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

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

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
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