*Aha* Moment

So, bible study has been going phenomenally lately! Yay!  I'm loving it!  But the third day's reading was still eating away at me - let's just be honest here.  The whole "women need other girls as good friends..." thing was getting to me, and I think I let it get a little too far. However, God is so good and puts the right people in your path exactly when you need them (whether you think you do or not!).  My co-worker, whom I have become closer and closer to, helped me through it.  She is religious and has helped me in so many ways since I was hired in February (has it really already been 7 months?!).  Through everything that has been thrown my way these past few months, she's been there for me without question and I can always count on her - professionally and personally.  Well, she talked me through the commentary about needing a same-sex friend.  And boy do I feel so much better!  She helped me to see that just because I may not have that true 'best friend' in the moment, but it could be perceived as God helping me prepare and be ready for that friend when the time comes.  Let's face it, we aren't always doing everything the Bible tells us to do every single day.  Some things are in preparation of what is to come, and some thing are to help understand what has already happened.  I truly believe that it was God's way of telling me to be open to new friendships when they come and be open to the introduction of new girlfriends.  How exciting!  I'm always open to new friends, and have made many the past few months - between work and church and friends of friends...I feel totally content.  Although there are things I wish were different with some people, I cannot change others' feelings about anything.  I have to do what is right for me and to accept that everything changes, including people.  I'm changing as well, and I believe it's for the better (others may have different opinions - let's just leave it at that, okay?).  I'm growing and maturing as a human being, but also spiritually, and I couldn't be happier.  I truly love my life and know that I have been blessed beyond belief.  How many 24-year-olds can say that?  Not too many, let me tell you.  In the past year, I've experienced great grief, pain, love, joy, - I've gotten married, moved into our own cozy 'home' (our first official apartment picked out together), graduated college, gotten a job with my degree that I look forward to going every.single.day, and I get along so great with my co-workers!  Who wouldn't be excited about that kind of life at my age?!  I'd be crazy not to be truly thankful for such blessings being bestowed upon me.  So, that's where I am right now.  I had my 'aha!' moment, and I am personally, emotionally, and spiritually content (and excited!) with the journey I'm on and what my future holds.

Dear Lord, I want to thank you for another day of living and being able to see, hear, and walk.  I am blessed because You know me, understand me, and most of all forgive me.  You have given me so much and You continue to bless me.  You have forgiven me for everything I've said, done, or thought, past, present, and future.  Please shelter me from all evil and harm.  Guide me each day and give me an "attitude of gratitude."  Let me make the most of each day and clear my mind so I can hear from You.  Provide the wisdom I need to accept all things, good, and bad.  Don't let me dwell on the negative circumstances I have no control over.  Give me the strength and courage I need when I feel I've reached my limits.  Even when I don't pray, You listen to my heart.  You have a plan for my life, so guide me to do Your will.  Continue to give me your grace so that I can be a blessing to other people.  Keep me positive so I can provide encouragement to others.  I pray for those who are struggling and have lost their way.  I pray for those who haven't discovered You yet.  I thank you for my belief in knowing that You can change all people for the better.  There is no problem, circumstance, or situation in this entire world that is greater than You.  I give my burdens and struggles to You, for nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without You.  Father, I love You, need You, and want You in my life.  You don't give up on anyone.  Amen.  

TV Time

So, I've fallen in love with Tia and Tamera's reality series on STYLE.  And, last night was the season 2 premiere!  Of course, I forced myself to stay up and watch it instead of just going to bed once I got home from my super long day!  It was worth it though - soooo good!

Now, I've seen several shows and movies that these twins starred in, and I admit that throughout the entire Sister, Sister series, my favorite was always Tia.  I don't know exactly why, but I guess she seemed to be more stylish and have it more together - but that also is probably just the way the producers portrayed each character.  BUT, watching their reality series, my favorite is definitely Tamera!  At times, I even feel really bad for Tamera.  Tia seems to think that the world should revolve around her and seems to be demeaning to her sister.  For instance, when Tamera was planning her wedding last season, Tia hardly showed up and tried to make it about her and her unborn child instead.  I'm sorry, but it's your sister's WEDDING!  Why would you not support her and do everything you could possibly do to make her day special?  Instead, she had to go on her 'baby-moon', which is great for her, but couldn't she have planned it at a different time?  Ugh.  That's where it started to go downhill.

Last night's episode *spoiler alert!* was awesome.  But, once again, Tia tried to act like she knew exactly what to do in Tamera's life, being that she has already had one pregnancy.  Well, I've never been pregnant, but I do know that every woman's body is different and every pregnancy is different.  Just because they're twins, doesn't mean that they go through every life scenario in the exact same way.  It seems that Tia acts that because she's going through life and experiencing the big moments first: getting married, having a baby..., she holds it over Tamera like she has no idea what she's talking about.  It's disgusting, honestly.  So, last night, Tamera was filming a Christmas movie while being five months pregnant.  I LOVED how she did make a point that when Tia was five months pregnant, she was exhausted all of the time, whereas Tamera was full of energy and in love with being pregnant!  But Tia, once again, has to act very high and mighty and tell Tamera that she can't do it and that it's super hard - of course it's hard!  She's PREGNANT and working long hours!!  She knows it's going to be hard, but she supported Tia when she worked while being pregnant.  I just don't understand why Tia can't just be supportive and not make everything all about her.  Tamera seems way more laid back and seems to not have to be the center of attention all of the time.  I'm so happy for Tamera that she is married to her best friend and they are AMAZING together!  I love seeing them together and going through everything.  I also love that Tamera is so involved in Adam's family, even in regards to the winery in Napa Valley.  Good for her!  She definitely needs to take a stand and do her own thing...and I'm loving watching her journey!

I know this post is more of a rant than anything, but it's been bothering me and comes up EVERY.SINGLE.EPISODE of this show.  Regardless, it's a great show and I'm really enjoying how down to earth they are, with realistic views of life and living in LA (and Napa for Tamera!).  :)

My LiFe

Life has been absolutely AMAZING to me, especially lately.  That's right, no complaints here!  My birthday was last week and I turned the big 2-4.  My husband was amazing and surprised me with GORGEOUS gladiolas - in three colors I might add!  They are starting to bloom and are breathtaking. They have definitely become one of my favorite flowers, easily!  Then he planned a get-together with close friends and family - those that could make it.  He was upset that not more people showed up, but I had a fantastic time!  I've never been one to be the center of attention and have people fuss over me...so the quaint gathering was perfect!  And we didn't even do much - just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company with some cocktails.  I loved it :).  And it was definitely one never to forget!  So, if you're reading this and you attended, thank you!! =D 

Then, Saturday was upon us.  My awesome BFF DeMarcos treated us to brunch at IHOP, which is always delicious and this time didn't disappoint!  After that, I spent the afternoon cuddled up with my husband watching The Last Song.  Okay, I know what you're thinking, "Really, Bri?  The Last Song? With your husband?  Poor guy!"  He felt the same for the most part, but it really was the best quality time we've had in a while.  We had a very deep discussion about things and just being in his arms the entire afternoon was perfect.  He said he didn't mind and enjoyed the movie. 

Sunday was here before I knew it, and my fabulous parents decided to make the trip to Austin and take me out to eat for my birthday - along with Colten and my sister (Josh had to work).  We went to Olive Garden and it was amazing!  (I think I need to find a synonym for 'amazing')  Mom and I tried one of their new dishes, and it was by far the most amazing meal I've had in a while!  Then they hung out for a little while and Mom helped me decorate my last sad wall in the apartment...now I'm so in love with it!  Pictures will come as soon as I attack the task of deciding on pictures to print, print them, and then put them up in frames.  Right now, my apartment is filled with strangers....weird, I know!  Haha.  But I'm so happy that it's all done and now all that's left to do is the fun part!  It's been almost a year that we've been married, and sadly, I still have yet to order ANY wedding pictures!  My bridal portrait is the lone picture in the place.  That will soon change :). 

So, it was a GREAT weekend celebrating my life (all 24 years of it), and I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way! 

On a side-note, I know I haven't been blogging my daily Bible study, but I've come to the conclusion that updating every single day the way I need to commit every day is unrealistic.  I'd rather commit to the daily Scripture reading and journal it as it pertains to my life and apply it, and I will update my blog at LEAST once a week on the day that stuck with me the most.  So, have no fear!  I have not quit or abandoned my journey.  I simply do not have time every day to delve into the reading AND blog about it after I've journaled it.  I hope you'll forgive me!  But that's just the way it is.  And I've accepted it!  Just wanted to give the update :).  Have a blessed Monday, y'all!

Day Three: Isaiah 1-6

Today's reading focuses on that of sin.  Our country is desolate, and our cities burned with fire.  Taken straight from today's reading, we are specifically told to take our evil deeds out of His sight.  Stop doing wrong, and learn to do right.  This is a very clear message that we must not be buried in sin.  However, God also tells us that we need to reason together, with him.

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" - Isaiah 1:18 

The reading continues and this verse really stuck out to me: 

"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils.  Of what account is he?" - Isaiah 2:22

Today's reading also hits on the topic of flirting.  In Isaiah 3:16-17, the women of Zion are roaming the streets, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.  By doing so, the Lord brought sores to their heads and took away their hair - that was the punishment for their sin.  

Today's reading discussed God's Acceptance At Issue.  Those who act "religious" but ignore their obligation to love their neighbor are hypocrites in God's eyes.  So often in today's society, people turn their heads and only put their faith in God at church or when others are looking upon them in judgment.  This is unfair.  Going to church makes you a Christian as much as sitting in a garage makes you a car.  Going to church is very important, don't get me wrong, but that is not the only time that we must seek God and put our faith in Him to follow His path.  If this is the only time that you act religious, then you are a hypocrite.  Yes, I said it, you're a hypocrite.  Don't be a "sometimes" Christian.  Be a devout believer of Christ and devoted child of God.  Do not be ashamed or embarrassed.  

Myth #58: 
"It's ok if my husband is my only friend."
While it is important to have a close relationship with your husband, it is also vital that he is not the only friend you have.  It takes work to meet and sustain deep and meaningful friendships, but the benefits of friendships far outweigh the costs or risks.  The Bible gives four key things to keep in mind: 
1.  We need friendships with other women to reciprocate encouragement and wisdom.  will you courageously seek out friendships in which you can give as well as receive?  As much as you need the friendship of another woman, another woman needs your friendship too.  She is waiting for you to come alongside her. 
2.  Girlfriends can understand us in ways that men never can.  Can a man truly understand PMS, what it's like to be a sister, the biological clock, or shopping?  Even the most well-rounded man can't fully relate.  Girlfriends can understand us, empathize with us, and pray for our unique struggles.
3.  Your marriage will be healthier and more balanced if you and your husband both have strong, same-sex friendships.  Men need other men; women need other women.  You and your husband will both benefit from godly friendships and accountability.  
4.  It is not fair to ask your husband to be your only friend.  While your husband should be your closest friend and your primary emotional partner, expecting him to be your only friend puts undue pressure on your marriage.  It's impossible for one person to meet all of your needs.  God is the only one who can meet all of your needs in one relationship.  If you expect anyone else to do what only God can do, you are setting yourself up for continual disappointment.  

Okay, there's the overview of today's reading and the Word of God.  Whew!  That was a lot to take in.  I admit that today's reading of Isaiah was more difficult than the previous two days, but I still took a lot from it.  Sin is bad.  We are all sinners.  We've known this for years, especially growing up in the church.  However, we are eternally grateful that God forgives us.  We're only human, right?  This is why confession and prayer are essential to our everyday lives.  God knows that we are sinners and that we make mistakes, but he's oh so forgiving and will do so no matter what.  

I had a very difficult time with the myth that was discussed today.  Although my husband is not my only friend, friendship is something that I've been struggling with for some time now.  I have lots of friends, sure.  But lately, I've felt more alone and that I don't have a true, deep, lasting friendship with any particular person other than friends and family.  No one else knows 'the real me' and what makes me tick.  I used to think I had that in a best friend, but I don't think our friendship truly grew to the status of that of a best friend.  I long for that, though.  I want that person that I can be completely myself with and that I can text or call just because I finished watching a show or someone said something and I wanted to share.  I don't have that.  I've never had that.  BUT I WANT THAT!  I know that friendships are very important in today's society, especially with all of today's struggles and hardships, but am I worthy of a best friend?  Am I worthy of someone else's time and energy?  I think so.  I truly feel that I deserve it.  I know that I am not where I want to be or even need to be regarding the friendships in my life, and I know friendships take work (which I'm willing to give).  But I know that I am still young and have such a bright future ahead of me.  I know that in my journey to become closer to God and my faith, I will come across several devoted and loving personalities and Christians - and I know that God has a plan for me and will bring the right person in my path when it is time.  I'm just really struggling with this in the mean time.  I want to be the person that a friend can turn to, NO MATTER THE SITUATION.  Good or bad, I will be there.  I won't turn against you.  But in turn, I also need to have that person to turn to in any situation, good or bad, other than my husband and my family.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my relationship with my family and my husband, but I need that in a friend.  I do have several 'good' friends that I turn to, but sometimes I feel like I'm not enough for them.  I feel lost and distant - left out in the cold.  My day will come, I suppose, but in the meantime, I know I will continue to struggle.  I know that it's all in His plan, as stated earlier, but this is something that is harder for me, and I will have to come to terms with my situation and seek refuge in Him.  Please pray for my soul to be comforted and for the right friend to be placed in my path and I in theirs.  

Day 2: Job 1-2

Job 1

In this reading, Job is tested by Satan.  Job has everything he's ever wanted: 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys, and servants.  However, Satan pushes God, and God says to Satan, "Everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself, do not lay a finger."  So, Satan first takes away his oxen and donkeys, then his sheep and servants, then the camels, and then his children.  But Job does not falter!  

"Naked I came from my Mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" - Job 1:21

Job 2

In this reading, Job was tested yet again!  When probed, God says to Satan, "He is in your hands, but you must spare his life."  So, Satan plagues Job's body with festering sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.  Job's wife tells him that he should just curse God and end the pain.  Does Job give in to her?  Absolutely not! 

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" - Job 2:10

Today's reading also includes an "At Issue", discussing illness.  The exerpt talks about hearing from a friend or loved one of them having terminal cancer.  Sharing in their suffering, you wonder why God would allow such a tragic and horrible thing to happen.  However, we must trust that God is good and wise, ALWAYS.  Like Job says, shall we accept the good from God, but not the trouble?  I think it's worth it.  It is definitely a test of our faith, no matter how painful and heartbreaking it may be.  

Also in today's reading is an "Ask Me Anything" conversation with Job's wife.  
1.  Tell us about your loss. 
-Loss?  How about lossES, plural!  In one day, we lost our children, our livestock, our home, and our servants - I lost everything but my husband. 
2.  Why did you tell him to give up? 
-Isn't it obvious?!  We lost absolutely everything that day,except for each other.  
3.  How did you react?  
-I was beside myself with grief.  Then I got angry at God for him allowing us to be stricken with such tragedy.  Job said I was the fool. Ha! 
4.  Why do you think he said that? 
-Job saw it all as a test from God.  I just became angry.  He chose to learn and grow from the pain. 
5.  What can we learn from this? 
-You can curse God like I did and end up living in bitterness and anger.  Or you can see your situation as a test of faith and opportunity, albeit a painful one, to grow closer to God.  

Again, such a home-hitting Scripture reading!  Having just attended the Relay for Life not too long ago and now going through my grandfather's decline, illness and tragedy have both been on my mind as of late.  This reading is a great reminder to have faith in God and accept the trouble as well as the bountiful blessings that have been bestowed upon me.  Getting angry and frustrated would only cause me to live a life of bitterness, regret, and anger.  What kind of life would that be?  I would have given into Satan and rejected God.  That is definitely not the life I want to live.  Instead, I accept that these situations are tests of my faith, and my faith is growing stronger and stronger.  I have to accept the difficulties and trust that it's all a part of His master plan! Although, I have to admit that accepting things as God's plan has been difficult for me throughout the last 23 years.  I've questioned it on several occasions, but I would love to be at a point in my faith and relationship with God to be able to praise Him without faltering.  Goals are great, I suppose.  Feeling stronger and stronger every day!  I just need to continue on my journey.  Today's reading was an amazing one, as I'm sure I'll say every day. :) 

Day 1: Psalms 1-2

Psalm 1

Psalm 1 tells us that the man's delight is in the law of the Lord, of which he meditates day and night.  The wicked will not stand in the judgment of the Lord - they are like chaff (worthless matter) that the wind blows away.  

Psalm 2

Psalm 2 tells us the all who take refuge in the Son are blessed.  If you serve the Lord with fear, you will rejoice with trembling.  Why do nations conspire and people plot in vain?  

At issue in these readings is God's Word!  Like strong and courageous trees, we too must develop roots.  How, you ask?  Easy.  Absorb God's Word daily.  Some days may be challenging to do this - but it is recommended that you get creative!  These days, with so many DiY projects and things like Pinterest to fill our days, why not get creative with Scripture?  If you're at a child's sporting event, memorize Bible verses on note cards you've created to keep in your purse (great idea!).  Listen to the Bible on CD in the car during your daily commute to work or to meet up with friends.  Or read Scripture on your lunch hour (genius - since that's what I'll be doing a lot!).  It honestly does not take much time from our day to really focus and absorb what He is telling us.  

Today's reading also included Myth #45: 
"I Have to do Whatever My Company Asks"
This issue revolves around ethical dilemmas faced in today's society.  But when faced with such an issue, there are basic questions to be answered: 
  1. Is what you're being asked to do contradictory to Scripture or godly principles?
  2. Will you honor and obey God, your ultimate authority, or someone else? 
  3. Would you rather suffer now for what's right, or suffer later for doing wrong? 
  4. Will you find favor with God for whatever you're being asked to do?
Although we are to obey authority, it doesn't apply when we are asked to do anything that contradicts God's Word.  Sometimes, we must go against an earthly authority to obey God and risk jobs, status, reputation, etc.  We may have to suffer for what is right, even though others are asking us to compromise.  Wouldn't you rather have God's blessings than the favor of others, who may turn on you at any moment?  

Deep down, you know what's right...but are YOU willing to pay that price?  

"But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?  But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God"     

-1 Peter 2:20

As Martin Luther King, Jr says - 
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"

No matter how big or small the dilemma may seem, I must remember these four basic questions.  At the time, the problem may seem complex and difficult, but when it comes down to the wire, the answer is quite simple.  I'd also have to admit that today's readings were absolutely PERFECT and on-target with my life and where I am with beginning this new journey.  The issue today was God's word and how important it is to absorb it daily - that's exactly what I'm doing!  It feels great to dive into this and be reminded that although people may think less of you or deem you to be 'uncool' or 'pathetic' not to rebel and do something just because someone else thinks it's cool and the 'right' thing to do, in His eyes (that's what matters anyway!), you are being obedient and placing your trust in Him that you will be commended for your righteousness.  I'd say today is a GREAT start!  

No Excuses

So, I've really been stressing over the fact that I've gotten behind already with my year-long journey in Bible study. I've been really praying about it and trying to come to a conclusion, and then it hit me.  God knows that I am deepening my faith and am very serious about doing so.  He also knows that it's a difficult time right now.

Here's the conclusion I've come up with: who says I had to start last week?  I've waited (anxiously) this long to begin this commitment and devotional, and it's never too late to start!  So, I've decided that I will start the journey TODAY instead of a week ago.  But everything that I hope to gain from this experience is still the same.  My commitment will still be the same.  My motivation and dedication remain the same.  I truly want to put in the effort to reap the rewards.  I want to honor the Word by devoting the right amount of time that I need to absorb and journal each day.  So, I will begin the journey today. I get several breaks throughout the day, and the daily readings can definitely be done in that amount of time.

I'm kind of worried (it's my journey, so I can be honest, right?) about Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and how those days' readings will go.  I wake up, get ready for work, eat breakfast (some days), and leave for work.  Then I'm busy throughout the day (I'm constantly busy with this job, which isn't a bad thing except when I remember it's because there's so much violence in the world...or Texas at least) and it's time to leave before I know it!  Then, I leave work and go to my second job until 9:00PM.  That's a 15-hour day - for three days (that includes NO break between jobs...I have just enough time to get there and change).  By the time I get home, as you can imagine, I'm BEAT!  I'm so utterly exhausted, it's ridiculous.  I'm praying that as time goes on and I get accustomed to the new routine, it'll become easier and way more bearable - but until then...hello BEDTIME!  Haha.  By the time I get home, I have enough time to shower, eat, and go to sleep.  Then I'm at it for the next two days!  That pretty much settles it, though.  I need to (I HAVE to) prioritize my break times that I get.  I can do it, I know I can!  I'm really excited to begin this journey, but my body is lagging behind...

But, NO EXCUSES anymore!  I say I'm going to do it, and I've got the supplies to do it, I just have to do it!  Let's face it, that's the hardest thing sometimes, isn't it?  *nods head*

No Excuses!


So I know that I'm on my journey to deepen my faith and apply the Word of God in my day-to-day existence, but I haven't had the time to post about it yet, and for that, my apologies! But God knows that my life has had a hiccup recently.

My grandfather was hospitalized last week and then placed in the skilled nursing unit at the nursing home. The goal is to rehab and go home, but it's completely up to him to improve to the extent that he will be released. I pray for him daily that he will have the strength and determination to make it out of there! Talk about a true test of your faith! I didn't take the news well when I initially found out. I was angry and wanted to rush home to see for myself if it was true. But responsibly, I knew better! I took the updates from my parents and continued to PRAY. I prayed for peace. I prayed for strength and courage. Not only for myself, but for Pops and our family as well. It's definitely taken its toll! What I thought was going to be a restful and relaxing weekend turned into sleepless nights, worrying, and nursing home visitations. I'm exhausted! But it was worthwhile to put in the time and effort, and I know it meant the world to my grandpa! It definitely helped me to sit with him all morning today. Not that I was helpful, but I hope my mere presence was helpful. He was able to tell that I CARE. I care so deeply, and walking out today broke my heart. It was so hard to leave! But I know he's in great hands and will follow God's path.

But with this hiccup came tears, strength, heartbreak, anger, joy, compassion, selfishness...so many emotions. It also hindered my time to study, journal, and reflect on the Scripture I have read thus far. But have no fear! I will catch up and I know that God understands, as it is He who has placed this hiccup upon my life. I just have to try to stay strong and continue to pray for His healing hand to be placed upon my family.

My Father...is amazing <3 br="br">
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