today officially marks my first day of christmas break. i had my last day of second term of grad school completed (yay!) on december 7th. since then i have felt much better and less stress. i didn’t realize how much of my mental capacity was taken up by school. now that i am aware of it, i look forward to strategizing a plan to have a more free mind winter term. my last day of work was yesterday, and it was a very full and festive day at the middle school. tons of students were served hot cocoa in a brand new mug that they got to take home. it was the best. i fully enjoyed it, and probably enjoyed wearing the reindeer ears a little too much :) today i plan on being festive myself. watch a christmas movie, make sugar cookies, wrap presents, do a little shopping, and diffuse some christmas smells. i hope everyone has a very happy and blessed holiday season. i want to completely embrace all this christmas has to offer, and i plan on doing so by enjoying every moment spent with family and friends and remembering all the joys of this celebration. cheers to the most wonderful time of the year!
All I did was praise
All I did was worship
All I did was bow down
All I did was stay still
Lately, these have been the constant lyrics playing in my car. I have come to realize, that sometimes my greatest victory is just coming to Him. Sometimes, the greatest victory is when we just come to Him, empty handed and wait. Wait to be loved, filled, adored, and comforted by Him. Sometimes we might feel that we have nothing to offer, feeling defeated, tired, and overwhelmed.
“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.” Matthew 11:28-30
All we can do sometimes is show up and acknowledge that He is God and we are not. He provides us rest and refreshment. This verse does not tell us to do anything, but to just come to Him. Sometimes, all we can do is just come to Him and that is enough. At times, standing still is that hardest thing for us to do, there are times in our life when we are called to stand, and that is all we need to do. Stand still and let Him work for us. Surrendering to Him, is a place that we can truly experience the magnificent power of Him working through us.
Sometimes, just acknowledging this truth and accepting it is all we need when feeling defeated. Because at that moment, that is when His light truly shines through us.
“Then I will say to my soul, “Don’t be discouraged; don’t be disturbed, for I fully expect my Savior-God to break through for me. Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again.” Psalm 43:5
Being able to see is one of the biggest blessings we have and yet so often one of the privileges we tend to not think twice about. I remember watching a video of a ten year old boy who had been color blind his entire life. Glasses were made available to where he could finally see the true colors that you and I see everyday. Tears were all that came from this young boy's eyes, as he saw colors he had never seen before. Tears of joy seeing for the first time, the beautiful creation the Lord created and all the vibrant colors within it.
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
The unseen world is just as real as the world we live in today. The Bible says that we should focus our attention on the unseen. That is a huge statement and completely opposite to our norm. We read in our Bibles that Jesus is constantly by our side, that He is closer than our breath we breath and closer than our eyes may see. Thinking on this thought, I wonder what would happen, how our days would change and how our thought process would change, if we pictured Jesus right next to us.
I think of this often while driving in my car, while praying or while listening to music, I practice seeing Jesus right there next to me in the passenger seat. The Bible says in Ephesians 3:20 ...."He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you." I read this verse and get so encouraged thinking about miraculous dreams and desires I want in my life, that being said, I also think of the simple and powerful imaginations this verse means to me as well. Just as simple as our drive to work. Maybe in those moments, He is right there holding our hand, intently listening to our every poured out prayer, or even there rocking out with us to our favorite song.
James 4:8 "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you..."
If we truly believe in the Bible and what the Word says, this is a promise that as we draw near to God, He will be right there, drawing near to us. As we approach and come to Him, He will be pursuing us, reaching us, and loving us in ways that far exceeds our wildest imaginations!
Happy Saturday, to a day filled with infinitely more than our greatest requests!
Have you ever heard the idea that our relationship with Jesus in our hearts is similar to a house? A house with some bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms. I want you to imagine your heart as a house, the house that we all get the privilege to host Jesus in. The Bible says that we host the presence inside of us. So how much are we really allowing open to Jesus and does he feel at home in our house?
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." 1 Corinthians 6:19
Imagine being in your house right now, it is a Saturday afternoon and you are inviting a few people over for coffee. We all welcome people into our home, and they are immediately in our entry way or our foyer. That spot is a given when we have guests in our home. We normally invite them into our living room space, dining room, or kitchen to get the coffee, and hopefully some sweets too! The bathroom is open to them as well and they feel at ease using it. Now, this is where it will get different for each person. Do you invite to give them a tour of your entire house? Do you take this person to your bedroom? Do you welcome this person into your back closet? Your laundry room or extra bathroom?
I would like to think that Jesus is more than a guest in our hearts, and more like a good old friend that feels comfortable opening the fridge and grabbing whatever they please. To me, I see Jesus as a gentleman and he is not going to storm into my house without my permission. He is, however, waiting for me to open up and invite him into my space. He loves chatting with me in the foyer, better yet, he loves to sit down at the dining room table and chat over a cup of tea. He receives joy from baking in the kitchen or cooking a yummy meal with me. This he all loves and enjoys doing beside me.
Though he is content with being with us in these rooms of our house, he knows that there is more. He knows the places in our hearts that we are hiding, that we are ashamed of or afraid to show him. He knows that back bedroom closet that we don't want him to find. He will not push you to take him in, he will wait patiently on you. It is our choice to let him in, he gave us that free will.
Although those places in our hearts are the hardest to let anyone into, it is the best thing that we could possible do. Invite Jesus into those places, though it feels uncomfortable and scary, he will bring you peace and shine light into that dark place. He will bring restoration, healing, and freedom. But if that door or that room is never opened to him, that hiddenness will hinder so much joy that the father has for you. It only steals away from our relationship with him.
So, how does Jesus feel inside the home you have invited him into? Is he welcomed to roam around your house, bringing light to every nook and cranny? Or is he only allowed in what we call the guest rooms, such as the entry way, dining room, living room, and kitchen. The choice is ours and he is lovingly waiting for us to let him roam around our hearts freely, because that my friends is where his glory really starts to shine.
Let us step out in faith, and invite him into those places together!
Jordan and I decided to go on a little one day adventure to Portland on a Friday. We both took the day off and headed up there bright and early. Little did I know that he had planned a surprise overnight stay in the city. Our first stop was this adorable little Italian cafe, that was only large enough for standing room with a little coffee bar. We got the best drinks and they took us right back to our recent trip to Italy. We walked around downtown and then decided to head to the Pearl District. As we park, Jordan goes to the back of the car and pulls out a packed duffle bag. And to my surprise, he had packed my bags (make-up, an evening outfit, day outfit, extra sweaters, socks, etc.) and did so well! He even found a parking spot right in front of our hotel, which is a really rare occurrence to find an open parking at the exact spot you want! We had an absolute blast! Though we lived here for three years, there is always something new to try out in the city. To me, Portland doesn't get old, and there are always new cafes, shops, or restaurants I want to try out when I'm there. Here are a few photos from our trip!
this chapter seemed really fitting with the weather that we are having today. the majority of schools are closed, which means...snow day for me! yay :) the trees are covered with thin layers of packed snow, the grass is completely white, looking as if a nice cozy white blanket is exactly what it always needed, and the birds are still chirping along, landing on branches making the snow trickle down. the mystery and the unknown is something that still gets me every time with God. to think that he is the one that created this snow, he knew how this would work far before we could understand any of it...the Bible says that his understanding has "...no limit." (psalm 147:5). my brain cannot even begin to grasp that. no limit. none at all.
"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nether are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." isaiah 55:8-9
what he sees, what he thinks, what he knows is far beyond my understanding. for me this puts a lot of things in perspective. a lot of time in life, we think that a situation is hopeless, or that our circumstances are just the way things are and accept them as is. but there is so much HOPE in his word! the Bible tells us that his ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, there is always so much more in store for us. so if we see a defining moment of failure, he might see an enormous amount of opportunity and growth. or maybe we are feeling succumbed with fear, and he is feeling love radiating from his heart.
so this is me just babbling on about how much of the unknown there is to God. i know him, i love him, i am in relationship with him - but there is still so much more and there always will be! what fun would there be in seeking someone out if we already knew everything about them? it wouldn't be fun at all! when there is an indefinite amount of knowledge and understanding to be uncovered and discovered, to me it is so much more inviting and thrilling to jump on in to the adventure of learning knew things about someone or something.
so as i look out my window this morning and see all the whiteness of snow sheltering the outside, i was brought to these verses and it just added to all the sweetness of today.
"he determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. the Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. he covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. he provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. his pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. extol the Lord, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o zion, for he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. he grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. he sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. he spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. he hurls down his hail like pebbles. who can withstand his icy blast? he sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow." psalm 147:4-18
"as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what i desire and achieve the purpose for which i sent it. you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow. this will be for the Lord's renown, or an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed." isaiah 55:10-13
the Lord is good. so good and there is so much more exploring to be done. so here's to an adventure seeking journey with the one and only, sweet Jesus.
this song is so good and so fitting.
This does take a bit of practice, and effort to do our part in this right? To let go of what the world says you ought to be, to let go of what others think you should be, and to just be you, who you are. Who God created you to be. Full of life, full of uniqueness, full of every piece in your being created, to represent you. Not just you but only you because there is only one of you out there, just like there is only one of me out there. And the beautiful thing about being who we are is that it contains no striving, no pushing, no performing. We each have the choice to stay in our own lane, our own path that God uniquely called us to be on.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. " Hebrews 12:1
It all looks so differently in this world. God created not just you and me, but the beautiful fragrant purple lilacs, the bright blue sky with the afternoon sun, the vastness of the seas, and the bursting pink flamingo. We are all included in the lists of masterpieces that the God of the universe created and saw as good. Not just good, but very good.
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good..." Genesis 1:31
That very good is you! Lets give God all the glory that is His. Lets give him you. Lets give him me. Lets give Him the joy and excitement of a father seeing each and every one of his daughters and sons truly blossoming into who He created them to be.
Together, lets not be who the world says we are to be, but lets be children of God. Lets give ourselves permission to fully run after the beautiful rareness in how we were each created. Here's to being brave together!
so we made it back from italy. it was an absolute blast. Jordan and I had so much fun on our trip. we ate so much gelato, pizza, cheese and drank so much espresso and wine. it was the best. here are a few photos and highlights :)
so here's the deal. i have been wanting to start a blog for a long time. and i mean a long time. i started one back in college right before i got married. i was engaged, and i couldn't have been more excited about all the possibilities that were about to unravel as we started to see our lives emerge together. so i started a blog. i wanted to remember the whole entire process. the feelings, the emotions, the new beginnings and the new transition. my point was to capture our life along the way, and one day i could look back and remember all of the fun/hard/silly/joyful seasons and days my husband, Jordan, and i went through together. so i started a blog. but after we got married, i stopped. cold turkey! blogged for a whopping 6 months. so now i have reopened that desire with the purpose to be committed to doing something that i love to do, and also cherish so deeply. because in life, really the most important things are the memories, the moments shared, and the little and big joys that come along the way. now i am committed to starting over! yay! this septmeber we will be married for 5 years. we are going on a trip to italy, and it will be our first time to europe. we are beyond excited! i thought this would be a great opportunity to get back in the swing of it, so. here. we. go!
we leave for italy on september 1st. and mind i telling you about the first big adventure Jordan and i went on - we were flying to mexico for our honeymoon. It was Jordan's first time flying and he was prepared. i tell you, prepared is the key word here. he had a binder, yes a binder, that he packed around the airport with our whole itinerary! where we were staying, for how long, what the price was, our plane tickets, our numbers, and all the way down to what you are probably imaging. so this trip will be so fun to see us together, on another big adventure, but with 5 years of marriage under our belt, ha! let's see how the Radfords do :) right now we have a little less than a month to prepare. we have all of our reservations booked. first in milan for one night, then off to cinque terre for three nights, and ending with florence for five nights. we have a tuscany wine tour booked (that i cannot wait for!) that will take place the day before our anniversary, so we will be in florence for the big day. also, we have been doing so good on limiting our sweets & carbs this summer. more so Jordan than myself with the whole - no sugar doing the week thing - but i will give myself credit that i have limited my normal coffee coffee buzz buzz ben & jerry's, which is my goto always. this trip will be filled with many gelato trips, wine, espresso and some of the most amazing pasta i imagine.
we still have few items left to purchase before we head out. i already got the plug-in adaptor and the external charger for our iphones. just some extra swimwear, sunglasses, hats, and maybe a few dresses/shoes :) always a good reason to get a new pair of shoes right? of course you would get a pair for a vacation to italy! we are both counting down the weeks, and at times it is going by super fast, then slow, which i like both. this summer has been filled with long hours of work, evenings filled with watering our garden, and bike riding ever chance we get. living right in town has made it so fun to just hop on our bikes and go for a stroll. and also throwing the ball for Porter, his most favorite activity that he instantly wants to do when we arrive home. he will be missed on our trip, but I'm sure he will be spoiled to pieces by my parents, so that puts all of us at ease. we will have plenty of goodies when we return from italy, so it shouldn't be that bad.
so here it is. the very first post that is the start to many more memories and joys to share. this journey is one in the making and my fingers are loving the typing and my mind is at ease as the thoughts spill out. yay! 2017 - you are the start of a great year (8 months in already!) that will contribute to the years to come of the sweetest memories, moments & joys along the way.