Suffering? Rejoice!

Spring could not have come at a more convenient time! It's been a rough few weeks and a vacation is exactly what I need! On Saturday, I had a wonderful bridal shower, my Grandmother came down and I was able to spend some time with her and I get to sleep in my old room! Plus, it's only Sunday! I still have the rest of the week! The plan for this week: wedding, wedding, wedding! My mom and I are hoping to get the rest of my wedding checklist completed!

But, for now, I can relax.

It's Sunday. The day of rest. I'm curled on the couch, p.j.'s on, and a sweet puppy laying at my feet. 

I'm blessed to come home to such an amazing Sunday school class. My mentor, Kami, and her husband, Alfred, are the leaders. Just being with them anywhere does my heart good! They've both seen me grow up since I was 16...mentally, physically, and spiritually. Kamera has helped mold me to be the woman I am today. I couldn't imagine my life without her!

Anyway, today's lesson was...God designed. He's so good at that, eh? 
We started talking about what the Bible has to say about suffering.

The passage we explored was 1 Peter 4:12-19.

(NIV Translation)
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trail you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 

For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 

And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

(The Message Translation)
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

If you are abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It's the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. If they're on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that's a different matter. But if it's because you're a Christian, don't give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!

It's judgment time in God's own family. We're first in line. If it starts with us, think what it's going to be like for those who refuse God's Message! If good people barely make it, what's in store for the bad?

So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what He's doing, and he'll keep on doing it.

When we suffer, we're more like Christ than ever before.


The answer is easy...

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 
and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," 
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise, 
for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

I've nick-named this Psalm as "Lauren's Psalm." I honestly believe David and I had more in common then our love for dancing. This past month has been tough for me. I've had many struggles. Emotional, physical, and spiritual. All this struggling has left me questioning, just like David in the beginning of this chapter. I've been struck down with circumstance after circumstance over and over, with no relenting. 

When I read "Lauren's Psalm" I picture me crawling into God's lap and venting. Letting everything out. Crying, screaming, questioning. So angry at the world. So unsatisfied with my life.

He lets me. He lets me unwind and blame things on Him that He doesn't deserve. He lets me get His robe wet with my tears. Then, He just pulls me in tighter and says "Are you done?" 

That's when the last part of this chapter gets me. When I feel like there is no more comfort to be found, He's there. I will trust when I can't even find the strength. Why? Because of His unfailing love for me. I will rejoice in my suffering. Why? Because He suffered for my salvation. I will sing when I don't even have the words. Why? Because He has done nothing but good for me. 

He deserves all of my trust, rejoicing, and singing no matter what I've gone through.

I'm not perfect. I'm not okay. I've still got many questions in my life. But, I know who holds the answer. I know who can calm my fears. All it takes is a choice from me to seek Him. That's my answer! Seek Him! It's such a simple answer...yet the hardest action.


"First comes love, then comes marriage..."

Facebook asks me "what's on my mind" every time I log on. The answer: weddings. Not that I'm complaining. I'd much rather have weddings on my mind than spiders, or drowning, or fighting an octopus. (That last one came from a story my seventh and eighth graders read.) Talk about scary.

So, I'm perfectly content on thinking about weddings. But, not just any wedding. No, no, no. 

My wedding.
(I suppose Brandon has a part in it...so, OUR wedding.)

We met this weekend with our photographer. She is a super sweet person and we feel she is the one! She's a lawyer by trade and does photography on the side. How cool is that? I'm so impressed with her work and can FINALLY cross that off my list! Another thing to cross off is the groomsmen's tuxes. Brandon got fitted for his and I picked out all the outfits. 

So, here is the new and updated wedding list:

Parent's Approval
Bridesmaid Outfit
Groomsmen Outfit
Pre-Maritial Counseling
Ceremony Decor
Reception Decor
Reception Food
Vows (semi-crossed off...we're writing our own.)

That's what's left! I'm sure there will be little things popping out to add to my stress, but I'm so excited for June 11, I can handle anything! 

The decorations for both the ceremony and reception are the main things that are clogging my brain. I've found SO many ideas and I can't seem to put them all together!

I have quite a collection of little items I like...enjoy!

I love everything about this! The dresser, the pendants, the books, pictures, etc. It's perfect to place the guest vase!

I love the hanging paper lanterns. Our colors would be black, white, and light yellow.

I don't see the need for covering the WHOLE chair, so an alternative is tying some fabric like this! Since we're having an afternoon wedding, the reception will be an ice cream/ dessert bar which means two things: 1) Short reception and 2) No need for everyone to be sitting down at once which means less chairs! (We'll have other things for the guests to be doing instead of sitting down.)

I'd love to find some old windows and add some "umph" to them!

For the centerpieces: books, bottles, candles, frames, etc.

I have a collection of glass bottles that I want to fill with sand and place some flowers or candles in!

Instead of a traditional guest book, I'm going to have tons of river stones, permanent markers, and a vase. I saw this idea a few years back and fell in love! 

My bridesmaids are wearing their own black, above the knee, strapless dresses. I'm having these necklaces made for them all to wear!

A cute sign to hang around the dessert tables. I'm thinking of painting on some old wood...

I love this idea of a "family" tree. It can be filled with pictures of Brandon and me, our families, past weddings, or family members who could not make it.

Ladders? At a wedding? Absolutely! I fell in love with the look of this. With some plants and draping yellow fabric...love!

I love umbrellas and parasols. I want to incorporate them somehow!

My bridesmaids will be carrying pomanders (aka ball of flowers) instead of a bouquet of flowers. I'd like to have yellow spider mums and a big black ribbon.

So, as you can probably tell, my head is full! I have so many fun ideas that setting them in stone seems impossible! Add in a photo booth "box" and my plate is officially full! 

But, knowing that on June 11, 2011 I am marrying my best friend, puts all of my stress at ease. He is worth so much more than little details. I know it's going to be beautiful, simply because that'll be the day my name changes to his.