Thursday, June 18

The Traveling Cupcake: Packing for the Wild West

Just like that I'm off for another grand adventure. Hanging out waiting for my next flight, I have some time to catch up on my life (the one crazy part about traveling so much is your 'normal' life gets out of hand real quick sometimes). This time I'm staying in the States and venturing out the land where the last of the cowboys roamed the range with their horses: Wyoming. This meant it was time to dust off the ol' boots and flannel and pull the suitcase out of my closet. 

Here's a quick look at what I packed for our trip to the Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

2 pairts of workout shorts
3 pairs of workout pants/hiking pants

3 hats (1 cowboy hat not pictured) + 1 headband
4 sports bras
3 t-shirts
2 zip-up longsleeved shirts
6 tank tops
1 North Face rain jacket
1 camel back water pack + 1 krazy kreek chair
3 scarves
1 pair of jean shorts + 2 pairs of jeans
6 shirts for dinner and going out into Jackson 
2 jackets
1 bathing suit
5 pairs of shoes (1 cowboy boots, 1 tennis shoes, 1 hiking shoes, 1 pair of water shoes for rafting and 1 pair of sandals)

So here goes the Traveling Cupcake yet again, for another adventure and more stories to add to the book. Cheers.

Friday, June 12

Ye of Little Faith

Matthew 14:22-34(NIV)

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret.
How many times have we heard this story- or at least an account of this story? I know I've heard it since the time I was in the children's ministry of school; I think I may have even reenacted this scene in a preschool skit or something. I think a problem with these stories is that we can get too comfortable with them. We can skim over this passage and be like 'oh yeah, I remember this. Ye of little faith..yea yea yea' and move on. 
The thing is, God can change this story for you. He can make something connect that didn't the last time you read it; he can bring a new perspective to this lesson; he can totally change your whole thought process in the matter of a moment. This week I've become so aware at how much fear is a stronghold in our lives. Fear is destructive, devastating and crippling. Fear is from Satan and no other. 
There is no fear in love, and God is love, therefore fear = not of God.
I had an urge to read Matthew 14 today and when I did, verse 29-31 jumped off the page. See Peters faith and love- he walked on water! He didn't hesistate when Jesus told him to "come". He didn't say, 'well let me take off my sandals' or 'well the water seems cold today'. He stepped over the side of the boat and WALKED on water. Then in a matter of a moment he lost focus, he looked at his surroundings and he lost it and was consumed by the very thing that Satan himself tries to devour you with every day: F-E-A-R.
Fear. A four letter word that is damning and terrorizing. A feeling that makes grown men cower and children cry. The enemy wants to keep you in that state of fear; and want to know why...because when you're suffocated by fear you won't do anything. You'll become paralyzed by it and suddenly will panic, run, hide, cry, scream, lash out in anger- emotional and physical reactions that take us away from the hand of God reaching out to calm us. Fear. Four letters with incredible results.
Listen to the Bethel song "Brave". It's empowering and exhiliterating
"You make me call me out beyond the shore into the waves". God calls us not to fear but to have faith- faith in Him. It's so easy to get caught up in fear: fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of embarrassment, fear of heights, fear of darkness, fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of failure, fear of flying, fear of public speaking, fear of rejection. But God's hand is extended towards us, He says there is no reason to fear. "Do not fear" is written in the Bible 103 times, it is the most common command the Lord gives us because as humans we are consumed by fear. Reach out to the extended hand of God and commit to face your fear. Bring your fear into the light because Satan can not survive in the light and must only operate in the dark. Expose your fear to Light and the Lord will grab your hand and pull you out of the darkness you've been paralyzed in for so long. 
"Do NOT fear"

Friday, June 5

Perfection of the Heart

Remember that you live in a fallen world: an abnormal world tainted by sin. Much frustration and failure result from your seeking perfection in this life. There is nothing perfect in this world except Me. That is why closeness to Me satisfied deep yearnings and fills you with joy.

I have planted longing for perfection in every human heart. This is a good desire, which I alone can fulfill. But most people seek this fulfillment in other people and earthly pleasures or achievements. Thus they create idols, before which they bow down. I will have no other gods before Me! Make Me the deepest desire of your heart. Let Me fulfill your yearning for perfection.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” —Exodus 20:3

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4

This is the exert from today's Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (I highly recommend getting this devotional, it's a great quick 2-minute start to your day and always seems to applicable to what I'm going through that day). Today really spoke to me as I struggle with perfection on a daily basis. I love how it was put, that God planted a longing in each of hearts for perfection. He created a desire in our hearts to crave perfection but only one thing can satisfy that, an that is Him. How beautiful is that? Normally 'perfection' is painted in such a negative light but really it's something we should strive for every day because ultimately our goal is to be more like Him. 

Perfection doesn't have to be such a negative thing. I think of the bracelets we all got in Sunday school "WWJD"- What Would Jesus Do. These were meant to remind us as kids to think of how Jesus would react to a situation before we acted. That is the simplicity of pursuing perfection; striving to act and think more like Christ. Christ is love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and grace. When we set our eyes on Christ and try our hardest to embody Him, that is what true Christianity looks like. It's not about wearing a bracelet or a cross around your neck, it's not about posting scripture on social media, and it's not about owning every single type of Bible out there- that's what looking like a Christian looks like. Striving and looking like Christ is a step shy of perfection (because obviously, we all fail daily and hourly to be 'perfect'). It's about laying down yourself and picking up the cross daily. 

Lay down your pride and pick up humility. Lay down your greed and pick up a giving heart. Lay down your ego and pick up your compassion. Lay down your fear of the future and pick up faith and hope. Lay down your anger and pick up love. Lay it down and lean on God to show you what to do, how to react, what to say, where to go. He is Lord, perfect and beautiful in every way, and He will mold you into His perfect image day by day if you'll only lay down yourself and open yourself up to Him.

Monday, June 1

Perfect in the Imperfection

This devotional was from my June 1st Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young
I am involved in each moment of your life. I have carefully mapped out every inch of your journey through this day, even though much of it may feel haphazard. Because the world is in a fallen condition, things always seem to be unraveling around the edges. Expect to find trouble in this day. At the same time, trust that My way is perfect, even in the midst of such messy imperfection.
Stay conscious of Me as you go through this day, remembering that I never leave your side. Let the Holy Spirit guide you step by step, protecting you from unnecessary trials and equipping you to get through whatever must be endured. As you trudge through the sludge of this fallen world, keep your mind in heavenly places with Me. Thus the Light of My Presence shines on you, giving you Peace and Joy that circumstances cannot touch.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
—Psalm 18:30

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
—Isaiah 41:13

A bad habit of mine is to go throughout the day with my plan, my checklist and my nose to the grind. 
[x] Crossfit
[x] Make lunch
[x] Return emails at work
[x] Schedule a girls night with friends
When I'm going through those actions I don't connect them back to Jesus. I do a devotional in the morning, I rush about my day, and then I end with a prayer at night. But the thing is, God isn't just there at my morning devotional and my prayer time at night: he's here with me now. He's here with me of every second, of every moment of every day. He has orchestrated my days well-before I've even started to create that days to-do list. When I'm working out, He's with me and knows when I'll face my hardest moments and want to turn back. When I'm making a lunch for work, He's already 'prepared' what I'm going to take. When I'm at the office and juggling 30 things at once, He is there helping me get through it all. All of it- He is with me. 

Yet I'm not conscious to it. I don't often enough glorify God in the small moments of life; subconsciously I recognize that He is always with me, but I don't verbalize it often enough. "As you trudge through the sludge of this fallen world (aka our every day lives), keep your mind in heavenly places with Me". If we remember that God is with us, He will never fail or forsake us, than it makes getting through the sludge a little bit less grueling. Not to say that our day-to-day lives will be a scene from a Disney fairytale, but His way is perfect, protecting and profound. In the end, it's comforting to get the gentle reminder that He is always with us, protecting and guiding every one of our steps. 

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” —Isaiah 41:13