Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Spiritual Struggle is real

I've been a christian for a while now.  I've learned a lot about who God is, how He grows His children, and what is expects from His disciples.  I have read the whole bible at least once and I continue to try to read it daily...seeing and learning more about Him.  It's excited and humbling at the same time.  I have a Masters degree in Biblical Counseling and I've taken many theology classes.  I've read so many different books written by theologians explaining different aspects of Christianity and God.  And although in a worldly perspective I should have it all figured out...I don't.  I'm a weak soul that questions God's wisdom and fight to have faith in Him.  

Many times we read or study about something and in our prideful we say "oh I understand...I get it."  But we fail to see how weak we are with our understanding or how unstable we are that we actually don't get it.  And in those dark moments of uncertainty, questioning everything that you've learned or have been are at crossroad in your mind.  You either continue to fight and keep the faith that you have even though everything around seem so opposite of that idea or you simple walk away and try to figure out life a different way.  Honestly I've been on this crossroad probably 4 times.  It's not a simple crossroad for me, and it's not little mundane things that puts me at the crossroad.  I have a better understanding of myself after this last crossroad but I also scared myself.

As some of you know I've been reading "Knowing God" by J.I. Packer.  It's an excellent book and every chapter has challenged me to love and know God more.  I was actually sharing the chapters with a younger girl from my church desiring for her to love and know God more.  One of the chapters talked about God's wisdom.  How perfect it is, how it's not bound by time or situations.  Humans can say they are wise but they only can see a glimpse of what is before them and then they try to make a wise decision based on that glimpse.  But God...oh He knows everything; the past, the present, and the future.  But not only does He know situations but He knows everyone, completely.  So God's wisdom is beautiful because He knows whats the best possible situation for His children to go through for them to have the happiest joy in His Son, Jesus.  Amazing right?!?  When I read this chapter I was in awe.  I was so marveled about this truth.  I was amazed by Him.

Then on Sept. 18th I found out that my friend who was only 39 years old had a brain aneurysm and his wife, who was my friend, was suddenly a widow.  She had to tell her two daughters about them not seeing their daddy anymore.  My heart broke for them.  My friend was the kindest man I have ever met, I'm closer to the wife but it never seemed that way by how he treated me.  He loved God so much.  And as I was coming along side my friend it was so hard to praise God at that moment.  All these questions started to pop into my head.

Why him? Why so  young?  There are so many evil people on this planet and yet you spare their lives, why?  Question after question...and all my mind could think about was He is wise, but all I could think about is how is this wise?

I wanted to give up and take the easier road...but I kept remember my friend.  How he lived his life enjoying Jesus on earth and now he's in heaven completely enjoying Jesus.  I had to fight and take every thought captive to continue to trust in Jesus.  I pleaded, I cried out, I was humbled because I knew that the only way for me to truly trust in Jesus was by His grace.  Although I may not see how this death is good for my friend and her kids...I know that God is good and He loves His children.  She is His daughter and He is holding her hand and comforting her.  When I was at my friend's memorial service...God was so glorified in his life and death.  It was amazing to see how God used him to touch so many lives and he only lived for 39 years.  Today is his birthday and I can picture him smiling away with Jesus.

Sometimes we think we are strong and mature because we know so many facts and knowledge.  But how many of those facts and knowledge actually affect how you live your lives.  I remember when I use to teach the junior high sunday school...I would always say "what you know should affect how you live."  God wanted me to really understand what it means to trust in His wisdom and goodness.  I know I'll still be weak because I'm not with Him...but I know His grace is sufficient, when I am weak He is strong.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

He is glorious...

In chapter 6 J.I. Packer talks about the Holy Spirit and honestly it was a bit rebuking to read.  Although I know that the Holy Spirit is God and His job is very critical to my actions do not match up with what I know.  It was an eye opening to see how much I dishonor God by my or at least my lack of actions.  I know I am not consistent with relying on the Holy Spirit nor am I always mindful of Him.  I truly do try to live this life apart from Him.  I tend to forget that He is growing me, showing me my sins, and using me to glorify Jesus.  

Philippians 2:12-13 comes to mind, "12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."  I need to remember that I am responsible for working out my salvation but I can't just leave it there.  Which I fear that many believers do and that is the main reason why many don't grow or they are burned out.  I need to remind myself about the latter verse that it is God who is at work in me.  I can not neglect the fact that my growth is because of Him.  I can not take credit but all I can do is thank Him for growing me.  Thank Him for giving me the desire to seek Jesus more and more...thank Him for giving me the fire to read His word but more importantly thank Him for giving me an understanding of what I am reading.  Oh I would be so lost without the Holy Spirit and I fear that many churches are missing the point.  Discipleship without the Holy Spirit is just friends hanging out.  

Oh Lord help me to be mindful of the Holy Spirit remember who He is and what He is doing in my life.  Help me not take Him for granted but remember that He is glorious!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Knowing God by J.I. Packer - book study

I've joined this book study via facebook that is hosted by Tim Challies on Knowing God by J.I. Packer.  I'm not too sure if I read the whole book before but I do know I have read the beginning chapters.  It's awesome book to read but it's awesome to read it with other people who likes to post their comments and thoughts through the group.  I've been reminded a lot through the author and different comments. And although I can always share my thoughts via comments on the group page I find it is much easier if I blog about it.  Hopefully I am discipline enough to read through the book with the's a great accountability reading with other people.

We just finished chapters 3-4 and although I can not comment on everything that I learned or was reminded of I will highlight the things that stuck out.  

Chapter 3 ...Packer says, "What matters supremely is not the fact that I know God, But the larger fact which underlies it - the fact that He knows me." When I read that I was very humbled (ok this is what I also felt when I read chapter 1-2).  The God of the universe, who created the heavens and the earth...who existed before the foundation of the world knows me.  Why me?  It brings to my mind the verse Psalms 8:4, "what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" That's insane right?  Sometimes it's a bit scary to understand this...He knows everything about me, all my ins and outs, all my dark secrets and my sins.  It's easy to hide from the world what you are thinking and who you really are but it's also humbling to know that God knows everything about me and yet He loves me.  That's mad grace right there.  I don't deserve such goodness and love; I have done nothing to earn such a grace but yet because of who He is He has given me that grace.  How can I not love Him and trust in Him?

I remember when I was in college and I thought I had everything planned out.  What I wanted to do and who I wanted to marry after college.  I thought I figured it out all on my own because you know that's what life is all about...figuring out what you are suppose to do and who you are suppose to marry.  But God changed all that...and at the time it changed I was so angry and frustrated.  I couldn't see anything, I wasn't in control of my life...But He was and He knew exactly what He wanted me to do and who He wanted me to marry.  I always remembered Proverbs 16:9, "the mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." I was planning and directing in college...but He knows me...He knows what is best for me even when I don't see it or trust it.  He knows what will bring me the most Joy in Him even when at the moment I'm sad.  It's so awesome to have that peace and understanding that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how much I question why things happen...He Knows.  He knows everything about His children.

This brings joy to my heart.  This brings me a delight to my soul knowing that all things that I go through, all the trials that I face, all the hardship that I hear from other sisters and brothers in the Lord is what is best for them, even when we don't understand it.  The beautiful promise of Romans 8:28 is true, "and we know that all things work together for good, to those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose."  

I need to cling to His promises and trust in Him.  I need to know Him more and more and not just know about Him.  Praise the Lord for He is a gracious and good God.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Struggles

June 6th is when summer vacation started.  Being a stay-at-home mom you would think I'm use to having my kids around me all the time...well guess what I'm not.  They both go to public school which I love, and ya I can homeschool them, but we decided not to so it's a whole new world for me when they are actually on vacation.  Don't get me wrong, I love having my girls home.  I get to learn more about who they are, make more memorable adventures and most importantly I can truly push them and point them to Christ.  They are with me for almost 24 hours let's say minus 8 hours for sleeping but all that time to influence them should make me jump up for why am I not?

Honestly I'm seriously tired.  Burned out. Exhausted.  From when they wake up all I hear is "mommy...mommy...mommy."  I'm not a single mom but sometimes it feels that way because although my husband will be home from work the girls still say "mommy...mommy...mommy."  AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Going out and doing things out side the house seems the most logical thing to do because it keeps them distracted and entertained...also they fight less.  But going out also means me driving here and there, making sure they are hungry, and also making sure no one steals them.  I can't just relax and breath, I feel like there's no time to relax.

But God...full of mercy and grace allows me to rest in Him.  I find my peace when I actually read scripture or pray.  Ya I know I should actually have a schedule for that but during the summer I'm a mess.  There's so much room for sanctification. I find myself angry and short tempered.  And in the quietness of the room I see my sins.  I can not constantly keep focusing on ME...the selfish desires that I have.  Because God has called me to serve and love those who He has placed in my life.  And for the time being for almost 24 hours I have my girls, and of course my church family.  All of their sins and all of my sins clash so much and our prideful desires get in the way...but God is loving and forgiving.  Oh the joy of fearing the Lord.  My struggle is not my struggles are my sinful desires of wanting to put myself first. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflection of 2014

Today is the last day of 2014 and honestly it seemed like this year flew by so fast.  I still remember being January and I was celebrating my birthday in San Diego with some good girl friends.  Many things happened in 2014 but one thing that I did learned was that in one year a lot can change.  Not just in circumstances but also with how one thinks and feels.  I think this is the year that God has been showing a lot about who I am and who I am becoming.  I think throughout the years it was just easy to go with the flow of what is going on and how people think.  But it was this year that I had a lot of alone time since both girls are in grade school and I had to consider things and figure out what the Lord is calling for my life.  Let's first recap...I used #365daysofbarrettfun to capture the different adventures that my family went on within this year.  Some were small like having a picnic or going to the library and others were grand like going to Italy and seeing Jireh and Laura in London.  But throughout those adventures there was one thing that constantly stuck out...God allowed me to have many adventures with three awesome people. 
  • January -- Turned 35 years old and took some girls along with my family trip to San Diego to get away from the "normal" life and celebrate with those who I hold dearly.  Also met up with Alanna's family since we share a birthday.  We also celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, wow it's been 7 years that's insane.
  • February -- Family vacation to Rome, which was awesome to see so many historical sites, and then drove to Florence to eat amazing Italian food and see more beautiful buildings.  Ending the trip with familiar face and meeting his girlfriend then Laura.  It was awesome just spending some hours with them and seeing some beauty of London, can't wait to go back for their wedding.
  • March -- Celebrated God's faithfulness in Caleb's life for 31 years (yes he's younger then me). 
  • April -- finishing up correcting my thesis, oh boy that was a long process to go through but it was still awesome to finally complete something that I started before I got married.   Ran a 5K for the first time hubby with Danika Care organization at Donate for Life annual 5K.  It was a great feeling to push myself to do something that was out of my norm. 
  • May -- I'm pretty sure homegirl Melody stopped by for a visit and I was all smiles hanging out and seeing her face #movetocalialready
  • June -- The girls got out of school, K finishing Preschool and S finishing 1st grade.  They were very excited for summer being here.
  • July -- Had a getaway with my husband to Santa Barbara, that was his father's day gift, while the girls were with their grandparents seeing the fireworks on the 4th.  This was also the first time we were away from our girls during a holiday.  It was awesome just focusing on each other and not on other things.  My baby girl turned 5 as well with her NOT Dora party but a DocMcstuffin party.
  • August -- Went to Hawaii for the second time and we decided to not bring strollers which freed us so much.  The girls were big this time and they enjoyed it more this time around then last time.  We even went on a hike and saw a water fall which was awesome. Also enjoyed Big Bear with our community group and then the girls started school once again. 
  • Sept. -- Started watching my nephew Mattox while big brother Nico went to school =( But can't complain because Mattox is my cuddle buddy and he has so much personality.  
  • October -- Started to have Disney dates with my hubby on Fridays when he is off since girls were in school.  Also our big girl turned 7 (or 17) with her last big party. Both girls started to get awards from school and other competition, I'm one proud mama.
  • November -- Had a thankful thanksgiving with family and friends.  
  • December -- Girls are on their 3 week winter break which consisted of many Disneyland adventures and celebrating the birth of Jesus with many family and friends.
So as you can see many things happened throughout the year and God has been showing me how to love different people during different seasons of life.  Many moments in my life has been around my family and there were some glimpses of going with different friends here and there.  And I'm realizing that I want to truly distinguish those who ARE my friends.  So many people use that world lightly especially with social media making everyone your friend on FB even though you may not know them or talk to them.  But with reality that some people who I thought were friends are not showed me that I can't put my happiness or worth on "friends" and what they think about me.  I need to find my joy in Jesus and that is constant.  Jesus no matter what will always be there for me...even family at times disappear from your life.  But those that God has put in my life I want to cherish them and serve them.  I want to show them Jesus' love with my actions and words.  I want to make a difference in their lives and truly further His kingdom.  I want Him to expand my horizon stop staying in a bubble that I have been in for the longest time.  I want to love people who God has called me to love even when they do not deserve it.  People hurt people, they sin against each other and they back-stab each other and try to justify it with their words and actions.   I will not be ok with that even when others will...if loving them means showing them their sins and going against the grain then so be it even if people do not agree with me.  I want God to be glorified and not try to make someone feel ok with their actions.  This is how I'm going to love people...2015 will show me who are my true friends more pity party or having a depression episode. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reflections on my Facebook one month absence

It is October 1st and my decision to step away from Facebook for a month is finally over.  Here's the post of my reasons to make this decision in the first place and now that 30 days came and gone there's a lot of things that I learned.  I remember in one of my psychology class my professor would say that it takes about 30 days to create a habit and hopefully me being away from Facebook has created a good habit.

Only time will tell if I created a good habit of not always checking FB but I do know that there were things I noticed within the 30 days that affected my life.  Here's a brief run down of it:

1. I actually put away my phone.  Other than taking pictures and putting those pictures on instagram, I noticed that I was actually in the moment of what was happening.  Whether that was being with my girls at Disneyland or having lunch with a group of people.  Majority of the time my attention was on people and not on post about people.  Sadly in this society having your phone put away is not a natural thing.  Most people are on their phone when they are at a party, at a dinner or even when they are on vacation with their family.  I look around and I always see peoples' faces down and not engaging the world and the people around them.  It was a refreshing and felt truly free being away from my phone and not thinking about what other people are posting and doing at the same time I'm doing something.

2. I actually talked to people face to face.  It's sad but true that when I was on FB all the time I would just look at my feed and see what was going on in peoples' lives and then I would be okay with it. I wouldn't bother to call, text or even hang out with them in person to engage in a one on one interaction because I already knew what was going on in their lives (well for the most part).  But being away from FB gave me the freedom to call someone and hang out with actually talk to a person rather than read a post or feed on my phone or computer.  I realized how much I miss personal interaction, seeing their smiles and hearing their laughs when we talk about life.  Seeing their hurt and being able to comfort them with a hug and not just words that I post on social media.  for 30 days I met with a lot of people and it was great getting to know them again.

3. I actually didn't miss much.  I think many times when we check our feed all the time we have this fear that we are missing something important, that we are being left out of something that is big.  But after I looked through my notification and feed today I realized that I didn't miss much.  I did see some things that I'm glad FB told me about, like my friend giving birth to her son, but for the most part everything was mundane things that didn't really affect me too much.  Life didn't stop when I was away from FB but life didn't move so far away from me because I wasn't connected to FB. 

4. I actually miss seeing pictures of people.  As I stated in my previous post FB is not entirely evil and bad, there are a lot of good things that come out of FB and those are the things that I miss.  For instance, seeing pictures of people and their adventures.  Seeing pictures of my friend's newborn baby.  Seeing post from my sisters and brother-in-laws of their families and how my nephews and nieces are growing up.  And this is the main reason why I didn't delete FB; we have so many family members that are not able to see my girls on a daily basis that posting pictures of their achievements or adventures keeps the family close. 

So those are the 4 things that I noticed while I was on the FB sabbatical.  It was refreshing and I think stepping away here and there will help me not get all addicted to it again; but hopefully I have learned how to have self-control.  That was one main thing I wanted to learn.  I was addicted to FB and I wanted to kill that addiction and learn to have self-control.  It was a hard journey...never realized how long 30 days is but it was a great journey as well.  I'm praying that a created a good habit of doing the first 3 listed still and live in the moment and not just post the moment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Addiction Revealed

I have always been involved with social media.  I remember I created a myspace that connected me with a lot of my friends who I usually do not see on a daily basis.  Then I remembered creating xanga which allowed me to blog and rant about things while allowing followers to read a bit of what's on my mind.  Then I joined blogger because xanga disappeared.  Then as this whole social media progressed my involved as well progressed.  Facebook was finally a part of my life and at first it was just a way to connect to old friends from high school and to keep in touch with my college friends.  But I didn't truly dive into the whole social media until I got my first smart phone, my iphone.  Oh that started the downward spiral of my addiction.

Yes addiction, it may seem like a strong word to use for a social media that only allows me to share my pictures and activities that I do to those who follow me which are my friends and family since I have my FB on private setting.  And honestly as a whole it's not really that bad.  Having a FB account helped me interact with various people who I usually do not, find people who I have lost contact with, and rejoice with great news that people post.  So in all reality having a FB can be a great thing.  And I say "can" because it all depends on how much of it is a part of your life.

Having a smart phone with an app and a notification ability has caused me to constantly check my phone.  And since I always have my phone, I found myself always on FB.  I would be on vacation with my family and checking FB.  We would be looking around the Colosseum and I found myself checking FB.  We're having dinner as a family and I found myself checking FB.  I wouldn't admit how much FB was consuming my life and time.  Yes FB helped me stay in contact with people I usually do not talk to, yes it allowed our family to see the girls grow up and it was a great venue to contact people...but it was something that became an idol.  The first thing I would do when my alarm rang was check I knew that I had to do something.

So I decided to step away from FB for this month.  And it was this decision that exposed my heart.  It has only been 9 days since I stepped away from FB and I could feel myself gravitating typing out facebook on safari since I deleted the app from my phone.  It's only been 9 days and there has been countless times I'm so tempted to check FB.  My heart was crying idol was being revealed and it's been great to finally destroy this idol.  I need to make sure that my perspective on FB changes within this month so when I finally go back to FB, I wouldn't have a hold on me and control or consume my time.  It's so funny how subtle it was that this idol was created.  I didn't even think it was possible but that's how it goes, sometimes things that are not necessarily wrong starts to consume our lives and we do not realize how much we allowed it to take a hold of us.

I pray that other FB users are more aware of their times and their usage on FB.  That they do not allow it to consume their time and take away from other things that are more important. 

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