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C. S. Lewis Believed in Faiytales - Self Portrait

Busy day at work? Yeah, me too.

One lesson I have learned in my young adult years is the importance of self-care. God has given us one body while on this earth and we are called to serve Him to the best of our ability; which includes prioritizing self-care. One of my recent loves is establishing a nightly routine prior to falling asleep.

Here is a list of some of my favorite activities to do before bed.

  1. Read my Bible
  2. Diffuse essential oils
  3. Relaxing yoga postures
  4. Light a candle and journal my thoughts
  5. Drink herbal tea with almond/coconut milk
  6. Take a bath with epsom salt and essential oils
  7. Read Fiction (Currently: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson)
  8. Think of 10 things I was thankful for that day and praise God for them

When you have a chance, take the time to read the following article via  The Eco Blog ! It is an informative and inspiring post about the necessity of sleep and sleep-routine ideas!

Sweet dreams and have a lovely sleep! : ) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camel Pose!

This morning I sat in church tearing up out of awed gratitude.

Matt Chandler interviewed Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs about the testament of God’s faithfulness in their marriage and their story reminded me about how faithful God has been in my life over this past year.

Those of you who have experienced or have had a loved one experience the cloud of clinical depression, you know how dark and grueling the cloud is. The cloud enslaves your inner world and you are trapped inside a shadow of indescribable sadness, where hope seems unreachable. The person you once knew disappears and you wonder if you will ever be yourself again. Days and nights I cried wondering where “Naomi” went? Where did the joy go? Where is God in the darkness? I need saving, because I am confused, scared, angry, and sad.

I can now honestly say that for the past few weeks I have been feeling normal and the cloud of depression is not hovering anymore. My life has been on pause for about 11 months and I am thoroughly excited to have the stamina to begin committing to various activities again. Yes, I am still in counseling, taking two different anti-depressants, eating nutritiously, staying active, attempting to sleep at least 8 hours each night, and trying to keep in mind my social energy so I don’t spread myself too thin. I also do not know what the future holds, and I may have another breakdown in the years to come. However, for now, I feel fantastically Naomi. I feel like myself again. And I feel free. No, that does not mean I am chipper every single second or that all fears have passed away. But, the dark cloud which hovered for a number of months is no longer shading me from the sunny days and new blossoms.

This past Spring I participated in a Bible Study with the women in my home group and we studied the book of 1 Peter. The verses which stood out to me then also continues to stand out to me now as a reminder of God’s faithfulness over the past year.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

As children of God, Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins and brought us into the Light of His Life. Similarly, God has used depression in my life as an illustration of the Gospel, bringing me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.

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Working on my Mermaid pose!

Even though I am currently feeling fantastically Naomi, depression is tricky and every individual battles with this mental illness a little bit differently. Plus being a human being with lots of emotions can be confusing. Who knows, tomorrow something may occur and my depression is triggered. Yet, Matthew 6:34 reminds me not to let tomorrow be a worry. So, I will end it here sharing with you how free I am now feeling after being under the bondage of depression, something which I never expected to experience.

 God is faithful in the midst of the cloudy and the sunny.

How is God working in your life?

 

 

 

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This past week I was so negative.  I blamed it on my body hormones and possibly my anti-depressants not working properly. That could have been true, but I am also trying not to use my depression as an excuse for sin or even using it as an identity fallback.

My identity is found in Christ. Praise God for reminding me of life giving hope and reigniting my soul with the Gospel that drives me forward.

As some of you know, God has me in a season of healing.

Last semester  was dark, hopeless, lonely…and God has transitioned me into a season of uncertainty. A season in which all I can answer sometimes is, “I don’t know”, wondering when the “good ‘ole days” will come again.

This past week  I was in tears off and on fighting the battle of self worth.

I am twenty-two, barely a sophomore in college, trying to figure out what the heck I am even suppose to be doing.

I have changed so much since last August. I am trying to learn who this new Naomi is. My battle with clinical depression has taught me a depth of pain I had not experienced prior. God has also taught me how important it is not to lose sight of the Hope we have in Him.

God has used various conversations in the past twenty-four hours to remind me that I am in a good place. God reminded me that is it my relationship with Jesus Christ which drives me forward, not my circumstances.

I have recently been fighting the lies of rejection, approval, expectations, insecurities…and all the while trying to live for Jesus.

Something that weighs on my heart regarding Christian culture is the fear to be honest about the crap.

Y’all. Earth is not our home. Life is hard. And it is okay to say it.

People die. Family members are chronically ill. Break-ups suck. Divorce is common. Babies are murdered. Lies are spoken. Materialism steals our paychecks. Marriage becomes an idol. Self-righteousness turns our head the other direction. Friends move away. People are fired from their job. Smiling tolerance is expected. Our body weight turns us into vomiting robots…

And at some point we begin dreading going to church for fear that someone will find out how deep we are genuinely hurting.

It is okay to hurt. It is okay not to be okay. Grieving is healthy. However, we cannot stay in the pain. Let’s encourage one another onward. Even in the small moments, God’s ways are big. God is constant. His love is steadfast. He is King of Kings. He is the Creator of everything. He knows our deepest fears and our deepest desires. He knows how no one else understands how you feel. He knows how much life hurts.

So, life on earth is going to be crappy. Life will be uncertain.

But can we please learn how to be honest and encourage one another back to the truth of the Gospel?  The Gospel is not a matter of self disciplined quiet times and college degrees. The Gospel is this:

“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)

No matter the season you are in, you are in a beautiful place.

God has you (and the whole world) in His hands.

Let’s dwell on that Truth together.

 

 

 

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There are random moments during my days of clinical depression when I suddenly feel  almost normal again. The dreamer inside of me comes back to life, and my imagination soars with possibility. During these moments of feeling almost normal, I am reminded of some of my deepest dreams. One of which is to share with women how deeply beautiful and unique they are.

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Women who have also experienced clinical depression will understand when I say my self esteem has reached levels below the zero on the number line. Confidence in the individual beauty that God gave me has been forgotten. Yes, the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is eternal (2 Peter 3:3-4). However, God reflects His beauty in woman. He has given women the desire to feel and deeply know they are beautiful in their own skin.

“Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that Eve is the crown of creation? Not an afterthought. Not a nice addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God’s final touch…She fills a place in the world nothing and no one else can fill. Step to a window, ladies, if you can. Better still, find some place with a view. Look out across the earth and say to yourselves, ‘The whole, vast world is incomplete without me. Creation reached its zenith in me.'” (For more information, check out John and Stasi Eldredge’s eye opening book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul)

No other woman has your exact eyebrows, eye shape, legs, arms, lips, ears, hair, nose, etc…In Psalm 139, David points to our individuality from God our Creator.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

(Insert your name here), do you believe that?

I am currently asking myself the same question. Do I believe that?

I, Naomi, am fearfully and wonderfully made. Really?

I was born with a heart defect, resulting in open heart surgery. Even with my scar, do I believe I am fearfully and wonderfully made? Do I believe I am beautiful? The days I wish my straight hair was curly and voluminous, do I believe I am beautiful? The days when my eyebrows are in desperate need of an eyebrow wax, do I believe I am beautiful? The days I feel my height is too tall, do I believe I am beautiful? The days when I trace my nose and cringe when I feel the bone that brings a slight curve to my nose shape, do I believe I am beautiful? The days when my legs do not look as toned as I noticed on the other woman while I was out shopping, do I believe I am beautiful?

God, our Creator, our Father, thinks the world of us.

He rejoices in us and He rejoices in His creation of woman.

You, (insert your name here), are made in the image of God.

You, (insert your name here), reflect the magnificent beauty of God.

You, (insert your name here), are BEAUTIFUL. 

Now quit reading this and go do something that brings a smile to your beautiful face!

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Late last night my cousin and I watched a chick-flick and we both agreed the characters deeply needed Jesus.

Late last night I also began having doubts.

Should I really be watching chick-flicks?

The girly dreamer inside of me begins wondering when “the one” will arrive in my life and propose in a field of wildflowers.

(I know, I know…I am cheesy. But for real…)

When I think about how many chick-flicks I have watched and heartily enjoyed I feel ashamed.

Honestly, I know they affect me.

I begin to idolize this idea of the perfect romantic man.

And as the years continue, the content in movies grow even more inappropriate.

If the genuine and heartfelt pursuit of Mr. Darcy stirs my emotions, add the 21st century to the mix and you know it isn’t good.

But the emotional porn does not stop at movies.

Music, books, social media,  and your surroundings scream this “perfect”  formula. Every girl should view romance this one way, and if they do, a man will come into their lives to fulfill them and their heart’s deepest longings.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes,

“What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust…But, as I said before, ‘the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.’  Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing…You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling.

“Our experience is colored through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.

“In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last…What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction.

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live until it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time.”

In her book Captivating, Stasi Eldredge writes,

“The deep longings in our hearts as women just won’t go away. And so we indulge…We move into a fantasy world to find some water for our thirsty hearts. Romance novels (a billion-dollar industry), soap operas, talk shows, gossip, the myriads of women’s magazines all feed an inner life of relational dreaming and voyeurism that substitutes— for a while — for the real thing. But none of these really satisfy, and so we find ourselves trying to fill the remaining emptiness with our little indulgences…They are what we give our hearts away to instead of giving them to the heart of God.

“Take a moment and consider yours. Where do you go instead of to God when the ache of your heat begins to make itself known? … When we camp our hearts in self-doubt, condemning thoughts, or even shame because those emotions have become familiar and comfortable, we are faithlessly indulging rather than allowing our deep ache to draw us to God.”

 

This morning one of my girlfriends texted me saying she has committed to six months of chick-flick free movie nights.

Another friend texted me saying she thinks she shouldn’t ever watch chick-flicks.

I am incredibly thankful for the godly women God has surrounded me with, who  encourage  and challenge me in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sure, I will always be a hopeless romantic. That is part of who I am, and I love the way God created me.

Yes, I think it is okay for little girls to watch Disney princess.

Yes,  Jane Austen is a pro when it comes to brilliantly written romance novels.

Whether single or married, chick-flicks (and other things of the sort) can be harmful to a woman’s heart and her expectations for men and how her life should play out. I will probably continue watching chick-flicks with my girlfriend’s. Nonetheless, I think it is good to know one’s personal limits.

Paul writes,  It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Romans 14:21-23

 I pray my hopeless romantic pursuit will continually be for the King of Kings, the only One who fully satisfies my yearning soul.

Also, my brother and his beautiful wife Erica were married this past weekend. What a glorious time of celebration, praising God who gives good gifts to His children.

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“Barrett, do you know how to do the monkey bars?” I asked the four-year old boy.

“Mhmm…” he responded.

“Here, I will help you.”

I hold his lower half as he swiftly swings his arms from bar to bar.

Barrett reaches the end of the monkey bars, which is attached to the wooden play fortress.

I let go of him as he insists to climb over the outside of the fortress all by himself. He tries and tries, but isn’t able to climb over it.

“I can’t do it. I’m stuck.” Barrett yells down to me.

“Barret, let go, I will catch you.”

He hesitates.

“Barrett, trust me.”

He lets go and I gently lower him to the ground.

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Dried snot.

Dirty clothes.

Sandy bodies.

Poopy diapers.

Bubble baths.

Smiling faces.

Unending laughter.

No matter how old we are, we are all like little children.

We are incapable to do life by ourselves. We try, but to no avail.

We are unable to care for ourselves. We are grimy and covered in muck.

We need someone to give us a bubble bath.

We need someone to make us clean.

Through Jesus Christ we are white as snow.

Through all of the dirtiness of life, we can still smile, because He has already won the battle.

Children, let us laugh all through the day.

When we are stuck, let us cry out to God.

Let us not hesitate.

He is speaking to us all the time.

“Beloved, trust Me.”

Let us fall into His loving arms.

Let us become like children, because our Father sent His only Son, to save us from the muck.

The Gospel is simple.

Trust Him.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

He called a child, had him stand among them, and said,

‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven!

Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”

Matthew 18:1-4 9 (NET)

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A few recent comments from “my” boys…

Colton (2):

“Malk. Chocla Malk.”

“Nomi Baff.”

Barrett (4):

“When you become a grandma, you can’t swing. Grandma’s are too big.”

“When you throw the sand like this, it looks like a tornado!”

“Charlee (puppy) peed on the floor.”

Hudson (6):

“Where is heaven?”

“Where do bad guys go?”

“How do you get to heaven?”

“There will be lots and lots of chocolate in heaven!”

“Naomi, can you read some of the Bible to me?”

“God, I pray you take care of Naomi as she drives home and let mom have a fun birthday.”

These boys absolutely melt my heart. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Break 2014 was basically me cuddling with my pillow, drugged up on pain medication and steroids, eating smoothies, soup, and oatmeal. Here’s this for kicks and giggles.

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Thankfully, prior to my wisdom teeth being removed, one of my dear friends and I took a few days and roadtripped it up to Monroe, Louisiana. Below are some photographs that sum up our time across the state border. God, dreams, passions, quirks, and flat out silliness describes our time well. God is good y’all.

Ready to go! Let’s do this thanggg!

Let’s face it, our cameras are our sidekicks.

Everywhere we go we look like tourists.

Yep, we’re THOSE people.

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 Being my cheesy self and all.

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I always love walking around downtown.

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meow

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I see a bug statue. Naturally, I imitate it.

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We tried frog legs! Well, Hannah ordered them, and I took a small bite.  = )

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This is what I called my tree fortress.

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This was such an amazing climbing tree.

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When you forget a knife, you think resourcefully.

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We had lots of girly down time watching chick flicks…(snapchat favs)

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Okay, I confess, this is ultimately why we made our way to Monroe.

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This is the day which the LORD has made;

Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24


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