>Being sifted as wheat

>It’s not a fun process. It’s not easy, not painless. But it’s totally necessary. Just like Peter, we must be “sifted like wheat” in order to solidify our oneness with the Father.

The Lord doesn’t let us go through hard times to punish us, as many have been taught. He loves us, and just like a parent loves a child, He loves us with a tough love sometimes. Fortunately, His love is absolutely perfect and drives out all fear (1 John 4).

I have been convicted of unbelief in the last several months. When we don’t believe that God can do what He says He can do, we are calling Him a liar and attesting to our arrogance that we can actually do it without Him.

Truth is, we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5).

How am I being sifted? By having to be totally reliant on the Lord for my strength, joy, comfort, and peace. No human can provide all those things in perfection to me. No one can provide enough physical comfort, least of all my husband who is over 6,000 miles away. There is nothing else I can do but cast all my cares upon him (Ps. 55:22, 1 Pet. 5:7).

I feel like I am like Peter right now, telling the Lord that yes! I will never deny You! But then I deny Him every time I don’t believe that He can do “the thang” (Beth Moore speak). Just like the Lord predicts Peter’s denial, He knows that I will fail in my weakness time and time again. My perfectionism will do nothing to save me, only the grace of God that is sufficient in our weakness (1 Cor. 12:9). That verse goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Man, it’s a good thing I don’t and can’t do it on my own. Why in the world would I want my power, whatever that is, instead of Christ’s power?

I need to seek Him, to call out. “Call to me and I will tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). I looked up “call” in my Hebrew dictionary and it gave synonyms such as, “cry, invite, mention, read, say, properly address by name”. It seems like a simple command, but sometimes it can be complicated to put all else aside and truly call out with fervor and humility.

In Isaiah, God asks why we spend our money and labor on things that do not satisfy (55:2). Why do we? We are filling a void. It’s much easier to be passive about life and fill our lives with things that do not satisfy than take the initiative to shut out all others and focus just on the Lord in our prayer/study time. It’s much easier to let life happen.

That verse goes on to say, “Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.” He will provide for all our needs according to His riches. HIS riches, not the world’s!

I guess this is a jumble of all the thoughts going through my mind this evening. I love it when Scripture comes together in a seamless way, and I love how I am reminded of verses throughout the Bible, Old and New Testament. I can’t always remember exactly where they are, but I know they’re there.

There is no doubt that this is a time of sifting, just like with Peter. There is obviously something great that the Lord has planned for me and my husband, and it will go beyond anything I could ever imagine for myself. Whatever it is, I knew it would take preparation and maturity.

There is pain in the offering, but it’s an offering. I’m not hiding my difficulty or emotions, or hoarding whatever strength I can claim as my own.

It’s all laid at the foot of the cross, exactly where it should be. In the end, I will know what it is to call out to God, to listen, to live by His precepts, and to truly find His strength in my weakness.

>Growing weary.

>I feel like more often than not in the past few weeks I’ve been at the end of my rope with this separation. Let me tell you, though, that I am not looking for a  pity party or sympathy. I share this with you so I can continue to be transparent and real. Most of the time I am content with my, our, life right now. I really have no other choice unless I want to drive myself crazy with worry, anxiety and fear.

I know it’s just a little longer until everything works out for us, and it will be worth it in the end. These past fifteen months have shown my husband and I so much about our relationship and how well we communicate our feelings, fears and events in our separate lives. In no way do I feel like we’ve ended up lower than when we started. It’s been a long road, with dips along the way, but it’s been uphill and so worth it. We’ve made many sacrifices, not so we can collect accolades, but so that we can make even better decisions in the future.

I am so thankful that I can rely on God’s strength when I’m at my wit’s end. When I have no slack left, I just let it go.

I guess I thought this particular entry would be longer, but I have nothing else to say on this topic.. God is good, He takes care of us and responds to the humble, He protects our hearts and minds. If He can create the heavens and the earth then surely He can respond to my weak spirit with the strength of His grace. To say anything else is blasphemy.

>Eating clean and going green.

>Disclaimer: I haven’t completely been eating clean and going 100% green.. but I thought it was a clever title. 😉

I’ve really been getting into eating more fruits and veggies lately, and I crave them. I find that I don’t even crave a Big Mac and fries anymore. The thought of fast food (with the exception of Subway and Chinese takeout) make me want to hurl, most days. I used to get McD’s at least once every couple weeks just to satisfy that craving.  I had Steak n Shake last week.. just the $4 chicken strips/fries and a Jr. shake and my stomach was not happy with me!

Last week I tried a dairy-free diet, just to see how my body would react, and it lasted until about Thursday. I think less dairy would be good, though, instead of going completely dairy-free. I don’t have an intolerance or allergy. I do, however, like the taste and consistency of soy and almond milk. My friend Darla made me a latte on Friday with almond milk and it was so good! I already used almond flour/meal in baking because I like the taste. I started using it to substitute in baking when Aaron was losing weight to join the Army. Haven’t stopped buying it since. All the grains I eat or make at home are whole grains. I tend to like white whole wheat flour to bake with, and I also substitute with oats and almond flour. I still like white bread though!

I’ve been using a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar to clean, the idea of which I got from my cousin Michelle. It really does help keep the stainless steel sink clean since the water is so hard. The smell usually goes away when it dries. I like it because I can disinfect the counters and not have to move things like produce that I have sitting there because vinegar is not toxic. I also like that it’s super cheap. I bought a cute cheap spray bottle at Michaels and it seems like I’ve been cleaning the counters more. I can’t really go without cleaning them often because they’re white. Everything in this apartment is white. My current predicament is that it smells. I’m not a huge fan, but I think I will try adding lemon or an essential oil.

I never thought I’d be at this place in my thought process, trying out new ways to clean besides Comet and Mr. Clean and eating different things than your typical white all-purpose flour and such. However, it’s fun since I have the time to try these things out and see what works. I want to make my own laundry detergent with a Borax mix. I hope I can find that in Korea. It will be so much cheaper than Tide! (I am really partial to Tide and April Fresh Downy.)

I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely frugal or go organic. There are certain things I will never give up, like ice cream and Pledge! I hope, however, than if we get a chance to settle down, that I can have a garden and grow fruits and veggies and herbs.

I have to say, I’m quite liking this stay-at-home wife gig. 

>truths to cling to

>1. God is who He says He is.
2. I am who God says I am.
3. God can do what He says He can do.
4. I can do all things through Christ.
5. God’s Word is alive and active in me.

Those are from Believing God by Beth Moore.

6. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
7. I may be at my wit’s end, but for God, a wit’s end doesn’t even exist.
8. God loves me and wants the best for me.
9. From Patrick’s message this morning, a true worshipper seeks to do the will of God.
10. I am a true worshipper; I worship in Spirit and in truth.
11. “Humble King, You go before me..” (Hillsong) The Lord goes before us and prepares us for what lies ahead.
12. My body is a living sacrifice and a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Those are my current truths I am striving to live by.

About once a week I feel like I hit a huge brick wall, similar to the Great Wall of China. I feel like I can go no farther in my faith. I’m tired, I’m weary of waiting, I have no patience to spare for my situation. I’m tempted to slip back into my hole of depression and feel sorry for myself.

But remembering what the Lord has done (Psalm 126) makes those tendencies into foolishness. Only fools continue in their folly.. I continue in the truth and love of the Savior. I can have faith because I have faith in a timeless and unchanging God. When I can continue no longer, He picks up the slack. “The road is narrow but the burden is light.” It’s a narrow road to walk in the Way, but thankfully the Lord picks up our burdens and carries them for us, purging us of our need to carry it all on our tired shoulders.

“Humble King, You go before me. By your grace I live by everything that’s true.”

>embracing life

>what does the word “embrace” mean? i think it means something more than acceptance or tolerance. something more like a willingness to adapt and even enjoy the changes that come our way.

over the past few days, specifically the last eight hours, i have felt like i’ve been embracing my life. and learning how to deal with it with grace, thank the Lord.

running to me brings me joy, and pain. no pain, no gain. this morning i felt a little defeated because i hadn’t run since last wednesday. i was slacking on my training schedule. i was talking to aaron this morning and asked him if he’d ever run in the rain. stupid question for a soldier. but he told me to have fun. so. i tied my shoes, put on a very not-white t-shirt, and went. i ran the prescribed 3.5 miles. i forgot my HRM so i didn’t time it. but who cares? i finished it without stopping and actually enjoyed myself. i’m guessing it was around 40 minutes.

wow. i felt like a kid, especially running down the hills i had trudged up on the opposite way. i even smiled to myself and thought about how crazy i looked to most people. again, who cares? it was so great! i feel like i’m breaking through that mental wall. actually looking forward to my sunday five-miler. i signed up for two 5k’s within the next few weeks, too. aaron said that for my “reward” for finishing my first half marathon i can get an ipod touch. he’s not a huge fan, but i really want one. i think it’s a perfect motivation!

i’ve stopped giving into emotional manipulation, guilt trips and such. it’s hard because it seems to be ingrained to either give in or participate myself. however, i am not enabling others anymore. of course, i pray about the right course of action and that i speak the truth in love (eph. 4:15).

i am also learning to forgive 7 times 70 (matthew 18). maybe God is keeping me in illinois for right now so i can settle debts.

i had some collective soul on my mp3 player and while i was running heard this lyrics from “precious declaration”: “now i’m cleansed with hopefulness”. that’s how i feel.

>my life without a tv and other things

>i write to you this morning from my kitchen table as i enjoy a homemade iced coffee and a piece (or two or three) of great harvest’s apple cinnamon crunch bread. i have already talked to my sweetheart, been to body pump (thanks to megan for keeping me accountable!) and showered/prepared for the day. and it’s not even 11!

today i plan to continue reading power of a praying wife and my study of a line she uses in her book, and i paraphrase, “a miracle happens with prayer, a submitted heart, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.” sigh. how i wish i had a ctrl+f function in real books. so, i’m taking those three things and finding references in the Bible and breaking it down further to the hebrew/greek. can’t wait to blog about it!

so. to the title. when we moved in, we had cable up to 100-some channels and internet. after the 12-month promotion was over, i went down to 20 channels +  internet. i told comcast i was not paying $100/month for regular cable and internet. and i wasn’t home much anyway between work, exercising and family. then, i cancelled the cable. so we’ve had only internet for about six months. a little bit ago my sister came and took our tv, tv stand and entertainment cabinet for her new studio apartment. we plan on buying a brand-new tv (ours had been a 15-yr-old hand-me-down from my parents) and tv stand (and ps3, speakers, etc). that was almost two months ago.

how can i survive without a tv? well, i watch my favorite shows on the internet. i had watched biggest loser, and followed army wives a little bit. but overall, i rarely watch movies unless it’s with friends. i have a hard time sitting still for so long by myself. when aaron was home on leave, we watched quite a bit of smallville using my laptop, which has a great picture and “surround sound” (whatever that means for a laptop). after he left, i stopped watching it. i didn’t want to go ahead with season 8 without him. 🙂

i’ve found my overall outlook on life is better. i get very emotionally involved with tv shows and movies. my mind has become more pure, for sure. of course it will when it’s not affected by the violence, cussing and sex found in movies and tv. before i’ve never really felt a conviction on r-rated movies. now i find myself scrutinizing the reasons of why it’s labeled “r”. if there’s nudity, lots of sex-related content, bloody gore, i don’t watch it. i still like your typical action sniperish movies like the bourne series. recently i watched shutter island and enjoyed that one. i’m just much more careful now.

i have a hard time watching army wives because of how close it can hit to home. i figure we’ll be going through a deployment soon enough; why waste my emotions and energy on one that’s not even real?

now, when i go to someone’s house, it’s a treat to “get to” watch tv. it’s a way for me to relax, rather than a way to constantly occupy my mind. i can also watch it at the gym since every treadmill has its own tv.

i want to spend less time on the internet. i really don’t do a whole lot. i facebook (yes, it’s a verb), go to my army wives board, twitter, blogger, and the weather channel. none of it is bad, per se, but there can be too much.

all in all, i’m looking forward to not having to have a relationship with skype. nothing compares to actually being with my husband in the same city, country, time zone. how i took these things for granted before, even when he was in master’s commission.

yesterday…

i bought my first pair of AE jeans yesterday. i had a $10 off $40 purchase coupon and decided to use it. my sister, who is 5’10” and about 30 pounds lighter than me with longer legs, raves about their jeans. i can see why. i tried on three pairs that fit well, but got the “new boyfriend” jeans. so comfortable! i will only shell out that much for jeans when they fit like a glove.

starting today, i’m going to try a dairy-free diet for a week to see how it affects things. at the girls’ night in at kramer chiropractic (i was a guest of a patient) they mentioned trying either a gluten-free or dairy-free diet for a week or two to see if you have an intolerance. hmm. we’ll see. i buy soy milk anyway because regular milk goes bad so fast with only me drinking it.

have a great day, and a great start to the week. as tracy says in the video with “koolaid hurr”, “peace and blessings, peace and blessings.”

>i feel like kristi northup wrote this for me

>Jesus, do something new in me
It’s not that I don’t love You anymore
I just feel empty
Jesus, I’m tired of spending time
On things that may appear to be for You
But they define me

Restore to me the joy of my salvation
The genuine elation I found when I found You
Restore to me a passion for what’s holy
A longing for the lowly in everything I do

Jesus, sometimes I just forget
How quickly I can lose myself in You
When I cease striving
Jesus, I want to just let go
I’m longing for that secret place, and yet
My flesh is fighting

Take not Your Holy Spirit,
Take not Your Holy Spirit from me
But grant me a willing spirit
A willing spirit to sustain me

>strange week

>i’m glad this week is almost over. i’ve made a complete 180* turn-around in my attitude. last saturday i slept for a good portion of the day and felt sorry for myself that i was here and he was there. this saturday i got up, went to the farmer’s market downtown (i really love peoria, little known fact) and then worked on addy’s pageant dress. she will be a princess! then my cousin, his wife, and another couple and i went to a really good steak place for dinner. it was nice to get out with christian adults.

i have skipped two of my days on my training schedule. i really have no good reason except the whiny, “i just don’t want to”. tomorrow i’m supposed to go for a four-miler. if anything, i will get back on track on monday.

as we’re apart more, it gets easier and harder at the same time. it’s easy for me to go to bed by myself since i’ve been doing it for 15 months now. it’s easy to take care of the apartment, especially now that i’m not working. it gets easier to say goodbye. but it also gets more difficult to enjoy my time out with people when i know he’d love to partake in the fun.

we joked around about taking my laptop everywhere i go with him on webcam, and setting the computer in a chair with a booster seat. haha.

in the midst of all of this, God has surrounded me with good people who love the Lord, who support me emotionally, listen to me and offer heartfelt advice. He’s placed a good number of people in my life who are in their mid to upper 20’s, either with kids or without. He’s placed people to fill in every role: mom, sister, friend, aunt, grandma. it’s been great.

now off to enjoy the rest of the evening and actually have the morning to myself tomorrow! i love playing on the worship team, but it’s refreshing to have a sunday off.

next week’s goals:
-get back on track with half marathon training
-start doing my korean book!

>sun tea weather

>i’m sitting in the nice air-conditioning watching my sun tea brew. i can’t wait to take a sip! i love how it’s still warm even after putting tons of ice cubes in it. mmm.

i had a nice time in normal. yesterday was hotter than hades, but we found everything they needed for addy’s barnyard animal themed party. we went out to lunch with my grandparents at a mexican place. i was able to practice spanish with our waiter. that was neat. since i’ve been listening to the “con todo” album by hillsong, i’ve been thinking and dreaming in spanish more.

i hung out for a little bit at my grandparents’. my grandpa is truly a master knitter and is now making hats for cancer patients. he’s made prayer shawls, purses, everything. he’s really talented. so i showed him my yoga mat bag so far and he said it was good.

emily and i went to her friend’s house for dinner. her friend and her husband live in this adorable apartment inside a huge old house. we played mario kart for the wii and ate an indian dish that her friend made. i looooove curry. it was so good, especially with the rice cooked perfectly.

i took emily grocery shopping last night for healthy food. we cooked up some stir fry and brown rice at midnight. it was delicious though. i had only a bite as it was way past my bedtime!

i’m home now. the table is cleaned off, dishes are done, bathrooms are cleaned, and vacuuming is done. i’m ready for a nap, possibly, then i will go for my three-mile run i should have done yesterday. with the help of sparkpeople i plotted a new three-mile course around the neighborhood. then i want to make a soup with the kale and carrots i cooked last night as the base. maybe i’ll throw in some chicken and whole wheat noodles.

i like to pray in the shower. i mean, God sees us no matter what we’re doing, so i figure why not pray when i’m washing my hair? it’s amazing how prayer does not have to be intricate or wordy. all God requires is that we have faith in what we pray. praying in the name of Jesus is quite a big deal, so we need to take it seriously. so, as usual, i prayed for this korea thing to keep going.

i’ve been refusing to check the waitlist because it honestly drives me nuts to see that we haven’t moved. well, i talked to aaron this morning on webcam via starbucks’ free wifi, and he told me we were 39 out of 73! God is good. the list used to have only 46 families on it. if we hadn’t gotten our paperwork through by emailing and bugging people, we might be at the end of that list. praise You, Lord!

i want to glorify God in this situation. i want to show everyone how big my God is and what He can do. i want to grow the fruits of patience and self-control. i’m going to be patient and control myself so God can move.

ok. tea time.

>up with the sun

>ok, so i’m not up that early, but i have been getting up anywhere from 6-7 am this week. aaron calls me on skype around that time, because it’s his evening in korea. it’s been refreshing, honestly, even though i’d rather sleep till 8 or 9. but it gets my day going and then i’m tired at a decent time at night.

today i’m headed over to normal to see my grandparents and then go first-birthday-party shopping with my cousin’s wife, aunt and little addy. then i’m staying the night at emily’s. that will be fun! one of her coworkers is having us over for dinner.

i really love having a meal at someone’s house rather than eating out. it’s nice to get to know people on their own turf because they seem much more relaxed.

i have accepted the fact that i might be here for a few more months. i’m not sure how long it will be. you know how God works – as soon as you’re comfortable where you are, He moves you around again! that’s the story of my life. but i’m happy i’ve finally come to this place.

the only thing that bothers me is not having a job. we get my last paycheck in august and after that we are on a pretty tight budget. we will still be able to save and pay extra on debt. i would like to pay off this last credit card ($1200 after this month!) with the extra we’ll have from my next two paychecks. then we can really dig in to the darned student loans.

like i said before, i don’t feel led to find a job. i’m really trying to not speak out of laziness. i definitely don’t want to be lazy. but my odds are against me. i’m not going to go into a prospective employer and not tell them i’m leaving soon. they have to know why i quit my last job.

maybe i will get more involved with church. or volunteer at an animal shelter. or volunteer at a school. i don’t know. but i feel like soon the heavens will be open wide with opportunities for me, either here or in korea. i know i just need to keep praying for direction. the Lord orders the steps of the righteous.

i’m looking into some 5K races i can do over the next couple months. i’d be excited to sign up for them!

i just continue praying that God will endow aaron and me with wisdom, discernment, direction and peace. oh and love too. can’t forget that one. 😉