November 27, 2013

treasure the little things


Thanksgiving is here. As exciting as it can be, shopping for dinner rolls or cans of cranberry sauce, rushing around decorating and going someplace to celebrate the plenty with which God has blessed this generation, I am going to assume that many of you feel you do not have much to be thankful for. Perhaps there are not many or even any incredibly wowing events in your life at the moment. Perhaps it is quite the opposite, that there is many a hardship which you are struggling through presently, many a person whose relationship with you seems irreparable. Perhaps there has been death or sickness, or other suffering in your life which puts that empty hollow in your chest, so that you feel you do not have the happiness you believe you should on such a holiday. Well, I hope to remedy this abject thinking. I am not going to give a long lecture on the pilgrims and their hardships and their thankfulness on the providence of God, although this is a wonderful fact of history to be reminded of. I want to explain the title of this chapter and how it applies to tomorrow. Read on.



Almost exactly a year ago when I began taking some portrait sessions for others, I came up with a slogan, if you will, for my photography: treasure the little things. I suppose I have not actually begun to use it yet on Alabaster Rose Photography (my Facebook page), but I say it often anyway, because aside from photography, I have short proverbs or mottos I like to quote to myself and others, more of which I shall probably blog about soon enough, but this one seemed best fitting at present. As said before, in this life there oft seems to be very little to be thankful for. Now I make a practice to never allow myself to ask God why things are not better than they are. Instead, I thank Him for the little things. Believe me, when you really think about it, you have so much to thank Him for.



Every single day when I wake up, I thank God for the day.



It is so simple, but life itself is an incredible blessing which we do not deserve! I could go on for pages and pages about God’s grace to everyone in allowing us to live even though we are all sinners and deserve death! It is part of His ‘common grace’, the grace given to both those who are Saved by faith in Christ Jesus, and to those who have never heard His name or worse, outright refused Him. Life is a precious gift that everyone takes for granted.



I thank God for every single meal I eat.



I have only ever gone hungry a very few times in my entire life. Not everyone can say that. In fact, there are millions of people in the world who can probably say that they have only ever had their stomachs filled a very few times in their life! Some perhaps have never even had an entire meal before. I get to wake up every day and have the problem of deciding what I want to eat. This is a gift from God. May I never dare to forget such a gift! On Thanksgiving especially I always think about the turkey, the cranberry sauce, and all of the staples of the season which are really privileges and blessings, not requirements, and one which many others certainly do not have the means to enjoy as we do. This is another subject I could go on talking about for hours, as it is one that breaks my heart; the idea of starving children compared with we who are rich – for we who have funds enough to purchase pleasures on top of our daily needs certainly are very, very rich – gorging ourselves on more food than our stomachs need because of the tradition of celebrating plenty. It is barbaric. It is heartbreaking. I thank the Lord for my plenty, and I pray for the poor over nearly every bite, and give when I can so that they may be filled. (James 2:15-16, Luke 6:31)



I thank God for my family.



Obviously not everyone has family. Who might they celebrate with on Thanksgiving? Might they celebrate at all? I have family. In fact, there is not one close member of my family – not one grandparent, not one cousin, not one brother or sister or parent who has died in my life. The great-grandparents whom I was too young to know have died. Distant relations and friends of friends have died. Many, many pets have died. In fact, the closest creatures to me who have ever died, human or animal, have been my cats. I cannot know this heartbreak, though I know that I shall have my share of it one day. This presence of all of the people whom I love in my life is a most rare and precious gift. Better still, though not all Saved, I do not have any family members with whom I do not get along. And I will thank the Lord even should these relationships crumble. I will thank the Lord even when I lose to death the people closest to me. He is sovereign, and I will thank him for the time I have had getting-along with and loving my family.



I thank God for books, I thank Him for knitting, I thank Him for blankets, for tea, for paper, my house, my own bedroom, for my last living and very dear cat, for lamps, candles, pens, my laptop, writing, memories, thick socks, the biting cold weather, my leaf collection, my moss necklace from one of my best and dearest friends, flowering plants, the piano, pumpkin pie, dry and moist skin, chocolate milk, the Hobbit movies and book, long and short car trips, singing, walking, sleeping, our cozy sofas, recipes, long nights, long mornings, long in-betweens, for babysitting, for all of my dear friends, and yes, even for my bright pink bedroom walls.



The point is, when it comes down to it, we have much to be thankful for. Count your blessings this season; remember how much God has given to you. And treasure the little things.

November 14, 2013

trust

"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."
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, I do not know what the future holds, but I know that you hold the future.



November 13, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

My dear friend and I went to see Thor: The Dark World in the theater yesterday. I thought it was spectacular, as I knew it would be, and it was almost exactly what I expected... plus much more.

As always, Marvel had special effects to impress, characters too honorable not to love, and one character in particular whose changeableness somehow manages to capture my heart. What is is about such a dark and troubled character like Loki that causes this? Is it the charming actor who plays his part coming through bringing the audience to tears, or is there something in the character itself that demands the need for love? In this movie, as much as if not even more than the first Thor, I felt compelled to offer that love, if only I could. I will not give anything away to those who still dearly wish to see this film, but I will say, we all desperately want to see Loki change, become the hero... don't we?

Sadly, there was one part of the movie I did not appreciate at all, and that is crude humor. Sometimes I forget that the world thinks about suchlike dreadful things in the exact opposite manner that I do, but at the same time as feeling this disgust, I was grateful to know that something so awful still disgusted me.

In spite of this minor disappointment, I was a bit impressed with some of the allusions in the movie, especially one at the very beginning when Odin, Thor's father, introduces us to the film's main theme: light verses darkness. Odin says that before light there was darkness, and in a way, he was right. This is a nod to Genesis 1:1-5,
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God 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, one day."

As usual, the secular world interpreted this truth differently. In the movie, Odin seems to claim that there was no light at all, only darkness, he does not explain how the light came to be, or any of that (we Christians know of course that God is light, and has always existed, and also obviously created the world and the light and darkness, etcetera, so we know the answers to those questions), but regardless of this confusion, I found it interesting how often, as in this example, allusions to God were made. Having good theological teaching and a proper worldview going into the theater probably helped with this.

Also, the humor was beyond expectation or hope! Ugh... I do not wish to give any of this away either, but Loki especially had the theater laughing out loud!

All I ask of you is this, that if you go see Thor: The Dark World, that you lower your expectations on purpose, in order that you are completely blown away. (I was!)

November 11, 2013

the Everlasting Arms

Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest and most popular preachers in the history of the Church, his words still ringing true and relevant and convicting in these times as much as when the ink was fresh upon his papers over a century ago! I have many favourites of  his morning and evening devotionals, and this morning is no different:
God—the eternal God—is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost;” and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”—they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing.
    This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”—arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.” 

This reminded me of the blessed hymn,

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace."

I have many a 'motto' or 'proverb' if you will which I oft repeat to myself and quote to my friends. One of these, and my favourite of all, is 'In Christ alone'. It is a reminder to me that my salvation is in Christ alone, that my hope of heaven is in Christ alone, that my life is to be lived for and in Christ alone, that my strength for each day lies in Christ alone, and that at the end of every day, when once I look back on my many failures and sins over the course of those sunlit hours then behind me, that I am still in Christ alone, and where I am weakest, He is more than sufficient; and more than that, Paul during his sufferings and afflictions heard from the Lord this:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (from 2 Corinthians 12:9)

And Paul continues in verse 10 of the same chapter,

"Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

In Ephesians six, we are called to 'stand firm', to 'be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might',  to 'put on the full armor of God'. In 1 Timothy 6:11-12, we read,

"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

And finally, Colossians 1:16,

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him."

All for Jesus.
Assuming you are truly Saved, truly believing that Christ is God and Saviour and Lord of all, then I say, let us obey these commands in God's Word, trust in full faith that He will empower and protect us, ever upholding us in His 'everlasting arms', and praise Him every day in trial or blessing, in famine or plenty, in drought or downpour.

Let us live in Christ alone.

October 31, 2013

autumn

And so begins the end.
The golden days.
The days of fire.
Farewell, my Friend.
I shall miss you.
I shall miss your ember-hued boughs.

Thank you for burning for me.
One day please come back again.

October 29, 2013

the giving tree

There is pain that builds character and a pain which over time makes strong
yet the pain of a broken heart sadly lasts so dreadfully long
I fight a losing battle with myself against my hopes and dreams each day
and suffer the consequences with tears when I fail to seek God's way

Puritan Prayer
"Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Your mind in Your Word, of neglect to seek You in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless You that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but rule over me in liberty and power. I thank You that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Your patient work, answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Your rule. I thank You for Your wisdom and Your love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross. No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If You should give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Your grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in You. Then I shall bless You, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be upright."

I wish to be like the giving tree, giving and giving with unconditional love, until there is nothing left of me. I want to earn treasure in heaven rather than fight for perishing treasures here on earth. I want to make others happy. I want God to be glorified. I want what I do not want because what I want is not right; therefore I want to stop wanting it so that what I want most is that of wanting what God wants more than what I want; but if what I want turns out to be what God wants, than I want nothing more.

Patience, time, and prayer.

September 26, 2013

the parlor of life

I have been attempting to read more of late. And write. And spend time with people. And balance an impossible number of activities on my plate as I saunter through the parlor of life.

So many distractions. So many interesting things that tempt me to turn away from my course. I look back and can see the marks on the rugs where I had been dragging my feet against the Lord's will for my life.
    Up ahead, some windows are open, some yet still closed. Where is He taking me? What is the destiny that lies on the not-yet-tread path before me?

To make my life a little more balanced, I usually choose one or two activities that must be accomplished and pour my whole day into making certain they are deliberately and effectively taken care of.
    Oh, the many weddings I have seen these past two seasons -- folders and folders of photos to edit! Oh, the plans, the books to read, the people to see... My sweet sister phrased it as being such a blessing that we have so many beautiful things to compete for our time. A blessing indeed. That is a better way of looking at it than, 'I never have enough time to do everything!'

My older sister, Lilly, is off in California presently, visiting two of her dear friends who are there for college. She has been excitedly planning this trip for many weeks, and now it is thenceforth commenced! I have been praying for her often since I awoke this morning; ill as I have been with a cold, I could not accompany her with my mom and other sister to the airport to see her off, but I know she is in the Lord's hands. She has arrived there safely, and I am certain will have a full and precious time there, and return home also in safety.
    With all hope, my younger sister, Emily, will be able to win their homecoming volleyball game tomorrow evening. When determined, she and her friends make an excellent team. These girls have never played better than they have this season, so much have they improved since last year when they started out practically from scratch!
    I also hope to be able to enjoy some fellowship with some of my dear youth group after the game -- Ultimate Frisbee (although I will probably only watch and take pictures), some delicious food, and time in God's Word and prayer.
    And this Saturday, if all goes well and I am healthy enough, I will be visiting my dear friend, second-cousin, and pen-pal on campus at her college. Freshly graduated, Elaine is my friend from Illinois whom I only very rarely get to spend time with. We became best friends through writing letters faithfully since early 2007, and I have not seen her in months. I am very excited that she has come to Minnesota for college; visits will surely be more regular than before!

    Ah, life.
It does become crowded, and not everything occurs just the way you want it to, nor is everything that occurs something you would have wanted in the first place! In my case, however, I am learning to be thankful for everything. I am so thankful to be me; a writer and sister and daughter and granddaughter and friend, a cat-owner and household launderer, a tree-climber and tea-drinker and Once Upon A Time fan -- who is by the way quite excited for the season premier this Sunday! -- a two-year pianist (still awful at it), a bookworm, a reforming sugar addict (Truvia, my sweet-tooth friends, Truvia), and, best of all, a child of God.
    If there is one thing I have learned, the best remedy for feeling 'down' is listing off all of the gifts God has given me, and simply saying 'Thank You!'

The parlor of life does not seem quite as crowded now. It is easier to not drag my feet where God is leading me. The windows, open or closed, do not frighten or concern me as much as they have been.
    Remembering how God has cared for me all of my days so far helps me have faith that He will continue to uphold me and keep His promises for the future. And, as every Christian so joyfully hopes in,
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
-Romans 8:28

Know... all things... good... love... purpose...

That hope certainly makes the burden of each day far, far easier to bear!

September 23, 2013

who, what, when, where, why and how

What does this life matter, unless you have a friend
To carry you through all, one on whom you can depend?
What matters if you've lost your way in a desert long gone dry?
Hope on, hope new, hope real and true; the rain it lingers nigh

Who cares if the darkness comes and envelopes the salty sea?
The sun spins again around the earth into eternity
Who cares if your plight lasts for you another long black night?
You will wake again tomorrow to the promise of morning light

When does the bird call, why, how, and for whom?
And why does the bird's lover call back to him so soon?
When does the flower die and bend down onto the grass,
Or the rocks take a breath from under the water gushing past?

How does the sky fall and yet never touches the earth?
Is it blue, or auburn, or gold, or green, or of color have a dearth?
How can a cat stumble down from a high place and always land
On her feet so very gracefully and thenceforth proudly stand?

Why can my brain remember all in pictures, feelings, words?
It gathers files of my life and itself with memories girds
Why does all creation plea for answers from above,
When God has already given His Word with messages of love?

Where does the time run off to each day, and yet have some always we?
Can it linger-on like pages of a book that I might start to read?
Where do these pages go; how many languages are they in?
The answers to these mysteries escape the mind within


Might, fight, cry, shove,
Life, light, hope, love,
Sing, sigh, shine, grow,
Ask, bask, glean, know.

September 15, 2013

hope and praise

Hope. That's what I feel right now. Amazing. God has brought peace; He is directing my heart back unto the path of righteousness. Our Pastor spoke this morning about Revelation chapters Four and Five, and spoke a great deal on Christ and the Rapture and the Second Coming. It reminded me, 'In Christ alone' (my life motto.) Amidst all of my confused and selfish feelings and thoughts these past couple of week that Christ is my Savior, my First Love, my all-in-all. His love is my comfort. I am so grateful! If you remember my last post, I was struggling a great deal. I willn't say that the struggle has been entirely eradicated; however, I can see the Lord working, and I know that He is strengthening me for all of my little trials.

Beacon of Hope is the best and strongest church I have ever known. It is home. It is family. And I would not trade a moment at church for anything else in all of creation! My friends are godly, swords sharpening my sword with their love and friendship. I stayed up late last night with one of my best friends at her house - I was sleeping over there with my sister - and we discussed all kinds of interesting and beautiful things. As we were talking I realized how much I have been taking her friendship for granted. (This is the same friend with whom I was stargazing last week.) God is using her to edify and grow me, more than she may ever know. Thank the Lord for her and her sweet family!

Actually, I have been taking pretty much everything in my life for granted, now that I think about it. My parents, siblings, cat, bedroom (all to myself), new antique chair, plenty of food to eat every day, my very own Bible that I can read freely all hours of the day.... I wonder how I can ever feel miserable. And yet, Christ is enough without all of these extra things. O Lord, forgive me for my constant selfishness; help me to thank You always for all of the gifts You have given me, and to love You more than any of them!

Hope. Knowing that in the end Christ is all that matters has lifted up my soul out of its pained confusion. I am simply content to be His. Praise the Lord!

September 11, 2013

to go beyond

Poetry. Architecture. Writing. Music. Life. People. Friends. Faith.

Those seen above are words continually being cycled and recycled through my train of thoughts. New ideas, possibilities, opportunities are all swirling together, confusing what I have always wanted with what I am beginning to understand I really have wanted underneath it all along.

To sacrifice my treasured ideas, to go beyond the lands I am familiar with, to climb up and over the walls that have held me in... it is a frightening stage of my life, challenging, befuddling, even painful. I have begun to wonder if I truly know myself.

Questions are being posed in my life for the first time, and I do not understand nor dare venture to blindly guess the answers.

The vagueness and metaphorical ramblings I am using are the only way I know to explain my feelings without declaring to the world subjects better left unspoken.

Here is one thing I can mention freely without such secretiveness: a friend of mine has been challenging me by his mere presence to examine my writing with more purpose and reflection, with more diligence and intelligence. I honestly feel outright stupid in his presence, and feel as though all of my writing is under his adept scrutiny. I fear his criticism because I am afraid to hear my writing is not good enough. I am afraid to have demands made of my skills to alter the treasured drafts of my novel into something I did not intend it to be. I know I am able to trust my friend's word; he is honest and encouraging, and most certainly very intelligent, indeed! What I fear is more specifically that after all of these years of writing, rewriting, growing, revising, and perfecting will be thrown away.

    Writing is like any other kind of artwork, always to be interpreted differently because each and every interpreter is different. And I honestly have been tired, under-slept, and altogether irritable this past week, which has made all aspects of life more challenging. I selfishly want to keep my writing to myself. I do not want fault to be found in it. I know fault exists. However, in my pride, I wish to find it first on my own before submitting it to criticism. Forgive me, my friend -- you know who you are -- I need a little more time to sort out my feelings and seek peace from the Lord before I allow you to read my novel.

Another part of this bowlful of spaghetti (which is the tangled mess of my life) consists of my prideful desire to not let myself be outdone by others. Juvenile but true. I am surrounded by artists, musicians, writers and all manner of skilled people by whom I feel challenged, or more accurately, threatened. I know I am not nor ever will be as talented as they are, and I am frustrating myself by trying to meet their level of skill. It is a fruitful process, however. I am beginning to understand who I am. And now, I am learning not to fight to be like others, as though that would be fulfilling, but to be myself; to pursue God's will for my life and use my talents for Him rather than to attempt to please others. And the Lord is helping me with my pride, piece by piece. For example...

Two nights ago, my sister and I had a dear friend over. We lingered outside whilst she was beginning to leave, and ended up lying out on the grass in our backyard, stargazing amidst the night fog and reading aloud Isaiah chapter forty. I have yet to dare admit it to her, but she is one of the brilliant friends of mine about whom I have been struggling with jealousy. She does not understand how talented she truly is, nor how humbled I feel whenever we spend time together.
    Anyway, I was being a coward that night. I looked up at the stars, so many and so distant that I could never dare to count them all. I felt so small, so pointless underneath their soft glow. I imagined them singing to the Lord, twinkling for His glory, and I forced myself to cease from my self-pity. Forgive me, Father. I prayed and I prayed with a heart full of sorrow. I hate my pride and selfishness, and I hate this haunting jealousy and the competitiveness that is destroying the joy in my life.
    As my dear friend began to leave -- s
he did not know I was struggling with these awful feelings, and was saying such sweet things about not deserving my and my sister's friendship, and we agreed -- well, she was in her car, just starting to drive away when she reached out her hand.
    I had to make a choice. In that little moment, hardly longer than a breath, I considered my many fears and especially what I feared most:
I feared being always less skilled than she; I feared my selfishness; I feared losing this opportunity. These were my options: I could take her hand, pretending there was no struggle of jealousy in my heart. I could let her hand remain extended until the car rolled out of reach, leaving her thinking there was something barring me from extending my full friendship. There was yet still a third option, and this was the one I chose. I reached out and took hold of her hand, inwardly crying out 'forgive me'!
    This is the same friend who has said that she always reads my blog posts. She is busy today, and will continue to be so for a while, but I hope she finds the time to read this. I do ask your forgiveness, my dear, dear friend!
 

And of course, I hope we all are remembering the meaning of today's date. 9/11. It represents the dreadful, painful experience of the Twin Towers, serving as a reminder to not waste a moment of the precious time we have.


So, these are a few of the trials in my life at the moment. The presence of the aforementioned friends around me is being used to challenge me to do nothing; that is, to instead of attempting to be as good at everything as they are, to remain humble, which is in many ways a far greater challenge.
    Challenge accepted.

Lord, by Your grace, help me be content, to be patient, to go beyond...


                                                                                   In Christ alone,

September 6, 2013

Enigma of the Night

From November 6th, 2012 Tuesday, a poem with a forgotten tune of a song I wrote for pleasure:

//Enigma of the Night//

Verse 1:
There's a feather floating on the breeze

Dancing through and past the trees
T'ward the great and fearful seas
    to swim instead of fly

Undiminished drops of dew

Drop on by right next to you
Sitting there on the toadstool
    to hide instead of shine

Bridge:
We all have seen those kinds of days when life won't satisfy
Until it gives-in to our will and grants us a surprise

Chorus:
Fairy-tales, fantasy, starlight riddled with our dreams
We all want to know how it would feel to fly
Fairy-tales, fantasy, all the raindrops in the sea
It's a mystery that no one can deny


Enigma of the night

Verse 2:
There's a jewel in the rocks

List'ning as the starlight mocks
And it breaks free of its stocks
    to glow instead of cry

...

Bridge 2:
We all have seen those kinds of days when life won't satisfy
Until it gives-in to our will and grants us a new prize


Chorus 2:
Fairy-tales, fantasy, things aren't always as they seem

All our trouble only last a little time
Fairy-tales, fantasy, all the tears upon my sleeve
It's a mystery that no one can deny

Enigma of the night

August 22, 2013

the Solid Rock

My Hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

August 17, 2013

ellipsis...

As a child, I never would have guessed where my writing would have taken me, how far I would come in the simplest things such as spelling or metaphorical speech, nor how close I could be to actually becoming an author.

I began this novel in 2005 on my grandmother's beautiful typewriter when I was eleven. It was based on a dream, based on a video game, and it was the beginning of something marvelous. Countless drafts and eight years later, I am six chapters completed with my novel. Never have I been so determined to finish it, to publish it, to hold its bound pages in my hands. I want to fulfill my lifelong dream of typing out the words, 'The End' and someday putting my work-well-done on my bookshelf, alongside The Goose Girl and The Healer's Apprentice and Redwall, and all of the books that have made me who I am today.

I always am encouraging my fellow writers to continue writing. There is no other hobby or talent from which I derive more pleasure than writing, and it is lovely to watch others develop their dreams and stories along with me. We all see things differently; we all look at a painting and arrive at a completely different idea of what the story is behind the artist's craft.

I find myself presently at the same point every writer inevitably meets along the winding road of literary choreography and revision: I am residing within the confines of an ellipsis, three small dots oft used to represent a continued thought, or the cliff of a sentence yet to jump off of to reach the other side.

...

Where shall I go next? My story is thirsting for more, crying out to have its ending revealed. I know the ending. Arriving at that end is the issue. There are so many distractions, so many other activities and necessities in life to make time for. But, Lord willing, I will finish my novel. He is the highest Author, who writes the story of every person alive, and I endeavor to have all that I write give Him the glory always.

If you are a writer, do not give up. Do not be exasperated when it seems there is not enough time for you to pursue your writing; do not feel dejected when others criticize your work or tell you what you love is not good enough; do not grow lazy; do not grow discouraged when you think others do so much better than you; do not even despair when what you write does not sound the way you had hoped or planned...

Write. Rewrite. Determine to see your writing to the end. It does not matter how long it takes. (Good grief, it has already been over eight years for me!) Trudge through your 'ellipsis'. After all of the sweat and tears, you can take a nice long hot shower and reward yourself with a little snack (kiwi, Junior Mints, a Klondike bar, or whatever you like), but for now, keep working. Keep writing.
It will be worth it.

August 14, 2013

the simplicity of joy

I never grow tired of autumn's glory. The seasons change and the weather receives a fresh chill, the plants burst forth with flaming colors against the broad blue sky, and the whole world acts as though it is falling asleep. Here I sit, breathing it all in, looking back on the memories made over the summer, looking at where I am now, hoping for the future, and thanking the Lord for all He has done.

"This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

August 13, 2013

dependent soul

When the things of this life which we cling to are ripped from our hands, when dreams and aspirations are placed just out of reach, when doors are closed, when our hopes are dashed... where else can we turn but to Christ? If we do not depend on Him, surely we will fall. A Christian might be dragged along and eventually come to the end of God's path, but scarred and having lost all opportunities to live righteously and store up treasure in heaven.

Everyone depends on something. Circumstances, dreams, money, pets, people... the list is endless. But the Christian must learn not to grasp these fleeting things, but depend only upon the Lord. Just like Peter, when walking on water towards Christ looked about at the storm all around him began to sink, so we, if we turn our eyes from God's will revealed in His Word, feel ourselves begin to drown.

I was drowning. I had to cry out for Christ to save me, and He pulled me up and out of the flood. I almost found it funny; my stupidity, that I had fallen yet again. Lord, how many time have You proved Your power and love to me? Countless times! And yet I still doubt. You let me go under only long enough to remind me that I need to depend on You alone. And then You always rescue me. Thank You, Lord!

People can tell themselves they don't depend on anything, but believe me, everyone does. It can be life itself, it can be the prospect of a brighter tomorrow, it can even be revenge... we've all seen the movies. Everyone wants something, everyone is driven by some desire and depends upon the arrival to their personal end. We are dependent souls. And because I can't stress it enough, I will repeat: unless a person depends only upon the Lord Jesus Christ, they will find themselves falling, and falling hard, drowning in the sin of selfish ambition and not fulfilling the glorious purpose of every man: living to give God glory.

Last week, as part of a testimony of things God has been teaching them recently, some dear friends of mine confessed a need for this dependence. I have been feeling the same absence of this Christian attribute in my life, and was grateful to see the Lord working to point out the same want in the lives of my brethren. We are wholly united; in our weaknesses, in the love and power of God, in the most certain hope of heaven. And this is to me a great comfort.

Yet, there has been no greater comfort than to know that God is with me. I depend on Him.
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