I was… Productive?

So, I’ve never been one to enjoy cleaning. At least not starting it. When I got into it, I do find it somewhat therapeutic. I’m more of a sanitary cleaner, than a “make it look pretty” cleaner. Though, I do have to say there is something about seeing the clothes folded Marie Kondo-style that “sparks joy”. It is a lot tidier, and I can see my clothes, so I don’t have to pull everything out in order to see what I have. It was also a relief getting rid of old clothes that no longer fit, or that I did not want.

I’ve learned this week, that a lot of my sadness, feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction came a lot from some serious flaws in my character. The biggest one: I procrastinate. I have put off doing my laundry, cleaning my room, organizing my drawers for essentially a year. In that, I found myself growing more tired, weary and just plain sad. It was not a happy time, and rather then getting up and doing my chores, I kept trying to find ways to fill the sadness. Drawing, knitting, writing and while each of these put a bandaid on the void in my life, they didn’t fix it.

It’s not perfect, but neither am I

So, through the process of Authentic Living I made a commitment to my friends, and to God that I would get my clothes tidy before Tuesday, and I did it. My pants were actually really difficult because, I have so many different styles, textures and sizes. But basically, from top to bottom are my casual pants, fancy pants and my “I have my period, so I don’t care” pants.

For obvious reasons, I won’t show my underwear drawer, but it’s also sectioned off into thirds. My socks which have no particular assortment. My socks are actually still messy, but they’re matched up and put away and that is what matters. My bras are divided into “bras I don’t care if I ruin” and “sports bras I like, so I don’t want to ruin” Then my underwear, which are in thirds, also. “too nice, so only wear when I go to nice places”, “kinda nice, so everyday wear” and “butt-ugly period panties”. I don’t know if you can imagine, or if I even want you imagine. I don’t even know who you are, but let’s move on from this topic.

Next, are my shirts, which get really complicated for some reason. I did not realize the abundance of the shirts I own and wear. I actually found organizing them to be difficult. I guess because what shirts I wear, depends on my mood, the occasion and how I feel about my body that day.

So, in the first image with my little toes poking out, are my sweaters. there’s no method to them, I love all my sweaters equally.

Next are my inside shirts (ft. two shorts). One of those, don’t belong to me, but you can guess which. Then, the second row are the shirts I will frequently wear at home and the third row are the shirts I will most likely only wear when I feel extra lazy.

Then there are my outside shirts. The first row from the bottom are the shirts I will most likely never wear, the second row are the shirts I will often wear – usually to work. And, the top are my functional shirts – so what I wear for church volunteer and what I wear when I’m going to go run errands.

This is my husband’s read. I still refuse.

So, I have had a blatant refusal to read and even watch anything to do with Marie Kondo, because both my mom and husband adamantly swear by this, and they suggest it to me – a lot – which is more a reflection of me and how messy I am, not really their character. I do agree being productive and tidying up, did give me a sense of relief and joy. It’s also a lot of this dredging and learning more about me, from not just my persective but other’s and God’s. It’s not the funnest process, but it is eye opening and has taught me a lot about myself.

A huge reason why I avoided cleaning up and trying Marie Kondo’s style, is I am a perfectionist. And to me, if I cannot or do not do it perfectly, what’s the point. If you watched the first 45 minutes of my folding, you would have seen that I folded, unfolded and re-folded (and repeat x 3 or 4x) the same two shirts over and over again, until i remembered I made a commitment to not trying to be perfect. I cannot run away and avoid chores or activities or even relationships, because of perfectionism. But, there’s more to say about that another time.

It’s just been nice feeling like an adult who is capable, competent and functional, after having felt useless, purposeless and stupid. And these negative feelings did not come from God. Yeah, they kind of came from the devil, but more so, they came from within me. From my fears and insecurities and unwillingness to own up to my fault and failure. But even something so small, has really made me feel a connectedness to God, to myself and even to my husband. I’m honestly not trying to brag as much as I want to remind myself, God didn’t make me stupid. He made me deliberately, intentionally and purposefully. I just have to accept that, reach out and be productive, be diligent and be active.

one day down, 89 more to go.

God Bless
w/ love

ari

Trust

It is crazy how God shows up in big and in small ways. One of those smalls ways is how in Authentic Living, a follow up course to Freedom Session. I currently do not doubt His presence, nor in Him being alive, but sometimes I have moments when I do.

It is in these moments that, I will definitely be looking to this blog to just remember something so small, and so simple to reveal where and how God is always present and always weaving His plan and His people together. Today, we talked about triads – a group of three go whom are accountable to one another.

In my authentic living group, only four of my freedom session group came, three were there tonight and I thought to myself of how I would love to be in a triad with them. For many reasons, including I trust them, they know me and my story, and I trust myself with them – I know I can be honest with them, without fear of conviction and honesty back.

As we discussed triads, I wondered if they would want the same, and when group was dismissed the three of us came together and started talking, and I eventually lost myself in the conversation. I also had a bit of hesitation, wondering if God would possibly want me to open up more and invite someone else into this triad. But, I brought it up to them that I did not know anyone who I trust with my faith and who I felt knew my story and life enough to guide me, and be willing to guided by me. So one of the girls openly asks, “do you guys want to be a triad?”

We had a laugh admitting to each other, we had one another in mind, did not ask out of fear of rejection, out of doubt and out of being unsure; in the end it turns out God had indeed put it in all of our hearts.

It’s safe to say, I feel like – although, I love my freedom session group, and wish we were all together still, I get this sense that there is a reason it was the the three of us who committed to the group and chose to see it through. I do not know what God’s plan is for us, nor will I try to anticipate and predict. I will let God guide and lead me. I will submit to His authority. But, I truly get this sense that this was God and His intervention. That, as much as it was our choice, God put that in our hearts.

I am so excited to do life with these two girls. I have shown them a side of me I do not like, the secrets I wanted to keep buried and never undid. And now, I am ready to walk on a path to a God lead vision that I am very excited to see through.

I hope, when future me sees this, you remember the joy and comfort. Remember feeling God there with the three of you, as you made the “Kiwi Three“. Remember feeling God as you prayed in the driveway. Remember being confident that God is there, He always is and He is always moving.

God Bless,
w/ love

Ari

Time and Surrender

I value my time. A lot. If I have nothing to do, I will usually dedicate it to just myself. But today, I had to take a moment, just five minutes to meditate. I clearly heard God telling me, I need to surrender. And in order to do that, I need to give Him my time. I need to deliberately and intentionally make time, time for Him to be with Him and and in that He will teach me how to surrender.

I don’t want to be who I was once. I want to be who He wants me to. I want to learn and know how to worship in Spirit and in truth and be sincerely emersed in. What does it mean to love God for God as God? Not just because He died for me, not because He will bless me. For no reason, but to love God. Because, I know Him and to love Him for all that He is. What does that all mean? I believe He will show me. I just need to surrender.

God moves

You just have to trust Him.

faith is following directions and trusting you’ll get there

I lived a really long time saying “I trust God” but still took matters into my own hands. It is a method that is easier, but not wiser. It’s so easy to fall into temptation that “I know better”. I guess, it’s kind of like back roads? Google maps may tell you one thing, and because you see it it’s easier and better. But, if someone has grown up in an area and knows it like the back of their hand, you sometimes just have to trust them and let them guide you. It’s so much harder to trust someone. You can’t see the map they have in their head. It’s kind of the same concept. You can’t see the big picture of everything, that God sees. But, sometimes you need to let him, take your piece and fit it where He knows is best. You don’t see how you fit in, you don’t see how it works, but you trust Him and somehow, it works. Not somehow, He sees it all. His hand is moving.

I know I need to keep trusting Him. There’s a lot going on that scares me. There’s people – one person, specifically – that keeps popping back into my life and I really do not want him to. I hope he isn’t forced back in, but I can’t do what I did before and manipulate and try to gain control of the situation cause I made things worse.

Right now, I am letting God be God. Which sounds weird, He doesn’t need my permission. Crazily enough, God wants my permission – more like an invitation. He wants me to invite Him to be Lord of my life, and here I am. Not being impulsive. Shoving all the plans and thoughts I have bubbling in my head and putting the to silence, to listen to Him. To trust Him and to let Him do His work. John 6:6, says “He Himself, knew what He would do.” God already knows what to do, how to make things fit and I will let Him do what He will with my life.

I trust God will guide me to where it is best for me. Even if it’s not necessarily the safest, nor easiest.

I ask Him continually for the grace to accept the situations that I may not like. I ask Him to bless me with a heart of gratitude, so in the times of hurt and pain, I can be thankful and seek comfort and joy in Him. I won’t lie and say I am facing this bravely, I’m not. But I am facing it in trust. I know God is working. I trust that whatever happens on this earth, He has plans and He is doing it for my good. For the Kingdom’s good.

Sometimes, trusting God is scary. It’s confusing and sometimes you go in blind. But, He will lead me to still waters.

God Bless
w/ love

Ari

It’s been a while!

Hey, how’s it going? It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Honestly, I wish I could say I was busy, but I was distracted. I think a lot of us like to use “busy” because it sounds productive, but in truth I have simply been distracted. So, here is a small update.

I am taking a fast from social media. I started on Wednesday, and will not be using twitter, tumblr and Facebook (this post gets linked to said accounts, without me logging on). This fast has come up at a good time because my parents and sisters have gone to Philippines for a good half of the fast. With them being gone, and fasting from social media, I am going to have to learn to rely more on God and my husband. I am going to learn how to be still and know He is God.

This is actually such a hard concept, cause I don’t really know what it means to “know He is God”. Am I supposed to contemplate? Meditate? Silence my mind? I think He has been impressing it in my heart that I need to quiet my mind. My mind is always on overdrive and I think so much. I tend to bite off more than I can chew within my own thoughts, then I get too far into my own head and this leads to questions. I wonder how is my faith different than others? How is what I do different? How do I know my God is the right god? I think it boils down to 1). believing. Just believing in Him, trusting in Him ad rather than trying to experience Him, allowing myself to experience Him. and 2). in this fast, letting Him answer my questions. I’ve already asked them, and He has said “it shall be given” (Matt. 7:7), and in this fast I am practicing and learning to be sensitive to His voice, so I do not miss the answer.

I won’t lie, I cried a little bit. I cried out to God and asked for peace over family, peace in not knowing what the future holds, and peace to trust Him and trust that He has good plans and good intentions. I also cried just… feeling Him. It was not big and sparkly, it was not particularly profound, but it was so tranquil. Still. These are two things I often run away from and avoid, and I am not totally sure why. Perhaps it is due to a fear that I will get too much inside my head. Perhaps, I am unsettled and scared of what might happen in the silence. Maybe. I don’t honestly know. I do know, that I wanted write this, not to brag but for my own recollection and memory. So I can look back and reflect.

I will speak more about it another time but Freedom Session was a lot of getting to know myself, and letting God show me who I am in Him. I think this is a season where now I get to know who God is, and honestly that fills me up with so much joy and excitement. If this is the season I get to know my saviour and experience Him, then come what may, I will receive it with a glad heart.

God Bless

w/ love
Ari

Character Development

I’ve definitely held back on this post for sometime, because I feel it is a bit of a downer, Maybe not a downer, but it is one of those truths that people don’t often like, and I kind of hesitate to write about it. However, it is now past the pushing point of going from ranting or venting to something I have mulled over since the end of December. It’s on a topic we often focus on of fictional characters, be they from movies, TV series and books. We also focus on these when watching the life and story of some of our favourite celebrities, and those we admire and raise on a pedestal.

Character development.

It’s something I see many people pay close attention to in fantasy and fiction. It’s something I see many people try to work on in themselves, but in the wrong way. That is to say, what I perceive wrong – I, myself, could be wrong.

But anyways, my real point is character development. It’s so important, that in movies and TV shows if a character does not change or grow as a person from start to finish for movies, and season to season for TV shows, they’re generally a flat character. It’s kind of the same thing in real life. You have to develop. You have to grow up. That doesn’t mean you go out and get yourself really educated – though it is helpful. Sometimes, I see really smart and rousing debates occur on Facebook, where two people fling facts and sources at one another. All it really does is prove they are educated. In this specific scenario character development would be to allow your opposition to educate you. After all, the best essays are the ones that can argue against themselves as well and see the other point. Or, for some the best thing to do which shows good character is to simply accept, you’re probably not going to change your opponent’s mind and to stop. Or you see your opponent is not looking to educate you, but change you and you’re not willing to change either, so again, you stop. At least, that is what I think the wisest options are. I acknowledge, I could be wrong. This is a pretty bold statement coming from someone who rarely engages in online discourse.

This is a really specific answer, only because I see a lot of arguments occur on twitter and Facebook. I think this a really specific example. Too specific. When I say character development, i mean growth, maturing, wisdom – not knowledge. I’m going into full rant mode here, so apologies if this is no longer eloquent and intellectual sounding.

You cannot say, “I have a bad temper” and “I’m really sensitive” as a cover for these flaws and choose not to work on it. You can’t. It’s almost the same as playing the victim card. Using your trauma as a way to make people sympathy you and never put pressure on you to grow is not okay. Similarly, you can’t use “I’m just like that” as a reason. It’s like saying, “Sorry if I sound ignorant” and then proceeding to say a totally opinionated blast on someone, without opening the floor for dialogue and inviting this person to help you grow. It’s like saying, “No offences, but…” then going on to say something offensive.

Acknowledging your flaws, is only step one.

A bold opinion from someone who does not engage in a lot of discourse.

And it is true. First of all this is an opinion, and more of a self-reflection than it is a critique on others. Who am I to criticize when I have a plank in my own eyes, after all (Matt. 7:5). As I said this is a rant, I see a lot of people excuse their personality flaws as traits and then walk away with no intention to change. I wonder, don’t you want to become the hero that God has designed you to be? Don’t you want to be a better person? And not the better person like “a nicer person” the “socially conscientious” person. I mean a better person for yourself. So you can be happier. So you can radiate joy, and other can feel and absorb that from you, without taking it from you. You’re mature for being able to see and acknowledge where you fall short, I admit. However, it is not enough. When a child pulls another kid’s hair or hits them with a toy, we often make them say sorry, and they do, but they proceed to hit or pull again. It shows they have not grown, they have not changed. We realize when kids are maturing when they seek to change their behaviours and become a better person. They make a good decision to grow up, and get over this flaw. They don’t always have fun doing it. I see it my kids ministry classes all the time. I see a little boy in the three year old class, throw a toy at another child in his anger. I ask him to say sorry, and he does but he repeats the behaviour. Whereas the kids in the four year old class now know to exert their displeasure in other methods rather than tossing a toy across the room. They might pout, but hey thats step from throwing. These are the kids we call “big boys/big girls” and the ones who still throw we often ask them to follow the example of the big kids.

All that to say, if kids can change adults can and should too. I think the wisest thing I heard, was once on the radio the radio jockey was talking about their passing grandparent who said, “I want to keep growing, to keep changing until i breath my last breath.”

The world keeps turning, time goes on and we all have to keep maturing.

You might say “heavy words for someone who is also flawed”. And I agree with you, wholeheartedly. I excused my flaws, my temper, my anger and my hatred as just being a part of my personality. I did not acknowledge that I had to change and grow up. Now, I’m not any more perfect that another person, I have my flaws. However, I did and am working on my temper. I am working on my hatred. I’m letting god of my bad self-imaging and redirecting my eyes from the mirror to the Altar and looking to see what God says about me, not what I say and not what others say. What does God want me to change? Even in my faith, I am not perfect. I get highs and lows, too. It’s part of the battle. I’m doing better than where I was last year, in that I genuinely look forward to church and ministry again. I push my husband and I to pray together and individually every night, we do a devotional once a week and I do my best to do a short devotional nightly, with the goal that it become meditation, devotional and contemplation.

In terms of my personality, I think I am far more joyful than I used to be. I am checking my temper and my words, praying before I yell. If my temper gets ahead of me, I seek out to amend it and apologize. I have told my husband if I lose my temper on him, he has every right to correct me, lovingly. I’m also a very lazy person, so I am pushing myself to prepare for the day. I fail a lot, and I get disappointed. Still ” for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity (proverbs 24:16 ESV)”. My husband and I have a meal subscription and I used to cook one out of the three meals, wasting the other two. So far, I have been able to finish all three these past few weeks. This blog also pushes me to update on at least a biweekly basis. In terms of friendships, I am striving to put less pressure on people to like me and fulfil me and get my satisfaction from the Lord. I seek out others to enjoy them and their company, not for my own gain but to celebrate and uplift them. I want to develop community. I want to get to know the friends I already have and be someone who is there to support and celebrate them, to love on them and pour energy and effort into them, rather than absorb all theirs. (This is a checkpoint for me, hopefully I read this again sometime later this and next year and see if I have made progress. I apologize if it sounds like one big huge brag). Again, I am not perfect. I get insecure in my place with people, I overthink actions and still have a fear of missing out. I still take things personally that should not be taken personally, but I am trying. I invite any and everyone reading this to follow me, after all I named this blog GrowingUpwithAhri.

I acknowledged my flaws, I figured out what I need to change, I made a plan (with God) for how to change them and I am putting that plan into action – seeking the grace and humility I need to keep changing.

I hope you do too.

God Bless
w/ love

Ahri

Community

To my church, maybe I am just one person, a face among many. But among the many faces, there are some that absolutely bless my heart.

I have been through some really tough times this past month, but God has truly met me in my need. It’s been hard, choosing to cleave myself off of a friend. I was not good for her. I was not healthy for her and I was not helping her to grow. But, in that loss and I have learned great joy. I truly believe God meets your needs and fills them to the brim, if only you let Him, lean into Him and move with Him. For a long time, I was resisting Him. I was pushing against Him, trying to figure out my own way. I have recently begun surrendering my will to Him, letting Him lead and guide me. I have given up friendships and choices to Him, and it has been tough.

I have asked Him for grace to accept the situation. I wholeheartedly believe I have. Through many steps, I have given up my will to Him, and forgiven myself for my mistakes and let Jesus really pay the price for my sins, all the while still knowing I’ll fail, but doing my best and giving my all to being obedient to Him; if only to glorify Him.

All this to say, today has truly filled my heart with so much joy. I volunteer my time to the children’s ministry at the check-in desk. Here, I can move and float between classrooms, and help new families settle into this huge church’s giant kids system. In these moments, I have learned children’ names, their quirks and I’ve been able to connect to families. While I was helping another family, a mother waited by the desk with her son, waiting for me to have a moment to take a step back. When I was finished, I heard saying, as she waved her son’s hand at me “Say bye to Ariana!”

Another family passes by, as I travel the hallways, greeting families and bidding them a good week. One family, who’s youngest daughter I simply adore and just love to pieces, sees me. As they pass they call to their daughter, “Ariana’s saying bye! Say bye!” She runs past me, waving and smiling, shouting bye quickly. I happily respond my goodbyes and wave a goodbye to her parents as well. They flash a grateful smile, “Bye, Ariana. Have a great week.”

Such small gestures, but such a huge blessing. As He has promised,

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8

I was also able to help a family by putting them into the system. I try to be as bright and cheerful as I can so that the kids feel comfortable and excited to join such a large and new classroom. The eldest daughter was so happy to say her name and birthday, and guide her younger sister through the sign-in as well. She also told me her baby sister’s birthday, which is required for our kids ministry to sort children into their age-appropriate classrooms. I commented on how she was so helpful, and she seemed to seem with pride. And after classes, as the left to go home, waving them good bye and calling them by name seemed to help their parents feel comfortable that they would belong.

And finally, one of my church members and her husband pass bye. She greets me with a warm hug and we walk together, laughing and talking about dogs. My husband joins us and we laugh about various things. Racial ambiguity, languages, dog-sitting, and we all sit in service together. For her and her husband to treat myself and my husband like life-long friends and to ask to see more of us outside of church, for her to offer babysitting my dog and ask for me to baby sit her own children; it was the prayer for friend sand family at our church to come true. It felt like the pieces of my heart were coming together, and it is all because God. I have let Him in and let myself be vulnerable to Him, and as He has promised He is here to cherish and protect my heart. “…To give me life, and give it in the full” (1 John 10:10).

I also really wanted to bless someone, and today this woman sat behind me in sermon. As we wrapped up our Sunday with a final three worship songs (Jesus Paid it All, Tremble and O, Praise the Name), I had the blessing and privilege of hearing her absolutely beautiful voice sing praise to God and cry out to Him in worship. Before she walked off, I had to turn around to her, and just tell her how much I loved her voice and found it so beautiful. I hope she felt blessed. I pray that she felt joy, God’s joy through my words.

I am so thankful and so grateful for these small moments that have passed and may fade into the many Sundays of the year. This is why I want to – to the point of having to – write about it. So one day I can look back on it and see God’s amazing love and remember it. Remember how much it means and meant to me. To see how much I mean to Him.

I want whoever is reading this to know, you might be one person. But to God you can be used to love and spread joy.

I pray blessings for anyone and everyone who reads this.

Have a happy Sunday!

God Bless
w/ love

Ari

Leadership?

I’ve never particularly viewed myself as a leader. At least, I haven’t for a long while. I suppose it’s because I used to, as a kid. And no one seemed to notice that, or I did not interpret it in that way. I don’t know, who thinks that abstract as a child? I was rarely noticed, growing up. I was usually in the background, second to someone else. Someone else would be thought of the be the leader or to be the head. To be fair, it is because they always stepped up. In a vicious cycle, I shied away from the leadership role, and when no one noticed my attributes, it affirmed my insecurities. Interesting how the spirit of insecurity can really drive that deep.

But I renounce that and give this to God. I’ve recently taken up a leadership role in my church’s children’s ministry and I am excited. I cannot wait to have my gifts and talents be used for God. and I cannot wait to see how He grows me and changes me. I can only pray for strength, because being leader means taking responsibilities for others, and taking care of my team, watching and shepherding them, and being someone who is there to support them. It’s kind of scary, too. It’s a huge responsibility.

I also have so many dreams for this team. It’s a small part of a huge ministry of a huge church, but even the eardrum is a small part of the body. I want to be a support for parents, be able to help them and guide them through the complex system of our Children’s Ministry. I want to be able to support other teachers, and be a member they can reach out to. I have so many ideas, so many dreams and maybe, that’s why God has placed me here.

It was so encouraging to hear that the Head of the Children’s ministry and someone who was once her assistant both thought of me right away for this position. It was affirming. And, hearing that really helped solidify my belief that this is where God has taken me and is guiding. This is where I am meant to be, and this is where He wants me to do His works, for His glory. In Him, with Him and Him through me, I can be a leader. I can be the leader I once thought I could be. I hope in my leadership, I am humble like Jesus and love on my team the way He loved on his disciples. I pray that my dreams and goals line up with God’s and through me He can execute a part of His glorious plan.

All in all, I am so excited to serve Jesus. I am so excited to be used by Jesus. I am so excited to be a part of this plan- this masterpiece. I cannot wait to see His plans unfold and fall in love with him. Love him deeper, love Him harder and to feel His great and immense love for me. This place in my faith, I am so happy. I am so overwhelmed and excited to have God and have a relationship with Him. I have not desired God so much in so long and it feels so good to yearn for Him, His love, His presence, Him again.

Father God,

thank you for choosing me. I am not worthy. But by Your actions, Your blood I have merit. Please use me, in anyway you can. If it scares me, help me to lean in You and trust in You. Help me to walk in faith through the fear. Show me a truth today, tomorrow see me do it.

Ariana

Thank you for reading. I am in this place in my faith where, I feel so close to God. I really want to reach out to Him, be with Him.

God bless
w/ love

Ari