Sunday, January 15, 2012

A peace of mind...

Today I felt peace. God really laid something on my heart during worship. I heard His voice whisper into my ear, "I am here for you, you have nothing to fear, just trust me". The lesson today was in Luke chapter 12 where I was reminded not to worry and not fear, for God is near. All I need to do is "Let go and let God" and know that He will provide. Since I have moved to Portland I have experienced a vast amount of change in my life to where I have become emotionally exhausted. I've been happy, I've been sad, I've smiled and I've cried, I've been excited and I've been scared. I've been confident, confused, and self-conscious. All of these emotions I have buried deep within and tried to cope with them all by myself instead of casting all of my cares upon Him. In result, I have become lost in my path, tripping over my own feet, and left with no sense of direction. It is difficult to stay focused on what God has in store for me here while I have been desperately seeking approval and social acceptance through 'finding a job'. I want to be respected, I want to be successful, and I want to be responsible. I want to make my family proud.

It is easy to become restless in external expectations and pressures of society. Maintaing a positive attitude is this constant struggle and dealing with the disappointment in this never-ending job search. I wish I could feel a sense of relief in obtaining security. I am frustrated with feeling failure.  Sometimes I even dread answering the phone when I feel like I don't have 'good' news to tell, something that would make me feel like I fulfilled my purpose.

Lately, God has really captured my attention in teaching me that there is a lot more to life than how we make a living. A lot of people let their occupation define who they are and their purpose in life, which overlooks the sole purpose God gave us life. I can see God's hand at the work in the experiences I have had so far in Portland. I have found a wonderful church family to connect with and I feel very welcomed in their community. I know all the people I have met and the relationships I have started to build have all been God's work at hand. He has opened up doors of opportunity for me to use my gifts to serve and strengthen his kingdom. I know he will continue to bless me if I keep placing my faith in Him and let Him take complete control over my life. This truly has been one of the most valuable experiences in my life, a true test of faith. I came here trusting in His vision and plan for my life, but it easy for that to become muggy and unclear when I try to take the lead. I have never been more dependent upon God's direction and provision in my life than I am right now. I am in a very vulnerable stage in my life which has allowed me to grow spiritually in a closer walk with the Lord.

My heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving. I am comforted by knowing that I serve a God who loves me unconditionally and will provide for my every need. I feel His presence in providing me peace. No matter where I am in this world and no matter how far I am from the people I love, I can ALWAYS proclaim His name and He will comfort me. His love will never fail me. Praise be to God!

I know I can face each day, no matter what they may hold, by proclaiming Psalms 118:24 "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

God is so good.

I am wrapping up such a wonderful week that I feel compelled to share it with everyone. God has showed me a sign of hope and prevision this past week and I felt His the comfort of His presence in the things going on in my life. For those of you who don't know, I got a job doing some freelance work for a pet pharmaceutical sales company to help them design a kiosk to display their products in local pharmacys. Over the course of last weekend and the beginning of the week, I was finishing up some design schemes they wanted me to pursue for an upcoming presentation with some of their potential partners. I had been communicating with them through email, getting feedback on my designs so far, and had arrangements for me to come into the office on Tuesday to discuss the design so far. The discussion went well, they were pleased with what I had done. I unexpectedly spent 8 hours at the office that day, touching up some details on the design. Within the time I was there, I received an email from a guy responding to my craigslist ad for the roof top storage I had posted for sale. I posted this ad about 3 weeks ago, and had never received any responses, so I was thrilled I had a prospective buyer. He wanted to meet up that evening to get it. So within the past few days, I feel financial stable and successful, which is something I have felt guilty about since I have been here. I have been applying for jobs everyday and hardly getting any feedback. But I keep pushing on…. I put in 24 hours with the pet pharamaceutical sales company getting a $25/hr rate and got $75 off of the car roof rack! So that will help pay the bills and groceries (which aren't cheap at whole foods stores) for a while.

On Wednesday, I signed up to volunteer with ReStore Center that is with Habitat for Humanity. It is a big warehouse full of reclaimed building materials and 80% of their sales goes toward Habitat for Humanities building project. I helped one of their employees paint some frames he had made for one of their projects. It was rewarding to help spend some time not focusing on support myself, but for supporting a greater cause. I am going to make volunteering their on Wednesday part of my "weekly routine" (which has yet to exist, everyday is indeterminate). On Wednesday night, I went to a gospel group in my neighborhood with the Bread and Wine church. The two leaders are from the south, Terri and Don. Terri is from Arkansas and Don is from Shreveport. I was thrilled to get to interact with some people from the south and not have to worry about my incompetent knowledge of natural herbs and their healing powers. Don was really excited to meet someone from his home town. Small world, I know. I met their youngest son, who is Madeline's age, and the first thing he asked me if I could cook him some creole. It felt good and comforting to get a small taste of home. Terri and Don both went and met at University of Arkansas, so I got to see some 'hawg' paraphernalia displayed around their home. They were so excited to learn my younger brother had just started his freshman year there. They were such nice people and the other people there were young families/singles with some kids. We had a great time of fellowship and prayer. I am looking forward to becoming involved with their gospel group regularly on Wednesday evenings. Their house is only 3 blocks away from home, so I may go visit Terri for an afternoon cup of coffee one rainy afternoon.

On Thursday I hung out with my new friend Jessica. We have really connected and I have enjoyed spending time with her. We are both going through the same stages of life and occasionally get home sick, so we are each other's comfort companions. We both like to invite each other to different social events we are interested in going to and in need of a 'pic'. I was excited to find out that she recently moved into a new house really close to mine. We got together with a few friends she had met at the hostel and all went to a meditation class. It was an eye opening experience for me, but I found it rather soothing and refreshing. I used the meditation as a time, which lasted for a whole 2 hours, for me to clear my mind and aleviate stress. It was relaxing to practice thinking about nothing, in a silent, warm candelit room, lying still on the floor and feeling the musical vibrations reverberate in the room. While I was laying there I was thinking "Be still and know that I am God". It felt wonderful to recite continuously in my head while forcing my mind to stop racing and listen to the beauty of silence within the room. Only in the Northwest would I pursue going to a meditation class, its pretty routine around here. Everyone meditates, does yoga, and eats raw veggies and drinks fresh herbal teas. Like I have said before, I am learning something new everyday. But no matter how many new things I am learning and exposed to, I still remember who I am and where I came from. I will not loose my 'ground', just expanding my horizons. I like learning new things about different people and their customs. A lot of the new things I am learning is interesting knowledge on healthy, everyday habits I can adopt in my personal life and my attitude towards the environment.

On a closing note, I hear that I have some family members back at home worried about my vote in the upcoming election. Just so you know, I am going to register 'independent' here in Oregon. But, I do not plan to vote for Obama, so no worries. Though, I cannot say I am a true republican, I am just a 'free thinker' that will take all matters into consideration. Im not too excited about either candidate, therefore I haven't taken special interest in this year's election. But my roommates tune into NPR while they're cooking so I am exposed to what's going on, I just don't follow it that closely. Im sure I will see some passionate political campaigning soon and I can't wait to share some stories with you. Until then, I miss you all and will keep in touch.