Monday, August 29, 2011

Dealing With Disappointment

To quote Max Lucado, "When God doesn't do what we want it's not easy; it never has been and it never will be. Faith is the conviction that God knows more than us...and he'll get us through. Disappointment is caused by unmet expectations...and it's cured by revamped expectations. Don't panic...don't give patient...God is in control."

So when you're disappointed: 

1.) Look inward. David asked, "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?" (Psalm 42:5) Admit how you feel. You can't deal with what you don't acknowledge. Ask God to show you the root of the problem. Is it pent up anger? Envy? Unforgiveness? Pride? Lust? Physical and mental fatigue? Be open to what He reveals.

2.) Look upward. David said, "I will hope in God! I will praise Him" (Psalm 42:5). Instead of focusing on your discouragement, focus on the One who knows the way out.

3.) Remember God's past faithfulness. David said, "I am...discouraged, but I will remember you." Through every trial we can cling to the assurance that we "can do all things through Christ who gives us strength" (Philippians 4:13). Recalling God's faithfulness builds your confidence that He'll continue to provide.

4.) Remember, you don't have to have all the answers. Just because you can't figure out what God's doing right now, doesn't mean it won't make sense later. He "causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him." (Romans 8:28).

5.) Don't give in to the bitterness. When your hopes are crushed, resentment can set in. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Regardless of how deep the pit may seem, God is on your side!

We've all experienced disappointment in our lives and inevitably will experience disappointments in the future.  But in those disappointments are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be unlocked, and believe-it-or-not...opportunities in disguise. Disappointments can help us to grow if we allow God to reveal His purpose and if we trust that He will reveal His plan to us in perfect time. It's important that we don't let ourselves get stuck in our disappointment by allowing bitterness and resentment to replace our hope and trust in Christ. How we respond to disappointments greatly determines the ultimate outcome.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life Is Like Cake

Sometimes we wonder, What did I do to deserve this?' or 'Why did God have to do this to me?' Here is a wonderful explanation my Mom shared with me!

A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong, she didn't make the soccer team, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away. 

Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and
asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the
daughter says, 'Absolutely Mom, I love your cake.'
'Here, have some cooking oil,' her Mother offers.
'Yuck' says her daughter.
'How about a couple raw eggs?'
'Gross, Mom!'
'Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?'
'Mom, those are all terrible!'
To which the mother replies:
'Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves.
But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! '
 God works the same way.

Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when these things are all put in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and eventually, they will all make something wonderful!

God is crazy about us....about YOU!

He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.  Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen. He freely gives love so that you can experience it to the fullest and never be without. He can live anywhere in the universe and He chose your heart.

Try to remember this when life doesn't seem to go the way you think it should. I’m sure most of us can look back at a time that was really tough and in the midst of it we didn’t understand why it was happening but then later in our lives we realize those tough experiences served a positive purpose somehow in the end. We have to wait for the cake to bake before we can experience its goodness. Just as we have to wait on the Lord to experience His goodness.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lakeside Wine with Friends

Recently a group of our Expat friends got together to enjoy some wine and food by the lake. We found a nice spot right by the shore and while the guys were making BBQ, the three of us ladies were enjoying our glasses of wine and the views. :) It was so relaxing and fun to hang out with our friends in such a beautiful setting. Something I am certain we will miss when the day comes for us to return to the U.S. Here are a few shots from our evening.

Wiebke, Julia and I with our wine and the view

Julia & Morgan with Lake Geneva and the Alps as a backdrop. :)

Jared and I in front of Lake Geneva. Lausanne, Switzerland

Wish you were here! But thankful we can virtually share these moments with our family and friends back home!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Revelation To Reconsider

I don't like to make consequential decisions based on emotions. Because emotions can be deceiving, they change, they are not constant. And I think because of the fact that faith requires more than basic human reason, people view that as purely emotional and therefor irrational or weak-thinking. But when it comes to believing in Jesus Christ it's not something I feel. It's not a feeling like we feel happiness or sadness or any other kind of's hard to define...but it's more like intrinsic understanding rather than emotional response. I don't FEEL that God exists...I understand that He exists. And because of this spiritual understanding of His existence and His teachings I put my trust in Him. Not because it feels good, but because His truth is clear and constant.

Words without understanding are empty and leave us lost just as God without understanding will leave us lost - quite literally. To have faith is not to just feel Him - we must know Him. Once we know Him it is impossible not to feel love, admiration and devotion towards Him. I think this is where many are confused and see faith as purely emotional. First comes understanding and knowledge of Him then comes emotions of love, gratitude, and reverence. I hope this brought about some clarity. This was meant to reach those who may have had a false perception of Christ, who may have been led away from Him based on misconceptions or preconceived notions. May this be an opportunity for you to reconsider and revise.

My desire is to humbly share the good news of Christ with others. I am not special or claiming superior intelligence because I have come to know and love Jesus as my Savior. In my pursuit for truth I found Him and now I want to share Him with the world so that others can experience His sustaining gifts of love and life.

I keep asking that God may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. --Ephesians 1:17-19

Song that inspired today's blog post: 'Under Fire' by Abandon
Lyrics below:

They try to trip us up
They try to make us doubt
Make us question what this life’s about
Our minds are criminal
They try to steal the soul
This moments pivotal who we choose to follow

We are under fire but we know, we know
The truth in our hearts
We are under fire but we hold, we hold
The proof of who you are
And though we haven’t seen your face
We know that we walk by faith
We are under fire
But it only burns, burns all doubt away

They tell us we’re all fools
That our minds are weak
How can we put our hope in someone we can’t see
They come with ridicule
To say that you’re a fake
But we are not alone, you endured the same

We are under fire but we know, we know
The truth in our hearts
We are under fire but we hold, we hold
The proof of who you are
And though we haven’t seen your face
We know that we walk by faith
We are under fire
But it only burns, burns all doubt away

We’re chasing what’s real
We’re chasing what’s true
We know it's God
We know it's You
We’re chasing what’s real
We’re chasing what’s true
We know it's God
It’s got to be You

We are under fire but we know, we know
The truth in our hearts
We are under fire but we hold, we hold
The proof of who you are
And though we haven’t seen your face
We know that we walk by faith
We are under fire
But it only burns, burns all doubt away
All doubt away
It burns all doubt away
All doubt away
It burns all doubt away

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Little Things

It's the little things in life that make every day a treasure. For me this week the "little things" were having dinner and wine on the balcony with my husband, talking on the phone with my family, going shopping and enjoying some sushi with a girl friend, learning hilarious Aussie slang like "budgie smugglers" (aka: speedos) from our new Australian friend, and having a "Belle moment" where I was enjoying a good book, in a french-speaking town, with sheep really close by.

Disney version....

Swiss version....

I also enjoyed this beautiful sunset....

....followed by this gorgeous moonlit night 

And I was again reminded that God is the ULTIMATE artist. He has created so much beauty in the world.

There is magic and wonder in the every day moments of life. In Him. We just have to notice it and take it in. I hope you take the time to enjoy the "little things" this week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mental Vitamins: Gratefulness

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”  Exodus 16:6-8

Have you ever considered that when we complain about our circumstance we are actually insulting God?

I strive to not be a complainer. I never want to be ungrateful in my circumstances. I am undeserving of everything that I have or will ever have. But we as humans tend to have this attitude of entitlement. If things don't go "our way" we feel we have a right to bellyache about it because - in our minds - we deserve good things to happen to us. Truth is, everything is a gift from God. Each paycheck, each sunrise, each breath, our salvation....we can't earn or deserve any of these things. God freely gives. Yet instead of being thankful for all the things God has given us, we start complaining about the things we want to be different. When we complain we aren't just protesting to the air or complaining to a friend...we are criticizing God...we are declaring that what He has already done for us is not good enough. There is nothing wrong with wanting to better your circumstances and working hard to achieve greater things, but we can strive toward higher goals while still remaining grateful for what we already have.

Complaining, griping, whining and groaning are signs of ungratefulness. So when we feel the urge to complain, we should replace those negative thoughts with a plan on how to achieve our heart's desire, including prayer, while giving thanks for all the things that God has already given us. Life isn't always going to go "our way", but we should remain thankful for the blessings we've already received even when facing life's challenges. 

I've had to address my own ungratefulness throughout my lifetime. I'm not perfect, I face the same challenges everyone else faces and can catch myself in a whine session when things don't go according to MY plan. I have to adjust my own attitude from time to time. For example, I have caught myself complaining about having no car and being forced to carry our groceries each week instead of simply being thankful for the groceries and God providing for our most basic needs. There are plenty of examples of where we can choose to be thankful or choose to be ungrateful. Thankfulness is a decision. And Christ has given us several verses about thankfulness. Here are just a few of those verses that we can turn to each time we feel tempted to complain.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

When we pause and think about all that God has done for us....we really have SO much to be thankful for.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jared's Birthday & Swiss National Day Celebration

Jared's birthday was Saturday, July 30th so I started the day with cooking up a big birthday breakfast then we headed to a nearby town that has an English Bookstore.It was a tiny little bookstore but Jared found a book he had been wanting to read so despite its size it did have a decent selection. They also said they could order any book we wanted if the book we were looking for wasn't in the store already. It was nice to have an English-speaking place to go to...especially a bookstore because back home in the U.S. Jared and I loved to go on dates to the bookstore where we would roam around searching for new reads then talk about our finds with each other. May sound boring and nerdy to some but it was one of our favourite things to do. I had missed that. Afterward we did a little birthday shopping and got Jared two nice new pairs of shoes for only $30CHF each!! That's a steal even for U.S. standards but for the Swiss it was nearly unfathomable! Everything here is typically double (sometimes more than that) of U.S. prices so finding deals like this is cause for excitement. LOL! He really wanted a pair of sport shoes so he can start working out at the University gym and his current pair of everyday shoes were getting shabby so he found the perfect shoes for both needs.

After walking around town we came back to our place and I made the largest plate of chicken nachos ever. That was his birthday dinner request and I think you can tell from the pictures just how much he enjoyed his birthday dinner! :) And that right there is why I love to cook so much....I love making him happy with food! :)

The Swiss were kind enough to have a national holiday the same weekend of Jared's birthday which meant fireworks and an extended weekend so we enjoyed those bonuses as well. Our neighbors were setting off some great fireworks on Jared's birthday that we were able to enjoy from our balcony so that was a treat too!

Here is a quick video I took from our balcony of those fireworks.

August 1st was Swiss National Day here in Switzerland (it's the equivalent to America's Independence Day) so Jared and I celebrated like the Swiss by going to the town of Ouchy (which is about 15 minutes from where we live) and went down by the lake to watch the fireworks display. We had absolutely no idea where exactly they would be setting off the fireworks so we searched around for a good spot to sit that would have a good view. We arrived well before the fireworks began...there were tons of people there but still plenty of open seats along the lake. I noticed a guy with professional camera gear all set up who was sitting on a large rock that jets out from the shore and figured that with all that gear...he was probably in a good spot for watching the fireworks. So we sat right behind him. We were literally ON the lake...couldn't get any closer unless we were actually in the water. Which some people did rent paddle boats or had their own sailboats and yachts to watch the display from the water. I actually tried reserving a dinner cruise that night for Jared's birthday so that we would be that much closer to the action but they were all booked up by the time I learned about the option. Maybe next year...we had the next best thing with our seats though. The fireworks were set off right in front of where we were sitting. It was so memorable! I'd never seen fireworks set off that close to a lake before. I loved how they sparkled in the night sky and how the bright lights reflected on the water. They had some very unique fireworks that I had never see before too. Some that hung effortlessly for several moments and sparkled like a crystal chandalier. Square-shaped ones, smiley-faced ones, rainbow ones, some so big the nearly took up the entire much variety. It was magical.

Here are a few photos and a short video of the fireworks that night. I didn't bring my professional camera because I knew we would be on the lake and I'm super paranoid about anything happening to it. So all these were taken with my iPhone camera.

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend also and enjoy the upcoming weekend too! Cheers!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Love Trumps Hate

Hatred and anger are powerless when met with love and kindness. 

Love trumps hate. 

Think about that for a moment. Love has the power to conquer hate. Kindness has the ability to defeat hostility. So why don't we use love and kindness when faced with hate and anger? Why do we "fight fire with fire" (hate with hate) only to find that in the end nothing survives the flames? Relationships, integrity, everything is swallowed by the fire of bitterness. Love is the water that puts out the fire. It stops the flames from spreading, from destroying everything in its path. Love always overcomes.

So the next time the world attacks you...the next time someone lashes out at you....the next time you are faced with hate and anger...pour out love and kindness to distinguish the flames. It's easier sometimes to react and use the same weapons they are thrusting at us back on them. Our savage reaction is a want to burn them back for burning us. But the best solution...the response that never to love and to show kindness in return. As long as you love you will always be victorious. As long as you share kindness, hate cannot succeed.

Don't perpetuate hate by repeating anything that is not meant to build others up. Don't initiate the hate by spreading anything built on the foundation of bitterness. Before you speak or write something, ask yourself "Are my words cancerous?" Will they progressively devour a person whole? OR "Are my words curative?" Will they be helpful or beneficial? We choose whether or not to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. Will you choose to lead a life of love and kindness? Or will you choose a life of bitterness and despair?