Monthly Archives: January 2009

Lessons From Life: My Everything

 “Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
  Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
  My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73: 23-28 )

 These verses have been ones that God has been putting on my heart lately so heavily that they are not ignorable. He keeps asking me the question, “Olivia, am I the strength of your heart? Am I your portion forever? Am I your all?” I wince as I respond to Him, “Lord, I love you, you know I do.” He gently yet sternly asks again, “How much do you love me?” I wince again. “God, I’ve given you my life, what more do you want?” He is persistent. “Are you willing to give me those little parts of your heart that you’ve kept back? Those places in your life that you want to hold on to?” I start to panic… He knows about those things?! “God, what do you mean? I’ve given you my dreams, I’ve given you my heart and life.” He shakes His head. “Not all of your dreams. Not all of your heart and life. There are still those things that you want to be in control of. Give them to me. I wont let you down.” We continue on. Me in my hesitation to surrender these parts of me and Him in His gentle and yet strong pursuit of me and my everything. Until finally I came to my breaking point.

 A few nights ago God got through. I’ve been having some daily joint pain in my hands and fingers that has been concerning me because it’s been going on for about three weeks. The things that seem to make it worse are typing (though only sometimes) and playing piano and violin (again this is only sometimes) which really worried me. The use of my hands and fingers are pretty much my life. I’ve always said that I could never live without my hands. The very idea that the pain in my hands could be an actual reason for concern (and not just my wild imagination) scared me. The thought of not being able to use my hands as easily as I would like made me scared. God gently yet firmly kept telling me to surrender it to Him. I complained, I protested, I objected, but in the end I had no choice but to let go. I had to put my hands into God’s hands.

 Earlier this week He had me weeping over the above passage. In more areas than just my hands, He has been showing me that I need to surrender, that HE needs to be my everything. He needs to be my strength, my beauty, my portion, my all, my desire, my life, my everything. I have been begging God for months to show me that. To let my heart truly know the words of this Psalmist and be able to sing the words of “Enough” by Chris Tomlin or Barlowgirl’s song based on Psalms 73 and know that I mean them with my entire being. Though in my brain I might of realized it would mean me coming to a breaking point first, it really didn’t set in until it was happening.

 In the last two weeks God has just been blasting me with the message of faith, surrender, and His wondrous sovereignty everywhere. From a theological note in my study Bible, to the Jerry Bridges video we watched for Sunday school, it’s been everywhere. God has really been trying to get His point across… that just shows you how thick sculled I am most of the time. I am so glad He finally got through to me. Wrestling with God isn’t enjoyable, and you don’t win, so it’s time to wave the white flag. I will leave my ramblings over what God is showing to me with the words of the song “Let Go” by Barlowgirl. These words mirror my heart so perfectly that it almost scares me.

Yeah I trust in You
I remember times You led me
This time it’s bigger now
And I’m afraid You’ll let me down
But how can I be certain?
Will You prove Yourself again?

‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go
When I let go

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown
When all along You’ve shown
Your plans are better than my own
And I know I won’t make it
If I do this all alone

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Meditations From My Time of “Fasting”

 I am very thankful for opportunities to use modern technology to connect with my friends. As a homeschooler who has a lot of friends outside of my church that I don’t get to spend much time with in person, I enjoy to spend time talking to my friends online on Facebook and IM. It’s been a big blessing for me to be able to connect with people in that way and have some really nice time of fellowship. For me though it’s become an easy addiction and distraction. I was spending too much time online and not enough time with my family, reading, writing, and other things that needed to be done. So I decided that once I was back from Florida I would take some time off of Facebook and IM until February 1st so that was a total of three full weeks. Tomorrow is my first day back on and I am looking forward to catching up on everything.

 God has really shown me a lot through my time of fasting from my “idol”. Here are the few main things that I’ve learned:

  • I don’t need constant interaction with my friends. Though I truly love my friends and they are such great blessing from God, God is really showing me that I don’t need them. One of the biggest things that He keeps telling me lately is that I need nothing but Him alone. Which also brings me to the next thing…
  • I don’t need the Internet. This one is a simple thing truly, but it also a thing that many of us living in modern day America need to remind ourselves of. We don’t need this technology, even though it is a very practical thing for a lot of us. We have our Pastor friend from Kenya here this weekend and I am reminded that I don’t even need electricity or running water, I can live without these things and many people do.
  • I need to rely more on God for relaxation and rest. This might sound like a strange one, but for me I tend to go to the Internet or Facebook or to talk to my friends online when I am bored or need a time to relax. Without Facebook and such I found myself plopping down in front of the TV more, which is something I was slightly shocked about because I don’t really like TV. I just did it because it was an easy way to relax for a little while then I would get distracted. I need to be learning and practicing self control and need to build the habit of going to the Lord in prayer or reading a good book when I am bored or need to relax.
  • It’s all about proportion. Too much of anything is a bad thing. But a lot of things aren’t bad in moderation. I think that it’s that way with things like Facebook, IM, reading, friends, writing, and almost anything. They all can be useful and productive things when you use them wisely and balance them out, and they all can be things that when not used wisely can create addictions, idols, and can be a waste of time. I also still used my email and did blog things in order to keep in touch with people and work on somethings that were important and that was a good practice for me in moderation.

 I am really hoping and praying that the Lord will give me the strength that I do not personally have, to use my time online wisely and that it will remain in proportion to the rest of my life. Tomorrow is going to be one busy day for me though… :) I am excited to get into some long conversations with dear friends and get caught up on everything going on. Keep me in your prayers! God bless!

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“The Motions”

 Are any of you like me in the way that certain songs have this way of gripping your heart with a strange intensity? Do they seem to speak to your very soul in ways that words alone can’t and make you want to break down crying, raise your arms and praise God, fall to your knees in adoration, grip your fists in some sort of fiery passion that goes through your entire body? For me, songs have had such an impact on my spiritual life. Now the Bible is the most important thing for our growth, obviously, and I am not for a moment taking away from written words, but there is something about words put to music that is powerful.

 Certain songs encourage me, some songs inspire me, some songs make me want to praise my wondrous Jesus with every ounce of my being, and some songs even remind me to pray for certain people. I have really been ministered to by songs like “Psalms 73 (My God is Enough)” (Barlowgirl), “In the Light” (DC Talk), “Enough” (Christ Tomlin), “Beginning and the End” (Leeland), “Hands and Feet” (Audio Adrenaline), and a new song I just discovered, “The Motions” by Matthew West. These are the amazing lyrics to this song:

“This might hurt, it’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care if I break,
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?”

No regrets, not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (’cause I don’t wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I’m finally feeling something real)
take me all the way”

 Chew a little on these amazing words and let me know what you think.

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Upcoming Surprise!

 I am super duper excited for an upcoming project that should be ready for release either by the first of February or the 14th. (It’s looking more like the 14th right now.) I don’t want to say too much but I will say that it has to do with my close blog pall Abigail Kraft and with young women. I just wanted to wet your appetite and ask for some prayers that God’s will be done in this mysterious project. God bless you all!

 (As a side note, right now my family is switching Internet providers so I wont be online again until Tuesday (and haven’t had Internet since last Tuesday which is my main reason for not blogging along with being absolutely busy) and hopefully I’ll have a blog post for you then. )

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History in the Making

 Tomorrow marks a day in history for our nation. Someday we will be able to tell our children and grandchildren that we remember the day that America got it’s first African American president. The inauguration is a huge deal and I congratulate President Obama for being the first black president, even if I do not agree with his policies. He is now my president and my leader and I am making a promise today that I will do my best to treat him with the respect he deserves.

 I have been deeply grieved by the response of many Christians over Obama’s election. Though I was hoping for John McCain to win the election and was horribly disapointed when Obama won, I still think that we need to respect him no matter what we think of him. When I say “respect” I am not saying that we condone his position on many things, one of the biggest being abortion, not at all! I don’t respect or look up to him morally or as a general person, and I sure don’t “admire” him,  but he is my president and because he has been put there by God and the people, I know I need to pray for him and that he deserves honor because of his position.

 When Bush was president the “Bush-bashing” was horrible from the media and democrats. I live in a very blue state and I have constantly seen bumper stickers and such full of hate towards him. Now that Obama has been elected I am seeing that Christian Republicans aren’t any different. From comparing Obama to Hitler to refuse to acknowledge him as our president, it is constant disrespect and almost hatred.

 We have all been forgetting that God is in control. Obama being elected to presidency is part of God’s perfect plan and He is going to use it for His glory in some way, shape, or form. My dad had as his facebook status the night after the election that he “is going to sleep like a Calvinist, because he is one”. We need to remember that it wasn’t just the American people that put him into office but it was also the most sovereign Lord of the entire universe! God is all-powerful and He has history scripted… that’s why it’s called “His story”. There is a reason that Barack is our president even though we ourselves can not see it clearly because we do not see things as God does.

 Christians have also forgot the multiple verses in the Bible about respecting those in authority over us, especially the Emperor, and during the time Paul and Peter wrote that the Emperor was Nero! He was a madman that persecuted Christians with a passion and used them as torches in his gardens, and we are called to respect even THAT. (And no matter what you think, Obama is not that bad.) Take a look at what 1 Peter 2: 13-17 says,

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people …. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

 And again in Romans 13:1,2,5-7:

” Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment… Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience…  Pay to all what is owed to them:… revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed”

 I have been guilty of not giving respect to Obama before and forgetting that God is in control so don’t think I am trying to beat you over the head with anything. I am simply asking those of you out there that call themselves Christians (including myself) to make sure that you treat Obama the same way Jesus would. Obama needs Jesus just as much as we do and we need to pray that he would come to know the saving power of the blood of Christ. But the biggest things we need to do is to just trust God. On election night I read these verses from Psalms 20 and they really convicted me. (vs. 7 & 8 ) “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,  but we rise and stand upright.”

 Let’s not just have this election be historic because of the fact that it’s our first black president, let it also be historic because of the way Christians handled it: with respect for Obama and with trust in God. Then it will truly be a day to celebrate.

 With that I will leave you to your thoughts and comments on this touchy subject. As always, I love to hear from you and find out what you think. God bless you all and may you be a light to others by the way you treat all people!

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Filed under Christianity, Everyday Life, Faith, history, Holidays

Set Apart Strangers

“We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don’t wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has.” ~ Amy Carmichael

Need I say anymore, truly? I think this simple quote wraps it all up. My prayer tonight is that I will truly become a stranger and pilgrim, seeking after a country of my own. That I will live like an apostle day in and day out. That with the Lord’s help I will slay giants with a single stone and walk through the fires unburnt. For I am not of this world, I am a heavenly priesthood and therefore need to be living my life in set apart devotion to the Lord. Not because it makes me look more religious or puffs up my vain ego, but because I have a God that rescued me from the pits of hell and I want to make my every moment into a living sacrifice to Him. The hard part about living sacrifices opposed to dead ones is that the living one keep crawling off the altar. So I need to keep placing it back on.

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Florida Recap

cimg2534Just a quick recap of my trip for those that are interested. We got back a week ago from our 4,000 mile journey going from the coldest place in the continental US to the warmest and back again. There was about a 100 degree difference between Florida and here (80 to -20). We had a great time though, even if it was a lot of driving.

 For me the highlights were visiting friends and family, especially my good friends that I hadn’t met yet. Trey Edwards is a rebelutionary that helped me start my blog back in June and we have become good friends as well as becoming close friends with the rest of his family and Mike and Joshua who are friends of his from church. We had an amazing time visiting with the Edwards and getting to know them better. They are a truly amazing family and we all had a great time talking and enjoying the fellowship of fellow Christians.

 A big surprise for me was that on the way home we took a detour and went through Arkansas to visit my closest sister in the Lord, Lauren. She is my accountability partner, listening ear, prayer partner, and just an amazing friend whom I love to death! We were so excited to meet each other for the first time and I don’t think I’ve ever hugged a person more times in only a few hours :D. I also got to jam with the rest of Vivit, the worship band she is the lead singer for, and hang out at the Nunley’s house at fellowship. 

 It was a great trip and the wedding was really nice, though it had a really annoying photographer that kept us laughing! Going to the beach and swimming in the ocean was a blast too. It was a really refreshing trip and our first in a really long time. My grandpa lives in Florida but it has been almost ten years since we have visited him (though he comes up north every year). So that was our trip in a nutshell. I had some thoughts while I was there that I will try to finish writing down into some blog posts later. For now, God bless you all and have a fun time being (somewhere) warmer then us as we battle -40 wind chills!

(Note: if you recognized the names Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Nunley that because I mentioned both of them on my post on woman who fear the Lord. They are both amazing women and I enjoyed spending time with their family and getting to know them more in person. :D)

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