Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Incomprehensible Grace

I often think about grace and God's love and provisions as starting with Jesus. After all, it was His work on the cross that took the place of the punishment we rightly deserve for our sins. Even in English classes in college, we would say things like "He is writing from an 'Old Testament God' perspective."

But the truth is, there is no Old vs. New Testament God. There is just ONE God. And he is unchanging. His love and provision has been there from the very beginning. It is not as if He suddenly decided to cut us a break and send Jesus.

I really began to see this recently as I read through the book of Genesis. And if we look at each situation of people failing God, there is always provision available. Starting with Adam and Eve. They were the very first people on Earth. And they screwed up big time. God could easily have killed them and started over, right? But He didn't. Yes, He punished them. Otherwise He wouldn't be a just God. But look at how He punished them. They had to leave the garden, they had to work for their food, and women would have pain in childbirth. BUT they still got to live, they still got to eat, and they still got to have the incredible blessing of childbirth. Even more wonderful, while childbirth is certainly painful (I can't say first-hand, but I think this is common knowledge!), it's obviously not so awful that it keeps women from continuing to have babies. The blessing in that situation outweighs the curse. And to me, after breaking the ONLY rule they were given by God, that is pretty merciful of Him.

Then look at Cain and Abel. Cain murders his brother. Then to punish him, God exiles him. But again--he still gets to continue living. And Cain even begs God not to send him away because he is afraid he will be murdered by thieves and criminals. God assures him that he will not be murdered and He will protect him. Protect him! Say what?!?

But what about things like Sodom and Gomorrah, right? He destroyed that whole area and everyone in it! But we have to remember that Lot pleaded with the Lord to spare them all if there is but one righteous person among them. God said He would. But there was not one righteous person. These people were committing acts of unspeakable evil. So we have to keep that in mind. They had completely denied God.

And the list goes on and on in EVERY circumstance. As long as those involved still loved God and were willing to repent of their sins, they were given grace. They were still punished or had to pay a price because, again, in order for God to be righteous and just, He must punish the sin. This is why Jesus had to die. Someone had to pay for our sins. Before Jesus they still had to pay for their sins, but they did it through animal sacrifices and offerings to God. There still had to be blood to cover the sin. And we see this time and again in the Old Testament. It is all pointing toward Jesus.

So whether it be Old Testament, New Testament, yesterday or today, His grace is no more or less amazing and wonderful and truly incomprehensible to our small human minds and limited scope of understanding. We all deserve death and separation from God because we ALL fall short of perfection (which is what would be required if we tried to get to Heaven by simply being good, by the way). But since the beginning of time, God has been merciful and given us grace. Now we can rejoice that Jesus already paid that price for us. But we still must love God and be willing to repent of our sins, just like the people from the Old Testament.

I am so, so thankful to have His grace and love! And I'm thankful that He has shown me that He does not change. He has always been this loving and merciful. Which is very reassuring that He will always continue to be.

Thank you, Lord! :)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Books in 2012

This post by Wendi inspired me to figure out how many books I've read so far this year. She challenges herself to read 100 every year! I don't think I'll ever be able to do that. I just don't get enough uninterrupted time for reading. Unless I'm on a beach vacation or something. Otherwise it's usually in bed right before I fall asleep. And some nights I'm just too tired to even bother. If the book isn't one of those addicting page turners, it could take me weeks to finish it. But I love reading! I have my Bachelor's in English for crying out loud! It just seems like I should be able to make more time for it.

I tried to remember and I came up with 14 books. And three of those are the Hunger Games series which I had already read! Oh, well. Here is my list so far...(I tried to remember everything, but it's quite possible I've forgotten and left some out.) This is in no particular order.

1.       Hunger Games
2.       Catching Fire
3.       Mocking Jay
4.       Jane Eyre
5.       The Bluest Eye
6.       A Discovery of Witches
7.       Shadow of Night
8.       The Poisonwood Bible
9.       Night Road
10.   The Bible (read it every day)
11.   Crazy Love
12.   The Girl who Played with Fire
13. A Wrinkle in Time (re-read...I think I read it in 6th grade)
14.   The Color Purple (currently reading)

As I mentioned in my 27 before 27 post, I want to read at least three more books before my birthday (Dec. 6th). No real reason why I picked the number three. Just seemed reasonable. Any recommendations? :)

And I highly recommend any of the books on my list here. Especially The Poisonwood Bible and A Discovery of Witches (they are completely different types of books, though). And The Bible. Duh.

Happy reading!


Monday, September 24, 2012

27 Before 27...turbo speed!

I'm a little late jumping on this band wagon...especially since I will be 27 in less than 3 months! But there is something about the start of a new season (especially fall, which is my favorite season!) that fill me with motivation and positivity and makes me want to set new goals. Since I'm working with a short time frame, these will have to be short, specific goals. And we just bought a house so forgive me but most of these will be house related.

  1. Do a thorough and awesome job decorating for fall, Halloween, and Christmas
  2. Come up with Halloween costumes that might help us place in the contest at The University Store again. We came in 2nd place and won a $50 gift card two years ago with our Rogue and Wolverine costumes. And I think our Harry Potter costumes the year before were pretty sweet too, even though we didn't win anything.
  3. Read three books outside of required reading for school. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I've been pretty darn busy lately! I just started The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Just need two more after I finish that one!
  4. Finish weeding our multiple garden areas in our yard and making our lawn pretty. It's a tough time to do that because things are starting to die and I can't get a good vision of what is actually going to be pretty in the spring. But some things are very clearly weeds or very clearly ugly, so I can start there! We spent 8 hours working outside this past Saturday (and I'm still SO sore!), but there is a lot more to be done.
  5. Organize our personal files. Our old system is not going to cut it as our files continue to grow. We bought a file cabinet at a yard sale a couple weeks ago. Now I just need to buy the hanging folders and start organizing!
  6. Take the time to bake and be more creative with our snacks for small group. Chips and salsa are not that inspired...
  7. Lose three pounds. That's it. If I can do that I'll be a little into the 130's and that will give me some buffer room for holiday food. I need to get serious about that soon because the seasonal goodies are already starting (hello, pumpkin spice latte!)
  8. Complete my portfolio for my Master's program and finish out my last semester! You can then call me Master Curley. I believe that's how that works.
  9. Polish my resume and start applying for jobs! Yikes! I cannot even imagine not being a student. What will I do with my time?? Guess I better start having babies! ;)
  10. Accessorize more. I'm terrible at this. I'm not a big jewelry person. If I do wear it, I prefer small and simple styles. I have never felt comfortable in bulky jewelry. But I think I can at least try to branch out more and be more mindful of the pieces beyond the outfit itself.
  11. Buy some tights and/or leggings and wear them with a dress and some boots, darnit! I love the look but have yet to buy the goods!
  12. Budget for more periodic shopping (maybe 1-2 inexpensive pieces per paycheck so that it's not so financially devastating when I finally have to break down and do a major shopping spree). This will hopefully help me continue to build up my professional wardrobe for when I get that full-time job after graduation! Whoop! :)
  13. Speaking of budget...make a real budget, and stick to it! We sort of have our heads...but I want to actually get it all down in a spreadsheet or something that we can use. After our first round of utility bills come in on our new house we will have a better idea of how to do that.
  14. Pay off our credit cards. Oh, boy! Well, we went on a cruise at the beginning of the summer and put a lot of it on cards thinking we would pay it off by mid-summer....Then we decided to buy a house. And that sort of got put on hold. And added to. So now we're working on paying that off. Hopefully before my birthday so we can use them for Christmas presents if we need to.
  15. Throw more dinner parties and hang out with people more often. We own a house in town now, so there is no excuse not to spend more time with our friends. I would say we are off to a great start. We've started hosting small group at our house every-other week, we've had 1 set of friends over for dinner, we've had Scott's aunt and uncle over, this weekend my mom and her husband are coming, and next weekend Scott's parents and sister are coming! Are we over doing it? ha!
  16. Meet some neighbors!
  17. Go to First Friday in downtown Statesboro and walk around, get cupcakes, and be social! 
  18. Blog at least once a week....can I really do it? :/
  19. Call my great-grandma just to chat
  20. Visit my nieces
  21. Sit outside more. We have such beautiful landscaping and the weather is cooling down...why shouldn't we sit outside and enjoy it?
  22. Serve my husband more faithfully and cheerfully. I admit I have gotten a little lazy at home since I've been so busy with work and school. He has been my source of motivation to do anything productive at home. I want to be better about coming home and doing nice things for him and being willing and determined to do things around the house without his prompting. 
  23. Find a good devotional or study book to supplement my Bible study time. Sometimes I allow myself to get into a rut with my routines and then my time with the Lord doesn't feel as genuine or personal as it could. Mixing it up with new material is one way to get me connected on a deeper level. I also want to make sure I'm praying more often throughout the day, even when I'm very busy!
  24.  Earnestly pray about how I'm serving in the church and listen and obey what God is calling me to do.
  25. Paint the fireplace mantel in our living room (and maybe the beam across our vaulted ceiling...)  
  26. Take more baths (not to be confused with showers...yes, I bathe regularly!) and give myself more pedicures. Turns out even though I'm not a huge fan of water or feet...those things truly are relaxing. :)
  27. Pack more nutritious lunches than frozen meals. Sure they are convenient and low in calories, but I think my body would appreciate some variety...preferably including food that is easier to digest and not loaded with preservatives and sodium, please!
Whew! That was actually really hard to come up with 27 things! Sorry most of these are so simple and things that, let's face it, I was probably going to do anyway. But it's fun to write things down, and there are very few things in this life that I find more satisfying than checking things off a list!!

Happy Monday!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend Review

I know, I know...I still haven't written more about the house story. If you can believe it, I'm actually graduating with my masters in December and will no longer be in school. Sure, I will be busy with work and church and the rest of my life still, but I'm hoping this means I have a little bit more time for blogging. Because , lately? Not much time at all. I will get to it. I promise!

This past weekend:

+ We made a trip up to Atlanta to have our new car inspected for a certified pre-owned warranty. All is well there, and they detailed it and filled it up with gas! We've ordered a small bottle of touch-up paint so we can take care of that little scratch on the back. Oh, you don't know about ANY of this? Yeah... we bought an '09 silver Jetta that Scott's parents had been leasing. Within the first 5 minutes in our new house, we learned that the garage door clicker is VERY sensitive. And the door closed repeatedly on the trunk of our new car! Thankfully nothing was badly damaged. But it's a great way to start off life in a new house with a new car, right??

+ I went shopping with Scott's mom and bought lots of new tops which I'm excited about. I finally got my dress pants altered so they fit me again, and now I have new shirts to wear with them! :) I tried to buy shirts that would go with at least 2 pair of work pants AND jeans. I'm trying to get the most out of my money these days, and I'm tired of buying shirts that only work with one pair of pants or that I can only wear on the weekends.

+ My co-worker Linda bought me a watch so now I finally have one of those big-faced, rubber wrist band, fake diamond outlined watches that the whole world has. Only about a year late, right? Oh, well. I still love it!

+ I got an awful stomach bug or something. It hit me in the middle of the night Saturday and I was completely wiped out yesterday. I barely ate a thing and was in pain most of the day from stomach cramps and dehydration headaches. Some of that is still lingering today, but I seem to be able to eat regular meals again. It was absolutely terrible going through it, but let's be real. Every girl kind of likes the way she looks right after a stomach bug, am I right? I know it's awful and it's shallow and I would NEVER wish to have a stomach bug just for the flat tummy look the next day, but hey--if I've got to suffer for two days straight, I might as well make the most of it!

And now I'm ready for a VERY busy week full of work (2 jobs these days, people!), school, church, and continuing to get settled in the new house. Hoping for a house warming party really soon, which  means we need to get serious about hanging things on the walls, weeding the gardens, and getting things just the way we want them. It is coming along quite nicely, but I think I've hit a wall and need to be re-motivated. I think a house warming deadline is just the ticket!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are ready for a good week! Happy Monday!


Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm Jumping Ahead

Yes, I want to tell this whole story. And I have SO much to say. I'm trying to figure out how to best explain God's wonderful provisions in my life and how His divine will and goodness has completely overwhelmed me. I am so thankful to my Lord and Savior.

We are home owners! :) It's finally official! A process that started back in January and really heated up in June is finally coming to a close! I can hardly believe it. We move in tomorrow.

The closing couldn't have been more perfect. The owner was the sweetest little Christian lady. I really felt like we connected during the process and I could tell she was pleased and thankful to be selling to us, even though she is sad to see her house go. She is now living in an assisted living home. She had been praying for the right couple to come along, and she prayed that they would be Christians. She believes this is an answered prayer, and it certainly has been for us, too. She even gave us a giant binder of records of everything that has been done to the house in the past 10 or 15 years! How amazing is that?? Loved every second...even though my signature was unrecognizable by the end of it. :)

I want to share more tips and more about our journey, but for now...just....YAY!

Have a great weekend y'all!
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