daniel 1, part 2

So, on Tuesday, I talked about Daniel. Now, let’s take a look at Nebuchadnezzar.

First, we need some background information. Egypt and Babylon were at war, and Israel was allies with Egypt. So, Babylon, under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar, attacked Egypt and Jerusalem (the capital of Israel). Because Israel was being disobedient to God with idol worship and other sins, God allowed Babylon to take some Israelites captive as a punishment.” And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God” (vs 2).

Here is some personal speculation. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of this massive empire. He probably thought he was in control. He thought he was doing just as he wanted. Um, sorry, but no.

What he had was given to him by God (vs 2). If God had not allowed it, Israel would not have been overtaken by Babylon, and the Israelites would not have been taken captive. Also, he probably didn’t know about the water and vegetables diet. God blessed them, and he benefited from their wisdom. That was not the result of his order that they be taught. That was the consequence for their faith in Christ.

God is in control. God is always in control. Every beautiful and good thing that you have comes from Him (James 1:17). So you need to stop taking advantage of what you think you did on your own and give Him the credit.

**Keep in mind that some of this is my opinion based on the facts of the Bible but not totally rooted in Biblical truth. I would encourage you to read Daniel 1 for yourself.

daniel 1, part 1

Daniel 1. It’s the story about how Daniel and his friends got kidnapped with a bunch of other people and were told to eat the food and wine of the king. Daniel asked if him and his friends could eat vegetables and were put on a trial period. They ended up being healthier than the others. Pretty simple story, right? If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve heard it at least 10 times – if not like 500 times. But there is a lot more to it.

First, let’s talk about Daniel. Rich, handsome, intelligent (vs 3-4). He was instructed to eat “of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank” (vs 5). There was no choice, but he decided that he would not eat the king’s food. (If you want to better understand why the food is a big deal, check out Exodus 34:15.) He goes to the chief of the eunuchs to ask about eating something else. This was a pretty daring move. He is in enemy territory, and they could have hurt him – or worse. Afraid of the king, the chief of the eunuchs says no. He goes then to the steward and requests a trial period in which he eat vegetables and drink water for ten days. Daniel didn’t give up. He set his mind to doing God’s will and believed that God would take care of it. Seeing that they looked better than the others, they were allowed to continue this diet. And God blessed them for it, because He gave them “learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions an dreams” (vs 17). It continues, “And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom” (vs. 20).

So, in summary, Daniel had to make a really tough decision. He chose to follow God when that wasn’t an option. Because he followed God and did His will, God blessed Him and allowed Him to prosper where he was. We have difficult decisions to make, and sometimes there is no other choice. We need to figure out what is holding us back from faith like Daniel’s, and then we need to just fix it.

looking for lovely

There is a book called “Looking for Lovely” by Annie F. Downs. And I haven’t gotten very far, but I am loving it. It is making me reevaluate the way I see myself and it is causing me to question everything. It’s good and I love the fact that I’m reading through it with about 10 other ladies.

If you don’t believe that the way you are is God-made and God-loved, the good and the bad, the tight and the flabby, the old and the new, the strengths and the weaknesses, you are missing out on connecting with God on a level that only comes to those who embrace and love His creations. (And that includes you.)

You’re different. Whether you call yourself that or you tend to believe you can just fade into the background, you are different. You are unique. You are the only you there is. God did that on purpose. There are people who see you and see your life and because of the ways you remind them of God, they see Him too. But they see Him differently because of you than they do because of me. It doesn’t add pressure for us to be perfect (because I am not), but it just reminds me that I’m put together differently from you. And that’s okay. And that’s good. (pages 43-44)

Here is a little challenge from her book. I haven’t done it yet, but I will later this week.

Set your alarm tomorrow to see the sunrise. Don’t tell me you don’t know when it happens because one Google search will tell you the exact minute. (Oh, technology, we love you.) About twenty minutes before the sun is to rise, get in a place where you can see the eastern sky. That way you see how dark it is before dawn. You know it in your heat. If your life feels so dark that sometimes you have no idea where the light is going to come from, go there early and watch the sunrise.

And afterwards? Read Psalm 19. You’ll thank me later.

That’s my mission before school starts up next Monday. I’m going to go and watch the sunrise.

Just remember. God made you with a purpose. And when your life feels so dark that you can’t see it, go watch the sunrise and spend time with Him. The sun has to set and the sky has to get dark in order for the sun to rise in all its glory.

live with no regrets

My grandma died in June 2015, and it hasn’t been an easy journey since. But every difficult day is a reminder of one thing: I can’t change the past. I have a lot of regrets, and I could have prevented at least some of them. But I can’t change that now. I need to learn and move on – but that is much harder said than done.

There is a very likely possibility that she may have died intentionally because of the decision to skip medications she needed. In looking back, I see other signs that seems to make this very likely possibility even more probable. This is the source of many regrets, and I am learning that I cannot blame myself for what I did not realize was happening. The questions that I ask myself are: what if I said “I love you” more often, and should I have prayed for her more, and what else could I have done differently.

With my grandpa, who died about two years before my grandma, I ended every visit with “I love you” and made sure I meant those words in my heart, so that I would not regret the last thing I spoke to him. Looking back, I can say that the last words I ever told him were “I love you.” I started this less than a year before his passing, when it was becoming increasingly more evident that he would soon pass away. I didn’t this with my grandma. She wasn’t getting increasingly more sick, and she seemed to be doing fine. I know of similar stories. I have had friends of friends die recently. Healthy young adults die of heart attacks, teenagers end their lives after showing no signs,…

Live with no regrets. Tell people you love them. Who knows? It might be the last time you see them. Leave nothing unsaid. You might not have another chance to tell them what you need to say. This is the hardest part for me, because I tend to procrastinate the more difficult conversations. Don’t go to sleep angry, because they might not be there tomorrow to forgive. Life is short. It is here, and then it is gone. Don’t forget that. I made that mistake once, and I have to live with the decisions I made. I also have to move on; for me, moving on means learning and not repeating that same mistake.

Live with no regrets. Tell people that you love them. Leave nothing unsaid. Don’t go to sleep angry. Remember that life is short. One day, tomorrow won’t come, so live with no regrets.

a reflection on life in light of the ressurection

I know, I missed an entire week of posting. I needed to take some time to think and process things. I needed to take some time to think about who God is and who I am in light of that. I learned some things this week. None of it was really new, but it reminded me why I need to continue the fight.

Isaiah 53 prophecies Jesus’ death on the cross. He suffered for us. He suffered so that we could be healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:5 says that “by His stripes we are healed.” Because of His wounds, we can be made free.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We say God can do anything, right? Then, why did Jesus have to die? Can’t God just forgive everyone? This kind of thinking puts us in a weird place. It puts us in the place where we find questions like, “Can God make a stone so big He can’t lift it?” Rather than talking about what He can do, let’s think about what He will do. If we know that He won’t do something, then it doesn’t really matter if He can do it or not, because He isn’t going to do it even if He could. To put this into simpler words, it makes more sense for us to talk about what He will or will not do than to talk about what He can or cannot do.

That said, He won’t do anything that is not consistent with His promises and with His character. Because He is holy, just, and righteous, it would be inconsistent with His character for Him to allow sinners to go free. Because He is loving and merciful, it would be inconsistent with His character for Him to not show mercy and grace. Therefore, He could not let sinners go free, and He had to provide some sort of redemption. That is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Jesus died so that we don’t have to die (spiritually).

So, then, what does this mean for us? It means that the God of the universe sent His only Son to die for us so that we could be made free. It means that Jesus left heaven to die for simple-minded humans who cannot begin to understand the idea of infinity. It means that we are loved by the one who can strike people dead and can heal sickness. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV). We were purchased with His blood. We are made whole through His suffering. We are healed to serve Him. Our bodies are His, and our spirits are His. This means that we need to glorify Him in the way that we treat ourselves. Self-harm hurts Him too, because we belong to Him. If we waste our lives, if we give up this fight, it’s over. It’s over and there is no going back. We have one life, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t make a permanent decision to end the struggle of something temporary. Keep fighting, and keep living for Him, because one day those who trust in Him will be in heaven, a place with no more pain and no more tears.

And if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, I can tell you right now that you will not find hope anywhere else. I haven’t found peace anywhere else and I don’t know anyone who has. You will never be at peace until you’re whole, and only Jesus can fill the empty you feel. If you want to talk to someone about this, email me via the contact form on the about page. I’d love to answer any questions and let you know about some resources.

Don’t give up, because you only have one life. Give up your life and it’s gone. You were bought at a price, so use your life and your body to glorify Him.

dealing with death

When someone you love passes away, it is hard. And I think it’s always harder than we expect. It’s hard when we have to do the little things they used to do, because it’s a reminder that they aren’t there to do those things anymore. It’s hard during holidays when we want to go visit them but we can’t. It’s hard to see other people with their grandparents, parents, children, friends, whoever when we have recently lost our own.

I often fail to notice the little things they do until they stop doing the little things. I will find myself expecting the yearly birthday card. It never comes. The $10 I got every birthday and Christmas… that won’t come either. I look forward to those visits on Easter, once or twice during the summer, on Thanksgiving, around Christmastime, and maybe another time during winter break or spring break. I wonder if my parents planned anything with them. Nope. Oh yeah, they’re not here to be visited. I miss the corn that was always cooked to perfection (You could taste the love that went into it). I miss the 20-minute phone calls asking if my grandma needs more ink for the printer or food or anything else. I miss sitting next to my grandfather and being with him, even if he thought I was someone else because Alzheimer’s had erased his memory to several years before I was born.

I might never understand why people close to us die. I might never understand why 5 year-old children are taken from their parents or why young adults die in their sleep. Here is the good news: we don’t have to understand. It doesn’t really sound like good news – at first. But it is. It is good news because it takes the pressure off of us and puts it onto a God who does have a plan. It isn’t easy, as well all know, because it requires a lot of faith in God. We have to believe that He does have a purpose for the death of the seemingly healthy 19-year-old who died of a sudden heart attack and for the death of a grandma when it was least expected.

From my personal experience, death can be what leads people to Christ. Their Bible is discovered when going through their belongings. Scripture is read at the funeral. The dying person lives a testimony of faith all the way until death. Dealing with their death causes renewed faith in Christ, because there is nowhere else to go. This doesn’t really make it any easier. It simply gives us a reason to trust God more.

Death is hard and confusing. We won’t always understand why someone had to die, and that’s ok. We might miss them every day for the rest of our lives. But God allows death for a reason, and we need to trust that He is working and doing things that we can’t see.

panic attacks: what they feel like

TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses panic attacks.

What I’m about to say is hard for me to talk about for three reasons:

  1. It’s hard to put everything into words.
  2. It feels vulnerable.
  3. It’s scary for me to think about my own thoughts afterwards.

Realize that the thoughts and experiences can be different for everyone. Also, not every panic attack is the same and not every panic attack is this bad. Click below if you want to read a detailed explanation of what panic attacks feel like for me. Continue reading “panic attacks: what they feel like”

learning to rest in the peace and promises of God

I Will Rest – City Harbor
I will rest, I will rest
In the promises that You
Have given me
I will rest, I will rest
All Your goodness
And Your mercy follow me
They follow me

I will not fear
I won’t forget
That you are always near
Even when the road I walk’s unclear
In the waiting I’ll be still
And know that You are God, You are God

You’re my Shelter, my Refuge
Fortress for my soul
I will trust You
You’re my Shepherd, my Rescue
Forever my stronghold
I will trust You, trust You

Calm. Peace. Rest. Safe. Those words should be comforting, but sometimes they feel a bit intimidating. They feel like an impossible dream sometimes. People talk about we don’t have to be anxious because we have God, but that’s easier said than done – especially for someone with generalized anxiety disorder.

Sometimes, we think that putting up walls will make us more safe. So we keep it in. We internalize it. But the best thing to do is to take it – all of it – to God. We are commanded in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We are to bring our requests before God with thanksgiving. Ever prayed and felt worse? You probably came to God with the wrong attitude. I tend to do that a lot. Sometimes, I don’t go to Him to prevent having that weird feeling. We want God to fix everything and forget to give thanks for what He has already given us. We focus on the anxiety and the bad memories instead of remembering His promises and the good memories.

Philippians 4:7 continues, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I have felt the peace of God and it is a beautiful feeling that is beyond words. It only comes when most needed. This is just a theory, but I wonder if it rarely comes so that we can appreciate it more in those few moments when it is there. A few years ago, I was dealing with some medical issues and wasn’t getting answers. I was sick. I had lost a lot of weight and was constantly tired. My doctor and mom were afraid I’d only live for another year. I had a few diagnoses but something was missing. That day, I screamed at God. Tears streamed down my cheeks. This lasted for a while; I don’t even know how long. All of a sudden, I half-fell into my chair. I was crying still, but I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t happy but I had this sort of contentment and peace. It came out of nowhere. I remember vividly the way it felt, but I can’t really describe it. It’s so beautiful that there aren’t words in English to describe it. I guess things kind of happened out of order that day: I brought everything to God, then felt His peace, and then brought it to Him with thanksgiving. (I did see another doctor and am doing really well now though still have some symptoms.)

The song I quoted at the beginning is one that has been encouraging to me lately. It talks about how we often put up walls for protection but end up not being strong enough. It talks about resting in God’s promises. Resting in His promises has two parts: remembering how He has always kept His promises and believing that He will keep His promises. Resting in His promises is remembering that this isn’t your first panic attack, and that He has been there for every one. Resting in His promises is believing that He is always there and you can never escape His love. Resting in God is living, struggling, fighting with the peace of knowing that we will one day be in a place with no more pain and no more suffering. And with this rest comes a spirit of thanksgiving. You can’t reflect on how He has always been there without being at least a tiny bit thankful.

2016 was very challenging emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. To be honest, I didn’t expect to live to 2017. A lot has changed in the last few weeks. I’m growing closer to Christ, and I want to get better. I am learning to rest in the God who gives me the strength to do what my anxiety tells me I can’t. I have been drawing energy and strength to keep fighting from the God who gives rest in the middle of the storm. For me, resting in God is like feeling a sense a peace while in a kayak without a paddle on the Pacific Ocean during a typhoon. Everything around me is still hard and I have to keep fighting every day.

God brought me through 2016, and He will give me the strength to survive the storms of 2017.