God Heard Me: An Answer to Prayer

Psalm 66-19-20

First off, I’d like to start off this blog post by saying I am doing better than I was last week. This past week has still been difficult, but it has improved. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

I would appreciate continued prayers as I slowly deal with the root of my troubled heart I mentioned last week. Truthfully, it will take a handful of counseling sessions and deep prayer with God to deal with it all.

Nevertheless, like I said, I come to you this week a little better. I am still struggling with different areas of my life.

Honestly, I started this week truly wondering if I was going to find the time to write a blog post. This week of school is probably one of the busiest, if not the busiest, I’ve ever had. Usually, in my eight-week courses, week 4—the halfway point—is the busiest. Yet, in this course, it is week 3, which is where you find me.

I started this week sinking into a pile of quicksand built by the foundation of gobs of reading material. However, I asked the people closest to me to pray for me this week. Usually, I don’t ask others to pray for me—at least not earnestly. But, this time around, I did.

Walking into this week, I knew the only person who would get me through was God. Therefore, I was not ashamed or hesitant to have a group of believers covering me in prayers. I asked for them to pray for the root of my troubled heart and that I would be able to get through a hectic school week.

Praise Jesus! He answered my prayers. I felt the answer to prayer probably more so than I have ever felt before. Even more so than being at peace with a big life decision. As I’ve shared before, in my personal walk and relationship with God, more often than not, He proves His faithfulness—in both answered and unanswered prayers—in the smallest of ways and moments.

He proves His majesty and supreme control of the entire universe in the details and in the climatic event.

He proves His majesty and supreme control of the entire universe with a grain of sand and a tidal wave.

Therefore, I know it was an answer to prayers that allowed me to have the strength to read one of my five chapters on Monday evening. And that was after the busiest day of my work week! I knew it was God who gave me the wisdom to know what notes to take.

I knew it was God who gave me the energy to continue to read yesterday even though I did not feel well. Most importantly, it was God who gave me peace as I answered two discussion prompts that I thought would be extremely time-consuming and difficult.

God was, is, and always will be with me. He was with me to complete the first batch of assignments due this week. He will continue to be with me in my second batch of assignments, even amid a busy weekend ahead.

I say it again: God was, is, and always will be with me…and you!

Also, I think He is using the busiest school week to remind me a lesson I learned nearly two years ago, faithful and true: God will carry me through. He will carry me through my school load. And He will carry me through the troubles of my heart. In the process, He will cast out the fears and doubts of my heart.

This, I know: I may not be a perfect follower of Jesus, but I do have a perfect, unfailing God.

So, I remind you and myself: Prayer works. Sincere, earnest prayer works. And it is because of this truth I do, indeed, write with joy and passion this week.

Thank you, dear friends. Thank you for walking this journey with me.





Troubles of My Heart: Seeking Peace

Psalm 25-17I know I am back in school when I have to write and publish a blog post on the same day. It is challenging to write a post when I have an idea and want to write. It is even more challenging when I don’t want to write.

I find myself there right now. I don’t want to write.

In fact, I have an idea for a post. I thought I convinced myself I would write about it, too! But alas, I can’t do it. It wouldn’t be right or honest in my life at the moment. It is very difficult for me to write about one happy, cheery topic with a heavy heart.

I’d rather tell you I am struggling than make you think I am a stranger to struggle, pride, and fear.

Honestly, all I want to do right now is sleep. I just want to close my eyes and separate myself from the chaos in my life. This week has been a particularly challenging one.

Today, I was more depressed than I have ever been before. Or, at least it felt like it. To tell you the truth, I somewhat know the root of it all. But, not entirely. I hate that. I hate it when I cannot precisely pinpoint what is bothering me.

The biggest reason why I don’t like it, though, is it means I have to deal with some difficult situation or emotion. My body and mind are notorious for practically shutting down when it is time to deal with situations.

Usually, when I deal with difficult situations, I am constantly reminded that there is sin in this world. As I grow closer to God, my heart hurts more and more for that sin. I am terribly pained by sin—my own and others.

I am reminded that we constantly fall short. Even the kindest people in the world sin. Even the kindest people are just as sinful as the most malicious.

I sit here knowing I am going to have to deal with the root of one of my biggest bouts of depression ever. I must deal with it. I ought to deal with it.

But, I don’t want to deal with it.

Perhaps, that is why my heart and mind are so tired and anguished. Perhaps, that is my body’s way of saying, “It is time, Renata. You need to deal with this. You need to pray about it. You need to seek the Lord’s counsel. You need to humble yourself.”

This week, I merely ask you to pray for me. I pray for the Lord’s healing in my heart. I pray that He may relieve my anguished heart

I pray that He may open my heart to what He is trying to teach me in this extremely exhausting week. I pray that I may die to self to know Him more intimately.

I pray for Him to rejuvenate and renew my soul. I pray that I may find joy and peace in Him, regardless of my life circumstances.

I hope to write with passion and joy next week. Today, I write with a heavy heart longing for God’s ever-present peace to wash over me.

Regardless, I sincerely hope and pray you all are well.  I pray that God would protect, guide, and love you in whatever season you are in. Please, let me know if there is any way I can be praying for you in this week ahead.

You are not alone, dear brothers and sisters, whether you be experiencing joy or sorrow. You are not alone.



My Kind of Adventure: Trying New Foods

curiousity-quote-walt-disneyI wouldn’t consider myself an adventurous person. I am not an adrenaline junky. But, I would say I am curious. I am a risk taker.

Let me explain.

I know myself well enough to know my likes and dislikes for the most part. However, I know I could always be wrong. Generally speaking, I believe in the benefit of the doubt.

That benefit of the doubt is what motivates and encourages me to try something at least once before making a final decision, before committing to a choice.

I use this mentality in several areas of my life. However, the area I use it in most is with food, as I’ve touched on before.

It is that same benefit of the doubt that convinced me to try sushi for the first time a couple weeks ago. The consensus? I LOVED it. I am a believer in sushi!

In fact, I found myself craving the leftover sushi we had. I wanted to have more sushi. Honestly, I am not surprised by the result simply because of how I go about making said decisions.

I believe in authenticity throughout every portion of my life.

As a result, I always vouch to try something in its most authentic form. I couldn’t comfortably make an opinion on sushi from a Podunk Chinese buffet. It just didn’t feel right or fair to myself or the sushi!

Therefore, I chose the most-acclaimed, genuine sushi place in town. I also invited a couple I know who spent some time in Japan to come along with me and my husband. They helped us go outside of our comfort zone. We got to try a smorgasbord of options, giving us a little taste of everything.

In my limited options, I think I got to try the closest thing to going directly to Japan. However, I do have plans to try sushi anytime I am near the coast. I can only imagine how much better it will taste. I guess I’ll have to wait and see!

Regardless, I am glad I did it. I am glad my curiosity resulted in finding a new food I love! However, I also would’ve been okay if I did find out I did not like sushi. No matter the outcome, I can be at peace knowing I tried something in its truest form.

Nonetheless, it’s absolutely wonderful to know if my husband and I were craving something a little different, sushi is now an option.

I think life is too short to not try something at least once. I have had people compliment me on my willingness to take the plunge of affirming my opinion or surprising myself. More often than not, I prove myself wrong.

The next items on my list are ramen, vegan food, and pad Thai.

I’d love to hear what foods you all love that you didn’t think you’d like! I am completely open to seeing my list of items grow. Like I said, life is too short not to.



A Tradition of Mine: Thrift Shopping

Thrifty quote - Andra DayEvery school break, I always make a list of things I’d like to accomplish. Some items on this list never get done.

For instance, while I am in school, I always tell myself I ought to take the time during a break to make a mass list of every reference I’ve ever used in my courses, so I don’t have to continually search hundreds of documents.

Like clockwork, I never manage to tackle that feat. A month goes by and it just conveniently does not happen. Since it’s school related, it’s the last thing I’d choose to do on my break. So, it’s usually the one item on my list that just doesn’t get done.

On the flip side, without fail, some items are on the list every single break. And, they are accomplished. For instance, I almost always make a run to Goodwill, especially after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Therefore, you can believe I went this past week. I couldn’t resist. It is almost like my break is incomplete without it.

It is at this point I say this blog post is not for everyone, and I am more than okay with that. In fact, a fellow blogger and I once bonded on this exact notion. Not every post or form of content is for everyone, nor does every post have to be the best piece of writing either. Back to it then.

Guys, I am a sucker for Goodwill and thrift shopping in general. I wouldn’t say I am an expert at it. But, I do love it. In fact, I enjoy thrifting more than I do regular clothes shopping!

I’ve shopped at several thrift stores in different cities. Goodwill always seems to be the best option. I’ve found others don’t tend to be as organized or offer as good of a selection. Perhaps, it is just because of where I live. Regardless, my preference for Goodwill does not stop me from giving other thrift stores a chance.

I think my attraction to thrift shopping lies in my desire to not pay full price for something unless I absolutely have no other option, due to size, quality, or time constraints. I’ll wait months to find the perfect item if it means I don’t have to pay an outrageous price for it.

Usually, if I know I need something, I’ll look at a couple Goodwill locations. If I can’t find what I need there, and I really need it, I’ll go ahead and get it at a regular retail store. Nevertheless, I will still look in the clearance rack first.

I mean, for goodness sakes, I found my wedding dress at a local mom and pop bridal shop for less than $100. My accessories were more expensive than the dress!

I’ve learned it’s all about simply being patient with oneself and the options.

For instance, some trips—like the one I took last week—are extremely successful and I find a lot of great stuff for a fraction of the price. Other times, I find hardly anything. Or, some trips, I find exactly what I am looking for. Others, I leave with items I did not think I’d get but I ended up loving.

You can’t walk in there with rigid expectations. Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.

Regardless of what I find, I have one major rule that I follow with thrifting—I must rid of an item in my closet for every thrift store find. They don’t have to be similar pieces—i.e. a shirt for a shirt.  But, the replenished amount does have to be the same or higher than what I brought home.

Doing so is not as difficult for me as it may be for others. I always tend to have a mental list of items I’d be okay with parting from. Plus, doing so forces me to not have too much unnecessary clutter in my wardrobe.

Also, I know myself well enough to know when I am done looking. For instance, I probably could’ve stayed longer and potentially found more goodies the last time I went, but I wasn’t interested.

I know when my appreciation for the adventure of thrift shopping ends. I know when enough is enough. Knowing that limit is what encourages me to keep coming back a least a couple times a year.

For a lot of people, it can be a bit overwhelming. I do agree, it can be. However, I have figured out if I go with a list of things I’d like to get, it is not as overwhelming. Plus, it forces me to take a good, hard look in my closet.

For example, there are few items that almost always make my list: plain, casual tees, sweaters, and jeans.

I know some people may not like the idea of buying jeans from a thrift shop, but I have no problem with it. Most of the jeans in retail stores are hardly ever in my size. Or, if they are, they have to be hemmed.

Plus, I don’t wear jeans often since I work in a business office. Therefore, I am okay with spending less money on a pair that already has some wear and tear in them. I won’t wear them enough to notice a difference.

My husband, on the other hand, must spend decent money on a quality pair because he wears jeans nearly every single day. On a similar note, because I work in a business office, I am willing to spend decent money on a quality pair of slacks. In my current season of life, I will wear them enough to make it worth it for me.

To me, it is all about practicality, use, and price.

Don’t get me wrong, I observe the condition of an item, regardless of the brand, price, or how much I love it or need it.

It’s a fact of life: Some people take better care of their clothing than others. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just something to make note of when thrifting.

Nevertheless, I will say my least favorite part of thrifting is falling in love with an item that ends up not fitting well.

My most vivid memory of this was when I found a brand new, unworn Maurice’s light gray short sleeve blazer with the $60 tag still on it. I was ecstatic when I saw it. I knew I just had to try it on. To my disappointment, it was one size too small. It was difficult to put back on the rack. I mean, a $60 blazer for $6 is a steal!

My call to you this: If you’ve never gone thrift shopping for clothes, I challenge you to go once. And, I don’t mean antique shopping either. Antique shopping is not the same. Trust me, I went to enough antique stores in my childhood to know the difference.

Your excursion may surprise you. You, too, may make it a biannual occurrence like I do!