A Joyful Story

1 Jan

These past few months have been life changing for me.

Confused?

Let me explain….

I have been a believer of Jesus for years.

The drive I had, where I wanted to fill my soul up with God’s word and everything holy, it was there.

But I still struggled because my faith in God was still developing. There were times were I questioned my faith. There were times I wanted to open the bible and read it but I had such a hard time understanding the words.

I tore devotions up (not literally) because it seemed that was the only thing that I could understand. Devotions broke it down for me.

I was almost hot and cold about Jesus. One week, my passion would be 100% focused on Jesus, and the next week I would push Him to the side so I could focus on school and making friends.

The worst part was, I felt bad and didn’t do much to change it. Even when I prayed, I didn’t give God my full attention.

Then one miraculous day, someone invited me to a weekly college meeting called Cru (Campus Crusaders for Christ). I was so excited because earlier that week begged God to get me plugged into some sort of church. I needed to change who I was hanging out with.

So I went.

And I felt so welcome by these college kids.

I have been dragged to so many churches while my parents searched for their own home church. Even though Cru is not technically a church, I knew it was where I belonged.

So the more I went to Cru on Thursday nights, the closer I felt with Jesus. I wasn’t focusing 100% on school, but I didn’t care because I knew that strengthening my relationship with Him was more important.

I started developing relationships and even got plugged into a woman’s bible study.

I could feel God more than ever and the feeling was amazing. But I still had difficulty wanting to read God’s word and sometimes praying was equally challenging.

One night at Cru, I was invited to a four day encounter with God called TCX. It took place in the Twin Cities and went from December 28th to the 1st of January. About 1,700 college kids go every year to experience the Lord. I was a little hesitant to go, only because fear of not knowing what would take place during that time. I quickly got over that fear and applied.

Now TCX was held at the Hilton, but I had to pay a little over $200 for it. Being a college student, that was pretty much all that was left in my bank account. But I had enough faith in God, I knew he would provide.

And He did.

I played a game at Cru and the winner got a $100 scholarship to TCX. I got second place, but I still lost. The guy who won ended up giving me his scholarship because he was not going to attend TCX. I was over the moon, for I knew God wanted me to go.

Finally the time came, I was ready to start packing and make this trip 6 hours up to the Twin Cities with three other girls from Cru in the the car. That night I started feeling a little sick, so I went to bed early, thinking I would be better in the morning.

I wasn’t. I was sicker than a dog…and I was supporting a fever of 102.3. I could not go to TCX. And that made me so sad because I was so looking forward to it. However, I accepted it. And I found that the main meetings were recorded live and streamed online.

That made me feel better and I sat in bed with strep throat watching speakers talk about God and listening to music.

To ease my sadness a little more, my scholarship ended up going to my boyfriend, who had no idea how he was going to pay for TCX.

Things just worked out I guess.

As I watched the live streaming of the meetings, one in the morning and one at night, I was being filled with the Holy Spirit. I could feel a whole new feeling inside which made me so excited.

Last night was the last night of TCX and I have to say that was the best one. I, along with over 1,700 college students, surrendered our whole life, and made a promise to glorify God by following His plan, no matter what.

Now when you watch thousands of college students stand up and make these promises to God, I was shedding so many tears. I was crying for them and for me. I have never felt so relieved, as I struggled with this specific topic for years. I wanted to make my own changes to God’s plan for me. I didn’t 100% accept it, until last night.

I became so filled with the Holy Spirit and got rid of things in my life that were not giving people a good glance at what godly people look and act like. And I opened my bible to try and read it. And guess what?

It has never been clearer.

I am a fast reader and I can soak knowledge in books up quicker than most. And I started doing that with the bible. It is actually a story of Jesus surrendering His life for us. I understand all of it and everything is so clear.

My passion and drive is so full of the Holy Spirit and I cannot wait to share my joy with others.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

9 Dec

caramel-apple-cheesecake-cookie-bars-new-545

I am legitimately excited for the holidays.
Especially the baking.
If you own a pinterest account, I bet you have been searching for the right recipes for the days leading up to Christmas.
Its a time to experiment, gain weight, satisfy your sweet tooth, and empty your bank account.
Is it worth it? Baking and then stuffing your face with the yummy creation that looks nothing like the picture?
Of course.
I have found THE BEST Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bar recipe (thanks to the-girl-who-ate-everything.com).
Behold…..
Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
Drizzle:
1/2 cup caramel topping for drizzling after baked
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9×13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.
In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

For the streusel topping:
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.

Sprinkle Streusel topping over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy! Make 16 servings.

 

Spreading the Joy

3 Dec

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday.

The eggnog, the crazy family, lights, trees, snow, hot cocoa….December is such an amazing month.

But despite the exterior of Christmas, my favorite part….the love and joy that is spread.

It is an opportunity for everyone to do good…and everyone tries because of the “Christmas spirit”. Helping out…trying to feel better after participating in Black Friday….

Volunteering is one of my passions.

Helping others.

Spreading kindness, joy, and love.

What feeling could be greater?

So if you are searching for volunteer ideas this holiday…here are some ideas….(I gotta give credit to blog.volunteerspot.com)

1. Adopt-A-Family, satisfying a family’s needs (through a wishlist).

2. Gift Box for the Homeless, taking a bag or box, put food, clothing, and blankets inside…find some homeless people and warm them up inside and out.

3. Secret Santa Christmas Letters.

4. Feed the Hungry, Go to your local soup kitchen and do some serious socializing with those less fortunate.

….This list could go on and on….and if you are out of ideas….Google search it! or better yet….just go out there and do something.

Happy Holidays!

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