next up on a journey of joy…

So, I haven’t written an update in nearly a year. What’s in a year?? Well, a lot has happened in the last year, so I guess I will just dive in from when we last “conversed”. =^)

I had been hired by a nonprofit organization, Crescendo Preparatory School of Music and Arts, last June. While that was an incredible experience, it wasn’t where I would land ultimately. In January the school closed suddenly due to financial issues, and so I prepared to move on with the next adventure in my great journey! Backing up a little bit to last October, my e-shweet dude, Roberto Ganoza of Roberto Ganoza Photography, proposed marriage to me. I accepted happily! That was a bit of a surprise! My Beto in general was a surprise from the Lord. An incredibly wonderful surprise and blessing for sure! We were married in March, and have been enjoying marriage to the fullest! There is NOTHING like marriage to teach you just how much of a sinner you are. Golly…it isn’t easy, but it is so worth it!

The Ganoza's

Jumping forward to this Summer…I finished up my prerequisites at Alvin Community College for nursing school, and I applied to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. I was accepted and I started at the beginning of May. I am doing the accelerated program, and I really am enjoying it! It isn’t easy, but I know the time I spend at UTMB will be a great time of learning and growth. Nursing is such a foreign language to me, well…science in general is a foreign language to me, but I am starting to get the hang of it! I am determined to NOT be the nurse who kills her patients…or almost kills her patients. =^)

It really is amazing how time flies, and before you know it your whole life is completely different! I have learned, although I don’t always apply the knowledge, that you just can’t count on life being the same day in and day out…year in and year out…you have to be ready for change, and you have to just buckle up and enjoy the ride! It is so much better that way!

Well, I guess I don’t have much to say unless you want to hear all about disease pathology and etiology. Nah…you don’t! TRUST ME! I know that something is going on with my spiritual life, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Mainly because I don’t really know what is going on there. Time will tell.

*Insert wise and clever ending to post* =^)

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familiar territory and lavish love…

I absolutely am infatuated with my new job. I don’t think there is anything else I would rather do with my time. I have the great honor of serving the Lord through working at Crescendo Preparatory School of Music and Arts. I am an administrator and program director of music education. I pray with my co-workers, and I pray over the students and families who come through our doors to learn about music, and subsequently learn about the love of God. It is so cool, and an answer to prayers I never even prayed.

I also have enjoyed having the opportunity to look back at the last two years of my life and see how God ordained each step that I have taken; each and every experience shaping me and molding me into the person I am at this particular time who is able to take on this new challenge of a job. There are so many things that HAD to take place in order for me to be with Crescendo. The joys and sorrows. The times of ease and times of struggles. The good and the bad. The confusion and the clarity. Nothing went to waste. Nothing. God has used it all to bring me to a place of submission so He can use me as He needs…not how I would desire.

I’m thankful.

What is Crescendo? Crescendo is a non-profit music education ministry which seeks to share the love of God through music, and raise a new generation of worship leaders and worshipers. I don’t know if there is really anything else that I could be doing which would be a better use of my time.

Check it out here!

I’m currently working for Crescendo part-time, and I am also able to continue to pursue a degree in nursing. I’m having the time of my life! I was hesitant when asked to work for this particular organization because I was really enjoying being back in school, but God hasn’t made me choose…yet. =^) What a precious gift!

And…to top it all off…through some great grace and blessings from the Lord I am the object of affection of an incredible man. Unexpected…and absolutely incredible (more to come about this later).

Why does God pour out such favor upon me? I have no idea except that for some reason He loves me. I can think of no reason why I am deserving of such beautiful love, yet He pours it out just the same.

Normally I have all sorts of grand plans about what the future will bring, but I’m starting to learn my lesson in regards to the future. Today, I’m just enjoying the here and now…and I’m excited to see how God will use this time in my life to further His Kingdom.

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an update…sorta…

There have been so many changes in the last several months, and I have neglected to keep you all informed of the mighty way God has been working in my life. It’s coming…and very soon.

Stay tuned!

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love story: part 2…

If you missed part 1 I would suggest catching up before continuing.

So where was I? Oh, yes…

I lived in fear of him eventually not wanting me, so I pushed him away and found reasons why he wasn’t good for me. And, he eventually decided he didn’t want to marry me. Remember, there are two sides to every story. This is my blog, and I will only ever discuss my faults and sins.

Now, I have a gown I’ll never wear, a veil I’ll never wear, and a stack of bridal magazines I don’t even know with what to do…

But….

This isn’t the end of the story. I promised you a love story, and I promised you a surprise.

My initial reaction was to be angry, bitter, hateful, and embarrassed. In a way, I felt like a jilted bride…I had to endure the questions of friends and family as to how E was doing, and did not I “miss him terribly!?” Then came the looks of pity and sorrow for me as I explained we were no longer engaged. It was as if my heart were being ripped from my chest every time.

I’ve been going through the motions, feeling hurt, feeling confused, and teetering on the edge of wanting to scream at God, “Will it ever be my turn!?!?!”

And then the love story truly unfolded as God wrapped His perfect, capable arms around me, held me close, and whispered sweetly to me….

“Trust me. I love you.”

All this time, the love I’ve been craving and seeking has been there the whole time. All this time, I had all I needed.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)

Take a moment to read this verse again…

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..”

Christ left His perfect and heavenly home to take on the form of sinful man and live among sinful men…why? So He could pursue us…so He could love us…so He could lay His life down for us so we would be redeemed.

Soak it in…this truth, which Christ is as the second half of this verse states.

We think of love as this fuzzy feeling we get when a cute boy or girl enters the room and our stomachs twist and turn…our hearts race…and we can’t seem to make a coherent sentence…at least this is what the world feeds us as “love”.

The truth about love: it’s an action. It is a daily action of dying to yourself, and placing someone else’s needs above your own. That is exactly what Christ did for us…

He left His home. He left behind His comfort. He suffered the limitations of His new form. He endured the sin all around Him. He did this because it was what “we” needed, and He cared more about what “we” needed than what might make Him more comfortable. He didn’t HAVE to die for us…God didn’t HAVE to save any of us, but He did because He loves us…

“ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God..” Ephesians 2:4-8 (ESV)

We were dead. We needed to be made alive. So Christ sacrificed everything to pursue us because of His great love for us.

I’ve known this…always known this…but I still don’t always embrace it.

I don’t regret my time with E. I will always treasure it. I learned so much about the vastness of God’s love and forgiveness. E was an instrument of change in my life. Our time together opened my eyes to who it was God had fashioned me to be…and who it was He had called me to be…

Wholly His. No matter the cost…I belong wholly to Christ. And I will submit to His headship.

I laid marriage on the metaphoric alter. Will I ever get married? I don’t know. Will I ever lack a beautiful love story? No. I have the privilege of living out the most incredible love story ever, and so do you…all you have to do is surrender to Him.

“For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 (ESV)

Next on A Journey Of Joy: forgiveness.

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love story: part 1…

I want to tell you a love story. The most romantic love story you’ll ever read, and you’ll be surprised as to who it really is about…

I met E on November 1, 2011. It was a day like any other, except for the fact that I was in a foreign country surrounded by people, places, and languages not familiar in any way to me. Already in a state of hurt and confusion from circumstances not necessarily beyond my control, I was definitely not on the lookout for a “man”…in fact, I had finally (and I say finally because this is a lesson I should have learned long ago) acknowledged to God that I was not a good picker of men.

I’m sitting in the offices of HaChotam, a Christian publishing company in Israel, stuffing envelopes (don’t judge…it is very complicated…stuffing envelopes) when this guy walks in. I’m introduced to him, and that was that. I wasn’t thinking anything in particular. As conversation flows all around me, in a language I definitely do not understand, the next thing I know I’m going to be going to the desert with this strange man in a little over a week’s time.

I see E over the next few days at various church functions. He is kind and translates for me, so I’m not totally in the dark.

Finally, the time comes for the trip to the desert. E is gracious and is concerned about my not having the appropriate clothing for the hike. Now…allow me to clarify something here…E is roughly two or three inches shorter than me, and definitely about 40lbs lighter than me. So, when he sends me thermal underwear so I won’t freeze at night in the desert…it was cute. He’s a guy…he doesn’t know, but he was concerned about my wellbeing. For that I was touched. So, E picks me up to drive down south to meet up with some biblical college students for the two day hike.

In an effort to keep some things private, and to not make you read an novel, let me just say I had never been treated better by a man who had no reason to be kind to me…until the second time E would spend a day with me. But I get ahead of myself.

Two days in the desert in Israel. It was incredible. E and I were able to get to know one another, and, as we drove back to Gan Yavne on Friday, we laughed and talked about how the Lord had lead us to where we both were today. I knew God was doing something in my heart that day, but I was scared. Any girl who has ever had her heart broken knows when something good comes into her life…the fear that paralyzes…it is overwhelming.

I was staying with a kind family while in Israel, and in Israel Friday night is the Sabbath meal. E joined us for dinner that night, and I remember thinking I desperately wanted to talk to him…but I didn’t want anyone to know I might just be “crushing” on this guy I had just met, so I tried to play it cool. I didn’t want to be THAT girl!

The evening progresses in a language I don’t understand, and the next thing I know E has agreed to take me sightseeing later in the week (for the sake of my pride I will choose to not admit to the girlish joy I had at the prospect of spending an entire day with this man…this is me not admitting). E departs for the evening, and I go to bed with great anticipation at seeing him the following morning for church.

After a restless night, morning dawns, and I finally am able to dress in something other than jeans and a t-shirt (maybe I wanted to look nice…maybe). I go to church, and wouldn’t you know…E ignores me! Ha! Ignores me! That jerk…I was highly disappointed. Eventually he does say hello, but not until the very end of the service! The audacity of him! :^)

Again, for the sake of privacy, I will choose to fast forward to the most amazing day of my life…the day E asked me to be his wife.

E picked me up eaaaarlly to drive north for the day. Several stops were on the agenda. Unfortunately for us, the typically dry weather decided to be atypical. The skies opened up and rain poured down on the dry Israeli landscape. Good for Israel…bad for tourists.

As E showed me around all day, I was struck by his continuous consideration for my health and wellbeing…for his thoughtfulness in ensuring I was never hungry or thirsty…for his generosity in taking care of me the entire day. We laughed, we talked, and we shared our hearts with one another. It was truly a beautiful day despite the dreariness of the weather. I learned much about historical and biblical sights, and I learned much about the man with whom I would eventually fall in love…if I wasn’t already in love with him to some degree. I was blown away by God’s blessing in the form of such a wonderful day. As E drove me home, I realized I didn’t want the day to come to an end. We pulled up to my host family’s home, and E gave me two gifts: one of which was a ring. He also gave me space to make my decision. As only a gentleman would do.

I left Israel a day later, and, to my delight, E surprised me at the airport to say goodbye. Again, caring for me in a manner I was definitely not accustomed to, and God giving me a glimpse at the man who could potentially be my husband…a glimpse at his giving nature, his protective nature, and his generous nature…all qualities to be desired in a potential mate.

Well, I did eventually say yes. The enormity of my decision was overshadowed by the excitement of planning a wedding. I would be a liar if I said I never dreamed about being a bride…of being able to buy those bridal magazines, of being able to plan the special day, of going dress shopping (which I found out was not nearly as fun as it may seem), and ultimately saying “I do” to the man who would be my new headship.

Eventually life slowly invaded my “bride” haze, and my fears began to sneak into my heart. I have a fear of commitment. There. I said it. I self destruct relationships. Especially my relationship with God. I’m really good at pushing God away.

No one is perfect. I’m not perfect. E isn’t perfect. But I think I expected him to be…if I expected him to be perfect, and he wasn’t, then I would have great cause to jump ship.

Where is all of this going, you are probably asking? Well, hang in there with me…

love story: part 2 coming soon…

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ready…set…go…part III…

It means we no longer are bound by the chains of slavery to the law…to sin..but instead are free to be slaves to Christ.

“Real freedom happens when the rich resources of the Gospel SMASH any sense of need to secure for ourselves anything beyond what Christ has already secured for us.” Tullian Tchividjian

The Gospel SMASHED our bondage! We don’t have to create rules to be better Christians…does that mean we can, and should, sin all the time? NO! Paul answered this in Romans…but it does mean we are free from working out our own salvation so God can work out our salvation in us as He sees fit.

My heart was deeply burdened this week when I learned of legalism and bibliolatry being the chains for a friend, and yet they don’t even realize. I’m not one to talk…I know I’ve been there…we all have…in our need to better ourselves…in our need to be in control (without consciously trying to be in control) under the guise of “it’s biblical” so I MUST do this not that…we slip into the bondage of works being our saving grace because suddenly the scriptures are our idol and Christ has suddenly been replaced with our pride. Pride in thinking we can be in control. Pride in thinking we know how to obey more or know scriptures to a point that it is no longer a sacrifice of praise through living out our faith in humble obedience. No…it has become an alter to self. (thank you P)

I pray for truth for my friend. It’s all I can do. I pray for the church, as she is quite susceptible to this very dangerous form of bondage…dangerous because it looks like obedience…it looks good…and yet it is highly destructive.

“Being in Christ is the perpetual source of our becoming like Christ, not vice versa.” – Michael Horton

“You don’t have to obtain your missing qualities to mature…we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ.” Tullian Tchividjian

“If we fail to remember justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we will struggle in our sanctification.” Tullian Tchividjian

I have had it backwards…I thought if I became more like Christ the closer I would draw near to Him…seems pretty silly now that I see my error…and now that I see it in writing….yikes!

“Grace is primarily seen as divine assistance for the process of moral transformation rather than as a one-sided divine rescue.” Tullian Tchividjian

I have struggled in my sanctification for so long because I failed to remember the justification, redemption, and reconciliation I have in Christ Jesus. There is nothing I need apart from Him (we can debate physiological needs some other time, but you know what I mean).

I’ve had one of those weeks where I desperately wish I could hit the fast forward button to the time when it’s all better…and yet I have joy because of the salvation I have in Christ, and the work He has already done to present me blameless and righteous before God.

Draw near to Him. Examine your heart to discover those deeply rooted “good” idols. Let go of those things that are holding you in bondage. Serve Him no matter the cost. You’ll want to when you fully grasp the vastness of what He did for us all.

 

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preparing for perpetual spring…

“Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.”

Timothy Keller

“The sin underneath all our sins is the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and that we must take matters into our own hands.”

Martin Luther

“ready…set…go…part trois” coming soon.

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