Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Joy and Strength

I have been reflecting on the joy of the LORD.
The Bible says that the joy of the LORD is my strength (Neh 8:10). Jesus said that He wants His joy to be in me and for my joy to be complete (John 15:11). I understand these verses to mean that God cares about my joy, that it is found through relationship with Him and that it is meant to strengthen me.
I have a friend, Carly, who is an intercessory missionary in Istanbul, Turkey. She recently fell while getting off a trolley and broke her pelvis in 3 places. Carly has been in intense pain, has had almost no pain killers and little medical care. But, I’m still getting emails from her proclaiming that Jesus is worthy of all praise and that she is worshiping Him from her bed in Turkey.
I read a letter from another missionary this morning. Her husband died very suddenly last September after a slight fall caused a massive hemorrhage in his brain. She is still grieving, but there was definite joy streaming through her letter as she talked about spending five weeks working in Tel Aviv this summer and her ministry with Jewish students in NYC.
I think of the children that I sponsor in Sudan, Burkina Faso and Uganda and how their faces beam at me from the pictures they send with joyous letters. Their joy seems to lift them up above the difficulty of living in such poverty.
I wonder about Christians living in Egypt and Syria and if joy in God is providing them with courage and strength right now.
I have been thinking about this in the context of my own life too. I am not experiencing physical pain, the grief of loss, poverty or persecution. But, I am experiencing emotional fatigue and stress from wedding planning and moving my office. I am tempted to focus on the negatives in my life and my discomfort rather than the joy that is mine in Christ Jesus and the many generous gifts that He has blessed me with.
I think that God really does mean for His joy to be our strength. Whether our problems are small and related to managing our many blessings well or we are actually suffering physically or emotionally, God wants us to find joy in Him whatever our circumstances. He wants to so fill us with His joy that we are lifted up above our feelings and experiences and we find peace and comfort in our relationship with Him.
So, I am practicing gratitude. I recognize that joy comes more easily when I count the ways that God loves on me today and I want my joy to be full and strong in Him.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #856: Christine and Michelle make the most beautiful decorations
·         #857: Fresh flowers
·         #858: Enjoying friends at my bridal shower
·         #859: Karyn hosted it at her fabulous new house
·         #860: Having my almost sister-in-law visit for the weekend
·         #861: Almost all of the insurance companies have processed my address change
·         #862: 32 days until I become Mrs. Striker
·         #863: I get to proclaim the power of God’s love and how joy really is possible no matter what

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Stitch Fix Story

I've decided to tell my Stitch Fix Story as a fun distraction from my usually serious blog material. :)

(Actually, Stitch Fix is asking people to tell their stories and offering a grand prize of $1000 in Stitch Fix credit. This is what has truly motivated me.)

Stitch Fix is a company that offers personal styling and sends items right to your home. You start by completing a style profile questionnaire that helps them determine your style and fit preferences. You pay a $20 styling fee that you can use toward purchasing items from your fix and you chose a date for your items to arrive. Then, Stitch Fix sends you a delightful box with five items picked just for you and the real fun begins.

I first heard about Stitch Fix on my favorite blog, Chatting at the Sky by Emily P. Freeman. It sounded really fun and I knew that my sister Karyn, fashionista that she is, would love it too. So, we both completed style profiles and chose the same date for delivery of our Stitch Fixes.

We waited in great anticipation all morning until the UPS truck pulled up in front of our parents' house. Lily's barking at the sound of the doorbell could not compete with our delighted shrieks as we raced for the door like little girls on Christmas morning. We tore into our boxes and discovered amazing clothes picked just for us.

Karyn had specially requested items for her honeymoon cruise and received several lightweight shirts and dresses that were fashionable and perfect for tropical weather. I had specially requested items to wear when meeting Ben's family for the first time at his sister's graduation. I ended up loving three of my items: two shirts and a dress. I wore the dress to Amy's graduation and I wore one of the shirts in our engagement photos. 

Pink Martini - Briana Bird Print Belted Dress - $88.00

DownEast - Stevie Contoured Top - $35.00

This experience was so incredibly fun and exciting that Karyn and I were sure that we wanted to do it again. We also talked our mom into joining us. Stitch Fix #2 was even more fun because the three of us took turns pulling items out of our boxes, trying them on and admiring them.

Here is what I got in Stitch Fix #2:

Ellison - Brooke Dot Print Tab Sleeve Blouse - $38
41Hawthorn - Orinda Stretch Banded Leggings - $38

I decided to keep the blouse and the leggings. The blouse has a nice fit. I like that I can wear it long or roll up the sleeves. It's also not pastel and I tend to wear lots of pastels. I would not usually spend this much money on leggings, but these are the most comfortable leggings that I have ever experienced!

41Hawthorn - Rectangle Cluster Statement Necklace - $38

Lansome - Christina Printed Peplum Dress - $48

I decided not to get this dress because it was quite fitted on bottom and I didn't feel comfortable in it, even with the leggings. But, I absolutely loved the necklace! And, that was a surprise to me. But, I have worn it several times since and I always get compliments.

My absolute favorite in this fix was the cardigan. You can't see it in the picture, but it has a knit overlay on one of the top white stripes and it is so cute how it ties. I have never seen a cardigan quite like this and am so excited for the weather to get colder so that I can wear it!

Evolution by Cyrus - Munro Tie-Waist Striped Cardigan - $60
If you think that you would like to try a Stitch Fix, then I strongly encourage you to do it. I have loved both of my fixes and think that it's a great way to explore new clothes.

You can check out their website at: www.stitchfix.com.

And, if you want me to receive referral credit, then you can click on this link: http://stitchfix.com/sign_up?referrer_id=3092768 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hinds' Feet on High Places

I have a client who has been pushing my buttons. I have prayed at least three times, asking God to take them elsewhere, out of my practice. I have also told God that my business is His business and that I will work with whoever He wants me to work with. Three times, this client has contacted me for an appointment almost right after I have prayed this.
Last week, when it happened for the third time, I was mad. I was angry with God for ignoring my tired, overwhelmed and frustrated feelings and insisting that I see this person. I was mad at the people who were trying to encourage me and help me to see how God could be using these difficult circumstances to work glory in my life. I cried several times. I also shut down all feelings several times, when they got too intense. I reached an impasse. I knew that I could surrender my feelings to God and trust Him or I could insist on my feelings and surrender my joy.
At first, I insisted on my feelings and was miserable. I was offended at God and couldn’t talk about the situation with anyone without becoming upset. I knew that it would be better to trust God, but I was mad that He was insisting that I stay in a situation I didn’t want to be in for some reason that I couldn’t understand. I was sad that He was not willing to deliver me from the circumstances and only offered to comfort me in the midst of the difficulty. That wasn’t the provision that I wanted and I wasn’t sure that I wanted the provision that He was offering.
Finally, I missed Him too much to insist on my painful feelings any longer. I broke down one more time and cried out to God. I let the torrent of hurt and angry feelings flow right out of me and into Him. I chose to trust Him even if He didn’t change my circumstances. I chose to find my joy in relationship with Him even if I continued to struggle with this particular difficulty.
Today, my circumstances are the same, but my feelings are different. I am enjoying greater peace and joy because of my relationship with God and those feelings exceed the uncomfortable feelings that I have about that case.
Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord: I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! Habakkuk 3:17-19 AMP
God is teaching me to walk on the high places. I don’t like it and it’s not comfortable, but it is helping me to be more like Him and training me to be able to follow Him wherever He leads me. This doesn’t feel good, but it is good. My offense at God’s leadership in my life reveals my pride in my own understanding of how I should be conformed to the image of Christ. It is God’s kindness and generosity to orchestrate my life events in such a way that the ugliness that lives within me gets provoked. I can repent for it when it is revealed to me. Practicing gratitude changes my attitude and gives me joy along this journey. It helps me to value what God is doing instead of resenting it.
How is God offending you? Where are you unhappy with His leadership in your life? What is God revealing within you by way of your difficult circumstances? How can you rejoice in the Lord in the midst of it all?
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #837: 3 day weekends
·         #838: working with Dad to restore the coffee hut
·         #839: meeting more of Ben’s good friends
·         #840: lies about God exposed in my heart and truth pushing them out
·         #841: God desires my friendship
·         #842: I love, love, love my new office!
·         #843: surely goodness and mercy are chasing me down all the days of my life
·         #844: my cup actually does overflow
·         #845: God is always with me
·         #846: When I struggle, God is there with me
·         #847: God does care about my feelings, but He doesn’t fear and avoid them like I do or alter circumstances just to change them
·         #848: the fight for my joy when circumstances try to steal it
·         #849: wedding cake tasting
·         #850: baking
·         #851: Ben made fumi salad and it was delicious
·         #852: the lazy river at Magic Waters
·         #853: Boone County Fair
·         #854: lemonade shakeups
·         #855: my sister buys her house tomorrow!