Giving it Our All

I have been very challenged lately to stop skating through life. It seems so easy at times to go through days, weeks, and months even without taking stock of your life, without really committing yourself to anything of value. God has been banging on my heart with a cry to get real, to stop going through the motions of life, and to start really LIVING!
We are doing a series at church right now called "Live Like You Were Dying," and it challenges us to reevaluate our priorities and our life's focus. Stop giving 90% to what you are doing: to your relationships, to your ministry, to your causes, to your God. If you believe something, take a stand. If you love someone, live like it. If you want to make a change, do so. We only have this one life to make a difference. If you have dreams that are big enough for you to reach on your own, dream bigger. God is more magnificent, more powerful, more loving than anything we can know...give your life over to him, totally and without reservation. Let Him grow your dreams. Let Him build your relationships. Let Him guide your days, giving every second to him. There's not a moment to waste. It's time for us to step up to the plate and to knock one out of the park!

"For with You is the spring of life. In Your light shall we see light."
-Psalm 36:9

"For life is a tenuous thing: fragile, fleeting. Don't wait for tomorrow. Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!"


Burn, Baby, Burn!

Last night, we "spent" our rain check from New Year's Eve. Every New Year's Eve, my sister-in-law Melissa's family all gets together, plays bunco, eats food, and burns Christmas trees in a giant bon fire. This year, Mikey, me, and Oscar and Maria Sanchez were invited to join the Combs in their New Year's festivities, but sadly, it rained. So while we got to play bunco and gorge ourselves on dips and desserts, all of the Christmas trees were safe. So we've been waiting for it to dry up a bit around here, and last night, we had the bonfire with a bunch of friends! Chad (Mikey's bro and Melissa's husband) found over twenty more trees yesterday, and let me tell you, these trees may burn fast, but they are HOT!!! I think mine and Mikey's made the hugest, fastest fire because we only watered the poor guy like four or five times in the whole month that we had him! :) lol. All of the trees definitely kept us more than warm for the hours we were out there enjoying the show :)

If you look past the fire, you can see Oscar and Carly trying to stay on the bench the whole night!
Me and Melissa :)
With my wonderful husband :)


Running the Race

Growing up, I always knew about God, and I got to a point in my life, around the end of middle school, when I realized that the God I'd always learned about was worth living for. I decided to devote myself to serving him, and while I was far from perfect, I kept Him as a very central figure. Then, I grew up some more, and I got tired of being looked at as the "perfect" one. I was sick of people pointing out my smallest mistakes because they thought they were so rare. I decided that people needed to realize that I am just as human as everyone else, and I stopped trying so hard to be like God.
I didn't stop loving God or seeking Him. I just stopped watching myself so closely; I stopped praying so ardently to look more like him. And my lack of diligence was rewarded with a lack of godliness. When we seek God, He is there to be found. But when we ignore God, we fail to recognize not only His presence in our daily lives, but also His grandness. So I got my wish, and I stopped being labeled so strictly as the "goody two shoes" of any group, but I also fell out of step with the Holy Spirit (a concept originating in the Bible and brought back to my attention by Francis Chan's book Forgotten God). What I've since realized is that we do not need to try to reveal our human nature. It is always there with us, drawing us to live life for ourselves, to worry about our own way, to forget the greatness of God's way. And while God is also always there, He needs more of an invitation into our lives than our own self interests do. That is why it is so important to actively seek God, to look to the Holy Spirit for guidance, to pray wholeheartedly and on every occasion. If we are claiming to be children of God, let's embrace and try to honor our Father, our Abba, with our whole lives, with every breath! He is perfect and holy and magnificent, and He is definitely worth our all!
So if you're like I was (and sometimes can still be), I just want to send out a word of encouragement to keep running the race and fighting the good fight. How much better to live for the God of the Universe than for our self-interests or a normal reputation! God is close at hand. His Spirit is alive in our hearts and lives. We just need to listen to His guidance and to seek His face (not our own!). And, in the end, the race will be well worth it!

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is"
-Ephesians 5: 15-17

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace"
-Romans 8:6

"I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize"
-1 Corinthians 9:26-27