November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all did things that made the day all the more special to you, and are thanking God for everything He puts in your path, even though the special day set aside for it is here and gone.

I can't believe how quickly this has gone by, this series of gratitude. I loved the picture of the verse ( to the left because it reminded me not to simply thank God for what He has done and all that He is simply this one month and certainly not this one day, but always, and in everything.

And now we come to the final thing on my list:

    24. Salvation in Christ Alone
As the verse goes, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
    I was saved at about the age of eleven, not of mine own work, but because of God's love and mercy. He showed me my sin, my worthlessness, my need for His hand in my life. I would never have chosen Him on my own accord, but I did because I love Him; and I love Him not on my own, but because He loved me first. I realized that I was a prisoner to sin, and that Christ had set me free. Obviously, this is the thing I am most thankful for, above all other things --- this is true love... God's love.

November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty,three

    23. My Family and Friends
I absolutely love my family. My parents are so sweet and generous, my sister Lilly is the joy and entertainment of my daily life, and Emily --- although we argue often --- is adorable and I love her so much!
    As a child, I had only a few very special friends, and today I now know so many wonderful, godly people. I love planning hundreds of ways to fill up my days with their company. (My best friend of all, whom I have told you about before, has a birthday in two days --- I just hope her surprise arrives in time.) ;)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones." 
-Proverbs 3:5-8

November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty,two

    22. Life Itself
I've definitely covered the essentials of this over the past twenty-one Thanksgiving posts, but how often are we truly thankful for life? The fact that God gives us breath at all is a marvelous demonstration of His incredible mercy!
    Everyone has days when they are tempted to want a different life. But notice; even the people who have the life you find ideal are also discontent. Don't think anything but what God has giving you would or could ever be "better". He knows better than we do, that's why He gave us the life we have, and not somebody else's life.
    I'm making it a goal to thank the Lord every day for the life He gave me because I know that regardless of the struggles that tempt me to be discontent, He has a plan for the best. And besides, it's much better to enjoy the good times when they come, and to remember them when they depart to make room for trials.

Amazing... we're only two days away from Thanksgiving already. This series has been excellent practice for being consistent in my writing --- although I have missed a few days and needed to catch up a little --- and I hope that the things I've shared have inspired you in some way. =)

November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty,one

I've decided to stroll off the beaten path today and list a few different things I'm thankful for, just for today, instead of simply one for which I'm thankful in general.

    1. Writing
I don't know why, but when the seasons change, I am more inspired than ever to write. Since the snow fell just a few days ago, I've felt such an urge to sit down and just GO. I'm only into the second chapter of my story, but as more and more ideas come, the more I know I need to set free my fingers and print the words from my whirlwind of thoughts.

    2. Piano Music
It is the day of the first piano lesson I have had in over a month. And so, I now regret having not practiced more over the lapse of time, but I am reaping the consequences tolerably. I am thankful that God has blessed us with music to enjoy --- and of course, I want to practice more in the future so that I am not so easily caught off-guard. ;)

    3. Sleep
I've been caring for a friend's cat this week, and the friendly little thing does not want anything else but to be in my lap whenever I am in the same room. My bed is also located directly under my window --- a favorite place for her to roost --- and so she must jump from the floor to my feet, and from my feet to the windowsill in order to peer out into the starlit night. I like to roll around in my sleep, and so my consciousness of her presence prevents me from rolling enough and thereby sleeping soundly. If all that escapes your understanding, simply know that I have grown to appreciate sleep more than ever this week!

    4. Thick Socks
Doing school today was hard because my toes were soaking up all of the cold in the room. (It's very hard for me to concentrate on anything when I can't FEEL anything....)

    5. Pinterest
My sweet sister-in-law introduced my family to a fun site called Pinterest, and I am completely addicted to it, as she predicted! (You can find me on Pinterest here)

"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name." 
-Psalm 103:1

November 19, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day twenty

    20. God's Blessed and Holy Word
I confess, I have a hard time remembering how truly important it is to read His Word daily. There's ALWAYS something else I want to do, and I have to make a choice. I often --- nay, most often --- choose something else. No, we don't need to be reading our Bibles constantly, and no, doing pleasurable things (such as reading other books, going for a walk, or spending time with friends) is not evil --- they are an entirely different matter of discussion. But we do need to keep in mind that if we are Christians who spend more time doing the things WE want to do rather than what GOD wants us to do, we're giving Satan an enormous foothold on our lives and hearts. We begin to justify what we do, thinking, "But I'm not going out and murdering someone, so it's okay." Yeah, that does sound drastic, but read what Corrie ten Boom had to say on the subject when she and her sick sister Betsie were in prison for harboring Jews in their home:

"Selfishness had a life of its own. As I watched Mien's bag of yeast-compound disappear I began taking it from beneath the straw only after lights-out when others would not see and ask for some. Wasn't Betsie's health more important? (You see, God, she can do so much for them! Remember that house, after the war!) 
    And even if it wasn't right --- it wasn't so very wrong, was it? Not wrong like sadism and murder and the other monstrous evils we saw in Ravensbruck every day. Oh, this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his: to display such blatant evil that one could almost believe one's own secret sins didn't matter."

{ emphasis added }

Every sin, no matter how small is sin, selfishness included.

God's Word is such a blessing that I wonder sometimes why it is such a struggle to sit down with it, even for as little as fifteen minutes? I really do love the Bible; not only is it full of true stories that are as delicious to read as my beloved fairy-tales, but the Truth of the Gospel which gave me new life in Christ, as well as instructions for how to return His love for all He has done and all that He is.

Bless the Lord for His Word, and for not letting our Salvation depend upon us, but only on He who saves!

"And looking at them Jesus said to them,  
With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
-Matthew 19:26

Giving Thanks ... day nineteen

    19. God's Power
In fellowship with many of the wonderful women from my church two nights ago, we discussed holiness. Holiness, in a nutshell, is being completely like-minded with God; loving what He loves (righteousness), hating what He hates (sin). As Christians, we are to pursue holiness, being as much like-minded with God as we possibly can.

One of the main things we discussed was how this was impossible... by ourselves! 

Christianity does not end with Christ dying for our sins; He also commanded us to pursue righteousness, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). We've tried that, haven't we? Everyday we try to pursue godliness, but at the end of the day we're crying out to God in utter failure! The most important part we need to remember is that we must go to God in prayer if we are ever to have the strength, or even desire to pursue holiness! We can't do it. He can! But He doesn't just do it for us. He gives us all the strength and nudging we need and then it's our turn to obey and take the first step. And then the next. And pretty soon, we're like toddlers learning to walk, but it's the Spirit holding us up, and our Savior to whom we're walking!

Along with thanking God for His Grace given to me freely, I thank Him also for His strength and power to help me pursue holiness every single day until I am at home with my Lord, King, and Savior Jesus Christ.

November 18, 2011

"Come on, Emily ... Let's Gromit!"

After years of hard work, determination and patience, my sister Emily and I at last completed one of our favorite PlayStation games, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" this evening! Levels of fun based on the 2005 film, our older brother gave it to us just a few years ago to our immense delight.

At first, we were overwhelmed by the detail and difficulty of the many challenges set before us, but the experience helped improve our mind-to-thumb skills over time. ;)

The main point of the game is to get all of the hungry bunnies safely captured and caged before the annual prize vegetable competition the town is having that autumn. Wallace and Gromit's humane service 'Anti-Pesto' uses Wallace's specially-designed gadgets to help them capture the many adorable pig-nosed rodents.

As seen in the movie, Wallace attempts an experiment which goes very, horribly wrong, creating a monster of a rabbit that goes about in the night wreaking havoc upon the town's prize vegetables. 

This is a tale of mystery, loyalty, sacrifice, immense danger, and a quite proud, bald villain who is obsessed with his gun. The film is full of laughs (although having the unfortunate few and occasional hints of crude humor not at all appreciated in my family), and I find every character easy to love... especially Gromit, who is a true hero.

There are some 'quests' still to be completed in the game Emily and I have shared, and I am determined to give my best to that aim, that is, completing every last task.

Behold, my dear readers... Wallace and Gromit!


Giving Thanks ... day eighteen

    18. Mysteries of Creation
We look at the way blood travels through the body, and it makes sense. But how do we know it makes sense? Intellect and information are two of the most incredible parts of God's creation which I just have to marvel at. It's a complete mystery how we can observe every part of creation and comprehend it. The animals were given instinct, and we humans were given limited knowledge and understanding for these amazing things. (Much like how our emotions separate us from mere animals, so do intellect and understanding.)

And yet, although we can comprehend all of these things, we know not what the future holds (we can only guess), and we cannot grasp things eternal --- at least, not completely. Everything we know has a time limit; every human, creature, and plant has a life span then eventually dies. Trying to know and understand that we have been created by God, who is eternal --- who never had a beginning, nor ever will have an end.

I could go on for chapters, books, and entire series writing about these things, going into great detail, naming all of the things our awesome God has made and done.

He is the marvel behind and above the mysteries of creation.

November 17, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day seventeen

    17. Trials
I know I've gone through this generally when speaking of missionaries and suchlike, but this is something I want to stress specifically this year. I have experienced a few very difficult trials over the past three years; trials all of which have tested my faith in God, and took some time to recover fully from. For privacy I can't go into detail, but I want to share at least that although every one of these trials was extremely difficult, God brought the best from them, just as He promised:

"For I know the plans that I have for you,’
declares the LORD,
‘plans for welfare and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope."
-Jeremiah 29:11 

(I speak of course of true Christian believers, true Children of God, and not the unsaved.)

Some trials we bring upon ourselves by sinning; but God still works through them in our lives for the best.

Some trials are given to us by God Himself to grow us; for without a workout, muscle doesn't grow; without tempests, the sailor wouldn't know how to handle his vessel on the seas; and without winter time, we'd be overrun with rabbits --- or rather, sins, in our lives.

Trials are just another part of the Holy Spirit purifying and sanctifying us in preparation for heaven. They are not 'fun' when we are in them, but after the fact --- when we see what God had been planning all along --- we marvel that we couldn't see it and that He could be so wise and truly wonderful to us!

November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day sixteen

    16. My Church
I have attended four different churches over the course of my life, and I believe God has used all of them for the benefit of myself and my family --- all in completely different ways.

I'm so quickly and completely falling in love with 'my church' today. It is a Scripture-deep church with incredible people who love the Lord with all their hearts. I love everything about this beautiful, godly church, and I can't get enough of it.

November 15, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day fifteen

    15. The freedom to be a Christian
Just two days ago, my group in Sunday School was discussing what a blessing it is to have the freedom to be a Christian. As far as I know, every other country in the world does not have this freedom. It is so dangerous to be a Christian outside of America.
    I have grown up so comfortably that I hardly know what this freedom means --- and what not having it means. But even though the expanse of my understanding in this area is very thin, I am so grateful to God that He blessed me with this freedom, and am growing more prayerful for those who have not this freedom. God bless them!

November 14, 2011

Giving Thanks ... days twelve thru fourteen

    12. Missionaries
I am reading The Hiding Place in school presently, and have an ever-growing love for the dear ten Boom family. They were not exactly 'missionaries', but they certainly had quite a ministry, both within their home as well as the concentration camps and prisons in which Cornelia (Corrie ten Boom) especially spent much time.
    The hardships which God's people go through when spreading the Gospel of Christ are heart-wrenching. I know my own turn enduring persecution for my Savior will be easier when I remember all of the martyrs who have gone before me.
    13. Emotions
When pain fills up a heart, there is no better relief than letting the heavy tears flow. When joy is chained up within, there is nothing more delightful than setting it free and sharing it with others. When anger and frustration arise, there is no greater or more honorable challenge than suppressing it with patience.
    Emotions separate us from mere animals --- animals react, we feel and understand.
    Emotions connect us to each other. Since everyone has emotions, we can relate to each other, comfort each other, encourage each other, and so on.
    Emotions help us to understand our Creator better in our hearts. We read in His Word that 'Jesus wept' (John 11:35), among displays of many other emotions. Emotions make things personal. Emotions are such a blessing!

    14. Prayer
There were many times when people either could not or had no idea how to communicate with God. Until Christ came to the earth, we were separated from God by our own sins against Him. Christ changed that by 'switching accounts' so-to-speak; He took our dept to God upon Himself, and imputed His righteousness to us, so that God would punish our sins through Him... and forgive us completely.
    Now that Jesus' work is accomplished, we can speak freely with God, at any time, anywhere --- for He is never too busy, although He takes care of everything; nor is He too far away, for we know that He is omnipresent.
    He loves to hear our requests, to hear us repent of our sins and cry out to Him for help. And I love seeing Him answer my Christian family's prayers every day. We have an awesome God.

One thing that I am thankful for, just for today?
A clear blue sky to fill up the earth with golden sunlight.
Although the sun has already passed the vast horizon,
I'll remember it's smile as I lay to rest tonight.

November 9, 2011

Giving Thanks ... days ten and eleven

    10. Individuality/personality/uniqueness
Everyone has their own style, their own likes and dislikes, their own ideas, their own imaginations; they each have a completely unique fingerprint given to them by God. Imagine how dull life would be if everyone was exactly the same. It would be awful! I thank the Lord that He made every person different.

    11. Activities
I, for one, love having lots of things to do. There are my responsibilities, which come first, but also just fun things like reading, knitting, playing games, etc. The list goes on and on. Photography is definitely one of the top ten things I love to do, along with writing fiction. The best part about the different things each person can do is that they don't need to do them all alone. It's the best to share something you enjoy with someone else. My best friend may live states away, but we keep in touch often through handwritten letters, which we've kept up for nearly five years straight, now. I'm so thankful for an endless list of things to do!

Giving Thanks ... day nine

    9. Stories
Stories give us so much to think about. They open our minds to the thoughts of other people; they give us a map of the writer's imagination. They plunge us into an entirely different world. The pattern of words paint a beautiful picture of one of adventure, of mystery, or of anything desired at all. They can last for centuries not only on ancient faded pages, but also on the hearts of people around the world.

I love stories.

November 8, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day eight

    8. Music
Every week in church, we sing lovely songs to the Lord. I love to just listen to all of the voices coming together as one in musical praise to God, a representation of what I believe we will be doing in heaven for the rest of eternity. It is so beautiful.
    Some of my favorite music consists of movie soundtracks. For example, 'Forbidden Friendship' from the animated film How to Train Your Dragon and 'Rejection in the Rain' from Megamind always touch my heart.
    My favorite songs of all are 'In Christ Alone' (preferably the beautiful rendition by Owl City), and the precious hymn 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing'. Both of these seem to momentarily bring me to heaven and give me a clearer glimpse of my sin as well as God's incredible love.
    Music can be so healing; music can speak so much more than mere words ever could; music is one other thing I am so thankful God put in our lives!

"I will praise the name of God with song
And magnify Him with thanksgiving."
-Psalm 69:30

November 7, 2011

Giving Thanks ... day seven

    7. Seasons
Every season of the year is beautiful and unique; each one has its own selection of troubles and blessings; and each one is a gift from God. Personally, my favorite season of the whole year is autumn. There's something wonderful and almost magical about the vibrant colors, crisp air, and also the hazy gold sunsets through the bare treetops, which stretch upward like arms of worship. Thank the Lord for a variety of seasons!

November 6, 2011

Giving Thanks ... days one thru six

Being busy is a blessing. Not being able to post on my blog? Pure torture. But I have only myself to blame for that because of my tendencies to procrastinate... I was finishing my literature work until (literally) the last minute. The new freedom from all of that stress is... so amazing.

I've been planning on blogging about 24 things I'm thankful for this year, right up until Thanksgiving Day itself. I wanted to post one a day, but unfortunately, I've already missed the first five days due to the aforementioned school, among other things. Therefore, they shall join the sixth on in one big clump:

    1. Laughter
One of the greatest blessings of human life that everyone seems to take for granted. It is such a beautiful, healing thing to laugh, to share joy and cheerfulness with those around you!

    2. Colors and Beauty
God gave us such a beautiful place to live. The earth is made up of an endless variety of detailed plants, people, colors, creatures, all with unique functions and purposes. I marvel that so many people believe that this glorious place was an accident. The evidence of our incredible, all-powerful God is everywhere.

    3. Modern Machines
Our clothing dryer broke down late summer this year. It wasn't until then that I realized what a blessing it was. And not only drying machines, but other simple things such as running water faucets, electricity to power lights in the evenings, and SO MANY MORE!

    4. Work and School
I admit, I almost always take these things for granted. I don't have the brain or heart for math, and work is always a bummer when I don't have the right attitude. But the fact is, whether or not I see these things in the right light, they are great blessings from God; and right now, seeing them for what they really are, I thanks God for them!

    5. Food
It's incredible how much we take food for granted. There are inconceivable varieties of food out there, and we people of America hardly ever realize (or definitely experience) the sting created by the lack of food in many other countries around the world. We're so used to having our bellies full that we are numbed to the fact that there are people out there LITERALLY starving to death. We so carelessly use that phrase 'starving' when our tummies start to rumble slightly. The truth is, I really don't understand what it's like to be starving. And I don't dare take it for granted. I thank the Lord for every meal He gives me, and I pray for all of the people who are not so fortunate. (And thank the Lord for so many people who strive to help the truly hungry!)

    6. Time
Every one has a different amount of time to live. Some people from long ago lived hundreds of years. Some people are only alive for months, days, or even minutes. Every time I remember how much time God has given me to live, I thank Him for it. Life is hard, but life is good, and every life belongs to God.

And one of the hardest questions every person faces during life is, "What am I going to do with my time?"

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way." 
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