Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Blog

I've decided to start using WordPress for my blog. Be sure to update the link to my blog - rachelblack07.wordpress.com

Monday, August 1, 2011

Love Notes Returned

Mondays are always hard, today was made a little easier as I read His little love notes to me. Look around...they're everywhere.

*A delicious bowl of watermelon to start my day
*Starbucks...yum
*Calm in the face of a situation at work
*A resolution to said situation that ended up NOT costing my company $2600
*Getting through much more of my work than I anticipated getting done today
*Free Chipotle for lunch!
*Resolving a years-long conflict with a friend
*The peace that comes from the freedom of resolving that conflict
*A relaxing drive home
*Enjoying the quiet in my house
*Walking to the mailbox in the sun

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New adventures

I feel like I've been on many adventures in the last couple months.

Adventure #1 - I threw my first baby shower at the beginning of June for a couple girls at work. I've never thrown a baby shower before, and I'm glad another co-worker co-hosted it. It was a LOT of work, but very rewarding when all was said and done.

Adventure #2 - We bought a house! Finally, after 4 long years, we are out of our 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 700 sq ft apartment, and into a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1500 sq ft house. It's nice to have the space =)

Adventure #3 - With buying a house comes the need to pack. I've never had to pack before a move. When I was little and we moved, my parents always packed all my stuff for me. When I moved from Indiana to California, I only brought clothes with me, then my mom mailed me a few boxes of my things. When I moved out of my parents house into the apartment, I didn't have much in my bedroom to be packed up. So this was really my first time having to pack. I did fine with most of the stuff in the apartment...then it was time for the kitchen. I was paralyzed with fear thinking of how to pack that up, so I didn't do it. A dear friend brought her family over to help us move, and she packed my kitchen for me. Yes, I am spoiled =)

Adventure #4 - My first road trip by myself. I took a trip out to the coast this weekend, making the 4 1/2 drive out on Friday evening after work, and the 4 1/2 hour drive back on Saturday afternoon. Made for a long 2 days.

Adventure #5 - My first time camping. Granted, it was only for a night. But there was a tent, a sleeping bag, and a port-a-potty involved, so it still counts! Luckily I didn't have to set up or tear down my own tent, or I would have been in bad shape.

What will my next adventure be?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Long Overdue Love Notes

•Buying a house
•Moving out of our apartment after 4 long years
•Fresh paint
•My father-in-law helping my husband do the painting
•My mother-in-law cleaning the new house for us
•3 days off to pack, unpack and rest
•Just enough help to get us all moved to the new house
•Internet & TV hooked up!
•A new refrigerator
•Parking my car in the garage
•Neighbors coming over to introduce themselves
•A neighbor lending us his dolly to bring in furniture
•A precious video reminding me that I'm loved just when I'm feeling like I'm not
•Going to see a movie
•Cool weather on moving day
•Peace in the midst of chaos
•A beautiful little 3 year old having her birthday
•Shopping for her birthday gift

I know there are more. Instead of focusing on the fact that I can't remember them all, I will choose to be amazed that He would love me enough to give me even these.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

NO Excuses

My friend spoke this morning at church. I love when he speaks. Don't get me wrong...our senior pastor is great, our associate pastor is great. But there's just something about when the younger generation of pastors speak that moves me. His message was titled "No Excuses". How often do we find ourselves making excuses for our own actions, the actions of others, even our inaction? My answer would be every single day. In fact, as I walked into church this morning, I saw someone who had emailed me a project to work on this week...and in my busy head, I completely forgot about it. I started preparing what I was going to say to him - I checked my email at work, but not when I got home, so I forgot you had emailed me. I had a busy week and didn't have much time to work on it in the evenings. I had plans that kept me out of the house in the evenings. All of these are true...all of these are excuses. (As I type that, I find myself wanting to give excuses for why I was giving excuses...it's a vicious cycle!)

I'm too young. I'm too busy. I'm too old. I'm too tired. Common excuses. Valid excuses. But excuses nonetheless. I'm the queen of excuses. Ask me to do anything and I'll give you 5 reasons why I can't. God hasn't called me to excuses. God has called me to more. God has called me to life. How can I live my life if I'm spending all my energy coming up with the reasons why I can't live my life?

"David was the youngest." (1 Samuel 17:14)

David and Goliath. Everyone knows this story, or at least the gist of it. David was young, and small, and he slew the great Goliath. He volunteered to go against Goliath. He could have made excuses - after all, he was young and he was smaller than other fighters. Instead, he focused on the things that made him the perfect man for the job. God had a plan for David's life, and excuses would get him nowhere.

"David said to Saul, 'Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.'

Saul replied, 'You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.'

But David said to Saul, 'Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.'

Saul said to David, 'Go, and the LORD be with you.'" (1 Samuel 17:32-37)

Thank you Aaron for reminding me that excuses get me nowhere in God's plan for my life. It's time to stop hiding behind them, and start living my life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Promises

"Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled."
-Joshua 21:45-

A dear friend told me once while praying for me that God had promised to make me a wife and a mother one day. She said she never spoke those sorts of promises over women, fearing she might give them false hope for something God wasn't speaking...but she felt confident in speaking that to me. I've held on to those promises, waiting to see them come to fruition.

I've been married 4 years. I'm a wife...promise fulfilled. But there are moments, days even, when I don't feel I'm being a wife. Maybe I'm just being married. I'm beginning to realize there is a difference...but I'm not 100% sure what that difference is, or how to bridge the gap. Is this a promise fulfilled, since God held up His end of the deal, getting me a husband, or is He still trying to fulfill it?

Motherhood...I'm impatient in this area. I desperately want to be a mother. Everyone around me seems to be enjoying this experience. 5 people in my office are expecting, 2 friends are due this fall/winter, my cousin is expecting baby #3...and 3 of my high school friends just had babies. That's the short version of the list. I'm excited for them, but I can't help but wonder, and whine a little, "When is it my turn?" Then my fear rises up, reminding me of 3 little ones close to my heart taken to heaven too soon...and I worry. I worry that will happen to me, and I won't have the strength to face it and survive it. Would a lost child be considered a promise fulfilled?

I find comfort and strength in watching a strong woman I love dearly walk through the loss of not one, but 2 of her babies before they were born. Watching her be an amazing mom to her firstborn, while seeing her grieve for and miss her second and third. She has not given up on the promise of God to give her another child, and I find strength in this.

God's timing is perfect. 40 years in the desert...I'm sure the Israelites would have preferred to get to the Promised Land a little quicker than that. They got there, though. I suppose this is my journey in the desert. God's promises are true, and He always makes good on them. I'm learning to walk in faith and belief in that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Liberty

Liberty weekend happens once a year at our church, and it happened last weekend. Liberty weekend is when we come together as a church and give above our normal weekly tithes and offerings. It's such an exciting time. Ministries and individuals spend all year gathering up money for their Liberty offering. Amazing testimonies come out of Liberty. Liberty funds allow us to do amazing things we wouldn't have been able to do without it.

I didn't spend much time praying about what we would be giving this year. Okay, I didn't spend ANY time praying about it. I knew we would give something, but I passed that decision along to my husband and left it up to him to write the check. He gave an amount he felt was the right amount. In years past, I would have told him it was not enough and he needed to write a bigger check. This year, something stopped me. We're in the midst of trying to buy a house. Every penny we can scrape together to save needs to go to this venture. The money we had saved for our 4th anniversary trip to Disneyland - to the house fund. The extra money for paying off debt - to the house fund. The money we could give to Liberty - to the house fund.

Let me back up...I consider myself a giver. I like to give to those I love in tangible ways - a drink from Starbucks, an item of clothing they've been desperately needing/wanting, paying for a meal as we spend time together, a snack for my pregnant friend when we both crave Skittles in the afternoon. Whatever the cost, I love the feeling of giving. In past years, I've felt no hesitation at the amounts God has called us to give at Liberty. I also haven't felt stretched by those amounts. This year is different.

We gave our Liberty offering at the Saturday night service. It was a small turnout, and service didn't last long. Sunday morning, I awoke singing the theme song for Liberty Weekend - "Miracle" by Darlene Zschech. All morning, I kept repeating the chorus:

I am ready for a miracle
I'm expecting a miracle
That the house of God
Will be glorious
And the world will see
Every harvest stars with a seed of faith
See the nation rise and take its place
I am ready
Ready for a miracle

First service started Sunday morning, and that played on a loop in my head. As I helped my step-mom count the offerings and give the numbers to the tech team, the offering amount grew. Up and up and up...and I felt good about the check we gave. Until I didn't. As I continued singing "I'm ready for a miracle, I'm expecting a miracle", I heard Him ask me "Are you?" It's been a while since I really heard God speak to me, so I wasn't sure it was Him. I pushed it back and kept singing. He kept asking the question "Are you?" Finally I stopped to respond. What do You mean am I ready? Of course I am! "Are you?" Why do You keep asking me that? Of course I'm ready for a miracle. Who doesn't want a miracle? "Are you ready?" He is persistent. There was something in this question I wasn't getting. Am I ready? "Do You trust me with your dreams?" There it was. I was ready for a miracle...just not in my own life. I have big plans for the next year - a house, a dog, paying down/off debt, hopefully a baby soon...did I trust Him to fulfill those dreams this year, regardless of my bank account? As I thought about the testimonies given that morning about how Liberty had blessed others, I thought about how I did not have my own story. I had never stretched myself. If you need a little, plant a little. If you need a lot, plant a lot. I had been planting a little, and getting only a little in return. It was time for that to change. "Are you ready?" Okay, God, our check wasn't enough. How much is enough? "You're not going to Disneyland for your anniversary as planned...how about that money?" That's for the house now...and you want me to give it up? I'm never going to be able to talk my husband into that. "Are you ready?" So I texted my husband and told him I felt like God was asking more of us than what we already gave, and I asked him to pray about it. Back and forth we texted, him thinking logicially through the ramifications of giving the amount I'd passed along to him. What if that money wasn't replenished by the time we needed it for the house? We'd have to back out, he said. Well, then maybe a lower amount. Back and forth...back and forth. Finally we agreed to be obedient. As tears threatened to overtake me, I filled out our offering envelope with the new amount, which, added to the check given the night before, was more than we'd ever given. He continued to ask "Are you ready?" My answer began to change. I don't know. This is too hard. What if You don't come through for us? What if we lose this house because this money is gone? "Are you ready?" I turned that envelope in.

Maybe I don't know what this year has in store. Maybe this year will not be a year of dream fulfillment...maybe this will be a year of tearing down and building up. I do know one thing. I'm ready. I'm EXPECTING a miracle. And I'm terrified.