March 30, 2011

Looking Unto Jesus

Dear Readers,
I thought it would be a good time to post my FAVORITE devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon.


June 28th, Morning:

“Looking unto Jesus.” -Hebrews 12:2
It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.

{End of quote}

The first time I read this devotional, I had just come home from a missions trip to Guatemala. At that time in my life, I was especially struggling at 'looking unto Jesus'. After such an amazing trip and experience which brought me so much closer to Christ, I felt like coming home was going to destroy my relationship with Him because I would have to get back into the hustle and bustle of regular life. It was like home was more of a battlefield because I would have to fight against all of the comfort, temptation, and easy way of life to spend time with God, when in Guatemala, every moment of the week was spent serving God in the lives of others.
    This message of 'looking unto Jesus' helped me shift my eyes away from self and all of the struggles, and focus on the One who loves me and who would gladly help me become 'hupernike' - more than a conqueror - over myself, my sin, and the world! It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever read, and it has been my favorite devotional from that moment forward. May it change and encourage you as much as it has for me... and more!

God bless you all!

Look Up

Dear Readers,
My mother sent this to me in an email; it's an old devotional, I'm not sure who by. I thought it was vastly encouraging, so I decided to share it with you all. Enjoy!




"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests before You--and I will look up!" Psalm 5:3

This was the Psalmist's determination in the morning--and it should be ours.

Preserved and protected through the night--we should look up with gratitude, and praise our God for His goodness.

Aware of our dependence and needs--we should look up and beg mercies of our Almighty God for the new-born day.

Sensible of our foes and dangers--we should look up and pray to be kept, guided, and sanctified by our ever-present God.

If we look within--it will dispirit us;
if we look around--it may distract us;
if we look back--it may awaken fears;
if we look forward--it may arouse foreboding!
But if we look UP to God--it will preserve . . .
  the head from swimming,
  the heart from sinking,
  the feet from slipping, and
  the hands from hanging down!

Beloved, let us look up!
There our loving Father is!
There our interceding Savior is!
There all our supplies are!
There our everlasting home is!

Let others look where they will, "I will look up!"

If we look up to God in faith--then He will look down upon us in mercy; and looking, He will supply all our needs!

March 29, 2011

Mandisa

Dear Readers,
A very good friend of mine just introduced me to an incredible female singer by the name of Mandisa. Not only does she have a beautiful voice and is beautiful on the outside, but sounds to have a beautiful heart that loves the Lord.
    I just found a YouTube video of her from about two years ago which intrigued me greatly: Click here to watch it.

I absolutely love looking at the lives and hearing the voices of other Christ-followers; It helps encourage me when I fell like I can't handle difficult circumstances anymore by pointing me back to God, who has the best in mind for me, even throughout my struggles (Romans 8:28). Mandisa has a song all about this, called 'He Is With You'. I heard it a moment ago for the first time, and at the end, I just started tearing-up because it was so sweet and beautiful and true!
    Another song of hers I'm listening to presently called 'Voice of a Savior' has a similar message, and also is powerfully beautiful!
I think I might have found another favorite music artist!

~God bless you all!~

Lily-White Purity

Dear Readers,

I was reading once again in Leslie Ludy's book, Set-Apart Femininity, and I came across more quotes that I just HAD to share!


"Are we willing to lay down everything else and take up His set-apart commission?
    God's sacred intent for us goes far beyond just ... idolizing Christian bands instead of secular ones. It is not just making sure we tack on some Christian morality to our self-indulgent lives.
    His sacred intent for you and for me is nothing short of absolute abandonment to Jesus Christ, entire separation from the pollution of the world, and ardent worship of our King with ever breath we take.
    Yes, it's a huge vision - one that is contrary to everything our culture presents. In our modern world, we as young women seem to be presented with only two options for our femininity - we can either embrace the ... version of womanhood glorified by pop culture, or we can go the opposite direction and trade in perfume and makeup for grit, grunge, and guy-like behavior.
    But both of these options cause us to completely miss out on the glorious pattern God designed for our femininity. We were created to shine with heavenly beauty, to radiate with Christlike feminine loveliness, and to sparkle with the lily-white purity of our Prince. We were created to be set apart for Him.
    As you read this book, you will likely hear plenty of voices in the background screaming that it is impossible to achieve this set-apart standard. But the good news is - you don't have to achieve it on your own. As Oswald Chambers says,

When we deliberately choose to obey God, He will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us with all His almighty power.

    Whatever your version of femininity has been up to this moment - God desires to offer you hope and a glorious future. Jesus Christ can take a life that has been bruised, rejected, or squandered and make it completely new. He can empower a weak and helpless life to rise up and conquer. No matter where you've been or what you've done or how far from Him you feel right now - He can transform you into a radiant, victorious, world-changing, set-apart young woman.
    No matter how worthless or ugly you feel, He longs to shape you into His stunning princess. It starts with one simple step of obedience - one simple decision to answer the sacred call He has upon your life...no matter what the cost."
{End of quote}


So... Now I've at last made it to the end of the first chapter! I'm so thrilled with Miss Ludy's writing; the message she gives is straightforward, hard to hear because it's so blunt, but perfectly wonderful and full of truth! It's been a long time since I've read faith-encouraging literature quite like this... and never have I experienced this kind of devotion to not only to purity, but to Christ Himself. The combination is what I love to call 'quickening'. (One of my FAVORITE words!) Presently, I feel quickened, encouraged, and full of joy; my prayer shall be that God's Spirit will grant you the same.

God bless you all! ♥

March 27, 2011

Flair and Beauty

Dear Readers,
Over the past couple of days, I have been taking lots of photos, just the same as always. But today, this fantastic day in history, is the first time I will have transformed them - that is, edited them - to give them each new flair and beauty. Enjoy!




This is my darling little niece. When she was born, I called her 'Ocean-eyes'












 This is a water-reflection of a carousel... doesn't it look like rampant flames?!





 As soon as I found out turning my flash on created a crystalized effect on the fountain water, I didn't turn the flash off again.





On the way to the car... I was just about to shut off my camera when I snapped this.

~ Thank the Lord for life, breath, light, and cameras ~
~ God bless! ~

Never Forsaken

Dear Readers,
I was reading Charles H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional, and this morning's was so well-put and convicting, I decided to share it with you all.


March 27, Morning
“Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” -Matthew 26:56

"He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from him in the very beginning of his sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh. They had all been warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels. It may be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honour to have stood at Jesus’ side right manfully; they fled from honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for his truth.
What anguish must have filled the Saviour as he saw his friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in his cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so shameful."

(End of quote; all underlining is mine and not from actual quote)

As soon as I read the part about "It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform", I was hit square between the eyes with the truth that I was behaving just like the Apostles did in Matthew. I had promised my Savior that I would stop sinning and that I would give up everything, take up my cross, and follow Him. But carrying out that promise as a saved soul in a sinner's flesh is far easier said than done. My prayer this morning was that God would help me to put on the armor He has provided for His sheep and to battle my sin, with victory just on the horizon.
    The final part I underlined really encouraged and convicted me, and I feel quickened afresh to live throughout today for God's glory. May the same be for you. God bless!

March 26, 2011

His Princess of Purity

Dear Readers,
Recently, I have been reading an amazing book called 'Set-Apart Femininity' by: Leslie Ludy. I'm not even to the second chapter yet, but I have still experienced the wonderful way she depicts the difference between giving up one's life wholly for Christ, and living to try to please both God and the world. The book is certainly intended for women, so guys... don't expect to be wowed.
    Here are some quotes from the book that I just LOVE:

"Neither the world's version of beauty nor the modern self-esteem message truly fulfills our longing to shine with enchanting grace and princess-like dignity. And neither avenue meets that deeper inner desire to radiate with feminine beauty that never fades.
    But there is another kind of womanly beauty - one that we don't hear much about in today's world. It's the dazzling loveliness of set-apart femininity.
    Set-apart femininity exudes a beauty that is not of this world; it's the sectacular radience of a woman completely transformed by the Author of all things lovely and pure.
    Set-apart femininity, contrary to what you might be thinking, is not stodgy and grim-faced with drab, shapeless clothes, librarian glasses, and a 20-pound Bible under one arm. ...
    Set-apart femininity blends the classic womanly grace and dignity of an Audrey Hepburn with the sacrificial, poured-out-for-Christ lifestyle of an Amy Carmichael. It's true feminine beauty merged with absolute abandonment to Jesus Christ. It's the sparkling, vibrant, world-altering, Christlike version of femininity that your King created you to exude."

"The spectacular sparkle of set-apart femininity is found through absolute abandonment to the Author of all true beauty. It's found by exchanging a life consumed with self for a life consumed with Jesus Christ, by trading the desire to be attractive to this world for the longing to be attractive to Him alone. Find a woman who cares about nothing but loving, serving, honoring, and glorifying Jesus Christ, and you will see who truly is "the fairest of them all.""

"It's a lot easier to build our lives around the pursuit of wordly applause and selfish pleasure and just fit Christ in somewhere on the side than to radically pour out our lives in sacrificial devotion to Him."

"...I believe there is so much more to being a Christian young woman than what we have settled for today. Christian femininity has sunk to dismally low standards, and we are evidencing the consequences of our compromise in rocky romances, stressful family relationships, mediocre marriages, empty spirituality, and unhappy, unfulfilled lives."

"Modern Christianity focused on helping me live at least somewhat morally in the midst of all the pop-culture attractions that constantly bombarded my senses. But it didn't challenge me to shift my affections away from pop-culture attractions altogether.
    Like countless young women today, I lived with one foot in the world and the other in the murky waters of Christian compromise. I lived my life only two or three steps ahead of the culture's standards."

"I was a "Christian" young woman. But I was not a set-apart young woman.
    Still to this day, I am flooded with gratitude that God did not leave me in that state of mediocrity. Gently, patiently, and lovingly, He began to open my eyes to see how far from being His princess of purity I really was. And He began to show me a glorious new pattern for my life as a young woman - His pattern. It's a pattern that is continually being built and shaped within my life, even to this day. It's the pattern of set-apart femininity, and it's God's sacred intent for each of our lives.
    This book doesn't present a comfortable message. It won't show you how to live a self-indulgent life with a little Christian morality tacked on. ...
    This book presents a vision for a whole different kind of Christian femininity than what we see all around us today. And if you allow it to, it will awaken you to a whole new way to live that will change your existance forever.
    It is possible, even in today's world, to posses that spectacular, radient, lasting feminine lovliness that we've dreamed about since childhood. And not only is it possible, it is God's sacred intent for each and every one of His daughters."

(End of quotes)

I encourage all of you young women to take a closer look at this book. Set-Apart Femininity has a fantastic message for Christian women living in our chaotic world. Even this first chapter has been speaking to my heart, and I want to share it in the sincere hope that it will also speak to yours.
    God bless, always! ♥

(The quotes above belong to Leslie Ludy and Harvest House Publishers. Please, do not copy or misuse any of these quotes. Thank you.)

March 24, 2011

Let There Be Light

Dear Readers,
I spent today at my grandparents' house again, where I had taken the snowy pictures in my most recent photography blog-post. This time, the sun was shining gaily everywhere, and I took the opportunity to snap a few shots...














"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." -Genesis 1:3-5

~ Thank the Lord for light! ~

March 23, 2011

Mega Obsessed!

Dear Readers,
I have recently encountered the most fantastic cartoon called 'Megamind'! Am I obsessed? Well, not quite, but it sounds better than 'Mega ALMOST-obsessed!'
    From the moment I saw the first add, I just knew it was going to be great. At last, long after it had been in theaters, my family rented it. My younger sister was watching it by herself, and I walked in about half-way through. I sat down. I was transfixed. I never did remember why I had come into the room. I felt like I was a part of the story; like I was there amidst the action. When the ending came around, I looked at my sister and burst out about how awesome it was! Later, we watched it again with the rest of the family, and I decided the beginning was just as cool as the rest of it. I thought Megamind was going to be great before I discovered that the villain became a hero. Afterward? WOW! The character-development, action, romance --- and the hilarious lines --- every moment of it was amazing! Needless-to-say, I was indubitably impressed!

(That is a LOT of brain-bots!)

I also even spent time yesterday and today finishing a pencil-sketch of Megamind, which turned out WAY better than I had dared to hope! Oh yes... and I decided that Megamind is my new favorite movie. ;)

What? You don't like snow??

Shoveling a driveway. Adventurous? When you have my head, sure! I spent the whole while thinking about how many different cool pictures this beautiful fresh-fallen snow was going to to provide for me when the shoveling was done.




 Oh, yes, I saw a piece of snow left not yet shoveled, and just HAD to have a picture of it... ;)






Dead plants - indeed, even these can make some fantastic pictures... 


Haha! New Vans!








I bent down on the front step, focused the camera, and shot. I guess I knew the step was a little wet, but WOW! I did not expect this kind of reflection!


My mom really liked this photo - I had to get my feet a little wet to take it, but hey! ;)




Okay... this was deffinitely the most difficult picture to capture of all in this blog post. I did not set the camera down - I bent over, focused, and shot almost a dozen times before I captured this. My back is just a little sore. ;)


You people who don't like winter... I pity you! This beloved season may require some snow-shoveling or ice-scraping, but isn't it worth the work to experience the beauty and magic its presence bestows? Oh yes, God has been very generous to allow us to behold something as awesome and unfathomable as the first snow! Ignore the negative sides of winter, and enjoy the fascinating intricacy of a snowflake, the pure loveliness of the scenery, and the pleasurable affair of cuddling in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate at the end of the day. The Lord in Heaven be praised for winter!

March 20, 2011

Surprise!

Dear Readers,
It's finally happened. Inwardly, I'm just bursting with pleasure! I have finally found all the inspiration I need to get a good head start on - drum-roll, please! - my own novel! After nearly six years of writing and rewriting the same story, I think I've finally found the path I want this tale to take.
    I want you to know, this is a difficult declaration for me; I take writing very personally. But this is one time when I finally feel completely confident; previous drafts have left me feeling like they weren't good enough, no matter how my family encouraged me. God gave me the most blessed talent of writing, so I can take most anything and turn it into a story, but since writing is so personal, I wanted to make sure this story was just right before I said, 'done'.
    I have to save the details for a surprise, but I will say that I have a title, I have most of the characters, and most of the story itself pent up in my head and ready to be poured out from my pencil onto some paper! Please pray for me as I begin writing this next draft; may it be my last draft, in a good way! ;)

    You know, I've been writing ever since I knew how! The first novel I ever started writing was the work of a nine-year-old version of myself, and quite honestly pathetic. It was about a princess who was kidnapped and had to save the world. I'm sure the idea I had could have turned into something marvelous and even has been done before countless times, but the way I had it written was... awful. But it was still the beginning of something wonderful in my life.
    When I was eleven, the inspiration for the novel I'm working on right now came to me in a dream. It was July, and I was visiting my grandparents for a weekend with my sisters. I woke up, got out of bed, and without even bothering to change into my day clothes, I sat down at my grandmother's typewriter and just started writing out what I saw in my dream. (Sorry, but I still can't reveal anything about that, because most of the main idea has survived from that first version until today.) This version was so short, it fit on only two pages of paper! I wouldn't let anyone look at it. It was my treasured story, and I knew I just needed to work at it a little to make it perfect. Well, more than a little.
    The next year, when I was twelve, I read over the story again and was so disgusted with how poorly it was written that I threw it away. (Today, I regret that because it would be great fun to read over and laugh about now, but I still fortunately remember most of how it went so that I can compare it to the present version.) I then started writing the second draft, which I have kept until today in that ragged black notebook. This, too, was perfectly dreadful. I read it over today and can enjoy it because I remember the love and passion I poured into it, but it isn't much better than the first draft.
    Over the next several years, I kept gathering notes of little ideas I had, and was writing and rewriting until my fingers were sore and black as my pencil lead. (Until now. The laptop is one of the most blessed pieces of machinery ever designed!) And now, here I am! With so much hope for the future, and a solid direction and purpose, I am commencing upon the next step of this fantastic journey.
    Writing. My passion, my love, my gift which the Lord graciously gave to me.

March 13, 2011

Walks Are More Than Exercise

I finally convinced my sisters to come take a walk with me. What started out as a nice, simple stroll around the block became an adventure of creativity with my beloved camera. WOW! I forgot how much I love experimenting with nature photos, and God gave me the most PERFECT weather!



I kept falling behind my sisters because I was having such a great time kneeling down to get a good view of the snow and gravel. I was in my element.





There were drops of water frozen from a hanging layer of ice.




Reflections are my love. <3





Pawprints in the snow. Classic. ;)




My BEAUTIFUL little sister! =)




Self portrait.




Deffinitely one of my favorites! Look at the water! Agh! I just love God's creation! =)




Old and raggedy they may be, but I love my shoes.




Common items from a regal perspective.




Home sweet home. =)




So THIS is what my shoes look like from my shoes' perspective...




Close ups... I didn't know my camera could do this well. And snow on the shoe? Who would have guessed? I think I'm obsessed with my camera. ;)




God was so detailed when He created this world. WOW!!!




Zowie... we really need to clean our front door window.... ;)


So, there you have it. God's creation captured by the lens of one of my favorite Christmas presents. I hope you liked them because this is very likely only the beginning. I LOVE photography.
data:newerpagetitle data:olderpagetitle data:homemsg