Blessed Assurance

Today, I am just feeling blessed. Indulge me for a bit.

I have been having serious problems with my cell phone over the past few days. Like, I can receive texts and calls but can’t answer them or return them. When trying to dial a number or send a text, it takes approximately 45 minutes to go through to the person on the other end. And my phone has also become possessed. I’m certain of it. Like, it can sit on the coffee table and call someone without anyone touching it. In fact, it has done this to 6 people now. And last night it mysteriously turned off and on in the middle of the night. Multiple times. and it messed up my alarms. ( For those of you that don’t know, I have to set 3 alarms-1 hour before I need to go, half an hour before I need to go, and 20 minutes before I need to go. The 1st one brings me out of my deep sleep, the 2nd one is my warning alarm, and the third is my “Abby get your butt out of bed NOW” alarm.) It didn’t mess with my first two alarms, but it had turned the third one off. OFF. I woke up at 7:59. My class began at 8:00. I was SOOOOO frustrated. Like, SUPER frustrated. But I just laid back down, sat my alarm for 9:45 (to wake me up for chapel), and went back to bed. Lo and behold, it didn’t go off. And my body woke me up at 10:15 (chapel starts at 10:20.) So I threw on some clothes, ran to my car, and drove to chapel (YES I am one of those girls.) Luckily I made it on time. But I was in a SOUR mood the whole time in chapel. I didn’t even listen whatsoever. I was just bitter.

So I went to lunch and came back to the apartment and I just sat on the couch and prayed. I love praying. I feel SOOO connected with the Lord. I just prayed my little heart out. And I swear I heard Him say “it is well.” I could feel it in my soul. Like, He was saying “Abby, don’t let a few bad things keep you from having a good day.” So I just prayed for it some more. And when that was done, I decided to do something for myself: Do my hair, do my makeup, dress up nicely. And when I was done, I felt SO much better. Like, giving myself a little attention just turned the day around.

Later in the day, I had someone come up to me and say the words that I will probably never forget: “Abby, you radiate beauty.” Me? Radiate beauty? How kind, but so unbelievable. But unlike normally, when I am paid a compliment and I just brush it off because I don’t believe it, today, I did. And I haven’t believed that for months. The past few months have been very difficult for me because my appearance has changed in ways that have not been what I was hoping for… to say the least.

But today, thanks to the kind words of an acquaintance–someone that I rarely speak to– I have experienced that feeling that comes with confidence. Today, I am taking back what I have given over to Satan: control over my body. Things are changing. Starting today. Starting right now.

As I was driving to Walmart tonight, I began singing an old hymn that I haven’t thought of in years. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence. You will know this hymn, but please, just read the words below:

  1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
    • Refrain:
      This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long;
      This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long.
  2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
  3. Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

That last verse is a doozy for me. I want to be lost in His love. In all aspects of my life. I want His goodness to fill me overflow from me. I want to be able to submit EVERY avenue of my life to Him (perfect submission). I want to rest in His arms.

So… today starts a new journey. But I am not leading. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m excited for the ride.

Image

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTQDkK43ohk

ย 

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Sad Day Saturday?

Over this weekend, I really dove into the ideas of Easter. I think, for the previous 20 Easters I had celebrated, I hadn’t truly understood what Easter meant to me in the context of my faith. Don’t get me wrong– I knew the Easter story like the back of my hand and could tell you why we celebrate it. But it had never really resonated inside me until Saturday night- “Easter Eve.” I was sitting on my living room floor, playing WeTopia, watching tv with my parents. Then I looked at mom and said “why don’t we celebrate today? We celebrate Maundyย  Thursday, Good Friday, and then Easter on Sunday. Saturday is left out.” Aside from our sarcastic comments that followed, we didn’t really have any answer for it. I kind of just let it go until I went to my room to get ready for bed.

As I pulled out my Bible to prepare for my devotions, I just prayed. I prayed for my friends near and far, for the salvation of my loved ones who don’t know the Lord, for my future husband, for my family, and for the holiday merriment that would ensue the following day. Then I just sat there for a while and again begin to mull over the idea of not celebrating the day before Easter. I couldn’t understand it.

So I put myself in the shoes of a member of the crowd on the day of the crucifixion-the Good Friday crowd. What was I seeing? If I were a follower of Christ, I was seeing the man whom I believed to be the Messiah being put to death on the cross. If I were just a woman who was skeptical or nonbelieving of the identity of this man up on that cross, I would simply be witnessing the ritualistic death just like many others that I had witnessed in my life before that. Regardless of who I was BEFORE the crucifixion, I would be a believer when day turned to night and the earth began to shake. I would know, just as the Centurion did, that this WAS the Son of God.

Do you REALIZE how sad that day would be? Jesus was the HOPE of all things good for these people! He was the One they had been waiting for for CENTURIES. They knew He would do big things. In the 3 years of His actual ministry, He had performed miracles. He had made friends. He had given them hope of a better tomorrow.

For them, their hope had been crucified on that cross. Their tomorrows were depleted. Their ways of life would change. Waking up the next day–that Saturday, would be the worst day of your life! You would be beginning your life in a brand new way–without the hope of a tomorrow. Thousands of thoughts would be crossing your mind: what does that mean for me? Jesus was supposed to save us. But now He’s dead. Who will save us now? What if He ISN’T the Son of God?

Saturday was a day of no hope. Saturday was a day with no promise of tomorrow. Saturday was a day of sadness–“Sad Day Saturday.”

But without a day like Saturday, Easter Sunday loses a lot of its luster. You see, until we realize just HOW much we need Jesus, Easter Sunday means nothing. Easter derives from the word “Estre” which means “Rising.” On Easter Sunday, Jesus ROSE from the dead. He renewed the hope that people had lost. He restored peace among the people. He healed the broken hearts. He brought about new joys for tomorrow. It’s because of the beauty of Sad Day Saturday that we are fully made new in the Crucifixion.

I think a lot of times, we have Sad Day Saturdays in life– or Melancholy Mondays or Terrible Tuesdays or Worrying Wednesdays or ThrowAway Thursdays or Frightful Fridays.. and even Sulky Sundays. But, thanks to the crucifixion-thanks to the HOPE that it renewed–we can changed our Sad Day Saturdays into days of worship, of peace, of happiness, of love of compassion, of joy. And if we mess up, we have a God that will help us rebuild it for tomorrow.

I am so grateful for the hope that Jesus gives me-The hope in a future where I am happily living in the will of the Lord. Where I am doing what He is calling me to do WITH a man whom God has designated to be my partner in a life of serving Him. I am so happy that He holds my tomorrows. It is because of Sad Day Saturday that I know that Jesus restores. And it is because of Easter Sunday I know that He is in control.

BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.

 

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Tomorrow is the big day..

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. TO.MOR.ROW. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Tomorrow is the day that I, along with 47 others, will be headed to Italy for the trip of a lifetime. We will be studying art, architecture, fashion, and religion. And I am so pumped. I’ve been back at the Naz for a week now and let me just say it’s been the LONGEST week of my life. Seriously. And tonight has been EXCEPTIONALLY SLOW.

If you’re curious about where we’re headed, well wonder no more!

Day 1: January 11th- Depart from the USA
Day 2: January 12th- Arrive In Italy: Milanย & Venice
Day 3: January 13th-Venice
Day 4:January 14th-ย Venice, Ferrara, & Florence
Day 5: January 15th-Florence
Day 6: January 16th-Florence, Assisi, & Rome
Day 7: January 17th-Rome
Day 8: January 18th-Rome
Day 9: January 19th-Rome
Day 10:January 20th-Rome, Pompeii, & Sorrento
Day 11: January 21st-Sorrento, Reggio Calabria, Messia, & Taormina
Day 12: January 22nd-Taormina, Siracusa, & Taormina (again)
Day 13: January 23rd-Taormina & Palermo
Day 14:January 24th-Depart for the US

 

Please be praying for safe travels for me and my friends. And please pray that we are the hands and feet of the Lord to all the people we encounter!

Peace out! Next time you hear from me, I’ll be a world traveler!

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End of the Semester Pains

Since I haven’t posted in over 3 months, I thought to myself “what better way to procrastinate than to update my followers?”… But really– I have 3 finals tomorrow before 2 pm and I have only scratched the surface when it comes to studying. Why do I do this to myself, you may I ask? I like to live on the edge of danger. ๐Ÿ™‚

Soooo much has happened since I last posted..

That’s not altogether true. I mean yes, many days have passed, but I’ve just been living life. Loving my friends, making good memories, and staying up late. Welcome to college, right?

In the past few months I have found this fascination with VHS shopping. As in, I go to both Goodwills in Mount Vernon at least once a week to find new ones. They’re only 49 cents a piece, so I stock up on the good stuff. Les and I are building a collective Mary Kate & Ashley collection, so at least I have somewhat of a reason to look, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Classes have gone well. I’ve really enjoyed my marketing-specific classes. The others, I could do without, but that’s okay. I still have to get to the zoo somehow, right?

I love my job. If you know me, you know that about me. I am so passionate about what I do. In November, I had to the opportunity to go the East Ohio District NYI Fall Retreat to be the MVNU rep and I just felt so at home there. The people on the district are so friendly and loving and you can just tell how much they love the Lord! What a beautiful cloud of witnesses!

My apartment…. I just don’t know what to say. These girls are my familia! Love them so much. My life would be so much more boring have have much less meaning if they weren’t in it. I am blessed to know each and every one of these girls. โค

In 36 days from today, I will be in the beautiful country of Italy with my dear friends, Mariah and Kayla! I absolutely cannot wait! God is going to be doing some amazing things while we’re there. Granted–we’re only touring the country and studying art & architecture, but did you know that only 4% of the population of Italy is Protestant? Looks like I have some big work to do, right? Ahh. I want to be His Feet. I will go wherever He opens doors for me.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s December. Do you know what that means? ๐Ÿ™‚ I cannot wait to go home and stay in my pajamas all day. I’m excited to go get our tree and to put up decorations and to watch all of the Christmas specials over and over. And you’d BETTER believe that I’ve been watching White Christmas. I would say it’s safe to say that I’ve watched it over 80 times this Fall. And do I ever get sick of it? NEVER. EVER. But I’m also excited for Christmas Vacation, Holiday Inn, The Year Without a Santa Claus, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, and of course The Santa Clauses 1,2, and 3, Frosty the Snowman, Home Alone 1 and 2, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and many many more. I’ve already been watching a lot of them, but I am one of those people who do NOT get burnt out on holiday cheer. I can watch it days upon days. Which I will probably be doing. Especially because….

….. I am getting my wisdom teeth out this coming Monday (December 12th). If you’re reading this and you know where I live or WANT to know where I live, PLEASE come visit me. I’m going to be laying on the couch for a very long time and could really use the company. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, I suppose it’s time to get back to my studies. Tomorrow holds a computer applications exam, an accounting exam, and a statistics exam. Luckily, only 1 of those 3 is comprehensive, so my study time is decreased.

Hopefully I will update this at least once more before I go to Italy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Probably closer to the holidays.

Until then, let me leave you with something that made my day today, thanks to myย  best friend, Erica.

Talking Trash Can Helps a Proposal!

Love.<3

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New Leaves.. :)

Since the last time I blogged, I’ve gained another nephew! Ethan Andrew Graves was born on August 3rd!ย  It was so hard leaving him and Gannin and Ry, but I know they’re going to be great and I know I’ll see them soon!

I have been back at MVNU for over a week now. I love it. I am so blessed to have this job and to have my coworkers in my life. Sometimes, we don’t always notice our blessings, do we?

I was thinking the other day… sometimes we test our boundaries, don’t we? Like, we like to push ourselves to the edge of sinning, almost to see how far we can get without “actually” sinning… but the problem is: how do we know where the line is drawn? For instance: drinking. The Bible says nothing against just DRINKING alcohol.ย  There is record of Jesus drinking wine (regardless of how fermented the grapes were, He drank it. It wasn’t just grape juice. Those grapes had been sitting around for a while! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) But the Bible DOES say to not become drunk, because drunkeness ruins lives (Ephesians 5:18 NLT). So the problem is: we like to push to see how close to drunk we can get without actually being drunk. So what level of drunkenness is this verse talking about? The level of buzz that some people experience when they think they can still drive home? Or if you’re just tipsy enough that you kiss a few girls you’d never talk to in a sober state of mind while playing a fun game of spin the bottle? I don’t think Jesus accepts the conditional sin– like saying “well yeah, I’m slightly impaired, but I still have a solid state of mind.” I think drunkenness is drunkenness. It’s a different level for every person, but it still exists for EVERYONE… So why do we push the line? I’m not saying I’m against drinking. If you’re of legal age and you feel comfortable with having a drink here or there, then by all means, GO FOR IT! ๐Ÿ™‚ but don’t test the boundaries with God. He has set them forth for a reason– if it’s hard for you to say no to just ONE more drink, then don’t start. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, I have decided: I am letting go. Of my friendships from home. I have been praying about it a lot and for the past year, I have found myself SO stressed out about keeping those friendships alive. It actually got to the point where I couldn’t sustain good friendships at MVNU because I was too concenred about what was going on at home. That’s not fair to the friends that I’m neglecting here. So I’ve decided: I’m not trying anymore. I can’t. If you’re from my hometown and you feel like this is a direct blow to you, then do something about it! YOU make the effort to get ahold of me–I will NEVER turn a friend away. I’m just WORN. OUT. I can’t waste my time worrying about a friendship when the person on the other end isn’t putting any effort into the relationship. So, from today forth, I am putting all of my energy into my friends HERE. With me. The ones that are investing as much timeย  in ME as I am in THEM.ย  If you’re up for it, the offer still stands. Let’s make it work, or let’s put it aside.

Life is SO good. People are SO good. God is SO SOVEREIGN. I ran across this verse today when doing my devotionals: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23″ I LOVE it. I love that God is saying “Abby, quit doing things to try to impress other people and do it for MY GLORY.” It’s funny how He gives you the words you need to hear when you need them the most. Sometimes, I work hard so that I look good. Not just at work, but in friendships, classes, and life in general! From now on, I want to work hard so that God is pleased. I want Him to say of me “This is my GOOD and faithful SERVANT, in whom I am well pleased.” I don’t want to serve myself, I want to serve OTHERS, so that I am serving the Lord.. this is my prayer…

I am so excited for the rest of the girls in the apartment to move in! I’m excited for a GREAT YEAR! and I’m excited for bed. ๐Ÿ™‚

When the world says, “Give up,” Love whispers, “Let me help.”

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Sum sum summertime

This coming Friday, I will have been home for a month from MVNU. A MONTH! Is that crazy to anyone else or just me?

The past few weeks: quality time with Cherry before she went to Mississippi, then I started in on the lifeguarding. It feels like for the past 3 weeks I haven’t even changed out of my bathing suit (which isn’t necessarily true–I don’t wear my suit to church. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) But seriously, I got SO pumped today when I pulled on jeans instead of my guard shorts. It’s the little things, I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

So I was thinking the other day of God and all of His greatness. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t think about how fantastic God is every day, but the other day, I contemplated it for hours on end. And I thought about Christianity related to Buddhism or Hinduism or Judaism or some other religions. Do you remember in like 3rd or 4th grade when we were first introduced to other religions on a real level? Remember how weird it was to see Muslims pray 5 times a day toward Mecca or to see people kneeling at the wailing wall? Remember seeing African tribes worshiping a burning calf? Or do you remember the customs that Hindus hold? All of these practices seemed so barbaric to us… But I bet Christianity looks like any other religion from the outside. It probably seems weird when people drop to their knees and pray toward the sky or seeing people jump around, looking almost possessed.

Then, my heart was troubled with this question: how can we live out our relationship with God in a way that is not only really to us, but others can also tell. We can proclaim on our facebook that we are “Christians”.. in fact, I would be interested to know how many people on their facebook declare to be a Christian? I bet it’s over half. Then, I wonder how many out of those actually live out their faith? In Other words- how many read the Word regularly, pray continually, and have a relationship with Christ? I would say that it’s a small fraction.

I think that’s why a lot of people despise Christianity– because they see people who are living a certain way and don’t see a differentiation between their sinful nature and the love of the Savior in their lives. Actually, their faith is oftentimes masked completely. I sometimes think Satan’s biggest billboard is a Christian to claims to love Jesus and desires to live in the ways of the Lord, but deliberately lives another way. I know what you’re thinking: “RED FLAG, ABBY! We need to pray for these people because they need help.” You’re right–they do. And I DO pray for them, because I know God is BIG and can turn them back and teach them to live according to His will, but I am just so shortfused when it comes to someone who does it daily.I have friends who were born and raised in the church and have parents who are on their knees more than they’re on their feet, and yet they still live in the way of the world. And it scares me, because they think they’re indestructible. I just hope that my prayers along with God’s plans align before it’s too late.

 

 

So Summary– Jesus is good. His will is good. Our religion is different than those false ones, and we need to do all we can to live for Him, no matter what comes next.

 

Lake the next 2 weeks straight.

Peace and LOVE! โค

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Closing up.

In 24 hours, I will be finished with my Sophomore year of college. Isn’t that crazy? It feels like just yesterday, I was walking down N. Buckeye Street in my diaper, chasing after my siblings on their bikes.. and now I’m halfway done with college. 1 Question: where has the time gone?

This year has been one of serious growth. I mean, after freshman year, I was a totally different person, but now I’m even more different than then! Which means I’m not even remotely the same as the person I was when I graduated high school.
This year has stretched me in many ways. I moved in with girls I barely knew and felt very left out in my own home. I felt like I didn’t belong, but from that I learned patience. I prayed that God would take away those feelings of not belonging, and now these girls are some of the best friends I have!

I also entered the year in a major that I thought I wanted (see this post) but it turns out, God had other things in store for me. PRAISE HIM. He knows what He’s doing (as if I didn’t already know that? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Right now, I have a 97% in one of my classes. I’ve never EVER done that in college. I didn’t even know it was possible. Boy, was I wrong. I say this constantly, but It’s crazy how you can get good grades when you love your major. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I have also been a stretch this year professionally. As most of you know, I LOVE my job in admissions at MVNU. But this year, I’ve been given a lot of new responsibilities at work–when Lauren left, I filled in for her position until Adam was hired, and then, when one of the supervisors had to step down, I stepped up. It’s been a roller coaster and challenging, but I LOVE IT. I didn’t know I was capable of a lot of what I’ve done, but doing this just solidifies that I am in the right major. Man, I LOVE IT.

Physically: To date, I have lost 55 pounds. You may say “oh my gosh Abby, that’s AWESOME!” And you’d be right… it IS awesome. But it’s also frustrating, because I haven’t lost any for a few months. I am losing inches, but no weight. But I am trusting that one day, I’m going to wake up, and all this hard work is going to pay off and this extra weight is just going to fall off (hey, a girl can dream, right?) I think this physical battle has brought me the closest to the Lord out of everything. It’s taught me self-discipline and has taught me that just because it’s available, that doesn’t mean I should eat it. And it’s taught me that Jesus has big plans in store for me–if I have the strength to do all of this, then what else can I do for HIS kingdom?

Spiritually– I lead a small group this year with my dear friend Jordan. it was a stretch because there were 8 girls that looked up to us for spiritual guidance. I went into it, thinking I had to be the perfect Christian example, but I learned that they don’t WANT that– they want a normal person. And I really think I learned more from them than they’ll ever learn from me. And I’m really going to miss them next year. But some of them are going to be SGLs themselves! I can’t wait to see how God is going to use them!

Agenda for this summer:
May 20th: Move out of MVNU/ reunion ofย  Erica, Abby, and Cherry/ reunite with Captain Jack Sparrow.
May 21st: Kera’s Baby Shower!
May 28th- start work at the lake
June 18th: Robby and Staysh’s wedding!
June 25th: Kali and Brandon’s Wedding!
End of June: VBS! ๐Ÿ™‚
July 17-30th: CAMP!
Beginning of August: My newest nephew, Ethan Graves, is scheduled to arrive!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
End of August: head back to the Naz!

I can’t wait for summer, but I don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye to MVNU just yet. But I’m excited for what God has in store.

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