What I Learned in 2017

Twenty seventeen. What a year. This year caused pain to many, including myself. But also brought personal achievements and new perspectives. However, through the trials & triumphs, I learned a multitude of lessons that I want to share with y’all.

1. Exercising regularly is important

Not only for my physical health, but for my mental health. Studies show that exercising increases endorphin which make you happy. I never fully understood that; in my ignorant ways I thought there was no way exercising made you happy if you hated doing it! But I was wrong. I worked out regularly in the summer and noticed that the days I worked out were the days I was naturally in a good mood and positive. Not to mention, working out has allowed me to keep in shape and has brought down my mile time significantly, which was my goal!

2. Give yourself a break

The way my personality is wired makes me feel responsible for just about everything. I find ways to make things my fault, even if it really isn’t. I apologize for things I that don’t need apologizing for. This led to self loathing. I started to beat myself down for mistakes or when I slipped up. For example, if I missed a workout because I overslept or didn’t feel up to it, I would feel that I was letting myself and my parents down; that I was unhealthy and a failure. Why I believed this load of crap I have no idea. I had to learn to give myself a break; I had to have grace for myself. I was allowing satan’s lies to life and believing them! The Lord wants us to change our ways and repent, however our loving, gracious, merciful Father does not want us to break ourselves over our sins. He just wants us repent to him, ask for forgiveness, and learn to correct them.

3. Natural, as for skin care, is ALWAYS better

I have always had oily skin with occasional dry spots, usually during the dry cold months. Because of this, and a few other things, I go to the dermatologist semi annually. On two separate occasions they have prescribed me two different topical medications. And this is not a dig or diss at dermatologists, they do great work and I have had many good things come out of those visits. However, my skin is really “moody”, sometimes its tough other times its extremely sensitive. And the two medications they prescribed worked, but had more cons than pros. It made my skin flaky, dry, and irritable. I was so done with putting makeup on flaking skin and constantly hating the way my skin was looking. So I quit my medications. I put an end to all harsh skin treatments. Instead, I found a natural face wash/ make up remover/ toner. Let me tell ya, this works wonders. The coconut oil in it moisturizer my face and gets off waterproof mascara, the baby shampoo helps wash off face makeup, and the apple cider vinegar acts as a toner. After that I was my face with a drug store face wash to get rid of the excess oil on my skin. It is amazing what natural ingredients can do for you skin and I will never turn to another topical medication again!

4. I am me, and not even I can change that

This year i have really learned to come to terms with myself. I am definitely a Type A, enneagram type 1, and an INFJ. I am organized in my own way and cannot stand a mess; I am one to take charge of any group when what needs to be done is not; I am the type of person that doesn’t simply give up, I have to finish; I am will go at all lengths (in moderation) to get what I want; I am not a people person although I try to please all I care about; mostly, I am me, and I cannot change the way I am wired. I have tried long and hard to become an extrovert or to always be bubbly or to try not and care what others think or to be less of a nerd about things I love or to be less passionate and fiery or to be less opinionated or to more sensitive. However, I cannot change these. I mean sure, i can be more outgoing when i want to be or be more bubbly if I try, but i cannot live like that all of the time. I have learned to love myself, the way I am. And yes, this is cliche and I am pretty sure every other lady that blogs writes this. But I am so serious about this. I used to hate that I was not as “normal”, or what i though was normal, as my bubbly, extraverted, less fiery, and mind filtered friends. And that’s just there personality, and I love them for it. But, it’s not me. And it will never be. This is just who I am, and I love it. I have learned to love my introverted, perfectionist, outspoken, goofy, sarcastic, snarky, always hungry, musical enthusiast, intuitive, period drama loving self. Even if that means I am kinda hard to like sometimes. And all personalities have flaws, and there are definitly things I have to work on. But for the most part, I just have to accept and love who I am, better or for worse.

Side note: INFJs are not some mystical unicorn psychics some MBTI charts make us out to be. We are just a mixture of many traits that make us more reserved and quiet with really good intuitive qualities, gut feeling if you will. We are not more special than the other types because we are the least common type. We just happen an extremely complex type that appears different with every INFJ.

5. Real friends love you, even when you are a pessimistic “b” sometimes

I have had my fair share of friendships. Some have lasted since 2nd grade other seem to weaken and eventually we part our ways. This happens to every human on this earth. But this year I have realized who my true friends are. Those who love me good, all the freaking time. Because my title for this lesson is my a good 40% of the time. Yet, they still love me. I know this because of all the times I have been a pessimistic bum or have vented for hours, and later apologized for it, they always tell me “it’s ok” or ” no, I totally get it” and the next day they are still there for me. So just a shout out to my best buds and a big thanks with a hug, even though I am not a fan of hugs, because y’all are the most quality people I have ever met and I love y’all more than I can say. Thank you for always encouraging me, believing in me, inviting me, listening to my talks, and laughing with me. Y’all truly are the best human beings I have ever met and I will always want to protect y’all.

6. Do what makes you happy

This little line can be totally misconstrued. For me at least, this does not mean I have no responsibility for myself and I can do whatever I feel like or want. No. This means that if I want to teach myself to play the piano again, then I will because it makes me happy. Or if would rather stay home than go out, then I will because I would rather be at home being happy than out and miserable and vice versa. This also means that when I do something that I think is weird and I fear others thoughts about it, I have to let go of that fear and just do it. Like listening to broadway music 24/7 or being really interested in my DNA and family ancestry. Because these things are kinda out of the ordinary but they make me happy. And I would rather be happy than listen to their thoughts.

7. There is more to faith than just a quiet time

I used to think that a daily quiet time was the ultimate way to grow closer to God. It’s great to have a quiet time daily, but more needs to be done. What’s the point of faith if we stay on the boat. Like Peter, we must step out onto the water with total faith in the Lord. We must step outside of our comfort zone because we cannot grow where we have already grown. I learned this concept this summer, in Munich. Where I was pushed daily to step out of my reserved ways and talk to people and pray out loud in public places. I grew so much through this. My quiet time with Him prepared me for the day. And I struggle daily with this. I don’t want to make myself uncomfortable, but he calls us to live uncomfortably, and I have taken this call, and so I must. I was shown this summer a new perspective on those who do not know our Father. They are all souls, lost and wandering. And it is our job to plant seed, water seeds, or harvest plants for these souls because they all must have the opportunity to be saved. How selfish are we not to want to help these souls. Because we all are, including myself. That is why each day we must wake up and be ready to walk out on our faith whenever we see the oppurtunity because the Lord is always there across the water ready to save us when we start to sink. And though he may let us start to sink to wake us up from our way of no faith, he will not let us drown.

These were all the major lessons I learned this year.

2017 has been a year of growth, trial, and overall learning to love our Father, others, and myself. And I am thankful for all those who have taught me these lessons, where intentional or unintentional. Thank you to all who read my posts this year. This is where I like to put myself onto paper, figuratively, and write my feelings. I am so grateful for this gift God has granted me and this opportunity to share what he is teaching me with whoever wants to listen. I lift up everyone who has had trails upon trials this year. I pray for peace of soul and mind to you and that the Lord would show you how out of such tragedy and pain, he is still there, and never left.  So 2017, I take a bow and next year, hopefully, I will come back learning more, and applying these lessons to my everyday life.

 

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Nostalgia

Merriam Webster defines it as ” the state of being homesick”. Today was nostalgic.

Its funny how our minds work to allow certain smells or words to set off a trigger of memories and emotions. Today I saw  sights, people, smells, sounds all left me yearning for somewhere else.

This is typically where I would que Munich to come in, but it was so much more than that. I had a homesickness for a place I have never been. A community I have never met. Yet, I felt this warm ticklish feeling bubble within that only occurs when I am in a certain setting.

I felt that today.

Y’all are all probably wondering what this means to me, well it means I feel at home. I feel like I am attached to a string and each time I see these people, smell these smells, hear them whispering in their native tongue, and feel their presence, the string is yanked and yanked. Like magnets. I don’t know if this is the Lord’s doing. That is something I have to really pray on, but he sent me to Munich where I futher deepened a love for this culture.

So maybe it is or maybe it isn’t… but I still feel nostalgic.

Munich, Germany

Wow.

Who knew that ten days could pretty much make my life do a 180. I didn’t. You see, I had prayed leading up to this trip that Father (God) would just completely wreck me. While I was there I didn’t feel the wrecking of life that I thought I would feel. I was expecting an epiphany. When I got home I still didn’t really feel changed, little did I know that change comes in many shapes and sizes. I wasn’t destroyed or completely wrecked but I was changed for the better.

In Munich, I relied on Father. I relied on him to change people’s hearts, to lead me to english speakers, and to allow me to carry on a conversation that naturally would lead to Him. I also had to rely on him when I didn’t feel good and I had to continue his work. He always came through. He gave me peace and renewed my spirit each day, even when Satan was attacking me. He healed my hurting stomach and eased my worries. Even though I didn’t have a conversation that really led to his word, he still allowed me to speak about him in small ways. Most of all, he allowed me to continue his work in Munich, something he could have easily done himself but he loves us so much that he allows us to be apart of such a beautiful process.

I am changed. I now have learned how to rely on Father & what a blessing that is. My burdens and struggles are too big for me to carry alone. I have learned that prayer is a powerful tool. He listens to every prayer and always answers them, although the answer may not always be what you prayed for, he knows what’s best. I learned to really just be in his presence, even if I don’t feel his presence. Father is not a “thing” we feel. He is an almighty being/spirit that is always there, and we won’t always feel him. Most of all I learned that He is already at work everywhere and he can use me anywhere and in any way he wants. I need to go somewhere with an open heart and mind because what I may have decided I want to do in his name may not always be what he has decided, and his idea is always better. However, he always wants us to share the Word wherever we are, whether that be praying that the person next to you at your favorite coffee shop would one receive the Word or starting up a conversation about the Word to the woman next to you on a plane. He always wants us to share him with others.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.” Ephesians 6:18-20 


On another note, Munich was amazing. I loved getting to experience many cultures all in one place. It’s pretty awesome how father can bring so many backgrounds into one city. We were able to concentration camp too, which was such an eye-opening experience. I absolutely loved this city.

I left my heart in Munich.Chancellory buildinggelatoglockenspiel 2barracksView from st. petersWest parkoutside russian orthodox church

 

Life Letter

Dear friends,

I have decided to give up Netflix for lent. Yikes, it has been rough. I’m not Catholic but I do usually participate in lent because sometimes its good just to take a break from something that consumes time. I kinda hat not having something to watch because Timeless is off air right now and I just finished Downton Abbey, which was freaking amazing! Therefore, I would only really be watching Bones, which is on Netflix! Clearly you can see that I am struggling. But, to sit and watch tv is such a waste of time and when I spend time with the Lord I am doing work for something eternal, not earthly.  On another note, I have recently started to read Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. So far, it’s pretty good and it seems to be a just a cute romance novel, but hopefully something interesting will happen. Speaking of new things, I have started to try to workout every other day,which is tough because I like my sleep.  I have been using the Beach Body on demand online courses and they’re pretty good and a great way to workout out if you are on a time frame.

I am hoping to try to go pescetarian part of this summer, so  if you have any good recipes let me know! Also (this is super off topic but I freaking love Disney so naturally I had to mention it) I saw Beauty and the Beast  and it was amazing! The original version was one of my favorite movies growing up, along with Anastasia, Peter Pan, and Mulan. The cast  did such an outstanding job portraying the personalities of their diverse characters. Plus, Dan Stevens was in Downton Abbey  and I love him on that so naturally I loved him as the Beast. I’m sure my fellow theater goers were a tad irritated that I sang along with every song, laughed loudly, and slightly yelped at the end -but what can I say? I am a dedicated fan. Sidenote: The scene where Belle goes atop the grassy hill and sings about traveling is the scene I tried to recreate as a small child. I would go in my yard and try to mimic Belle and the way she walks on the grass without smashing it. Needless to say, I was not successful.

Lately I have been struggling with finding joy in everyday moments, although it has gotten better. I have had to pray that God would show me joy in simplicity. And he has. I love that God is allowing me to see such things, it’s quite special. It’s also a great way to start your day. To live in today and not yesterday or tomorrow.

So, there it is. A small update on my life. My your life be filled with joy and Disney songs.

xo, Em

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And the adventure continues…

And just like that, summer is officially over. Let the new school year begin!

As this school year begins, I was reminded with a few words of wisdom, coming from Ephesians 6:10-18. Paul is reminding us to put on the armor of God so we may stand up against evil. This is such crucial advice, if we don’t wear the armor of God we can easily be pulled into the lies of Satan, we will become so vulnerable to evil and the dark of this world. God provides this armor so we may protect our selves against Satan and so we may stand firm with Jesus, even after the battle.

So, as we go into this school year, we must remember to put on the armor of God and equip ourselves with the Word to stand firm in our faith.

“…be strong in the Lord and his mighty power.” – Ephesians 6:10


Also, I recently discovered this amazing organization called Tiny Hands (I was told about them from the Hope Engaged blog, which is by far one of my favorite blogs!!!). Tiny Hands really focuses on preventing human trafficking and trafficking because of poverty. I have really felt a calling to go to India and Nepal, which is where Tiny Hands is located. Through programs, they have prevented thousands girls from being trafficked and have helped many children, who were abandoned, find loving homes. Their work is absolutely amazing and I ask that you go check out their website and keep these staff members and girls in your prayers.

 

The Way He Speaks

Ever since I was little, I have been trying to find God and listen to him. But, I try to hard. I don’t actually live in the moment and abide in him, I chase after any evidence that I think comes from him. These past few glorious summer weeks, I have heard him whisper to me or nudge me to do something out of my comfort zone, and it’s not an audible whisper, but one I hear in my heart. It shook me. I have been trying so hard to actually audibly hear him instead of letting him move me, he has perfect timing.

I was at a church camp around two weeks ago, and I was upset because I felt that my relationship with Jesus solely relied on our communication. I would pray to him and speak to him and I felt that all I heard were crickets. This was because I chasing God; sometimes we get so caught up in running after God when he is actually right beside us, we think to hard about the way things should be done instead of just letting them happen in his timing. I chased him just looking for a mumble from him, only to realize that he had been talking to me the entire time.

You know that feeling like when you feel really compelled to do something even though you absolutely don’t want to because you are afraid or because you think it would be weird or awkward? Sometimes that’s God’s way of speaking to you, pushing you to talk to someone new, serve in a way that’s foreign to you, or even obey authority figures. God definitely speaks to me in that “heart nudging conviction” way. I just was to busy trying to listen instead of listening to it.

And sometimes the things he asks you to do may seem kinda terrible in the moment, but just be patient, God is good. For example, recently (and by recently I mean yesterday) I was baking cupcakes and they were going to be delicious. Yet, somewhere in my recipe, I completely screwed up, and I am normally pretty good at baking. I had no idea what i did wrong; I continued to bake my cupcakes, despite their flaws. When I pulled them out of the oven, they were extremely dense and tasted awful; I was so irritated, I even made an entire bowl on berry frosting for these cupcakes I threw away. Frustrated with my situation, I pulled out my frosting and realized that it was a base for meringue cookies, so I piped out my “frosting” onto a cookie sheet and let them bake for and hour and 30 minutes. And they turned out perfect, my disaster cupcakes made something extraordinary. And that’s what God does with situations. Even though, inviting “Susy Q “to sit with you at lunch may be awkward, you just planted a seed in her, a seed of hope. All because you listened to God when he nudged you to do something. Because you weren’t so busying chasing him, like me, you sat and listened.

God speaks to us in mysterious ways, he doesn’t speak to eveyone the same, but all of his directions are good and for his glory.