We All Deserve Nice Things

About a week ago, I had a very vivid dream about a couch (bear with me here). I had just purchased a house, and I had no furniture in it. I would sleep on the floor, because I was looking for the perfect pieces to complete “the look” and “the vision” I wanted to have for my new house.

One day I was heading home from running errands and when I walked in, I saw this beautiful tufted midnight blue velvet couch (with clawed-foot detail) much like this one here, just sitting in my living room. No note attached, no reason for me to think the delivery was a mistake. I was taken aback by the gesture of kindness from a stranger, a stranger who had gifted me something I didn’t think or know that I would like, but loved the moment I saw it. Immediately following, I thought “well, this couch is too nice to sit on. I wouldn’t want to ruin how perfect it looks in the moment.” Then I woke up from my dream.

Later that day, God told me, “why would I continue to give you nice things if you never use them?” And it struck me: all the things that I had been given as gifts that I had never used. Not just physical, tangible gifts, but gifts like hospitality, the ability to speak life into others, and talents that I have not used to glorify, encourage, or uplift others. They just sit there dormant and unused. Three verses that come to mind highlight the good and actionable work that God calls us to do through our talents.

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The first is 1 Corinthians 12: 5-6.

“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” This is always a hard one for me because it deals with the aspect of comparison. God has given each and everyone a special set of skills, so when you compare your gifts to others, you are discounting your own ability and as a result, probably putting yourself in a lower position that no one asked you to be in. I have to remember that no matter where I am or what my gifts are, God is the one who is working through me. I am not authorized to discount my gift in any way, because it says in the Bible that my gift DOES look different from everyone else’s. I cannot compare apples to oranges, so why would our gifts be any different (despite what the world may say).

The second is Matthew 5:14-16. 14

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are called to be lights of the world. How can we possibly be a light if we keep all of our gifts hidden from the world?

The third is Proverbs 22:29.

“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” God tells us that when we are skilled and humbled in our work that we will presented before the highest officials as a way to honor Him in every place on earth.

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Luke 16:10 says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” I believe that this not only applies to materials possessions, but also the gifts and people in our lives that God has entrusted us with. If every good and perfect gift comes from above, shouldn’t I be treating every good and perfect gift that comes my way with the upmost care, respect, and attention that it deserves?

We all are worthy and deserving of the gifts that God has given us (not to be confused with entitlement), so let’s use them to the best of our ability, knowing that the creator of the universe is working right alongside with us. This week I’m asking myself: what are some gifts that I have that may be going unused at the moment? And (more importantly), how can I use this gifts for the greater good?

 

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2018: The Year of Intention

Do you ever just make plans and then they get pushed off or put on hold due to something unexpected?

For example: last night I had planned to go out with a few girls to dinner, ring in the new year, and then dance the night away (among other things like writing this blog post and cleaning the apartment). I woke up with an incredible sinus headache and the chills. The only thing I actually did yesterday was start and finish Mindhunter on Netflix and rewatch some of my favorite episodes of Arrested Development and play HQ Trivia (no – I have not won any money yet, no I’m not bitter about it).

When I make my plans for the day, I never factor in if something goes wrong. I just assume that everything will go as planned. Over the years, that has put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. Pressure just to try and make sure that nothing goes wrong (apparently I forgot that I am a human and that the grace of God exists).

Looking back on how I have planned out my life for my previous years, I set resolutions with the expectation that everything will go according to plan. I say to myself “No, I won’t get injured and I will be able to perfectly complete my training program in time for my marathon.” Or “I don’t plan on getting sick so any money I set aside for the doctor can be automatically put into savings.”

Well unfortunately that’s not what I have encountered this past year. It has been full of disappointments and realizing that life happens and doesn’t stop just because I make plans otherwise. This year, I’m aiming to set realistic resolutions. Resolutions that I have carefully planned out with a buffer for when things don’t go exactly as planned. For me, instead of looking at the year as a whole, it means breaking the year up into 12 months to set monthly goals instead of yearly ones. Instead of calling them resolutions, I am calling them intentions. Intentions have more meaning to me: it’s saying despite what happens in my life “I intend to do this.” I’ve planned it out, I’ve planned for buffers, and I will get this accomplished.

This year, as I look at my “resolutions” “intentions,” I ask myself are these realistic? Or am I banking on the fact that “life” won’t actually happen and everything will go according to plan? Plan for your goals and dreams, but be sure to leave buffer for the unexpected too.

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On Finding Home

My Drawing Spot

There is a reason that people say there is no place like home. While often this does refer to a physical place for some, I do think that home has so many different connotations. I think that home is more of a feeling than a place.

For some, home can be a place of hurting, a place of pain: a physical place that is not desired to return to. Others may not have felt the feeling of home. Perhaps home connotes a restless feeling from moving from place to place and having to uproot a livelihood, a workplace, a lifestyle. I believe that true home is found in security, rest, and community. While a home can be a physical place, it is so much more than that: it really can feel like a safe haven. I know that when I walk through the doors of my home, I am fully relaxed, restored, and protected.

When I was a high-schooler, my mom introduced me to the movie “The Saint.” I will always remember this one scene taking place in Russian during the Cold War. One of the protagonists has to make a run for her life to the American Embassy so the Russian Mob would not kidnap her. She is able to break away and sprint towards the embassy (in dramatic fashion of course becuase… #movies). As she gets closer to the gates she starts screaming “I’m an American, open the gates!” (Watch the scene here).

Although this is obviously an extreme example, I feel that whenever I rush home and make it, I’m able to guard my heart and mind from the any battles or struggles that I’ve been fighting through the day. Once I am home, when I’m truly home, I can pray, read, journal – whatever it takes – for me to shake off the day. I know that God wants us to live in peace and He truly desires that for each and every one of us. Isaiah 32 says “My people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.”

Home is a place where I can fight my daily battles, and fight for the things that matter most. It is a place of creation, inspiration, motivation, and determination. Home resets, recharges, and rejuvenates me. It is more than just a physical place, it is a state of mind.
Matthew 11 invites us to turn to Jesus when we need to rest “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I need to fix my eyes and set my mind on the one who can give me rest, that true feeling of home.

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Once I found my home, my sanctuary, I have to do everything to maintain it. I can’t just let my guard down. Proverbs 24 says “By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” It is through the wisdom of the choices that I make every day that my house (both my physical space and that feeling of home) is built. It is a continued understanding of The Word that my home becomes a place that is established and deeply rooted in truth. And my continual thirst for knowledge – and keeping my faith fresh – that my “home” is filled with true and precious riches. It is then that I will feel safe, secure, and grounded. It is then that I will find my true home.

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About a month ago, I thought I was going to have to move out of my apartment I have lived in for the last 5 years of living in New York. It broke my heart because I have such an emotional attachment to my physical home; and it is my first place I called home in New York. It is where I hosted a Thanksgiving meal with close friends, where I received a phone call that I got a job after searching for months. Through a miracle (and a ton of posting on Craigslist) I got a new roommate just in the nick of time when I needed to resign the lease (praise the Lord, amirite??!). To say it has been a blessing would be an understatement, because I really do treasure the aspect of home. It may seem silly to say this, considering this is a rental apartment, I have invested so much time making my place somewhere I feel comfortable and safe, where I can shut the door and lift my eyes to Heaven, where my help comes from (Psalm 121:2).

So I ask myself the following:
What can I do to make sure when I come home, I am delighted to be there?
What can I do now to make my home feel safe for not just me but for others?
How can I bring that feeling of home, of peace, of rest out of my physical home and into the spheres of influence where I live my daily life?

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