Six Goals for 2011

I compiled a list of some great goals for the upcoming 2011! These are goals which I mainly set for myself to work on, perhaps you can share in some of them, or even make some of your own! :)

I will go outside of my comfort zone
Often times, we get stuck in our comfortable spot instead of reaching out to others. I can definitely say I struggle with this at times but in 2011, I resolve to go outside of my comfort zone more often no matter what environment I'm in - home, work, or church! 
I will depend more on God. 
You can never go wrong with more dependency on God! In 2011, I resolve to depend less on myself and instead, depend fully on God! 
I will be more selfless. 
The name of my blog, obviously, is "Beautifully Selfless". It revolves around the idea of being completely selfless for Christ by dying to self! In 2011, I resolve to be more selfless and rather than thinking of myself, I will think more upon Christ and others' needs.  
I will complain less, even mentally. 
I don't complain too much generally speaking, but I know mentally and my inward attitude at times can be one that could be considered complaining! In 2011, I resolve to work on this so that even my inward attitude may be one that is positive and pleasing to God!
 I will praise God, no matter what the day brings. 
It can be very easy to forget to praise God in the hard times, uncertain times, or fearful times. In 2011, I resolve to praise God no matter what happens on any given day--because He is a good God and is worthy of my praise! 
I will pray more. 
The Bible teaches to pray without ceasing. In 2011, I resolve to work at this truth and to spend more time in prayer with God, whether in be in my own quiet time or even if I'm at work.    
 I hope you enjoyed these goals! They are only a few but I encourage you to think about some of the things you personally struggle with and resolve to work on them for your own spiritual growth and well being! :)

For other goals that you may need to work on, Lies Young Women Believe blog is listing a total of 21 New Year Resolutions for 2011. Check them out here!
 (Those are only 5 of them, by clicking on "Blog" at the top, you can return to the homepage and click the other blog archive links which will lead to more goals they have posted).

Also, I have made it one of my goals this year to read through the entire Bible! I'm excited to begin this challenge! I have tried it once before which wasn't 100% successful but I did read through most of the Bible. I highly encourage you to take this up as one of your goals! It will be an incredible journey if you and you won't believe how much you'll learn about God through His word!

It's almost here!

2011! I can't believe the year has already gone from us!
This is the year I graduate high school! WOW, when did that happen!
I still remember being in 6th grade saying how I still had some terrible six years to go.
Wow. Time does go by fast!

Truth be told, I am actually VERY excited for this new year. It's refreshing. I feel like it's a brand new, fresh start. 2010 will be behind us and new months will be up ahead.

What will God do in this next year? In my life? In your life? Are YOU excited? I AM!

I've already begun to form some new goals for this upcoming year. Things I want to work on and things I want to achieve! Do you have any goals? I encourage you to make some if you don't!
In the next few days I will be posting some of my own goals and perhaps it will get you thinking on some of your own. :)


It's the 25th!

 "For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

Merry Christmas! :)


The Candy Cane Story

A story I heard last year and thought I would post! I don't believe it's actually true.. but it does make for a great meaning, one that is memorable too! :) Enjoy.
A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would remind people of the true meaning of Christmas; so he made the candy cane to incorporate several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and the firmness of the promises of God.
The candymaker then shaped his cane into the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to the earth as Savior. It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down to to reclaim the fallen lambs who, like sheep, have gone astray.
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.


Food for Thought

"A man is what he thinks about all day long." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, what do you think about all day long? It's an interesting thought, isn't it? 
Would you say your thoughts are more concerned with things of this world? Appearance. Material items. Friends. What's going on tomorrow. Plans for Friday. The next new movie, CD or magazine.
Or are your thoughts centered around Christ? Loving others. Being patient. Sharing the Gospel. Reading your Bible. Meditating on God's truth. Serving others. 

Pretty noticeable difference, huh?
Now, it definitely is true that you cannot always be thinking about spiritual things, simply because that's not an option, we still have to fulfill our earthly responsibilities. But it is more important to have a healthy balance, just like with anything. Let's see what God's word has to say about this!

Romans 12:2
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

My challenge to you: Consider the things you think about. What are they mainly centered around? What does this show about your heart in terms with your relationship with God? What could YOU be doing to help your thought life and make it more pleasing to your Heavenly Father?


Thank You, God!

Okay, so maybe I'm a little late, considering the fact that Thanksgiving was nearly two weeks ago. But hey, who says it has to be Thanksgiving in order to be thankful? :)

I feel incredible today. Absolutely amazing. The best I've felt in weeks.. months! 
And I want all my praise to go to God, my sweet, sweet Savior! 

I've been working hard at work, in school, and in my spiritual life. I'm taking a week-long break from Facebook until Sunday (which also has been amazing - I don't miss it a single bit!). I'm getting things accomplished, I'm doing (what I think is) a good job too! 

My joy is increasing daily and "it is well with my soul!"
There are so many things in my life that God has blessed me with.

I have incredible friends who I love dearly and they, in return, love me! These friendships and relationships have given me the opportunity to share Christ's love, to share joy, encouragement, and courage. They have given me opportunities to help carry the burdens of others, to be that extra support they need in times of discomfort and troubles and vice versa. I have had some of the best laughs, and some of the best cries (haha). :) I've also had some amazing late night phone calls (Thank you Laura for being so good of a friend to let me lose sleep.. ;P) Hehehe. Not to mention my also, amazing, family. My parents... ah! They've done so much for me... I am so fortunate as to have two very loving parents who have taken good care of me all my past 17+ years. :) Love you Mom and Dad! (Even though they probably will never read this, hahah).

I have, probably, one of the best youth groups and church family in the entire world! Youth group and my church have given me so many growing experiences and opportunities! I love it so much! My youth group each Sunday is so refreshing and starts me out for the next coming week. It also encourages me greatly and has been so meaningful. Youth group has been such an important part of my life the past (almost) two years!

I have a job. Yes, at Panera Bread. Now while it's not the most exciting or the most enjoyable... I still have one. And not everyone can say that! God has given me many opportunities there to share about my faith and also to be an example of Him and His love. 

Lastly but certainly not least - I have Jesus. Yes, yes, YES! I have my sweet, sweet Prince. I owe Him my life... all that I am and ever could be. He has been so faithful to me, time and time again. I have had many down times the past few months and He has continued to bring me through those valleys and refill me with strength and love. He has saved me... and I thank Him for that. He has loved me... and I thank Him for that. He has been faithful.. and oh, how I thank Him for that! I love Him! My life would be so different without Him and all that He is to me. God is not a good God--He is an amazing God! 

I decided to get creative and make my own pic. :)
My challenge to you: Remember your blessings! Whether life is good or bad or even in between for you right now, remember your blessings. What has God given you? What has He blessed you with? What can you praise Him for today? :)

Psalm 103:1-5
"Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits— 
who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,  
who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,   
who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s."

(Check out the rest of Psalm 103 here!)


Left or Right? How about WRONG!

Have you ever been wronged? Or at least felt like you were wronged by someone?

Yeah, me too. It's a terrible feeling, isn't it? Doesn't it just make you cringe and wish to make things even or at least something within you screams for justice and something that would make up for the wrong?

It can be a very strong emotion, depending on how serious the injustice upon you is. Often times, it is easy to quickly judge the person for what they've done, to believe they deserve something in return that is utterly terrible, that you should get revenge and make SURE it hurts.

There is nothing wrong with anger, righteous anger--meaning your reason for being upset is one that is "legit". It really all comes down to what you do with the anger or feelings.

Leviticus 19:18
"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."

Proverbs 24:29
"Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did."

It can be a very difficult thing to do but these verses call us to let go of those feelings of revenge or of anger.
Sometimes you wonder why you have to, as if the person is going to get away with what they have done against you. But this is not true! We, as Christians, know that God is the true Judge.

1 Peter 2:23 
"When they hurled their insults at [Jesus], he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."

Did you catch that? Even Jesus (who was God) did not fight back, but rather he let it go to the Father, the true judge, the one who judges justly! 

Now, Jesus was perfect and could not sin, so therefore, it's not completely the same, but once again, we are called to be like Christ and to follow in His footsteps. 

My challenge to you: Let God be the Judge! In moments when you're first wronged, your emotions may be screaming for you to get revenge on the other person, but REMEMBER, God will take care of it. Perhaps this person is not a Christian, think about where they are headed in regards to eternity. Instead of seeing it as you must get back at them, see it as an opportunity to witness through shining as the light of Christ by example and your actions, pray for them, etc. because you know they are headed to a very dark and terrible place! Once again, God is the judge, you do not need to try to justify things for yourself. Usually, by seeking revenge or letting go of control of our anger or high raging emotions, we make poor and unwise decisions which just lead to other problems! I think Romans says it perfectly...

Romans 12:17-21
"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."


For Those of You Tempted to Read the "Last Chapter"...

Have you ever read a REALLY good book? One that either has you completely intrigued or engrossed in its pages? ...Ever been tempted to flip the pages to the end and read what happens?

Me too! :) It's hard not to isn't it?

Sometimes I wish I could see what is coming in my life--to "flip the pages" to the end to see what happens. Sometimes I wish God would answer my questions about my life and what is going to happen... just so I could know and then not have to be concerned or anxious. 

Nevertheless, God doesn't tell us directly or fully what is going to happen in the future of our lives. In fact, it's rather like a book, where there may be foreshadowing or hints of what is to come. Our lives are the same, we may receive some guidance from God as to what direction to head that could "hint" as to where we are going to end up. Even then, they can be very subtle and sometimes you really can't make anything of them... just like with reading a book. You have to wait. 

And why do you wait when it comes to reading a book? Because if you didn't, it would ruin the story. You wouldn't be able to appreciate all the chapters that lead up to it--the struggle to reach the success, the happy ending, the coming together of the plot, etc.

And it's the same with God. If God were going to tell us what the outcome of a certain situation was, it would not only ruin the surprise of the ending (which we know with God, it HAS to and WILL be amazing!), but it would also lead you to not appreciate what good ending you received from God. You wouldn't appreciate it because you didn't have to go through the previous stages (chapters) of trusting in God and having faith in Him that He will bring you through that circumstance/uncertainty/etc.

My challenge for you is: Be patient! If perhaps, right now, you have some questions for God or you wish you could know what was going to happen in a particular area of your life, my advice is to simply be patient and to trust in God. Trust me, I know that's easy to say in those simple seven words and a lot harder to do in reality, but it's the best thing you can do (along with prayer)! Just keep progressing through each "chapter" while waiting for God to do His good and perfect will, and I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised! :)

Psalm 27: 13-14
"I remain confident of this:
   I will see the goodness of the LORD
   in the land of the living. 
 Wait for the LORD;
   be strong and take heart
   and wait for the LORD."


Are you ready for the test?

The big day has arrived. You're sitting in your chair, and in front of you lies the dreadful exam you've been preparing for. You've studied hard and are sure you know all the material. You're a bit nervous but you feel confidence in the truth you took time to learn. You open the test and suddenly, your mind goes blank. "I have no idea what the answer is!" "This is not like the problems I practiced! It's different!" 

Ever been there? I have! It's a nerve-racking place, isn't it? You thought you knew all the material and told yourself you were ready for the test. But when it came down to it, when you were faced with the challenge, your stability suddenly became weak and crumbled. 

Through recent experiences in my life, that have had an incredible effect on my heart and mind, I've realized that I struggle with this principle so greatly in regards to God.

Have you ever found yourself at a place where you knew the truths of God--in fact, you've heard them time and time again and could easily say that you believe and know them--but when the test came, and you were forced to really live out that faith and believe, you suddenly realized that it's a lot more difficult than you thought?

Believing in Jesus and what He says is one thing.
Following and genuinely trusting in His word is another.

I can say that I know full well the truths of Jesus, but I also admit that sometimes I have trouble actually following and trusting Him that they are all true and that He means them. 

It's a surprising place to find yourself in, when you were so sure of yourself, to then realize how weak you really are. I've come to this understanding in my life over the past couple months. It's very easy to hear the lesson, to hear the truth. Just like they say, it's easy to talk the talk... but to walk the walk? To live out those truths? To pass the test when life throws lemons at you? Can I do that? Can YOU do that?

Technically, as sinners, we are capable of pretty much nothing other than sinning, and ultimately we must depend on Jesus and His profound strength to survive and continue on. But are you willing to rely on Jesus with all that you are? Are you willing to say "Jesus, I trust You, even though I'm scared/confused/frustrated/uncertain/in the dark."?

The one thing about difficulties is that they show true character. They show who you really are and what happens to you and your character when push comes to shove.
Is the hope of Jesus within you today? Can you remember, even in the darkness, that there is light and Jesus will bring you to it, that all you must do is trust in Him?
Perhaps things in life are going fairly well for you, that's great... Remember to praise Jesus! But what about the future? What about when that inevitable difficulty comes to you? Will you push through.... Or will you cave under the weight of uncertainty or of another emotion? We know that this is not God's will for us to carry this burden and in fact it's rather the devil who plants in those thoughts of fear and doubt as shown in Galatians 5..

Galatians 5:7-9
"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."

Yesterday I came across some very encouraging verses...

1 Corinthians 15:57-58
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

 James 1:2-4, 12
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ..... Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

1 Peter 1: 6-7
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

My challenge for you (and myself): Don't only believe in the truths of Jesus but FOLLOW them, and LIVE them out! If/when troubles in life come your way, do not be like the seed that lands on the rocky soil, and quickly withers. But be strong and courageous in Jesus. Know that there is light, there is hope, there is a future, and whatever you're facing is only a stepping stone to it. Then you may succeed in Christ and get your "A+" on the test! ;)


Just for Laura..

:) <3

December has Come!

December surely has started out with a bang!
It's snowing. :)

Laura K., you have inspired me to take and post some pictures, hehe.



This gorgeous snow fall reminds me of how Christ cleanses us of our sins. From one of my favorite hymns...

"Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."