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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Transformation

So apparently, the whole process of creating a blog vision and executing it takes longer than I thought, but I wanted to write and update you guys on my life, what God's been teaching me, and just be a little bit more casual on here.

The vision for the other blog is very much still being developed, I want to create an online resource for Christians struggling with acne, and other issues, and I want to create a place where I can share what God's been teaching me, just teach in general, summarize sermons I've heard at church, post sermons I've heard on youtube, and in general just create a place where people are simultaneously challenged, encouraged, and feel loved and at home. That's the big vision.

The problem is pulling it all together, creating it, and making it not all about image and good graphics and pictures. If this blog is going to be a thing, and going to be a part of my ministry, I want it to be led by God completely, and orchestrated and held in place by Him and FOR HIS GLORY, because if it's done in my own strength and for my glory, then it's all just in vain.
So I have been, a bit, but will be praying more how the blog should be created/designed, and how I should organize it, because I'm not sure how to connect the acne portion, to the christian resource portion, or if that should be a completely separate site. We shall see, and thanks for bearing with me throughout this process!

Now on to my life, what's been happening lately? Turns out, quite a lot!
August and September have been very full for me, I moved back into my parents house, and have a nice little nook here, started my senior year of college, joined the leadership team at BCM, and got a new job. It's taken some adjusting, but I felt throughout the summer that God was leading me to a new season in the fall, and that He definitely was, and although of course, there are some hard patches, God's been awesome at guiding the process and equipping me and blessing me in so many ways.

As I keep telling you about my life has been, I'm going to have to take a moment to brag on God, because He has been so amazing, answering prayers left and right, provision after provision, He's been growing me so much lately!
Before school even started, He called me to a week of prayer for the semester, for me, for the things He's going to do, and in the middle of it, He convicted me about evangelism, and actually gave me the boldness to evangelize to someone (PRAISE GOD!!), and He's just been doing so much in my life that I am just overflowing with thankfulness. 

And I'm not joking or over exaggerating when I say there has been SO much change and transformation, both in the past few weeks, and throughout this past year.  
Tomorrow and all of this weekend I'm going to the annual BCM beach retreat, that happens every fall semester in September, and I was just remembered how God used the Beach Retreat to connect me with Him again last semester, and how things were last semester and how different things are now because of Him.

I'll be going on my college ministry's beach retreat tomorrow, and thinking back to last year's beach retreat I remember how lost, confused, in pain, insecure, and alone I felt. I had just been through an incredibly painful time in my life, and was still limping emotionally, mentally, and physically like a wounded animal, I was insecure about my acne, and was unsure about anything having to do with God. I wanted answers, I wanted to feel closeness to Him, I wanted to know why I had to go through all that pain, and I wanted things to get better.
And You know what? God heard me, and He answered my prayers. He met me during that trip, especially during the special time we have with God alone, on the beach, where I got to cry, and yell at Him, and ask Him why He let me go through all that, and then let Him come to me and comfort me. To understand that His love for me was like the waves hitting the shores, over and over again, never stopping, an eternal motion. That He had a plan for me, and He loved me. 
He met me after that trip and continued to meet me throughout this entire year, and He's changed and taught me so much.
Sometimes I complain and cry about my life now, and wish things were better, but I shouldn't, not only because complaining is a sin, but also, when I look back and remember all He has done, and look back at the pictures and the journal entries I wrote, and everything He's done in my life, and repairing my relationship with Him, and growing me and disciplining me, and training me vigorously in godliness and holiness, showing me that He died for me and He loves me--that He is the Lord of everything and to be respected, feared and obeyed--I can only be overwhelmingly thankful. (A gigantic run-on sentence, I know. Bear with me friends, it's late, and I'm hungry!)

Now, fall is officially here, even though it still feels like the end of summer here, and God's been teaching me to die to myself and live for Him and for others, to pour myself out as a drink offering, and put my focus on loving, reaching out to, ministering to, evangelizing to, and encouraging others. 
So often I can be so self focused, and only think about my relationships with others in terms of what they are and aren't providing for me, but God's been reminding me and teaching me, and it's been AWESOME to see what He's been doing. 

And He's been blessing me all the way through it, through friends who call me in the middle of the night to help me with a speech when I posted online I was having trouble with it, to a hike in the woods where the beauty of the Florida woods just hits and warms my heart, He's constantly reminding me what a good God He is. 
And if you can believe it, I haven't even told you the half of what all He's been doing in my life! Hopefully those will be later posts :)

Be praying for me, and my walk, the blog vision, development, and execution/my ministry, and for the Beach Retreat this weekend, that I would yield myself and pour myself out to serve and love others, and that God would touch and speak to many hearts and lives this weekend--including mine!
I'll leave you with this passage: 

1 Corinthians 15:58


58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
I love you all, and will be writing soon!
--Ariana

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Called: To Seek and Obey

Hey all,
I just wanted to give you all a quick update on some things I've been thinking about, as well as making some declarative statements to myself about the future and what it holds. 
I think what's been happening is that I have so much to do, and so much looming before me, that I have yielded over and over again to the temptation to just not to do anything/.
I need to be creating the new blog, I need to be working on things for my services marketing class, I need to researching apartments and filling out job applications, I need to buy a new laptop, but what do I do?
I go to school or go to work, come home, eat, and then just veg, Watch YouTube videos for hours, scroll around on Pinterest, research things that aren't of any real importance. 
I don't know why my response to the conviction to do important things is just to slink into my old habits, and I've been noticing so much backsliding in myself that it's been driving me crazy.
Not only procrastination and putting off the things of God, but also the temptation to be vain and to be too focused on my looks is always there, whether its in a positive or a negative way. It could look like me researching what to do cure perpetually dry hair, checking out my dark circles in the mirror, or taking a selfie and thinking I look cute, I feel that old pendulum trying to swing back and forth inside of me and it's driving me crazy. 
Everything inside me longs to pour myself out to God and to others as a drink offering, a sacrifice of praise and service, yet the old flesh keeps rising up, telling me I can make it on my own, I should focus on myself, I deserve a few minutes of checking social media, my life is so hard, I deserve to complain and vent a little, that sins aren't such a big deal. 
That flesh, I want it dead, crucified, burned into a harmless pile of ashes, never again to bother me, to try to get me off track. 
I so often forget I'm living in a spiritual battle, that if my intention is to serve God and bring Him glory and tell others about Him, satan will never stop trying to get me off track or render me ineffective. 
Throughout this past year, I've noticed one of the biggest traps satan uses to keep me out of the game, to get me off track is just me. To keep me focused on me. To keep me looking in every mirror, trying to create the perfect wardrobe, messing with my hair, trying to perfect my skin, thinking about how others seeing me, trying to nourish and cultivate ME ME ME ME ME. 
First it was deep rooted insecurity and trying to become society's definition of perfection, and fighting against myself and the world tooth and claw to get there, the obvious kind of self absorption, then came the more hippie kind, where I "needed" to spend a ton of time listening to music, taking mysteriously cryptic photos of myself, properly "nourishing" my soul, and amassing a hipster wardrobe kind of self absorption that feeds on the philosophy, "You can't love others until you properly love yourself!" 
Then the year that appears in my memory to be swathed in darkness and shadows happened, and I don't really know what was happening inside of me then. I was in very many ways, just struggling to survive, trying to resurrect myself, convince myself without much success that my body and my mind and my heart weren't all just done. 
Jesus has done a lot of work since then, taking me at my word when I asked Him long ago to refine me in His fire and burn away my dross. I don't know why things happened the way they did, but they happened, and He has taught me a lot from it, things I don't ever want to forget. 
I want to have them tattooed on my arm, my forehead, anything to keep me from forgetting, backsliding, wasting what He brought me through, misusing the time He gave me. 
That's why I can't give the trap of me, and all the other distractions satan waves in front of my face on a daily basis keep me from every day going into God's presence and chasing after what He wants me to do. 

This isn't my photo, I got it from Pinterest, link here but the urgency of that verse, and the context of the story really stands out to me as I think about my own life and all the things I need to do, but don't do. This verse is a quote from the book of Esther in the Bible, when Esther, an unlikely queen of hidden Jewish heritage, is put in a position where her people, the Israelite's, are in danger of being wiped out. The quote above was spoken from Mordecai, Esther's uncle, to urge her to speak to her husband, King Xerxes, about saving the Israelites. In the end, his words and God's conviction led Esther to fast and pray, and then obey, ultimately playing a role in saving the nation of Israel from slaughter. 
Her story must have not made sense to her while it was happening, but God knew what He was doing when He placed her in King Xerxes' court, He had her there for a reason, He gave her a purpose, she just needed to seek guidance, than obey.
In a way, I am no different. No, I'm not a Jewish maiden so beautiful I was chosen to be queen, and I'll probably never do anything quite so dramatic as save an entire nation from slaughter, but God knows what He's doing in my life too.
He's given me purpose, He has things He wants me to accomplish in my life, He has a purpose for the little clay pot that is me. 
My role, like her's, like anyone who follows Christ, is to seek guidance and instruction, then obey. 
It's comforting and convicting. 
I know the first step is to connect with Him, which lately, has been harder than usual. 
I often feel like I can sort of understand what God wants me to do, and what direction to go in, but as far as Him, and how to connect with Him?
To me that's far more of a mystery, but of course that doesn't mean I shouldn't try. 



One of God's many promises is that when we call on His name and earnestly seek after Him, He will reveal Himself to us, so I guess I just need to rest in that promise, and try.

That's only a part of what's been on my mind lately, more will come later, as the pieces come together and I ask God for guidance and things get figured out. 
For now the plan is still to create another blog, as intimidating as that is, and to have a couple of main threads running on there, with the goal of sharing what God is teaching me, has taught me in the past. To give a more specific glimpse into into what I plan on writing about, a longtime goal of mine has been to create an online resource specifically for Christians who suffer from acne, to be a support and try to answer some of the questions I always had. I remember when my acne was beyond horrible, several times, trying to find a place online for Christians going through the same thing I was, trying to handle it all in a godly way but not knowing how, and just not knowing what to do and needing support, and not finding a single resource online that was helpful. That's what I want to be on my new blog, among many other things.
I also just really want to share the different things God is teaching me and putting on my heart, it seems like every time I read a scripture or hear a sermon, I just want to share and teach about it, as best I can, and SHARE how awesome God and His word and knowledge is! 
This is all just the rough draft forming in my mind, nobody take it as gospel fact, as I will be praying about it and asking for guidance, but if it is God's will, I'm hoping to get the new blog up in a month. 
Along with ALL of the other important things I need to get done.
Pray for me guys, it's a lot, and sometimes I feel like I have so much going on I'm coming undone, but then I need to remind myself--HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. 
I love you all, comment if you want to chat, or need prayer, or just want to comment on something I've said, I love reading them and replying, I honestly, honestly do. 
Many blessings,
Ariana 




Friday, March 20, 2015

He Makes All Things New

I promised I would be sharing more often, and here I am, and my goal is to share some of the things that have been going on in my heart and mind, to be vulnerable, helpful, and encouraging, and to bring a voice into the silence that this blog inhabits so often.
First of all, let me say that I have been struggling with a huge amount of fear/writer's block when it has come to this blog lately. I would sit in front of my computer and think "Okay Ari, you made a commitment to write more often, God is doing stuff in your life, you have stuff in your head that you could write about--so write!" But more often I would get no more than a paragraph in before giving in to my doubts and fears.
But, letting fear boss me around isn't a good norm for me or anyone to be in, so I decided that today, I would share. 
So what's been going on with me?
It's the middle of last semester as a Junior at UWF, so I've been trying (mostly) to do my best and head into my senior year well, having done my best and worked against this beast of procrastination in my life. So far it's been going pretty well, I've had some slip-ups and a disappointing test grade, but I have to remind myself that that's just further motivation to do my best to bring GOD glory through this semester.
And that leads to the what has been defining this time in my life, and what should be defining all of my life, who I am and what I do, which is seeking after God, meditating in His word, and actually doing what He tells me to do, and orienting my whole life around bringing Him glory. 
In late February God made the way for me to go to a weekend conference with my college ministry, and there, along with conviction of give up social media, had led to deeper and deeper conviction that God needs to be at the center of my life, and for that to be something I actually live instead of just say. 
To read the Word, to live every moment asking myself, "Is this action, this word, this thought, this motive glorifying to God? Am I bringing HIM glory and honor and recognition through my life?"
One of the worst habits I have gotten into is to have an attitude of a combination between self pity and a wrong view of God. Too often I catch myself thinking, "Why am I here? Why did you make me? Why me? Why am I like this? Who are you, God? Can you really be good, and how can you be good if my life doesn't turn out the way I want it to? "
I marginalize God and think of Him as little and weak, unable or unwilling to solve my problems, and more than that I put my own dreams, plans, and comfort above God's glory. First of all--my life is not as bad as I  often think it is, as I drag my mind once more through a slog of self pity, Jesus has blessed me in so many ways, so not only am I guilty of accusing God, I am guilty of not being thankful for what He has given me.
Sure some things may not be the way I want them to be, and I'm confused about some things, but I have a pretty healthy, functioning body, I have two parents that love me and support me, and so often go out of their way for me, not only to help me increase my walk with Christ, but also just to help me in general, I have been given so many opportunities throughout my life, I have a car, I have two jobs, I was able to move out and now I'm in a little apartment, albeit with it's faults, but with a low rent, quiet neighbors, and surrounded by trees. 
That is so much to be thankful for me, and that most of that stuff doesn't even matter eternally. 
Once more I find myself to be foolish, rebellious, self indulgent and self pitying, forgetting who God is, what He can do, and what He has already done. 
The fact that He has done many things in my life is pretty awesome, but that shouldn't be why I worship Him, why I seek after Him, why I read the word or pray. I should be doing all those things because He Is who He Is. He is the God that has always existed and will always exist, who created everything and creating new things every day, who has the power to forgive our sins, to change and renew our lives, and loves us despite the fact that our best attempt at a good deed is at best a filth-covered rag. He Is Holy, He Is Good, He Is Love, He Is Just, He Is Faithful--He is the very definition of those words and the only reason we can have any kind of a concept of those attributes is because He exists.  
I keep just seeing the faults in the present, keep looking to future wondering how it's going to turn out, when I should be looking up, to Him, and looking for, expecting, glorifying Him in my life. 
To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what that process completely looks like yet, but I'm trusting my Heavenly Dad to show me. 
I will be the first person to tell you I DO NOT have this life/Christianity stuff figured out. In a lot of ways, I'm kind of a mess, but I'm God's mess and I know He can figure it all out. 
I would ask you all to pray for me, there is a lot about me that still needs to change, a lot that confuses me, a lot I'm not sure, and terrified of being wrong about. 
And just know, that if you ever have something you're going through, if something I write about resonates  with you, or if you're just going through a tough time, leave me a comment and I promise I will lift you up in prayer, and if the Lord gives me the words to say, try to help or encourage you in any way I can. 
Thank you all for reading and for bearing with me through all these times, I know I haven't been the most consistent blogger, but God's working on me. 
I love you all, and I promise, God loves you so much more!
Ariana 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Uncovered: Into the Light

On this blog, I usually like to project positivity. Not to be fake, and not to pretend like I don't struggle, but to write encouraging material that will lift someone up instead of bring them down,  and because I believe that in the Christian life, one should be an optimist, and retain and project hope to others.
However, that combined with many other factors led to me only having three posts in the year 2014. The lack of posting is not connected to a lack of writing, I have about six posts sitting in my drafts section, some finished, some unfinished, all unpublished, and I couldn't really tell you why other than I didn't feel 100% about posting them.
However, lately, I've been writing all the time, journalling in almost all of my free time, trying to make sense of everything that is going on in my heart, head, and faith and I still can't seem to make heads or tails of it all, yet I still feel this pull on my heart to share it all with others, with you. I often refrained from posting my struggles because I didn't want to cause anyone else to feel burdened or to struggle, and I didn't want to show my weakness and inability on a blog where I'm supposed to be helping and encouraging others.
However, it's almost six in the morning, and I've been up since three. Yesterday evening I felt so restless and confused, unsettled and trapped, that I did as I sometimes do, get in my car, in the middle of the night, and just talk and cry so hard I can barely see the road, and drive, drive out to the middle of nowhere and park, and talk and cry and pray and try to make sense of everything. My head is so full of thoughts, questions and doubts that don't seem to go away, and sometimes the enemy attacks me so hard that I don't know how to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Even as I write this, I am full of doubts as to whether or not I should post this, because as I express my struggles and my doubts, I am reminded of truth, that I should be hopeful, plus I don't want to be one of those people that writes about their struggles so others will feel sorry for them or take notice. I'm also worried that through writing out my doubts and expressing them, they'll be even harder to get rid of.
Not that it's all bad, my spiritual, emotional, and even physical state has improved a lot since this time last year, and some days I am okay, even good, even happy, and its easier to be positive and think hopefully.
But other days are a lot like today, where everything about my faith is so confusing, and I'm carrying around so much baggage and hurt that I won't let myself let go of because I don't want to be hurt again, and just the physical act of writing it out and sharing it with you guys not only reminds me of the truth, but is also just cathartic in general. Plus even though I'm a blogger, and I want to be helpful and encouraging to you, and, Lord willing, be a conduit of God's spirit and truth, I also want to be real with you guys, because there's so much going on behind the scenes that you guys don't see.
And I've been struggling so much, guys.
With my relationship with God, wondering if I can even know Him, whether or not what I hear in my head is really from Him, what on earth is He doing with my life, why this year happened the way it did, how I'll ever be able to have the same relationship with Him like I did before.
In my personal life, feeling an inability to be close to people, often feeling invisible and unwanted, despite how much I know those feelings aren't true, that I am loved by many people, the enemy really targets me in that area.
Feeling too broken to be repaired, despite the fact that I know God can make all things new.
With the fear that tries to bind me in on every side, of being hurt, of hurting others, of being duped, of doing something wrong, going down the wrong path, not walking in my calling, of not ever recovering, of being depressed forever.
With a heaviness, sadness, and loneliness that so rarely leaves.
With feeling confused by the various ways of living the Christian life, how can I ever know the truth if everyone has a different way of interpreting things? I don't want to be just content with my own interpretations and what "works" for me, I want to know and follow the truth.
With my inability to rest or feel at peace, because I'm afraid to give everything to God again.

As you guys can see, I'm a mess. But I really feel like a part of my calling is communication, and even though I've barely posted at all this year, and what I'm posting right now certainly isn't a masterpiece, I don't want to hide this from you guys, and I want to work through it, while being an encouragement to you guys. Maybe someone else is struggling with some of the same  things I am, and maybe it would help them to know they aren't alone. Regardless, I'm sharing this with you guys, letting you in on my life and journey, because I value you guys, and I feel it will help both others and me.
I love you guys, those who still read me, even after a sparse year like this one, Thank you, that really means a lot to me, and I pray that as I share myself with you guys that God will not only be working in my life, healing and growing me, but also will be working in your lives as well.
I can't, we can't give up because He IS.
I know this is a rambling, somewhat confusing post, bear in mind that I've had around three to four hours of sleep, but though it may be poorly written and confusing, this post is being published because I'm tired of being silent, and I pray that God makes these words I tiredly type out into something that may bring Him even a little glory.
This is me right now guys.
Sorry it took me so long to show you.
Ari

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Metamorphasis/Assurance/Hope/Joy


Hey guys.
It's been a long time. 
A lot has happened, but that'll happen in four months.
I almost feel like I should be reintroducing myself, because it's true that every year you get older, you learn more, you have experience both that try to build you up and try to break you.
I'm twenty.
Writing it out makes it seem like such a landmark, and every year I change so much, I look at past pictures and it's almost like looking at a different person, because in so many ways, I was a different person. Every year I become a different person. 
My face changing always surprises me. This year, a little rounder, slightly different structure, my hair a little longer, more scars, but somehow, I don't mind.
It's hard to describe a period of transition when you're in it I think. When the dust is sort of settling, and there's hope in your heart despite of everything, because the future doesn't look bleak anymore.
I can look beyond today with hope.
Three months ago, that was all but stamped out.


Although I can't go into extreme detail right now, this past fall and winter and spring have been a time of pretty serious upheaval for me, causing me to question a lot of things I once relied on, and to really examine myself and what I believed and what I would ascribe to. Now before everyone goes and thinks that I've decided not to be a christian anymore--nothing could be farther from the truth. I love God, and without Him my life wouldn't have any meaning. But throughout the past six months I've run into some very serious spiritual questions which shook me to my foundations and nearly broke me. Honestly, I'm still working through some of them. Questions like: Why do we have to suffer in order for God to refine us? Can I really trust that my voice in my head that I could always trust as God's voice? Does God really have my best interests at heart? If so, why is all this happening to me? Why would He lead me into this blackness with seemingly no end in sight? Am I doing something wrong? Why won't God heal me? Healing happens instantaneously in the Bible, why isn't it happening to me? Do I just need to be patient like Job? Why is He letting me hurt this much?
I'm not saying every question is right or justified, but that's what I was feeling. Looking back, I still don't understand it all, but I know God never turned his back on me, the times that we weren't communicating were because I turned my back on Him, I was so hurt and angry that I didn't want to hear His voice. He was always reaching out with love, but I felt like He was a scam artist, promising happiness and giving me a broken heart. 
Although I have had times of reconciliation with God, and I no longer feel that I've lost my best Friend, I'm not quite the same person spiritually as I was before. My biggest prayer is to find a middle ground, to be confident in my spirit in knowing that what I believe is true and that God is good and He loves me and has a wonderful purpose for my life, and feel that same joy that makes me jump and dance and shout and cry in worship and adoration, and at the same time be so rooted and grounded in the Word. 
I know nothing is impossible with God, and I know I'm my biggest impediment to freedom and joy 90% of the time. But please just pray for me, all you out there. 
When I look at my life through unbiased eyes I realize that everything has a purpose, and most of the pressure I'm feeling right now is coming from myself, and He does His best to relieve my burdens even though I so often try to take them back again. 
He is my Beloved, and everything has a purpose, He made the highest heavens, and He has a plan for me, Oh my soul, what stops you from being joyful at the knowledge of this truth that surpasses all ages, that He died for me so that I can commune with Him and spend all eternity with Him, starting now?


I can get so caught up in my worries and my fears that I forget to give things to God, I got kind of out of the habit of doing that this fall, but I want to kick start my joy and faith and love in Him once more, and make my love relationship with Him the only thing I think about as I become one day further into eternity everyday. 

But I'm officially not in the teens anymore, I'm my toe into my twenties, which is so strange to think about, but at the same time it's exhilarating. That uprising, swelling feeling of hope is starting to birth in my heart again, that the future is big and wide and colorful, and the world waits to be explored and I want to explore it. I want to explore this earth God has given us, and all it has to offer, and I want to serve God while doing it, and drink in every second and not take for granted one moment. That's all I know right now.

The best way I can describe it all is that I'm growing and changing, and it isn't a necessarily pleasant process, like being wrapped up in a cocoon isn't really pleasant, but I must by joyful in my growth for without joy, hope, and faith in the Lord, what is this life but dust in my mouth? 
I've given excuses for my lack of joy for too long, I'm too stressed, I can't trust, I can't be happy unless everything is resolved, my life is going the way I thought it would---all that doesn't change the fact that I must chase after joy and all the fruits of the spirit, I must run after the Lord with all my heart, only to realize that He's closer than I every could have dreamed, and He loves me more than I every could have dared to hope or imagine. 

I'm not saying I know what to do in every situation, or even how to proceed right now. But there is reason to worship, there is reason to pray, there is reason to drink in the Word, there is reason to Hope because we are not alone in this existence, and even though it often seems so improbable, there's a God out there who cares more about us than pretty much anything. 
That's reason for joy. That's reason for hope. 


I preach to myself as I write, for even as I do, the doubts rise, memories flash before my eyes, my brain whirs, trying to steal my joy, take away my faith, because the enemy knows where to hit me. But he can't change that God has changed me. He can't change that God loves me. 
Doubts rise higher and I try to keep my head above water, how much longer before I trust Him to hold me up again? Hopefully right now, hopefully tomorrow.
I am in a cocoon and you are too. 
We aren't DONE. 
Isn't that marvelous? We'll never be done, because our lives are hidden with Christ on high. We must continuously ask for our minds to be renewed, for Him to continue completing the good work He began within us, for Him to make perfect those who are being made holy.
Doesn't the Word just fill up a hole inside of you? That thirst inside you, gasping for truth?
My Dad says this benediction sometimes before church ends, and it fills me with such a warmth and security every time I hear it, and so now, as this post comes to a close, I pray this over myself and you, dear reader.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! 
Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-20

Doesn't that just fill you with His peace and assurance? That His love surpasses knowledge, and He will strengthen us with power through His spirit? That He can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine?

But anyways :) Thank you for reading this post, thank you for caring about my life, and whether I know you or not, I pray that God just showers revelations of His love upon you.
I'm not done and neither are you.
But thankfully, we can go through this journey of life together, looking upward towards the Father.

All God's love,
Ariana




Thursday, January 2, 2014

One


2013 was like a roller coaster, that built up and up and up and then, without warning, hung over the edge for a second, and then plummeted, narrowly carrying me with it. I can't say that I accomplished everything I wanted to, but I'm learning. I had the best semester I ever had, and I had the worst semester I ever had. I had unrestrained joy and sorrow so thick that it nearly took me under, I had times of close intimacy with God and times where I was so angry with Him that I didn't want to pray. Times where I was surrounded by friends and a times where I almost completely isolated myself. Times when I cried and danced for joy, and times when my heart was utterly broken. I was content being single, and then adjusted to being in a godly relationship with an awesome guy. I did the right thing sometimes, and other times I did the wrong deliberately. 
So this year's New Year's post is going to be a little different. Most new year's posts involve hopes of big accomplishments--"I'm going to learn to play the ukulele! I'm going to stop eating chocolate! I'm going to lose 50 lbs! I'm going to learn a new language!" Most people make these resolutions in hopes of DOING more, of becoming a better person, but this year, I don't need more accomplishments, I need to take who I am, and where I am, reflect, heal, move on, and grow. Instead of being Martha who was so concerned with the things she was doing, and the details of her tasks and goals and to-do lists that she lost sight of the One thing that should matter, the only thing we should live for, and that is sitting at Jesus' feet, worshiping Him and soaking in His presence, and learning from Him, always learning and growing.  
My hopes for this 2014 are a little different.
I will have One goal, to repair my relationship with Jesus, to bring my broken heart to Him and move forward.
I hope to heal and grow.
I hope to conquer the fears holding me back.
I hope not to get back to where I used to be, but to move on to someplace better, to find a place in my faith where I have hope in peace that moves with me as I grow.
I hope to take nothing for granted, to give thanks for everything, and to pray every day, no matter how low I feel. 
I hope to walk in the anointing and calling Christ has given me, to not undermine myself or think of myself as lesser, but to take opportunities and live unashamed.
I hope to give more of myself to other people, to not let any insecurity hold me back from loving people, taking risks and dreaming dreams, being bold, saying yes more but still feeling secure saying no, trying new things and letting go.

I don't want a year obsessed with changing myself and image, I want a year where no matter what I'm doing, I can feel the presence of Jesus with me, and I can feel his peace within me. I want a year of no matter where I go, or how I grow, or how i stumble and fall, that I make being with Him the most important thing in my life, because in the end, what else matters?
2013 wasn't the perfect year. 2014 year isn't going to be a perfect year. But as long as I have Jesus, it's worth it, and it'll be good.
And to all of you who have stood beside me in some of my darkest hours, my family, my awesome boyfriend Zach, my girlfriends, I can't thank you enough. When I felt like giving up you guys kept me from going under, kept me from giving up on hope and faith, and didn't let me just sink. You fought for me, you prayed for me, you guys helped bring the joy that I had in 2013, and you lessened the sadness that I had. Thank you for loving me, praying for me, and never giving up on me. 
Here's to a new year.
2014.
It's going to be a good one.

Always,
Ariana





Monday, December 3, 2012

Constant Battle


Somehow, no matter what I go through, it's still easy to make God small in my mind.  To compartmentalize Him, place Him in the Bible study box, in the church and campus group box, and forget that He wants to permeate my whole life, be yeast that makes me rise, wine that ferments, bringing me deeper, drawing me away from pollutions that so try to infect my soul.
I know my vices. I am often quick to self criticize, and although God has given me a lot of freedom in that area, it's still hard for me not to focus on my faults, let them consume me in a downward spiral.
Because of that downward spiral, I often drown my thoughts in media, let Pinterest and Netflix drown out my nagging thoughts, the fact that I KNOW I should be doing better, I shouldn't let my appearance get me down.
My mind shouts at me.
"Ari WHY are you worried about your skin, your weight? It's not important! It's dragging you down, making you self focused, making you selfish, getting you off track!"
"Why is this even a struggle for you Ari? Why are you so different from everyone else? No one else struggles with acne like you do, you should be ashamed."
"How long? How long am I going to try and try and never feel like I'm getting anywhere? Stop hoping, it always just lets you down, a quick rise and sickening plummet."
"Ari! Did DTS even DO anything for you? You should know better than to waste your time like that, selfish girl! Wake up and live for the Lord!"
"If you were REALLY passionate for the Lord, you wouldn't let things like this get you down, how long have you battled this? You're never going to be able to hold onto freedom OR  close relationship with the Lord. Might as well just give up."

All these voices, in my head twenty-four seven. It's so hard to separate truth from identity, but I know I should be doing more, so I make promises, which I always seem to breaking. I want to have a good quiet time, but the call to drown everything in TV or Facebook seems to be louder. God is my Protector, and I know God has made me stronger than I was, I am not hopeless, not unless I lose hope, don't daily remind myself that my identity comes FROM HIM, and because of Him, I am BEAUTIFUL.
The daily battle. Reading the word, knowing what is right, then through God's love, APPLYING it to my daily life, changing the thoughts in my mind, changing the attitude of my heart.

Romans 7:14-25For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!


Paul's cry is my own. A desperate cry to the heavens, "GOD, I can't do this on my own! I know I don't have to, but yet I try, I know You offer out your hand, but somehow I always push Your help away, try to figure it all out on my own, and it never works! I want to LIVE in You, not just breathe to death, because when it comes right down to it, at the end of the day, when the pleasures I indulge in leave me, like ashes crumbling in the wind, I am left barren, naked, yet I KNOW You are offering shelter, covering, why is it so hard for me to just come to You, just come to the life You freely offer,  why is this always a battle, a war, I can't let down my guard for one second, yet You offer strength, I am weak, I have no excuse, God help me come to You, You are my only answer, why can't I just come to You first? Deliver me from this body of death!!"

I listen to Lecrae in the darkness, lit only by the white glow of my laptop screen, and the words flow out raw, the wounds of my heart bleeding all over the page. Everywhere I turn, the voices are different, conflicting, confusing, condemning, guilt oozes, green and acid burning, my heart recoils, I want to retreat away from the world, shut myself away, try to stop the hurling shouts, ricocheting off the walls of my own mind, but they never leave,  and yet, as I do gut wrenching battle, tears falling, taking steps forward and steps back, one voice, a slip and shimmer of white, penetrates the dark and guilty mire of confused chaos--

"You are a SAINT, my DAUGHTER, my BRIDE. You are not beaten, for I am your strength, these trials these times, you were created for such times as these, walk bravely My child, and rely on Me, Oh my child, come to Me, Oh My love, do not resist Me, let Me strengthen you, embolden you. I know you are sorry from your heart's core, but repentance is turning away, walking rightly, looking to My voice, My face, My love, and not looking away. You have the Almighty, Everlasting, Alpha and Omega YAHWEH within you, YOU ARE NOT BEATEN. For when I AM is within you, WHO can be against you?"

He roars like a Lion, the Warrior King, Raw Power, Lightning Flashing, Pure Adrenaline, Strength unlike anything anyone has EVER seen, within me.
I leave forgiven, redeemed, reminded, and determined.
Bondservant of Christ.
Highest title, I am proud to bear.

One more battle won. Transformation begins once again.