ever see or imagine.  The story of Ashley and Christa (Fruitcake and Ice Cream) was on my heart, so I briefly explained that story to the group, in addition to my personal story of my mom’s sickness all throughout college and how God used that to show me His faithfulness (among other things) and is continuing to work this situation for His glory.  If that question had been asked me in my freshman year or even earlier this year, I would have had the same response as Elijah.  The only reason that I can have a different answer is because God has awakened me to who He is and to His glory.  God had to pass by a few times in order for my heart to change, but I can say that my heart is definitely changed because of God.

Categories: growth | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at