December 19, 2014

Tessa

Alone. Awake. Everything else is over for the night, and I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep... not yet....

My favorite song (Tessa) comes on Spotify, and as it plays, I'm overwhelmed with everything the Lord has done in my life this year. Everything has changed in so short a time (including myself), and that only by the Lord's infinite grace! Before, in the midst of confusion, pain, and longing, I could not see past my own nose, while He can see well past the horizon.

Why would He ever be so good to me? I don't deserve this life, I don't deserve to be a part of the lives of the people I care about, I don't deserve the breaths I am breathing, and I don't deserve to be listening to this magical song filling my eyes with tears of thankfulness... this song reminds me of my best friend.

The wait is nearly over. Days, months, years? What is time in the grand spectrum of things, compared with eternity? My God is sovereign. Lord, I will wait. It will be so worth the wait!
 
Right now, in the quiet of my room, I am praying to my ever-near Lord and rejoicing in the works of His hands!

'All this and Christ too'... glorious gift!

November 11, 2014

the little things...and the big ones

Three weeks ago, my older sister was married. It was not really so strange; we had been planning the wedding for months, and my future brother-in-law had already long-since been wholly accepted into our family... all of the pieces fell into place. It was just a bit strange, a bit surreal because while growing up, since I was very little, I tried to imagine what this would be like, watching as my siblings grew up and married and started their own lives and families, but now it is actually happening. In the back of my head, I could never really picture separating from my sisters. We've always been a threesome; we grew up doing everything together. It is strange to see old photos and realize they are 'old'. It's strange to look in a mirror and see a woman, instead of my tiny little face barely able to peer over the counter-top. Life itself is a little strange. It really is not so different from the way it was in the beginning; marriage, children, growing up, marriage, children, growing up... it is a cycle billions of people before me have taken part in, but now it has come to my turn, and I am marveling. It is a peculiar blessing because although I have always dreamed of this stage of life, I could not truly imagine the intermingled joy and moments of stress and sadness I 'knew' would come... such as crying as I gave my speech after the ceremony while people were eating their cake. I knew all this would happen, but now that it is here, it feels strange.

There is no other way I can think to describe it; no words adequate enough to explain the sensation that what is finally real feels so surreal; so dreamlike. I suppose it is one of those things you cannot imagine without feeling it for yourself. My descriptions are lacking.

My sister's bed is empty; the cup for our toothbrushes is one toothbrush short; the closets are devoid of probably a couple dozen pairs of shoes... Life definitely changes, but somehow - possibly the strangest part of all - is that even though there has been much 'lost', there is so much excitement for the new things to come! That is the thought I will hold on to... new things to come. 'Treasure the little things.' 'God is as sovereign today as He was yesterday.' 'In Christ alone.'

I have a new big brother! My big sister is happily married and homemaking, and both she and her husband are being blessed by the Lord! It has already been three weeks since their wedding! Wow... Praise the Lord!

November 10, 2014

june's tears dried

I have been looking back at this old draft of a blog post (below) which I began on June 1st this year.
    I was kind of surprised by it, because presently, my thoughts are so joyful and thankful that I can scarcely imagine having ever been in such a wicked, selfish, despondent state of mind! I have to admit that a little over five months ago, I really was nearly hopeless. I was still experiencing the effects of the most difficult trial I have ever endured, and was at possibly the weakest point in my faith in my entire life. Well, read it for yourself and see what I mean:

Hopes shattered. Dreams lost. Heart broken. It just sounds like a recipe for despair.

I have had innumerable voices in my head, tempting me to replay my miserable experiences over and over again, and other voices shouting over the former din that hope is just around the corner and I just need to stop being miserable for myself.
    Both kinds of voices are exceedingly annoying.
    I have never needed this much time to process a trial and where to go next as right now. I have never felt lonelier, and I have never been more tempted to hold on to bitterness and anger and pain. My eyes are sore from crying, from pouring my heart out to God. In my loneliness, I long for a friend who will listen to my outpouring of confusion, but I fear that all I will receive is advice and encouragement about the future. An aching heart in this condition does not want assurance about the future, which is unsure - a person with a broken foot would never believe that walking on the fractured bones will promote healing - what the heart longs for is peace, rest. Fear about the future may be tied in somewhere, but that is not the issue; it is letting go of the past.
    Praying and praying, I have been begging God to direct my thoughts out of selfishness and into His control. Today, I stopped making excuses and picked up "Passion &; Purity" by Elizabeth Elliot, which offered me exactly what I needed to hear:


The important thing is to receive this moment's experience with both hands. Don't waste it. "Wherever you are, be all there," Jim once wrote. "Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."
    A lovely moonlit night, but I am alone. Shall I resent the very moonlight itself because my lover is somewhere else?
    A cozy candlelit supper with friends - couples, except for me. Shall I be miserable all evening because they are together and I am single? Have I been "cheated"? Who cheated me?
    The phone rings. Oh! Maybe it will be he! It's somebody selling light bulbs. Shall I be rude because he ought to have been somebody else?
    A letter in the mailbox that (for once) doesn't look like junk mail or a bill. I snatch it eagerly. It's from Aunt Susie. Do I throw it aside in disgust?
    I know all about this kind of response. I've been there many times. Something I wrote to Jim once must have revealed my resentment, for he wrote, "Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living." That was exactly what I had let it do.
    There were times, I'm sure, when if anyone had tried to talk to me of the happiness of heaven I would have turned away in a huff. The painful thing was that other folks had not only heaven to look forward to, but they had "all this and heaven, too," "this" being engagement or marriage. I was covetous. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians about the happy certainty of heaven, he went on to say, "This doesn't mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys - we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles."
    Even when I'm feeling most alone - on that moonlit night, in the middle of the candlelit supper, when the phone call and the letter don't come - can I be "full of joy, here and now"? Yes, that is what the Bible says. That means it must be not only true, but possible, and possible for me.
    "Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us."
    Taken in the right spirit. These are the operative words. The empty chair, the empty mailbox, the wrong voice on the phone have no particular magic in themselves that will make a mature character out of a lonely man or woman. They will never produce a steady hope. Not at all. The effect of my troubles depends not on the nature of the troubles themselves, but on how I receive them. I can receive them with both hands in faith and acceptance, or I can rebel and reject. What they produce if I rebel and reject will be something very different from a mature character, something nobody is going to like.
    Look at the choices:

    rebellion - if this is the will of God for me now, He doesn't love me.

    rejection - if this is what God is giving me, I won't have any part of it.
    faith - God knows exactly what He's doing.
    acceptance - He loves me; He plans good things for me; I'll take it.

    The words "full of joy here and now" depend on the words "taken in the right spirit." You can't have one without the other. Taken in a spirit of trust, even loneliness contributes to the maturing of character, even the endurance of separation and silence and that hardest thing of all, uncertainty, can build in us a steady hope.



{End quote}


So, the issue I have been dealing with is actually not having anyone at all. Elizabeth was lonely for Jim Elliot, the man she hoped but did not yet know that she was going to marry. I am lonely for my friends who have been gone eleven days on a long road trip, but I am even lonelier for a man; the man God has set aside for me, which this morning at church, I admitted in prayer that I had stopped believing even exists out there somewhere for me. Anyway, regardless of this difference in circumstance, the truth rings out just as clearly for me.
    I am so grateful for women who have been encouraging me, who have known the heartbreak I have been going through and are seeking to support me according to God's Word. I have been so tempted to seclude myself, but I know that is unwise.




{back to the present}

Wow. All this over a boy!

I'm certain that if I could have seen where the Lord was going to lead me just a couple of months after I wrote those sorrowful words, lifting my head in hope would have come far faster. But He had a lesson to teach me, and it could not have been learned any other way except through suffering.

Even just seven days after I wrote those sorrowful, struggling words, God taught me how to hope again. He showed me my foolish depression, and reminded me of His good plan and all the ways in which He had already proven Himself in the past. He corrected my doubtful thinking - I dishonored Him by disbelieving - and gave me a reason to begin hoping again.

I can barely remember those painful days, so much so that they feel more like one long, awful dream that I have been awake from for some time. Now, a bruise on my arm is just a reminder that when I pinch myself, I am wide awake, and the beauty of each day is real.

I thank God that I am not the person I was then in those old days of despair; that even in so short a time, He has grown and strengthened me. The pruning was indeed exceedingly painful, but I am beginning to see the fruit. Rooted and dependent upon Christ, He is giving me the desires of my heart, above and beyond what I could have ever dared ask for!

June's tears have long since been dried, and I find myself smiling at the future! What next, Lord? I will take whatever brings You the most glory! Help me to be faithful.

September 9, 2014

on enemy soil... to arms!

Sometimes, so many good things fall into place in your life, and suddenly, worshiping the Lord becomes easy, joy-giving, everything you could ever hope for as a Christian! And then just as suddenly, you stumble.

    You think, "How did that happen? I thought being in the Lord made me invincible!" Obviously, you had slipped into complacency; begun relying again on your own strength.

    We are on enemy soil. We must beware of taking off our armour in the middle of the war. Is sounds nonsensical - of course you would never leave yourself so open and defenseless for any attack! But we do. When life grows easy, messing with the buckles on our breastplates does not seem quite as necessary.

    Yes, we must beware of becoming too comfortable when life is all sunshine, for a downpour of heavy rain may soon come and make our feet slide off the path of righteousness. We must not be caught unawares!

    When you don your armour daily, remember your Captain and your Shield, your strong Rock and Anchor among tempests. Do not stray from His side, and the devil's darts and floods and other schemes will not reach you.

September 8, 2014

undeserved riches... the excess and the true

Those who are rich oft make to boast in their riches, as though God has shown them some kind of special favor, or (possibly even worse) that they have singly become rich all on their own wisdom and strength.

    Both are prideful.

    There are times when the Lord God has indeed favorably blessed the righteous, His people, but the confusion comes when people assume that by any power of their own to please God, He has blessed them.

    Riches, if anything, only make us more indebted to the Lord! We pity those who have little in this life, but if the soul has Christ, that is all the riches they ever need!

    The Lord has blessed me so much; in months long past, He saw fit to give me a cup of sorrow and pain in order to make me more completely depend on Him, and now, I am looking back at the past month, and I see plainly that He has blessed my trust in His sovereignty with peace and pleasantness.

    Riches are not always jewels, expensive furniture, or pricy clothing; it can be people, experiences, memories... I have these things. I have more than I need - that is expressing it lightly! - and I am more in debt to God than any other creature! I shall never be able to repay Him for all of these glorious gifts, yet He gives them to me anyway!

    Lord, keep me humble. Remind me always that I am undeserving; that I owe You my all! All I can really do when You grant me such lovely things is fall on my knees and thank You! I asked for a roof and You gave me a palace; I asked for some bread and water and You gave me a feast; I asked for a rose and You gave me a garden. Always, You give and give and give! And Your stores of treasures are no more depleted with each gift. It humbles me to receive Your generous graces, and points me to Your power and lovingkindness. May I never idolize these precious treasures and forget the Giver of them, but in humility, bring all the praise before You, that the world may see, and fear and rejoice in You, the Almighty God!

    To God be the glory; He is faithful and full of lovingkindness - He is the true riches!

August 28, 2014

when the 'good' becomes regrettable

There was a little girl sitting at the table with her family, eating dinner. She knew her mother had made a very special dessert, and did not wish to wait all through beef and dumplings to get a taste. So, when the adults seemed occupied in their conversations, the girl slipped out of her chair and into the kitchen.

    There is was: A glorious cake with white icing and edible flowers, two tiers tall! She slipped a dessert fork from the counter-top and took a tiny piece of the cake. "It is in the back; no one will miss it, so it is not as if I have done anything really wrong."

    She cautiously cleaned and replaced the fork as it had been, and returned silently to her chair.

    She moved her beef around on her plate, distracted by the delicious taste of cake fading on her tongue. She wrinkled her nose at her dinner and decided to slip away again and again. She stopped bothering with the fork, and just dipped her fingers in and stuffed her pretty pink cheeks with the sweet, moist cake. Finally, she entered the kitchen once more and realized she had already eaten one tier of the cake herself. "Well, they willn't really mind so much because I left the smaller tier for them."

    She used her finger to wipe up the last of the frosting from the lower tier and then turned to go. She stopped and glanced back greedily at the last tier.

    "No one will really mind if I have just a taste of this one, too..."

    Before her icing-tipped finger had graced her lips, her parents walked into the kitchen, with their guests following after.

    The girl drew her hand behind her back guiltily.

    "What have you done?!" her mother asked in shock. The girl hung her head, and without another word, she was sent to bed as her mother apologized to the company.

    The girl lay on her bed, beginning to feel sick from too much cake and quite sorry for herself. She had no idea how she had thought she could get away with such a crime, but the cake had tasted so good. How could her parents truly have expected her to sit all the way through mashed potatoes, meat, and all the other distasteful courses before at least trying a bite?

    But was it worth it? Now, she had proven herself untrustworthy before her parents and friends... it would be a long time before she would be able to gain back their trust. 

    She sat up there on her bed, her stomach aching with regret. The girl pictured her father's flat, hard ruler for discipline, and knew her punishment was still yet to come.

Beware of taking the prize before its time.

-The End.

August 27, 2014

beware of little sins (Grace Gems)

(Thomas Brooks)
"Avoid every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Little sins multiplied, become great. There is nothing less than a grain of sand--yet there is nothing heavier than the sand of the sea when multiplied.

Little sins are very dangerous!
A little leaven, leavens the whole lump.
A little knife, may kill.
A little leak in a ship, may sink it.

Though the scorpion is little--yet will it sting a lion to death! Just so, a little sin may at once bar the door of Heaven, and open the gates of Hell!

The least sin will damn us--if not pardoned by the death of Christ!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)
"Not only do great sins ruin the soul, but lesser sins will do the same. Dallying with temptation, leads to sad consequences."

A small dagger thrust into the heart, will give as deadly a wound as a huge two-handed sword. Just so, a little sin unrepented of, will be as fatal as living in gross transgressions.
 
Death can hide in a drop, and ride in a breath of air. Just so, our greatest dangers lie hidden in little things. The least sin may be a very Pandemonium in your heart. It may conceal a host of evils, and a numerous hive of mischiefs, each one storing great harm.

Believer, beware of little sins. Watch and pray, lest you fall by little by little.

Lord, save me from sins which call themselves little!

July 18, 2014

Frank

This morning, I made myself oatmeal for breakfast, and a cup of creamy, sweetened tea. I brought my tea and Bible outside and read, enjoying the songbirds and morning sounds - ignoring the whirring highway cars - and basking in the natural beauty around me. So still was I, sitting there with the Book, that a little brown mouse scurried under some fallen tree branches next to me. At first, I was not sure what I had seen, until he peeked out and looked directly up at me! He wriggled away, and then came back some minutes later, before running off to hide under our unused pile of bricks. Mice are the softest, most darling little rodents. I found one once and named him Theodore. I think I will name this little brown mouse Frank. Does not that sound sophisticated? I can almost picture him in a little suit and bow tie, with a top hat, and a scrumptious plate of Swiss cheese. 
    These are simple pleasures. I love them!

May 7, 2014

the names of men

"I will write upon them the name of my God" Revelation 3:12

O there is a great difference between the names of the saints--and the names of the wicked!

The saints are called . . .
  godly, from God;
  Christians, from Christ;
  spiritual, from the Spirit;
  heavenly, from Heaven, because their conversation is there, because their Head is there, and they are heirs of heaven.

But the wicked are called . . .
  devilish, from the devils;
  the cursed, from the curses;
  worldlings, from the world;
  and sinners, from sin.

The ungodly are called . . .
  dogs,
  vipers,
  swine,
  thorns,
  ravening wolves!

But the saints are called . . .
  jewels,
  treasures,
  kings,
  doves,
  lilies,
  heirs of the kingdom of glory!

And hence it is, that some godly men have thought it a greater honor to be a member of Christ--than to be a king upon a throne! Indeed, a holy heart is better than a great estate!

-Grace Gems,
William Dyer
, "Christ's Famous Titles"

May 6, 2014

freedom

    I have learned the hard way the cost of an idol - more than once. But it has never hurt this much before. God be praised for being more powerful than my pain! Christ has so faithfully forgiven me for an incomparable, inconceivable number of iniquities which I have committed against Him. Through His grace and salvation, idols no longer have power over me; may I never succumb to their lies ever again.

would we really rather have things our way?

"Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!" Psalm 27:14

Will we ever learn this? If we would live in this world for the honor and glory of Christ, we must understand that it is our glorious privilege and responsibility to wait on our God. If we would honor the Lord Jesus we must wait on Him faithfully . . .
  believing His word,
  trusting His promises,
  resting in His finished work as our Savior,
  hiding beneath His precious blood,
  depending on Him for righteousness, salvation, and acceptance with our God.

We must wait on Him patiently . . .
  without murmuring,
  without complaint,
  without dissatisfaction,
  without discontent.
God does not always work immediately, but He always works. He never performs His works on our carnal schedule, but according to His all wise eternal purpose of grace. Let us be patient. God knows what's best for His glory and our immortal souls. He knows when, where, and how to work deliverance for us, far better than we do.

We must wait submissively. We must submit our vain wills to His sovereign, almighty, perfect will. We must wait on Him with a spirit of humility and submission--as children waiting on their father to help them, feed them, teach them, and provide for them. His name is Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord Will Provide). Our God will not forget us. It is our responsibility to submit ourselves to Him, His will, and His ways.

We must wait on Him gladly. We quickly forget that not only is it our duty to wait on him, but our privilege to wait on His Majesty. Would we really rather have things our way? Has not our way proved to be abject misery and shame, countless times before? Would we rather have our foolish way--than His who is Love, Mercy, and Wisdom? Let us, as the dear children of God, wait on Him cheerfully.

We must wait on Him expectantly.
He will do all that He has promised.
He will save us.
He will remember us.
He will destroy our enemies.
He will bring us to Himself.
He will dispel the darkness.
He will accomplish His purpose for us and in us.
Let us wait on Him who cannot fail, with earnest expectation and lively hope.

We must wait on Him prayerfully. We must have our eyes perpetually fixed upon Him. Let us give ourselves to constant prayer, so that day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment--we are looking to Him for fresh supplies of mercy and grace to sustain us, strengthen us, and keep us to the end.

We must wait on Him with persistence and perseverance. We must be resolute and determined to wait on Him forever if needs be. In His time, on His terms, when the time is best, right, and perfect--He will come and He will deliver us from all our sorrows, all our troubles, and all our fears.

Children of God--our Savior will never leave us to ourselves!
He is with us always!
He loved us!
He chose us!
He suffered, bled, and died for us!
He redeemed us with His own precious blood!
He called us by His Spirit and gave us life from the dead!
He has staked His glory as God, upon our everlasting salvation!

He has promised to do us good, and to withhold no good thing from us! How can we not faithfully, joyfully, and patiently wait on such a God as this?

"Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!"

-Grace Gems,
Frank Hall

May 5, 2014

true excellency

Worldly men imagine that there is true excellency and true happiness in those things which they are pursuing. They think that if they could but obtain them, that they would be happy. But when they obtain them, and cannot find happiness, they look for happiness in something else, and are still upon the futile pursuit.

But Christ Jesus has true excellency, and so great excellency that when they come to see it they look no further, but the mind rests there. "Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16
 
-Grace Gems,
Jonathan Edwards

May 4, 2014

mana from heaven

"[...]He could easily leave me destitute--apart from Him, I must go hungry and thirsty, a beggar and in rags. All to Him I owe! Do I praise Him for His bounty as I ought?

The daily bread is to be received in faith. Morning by morning the men of Israel gathered the manna. My Lord would prove me, by keeping me a perpetual pensioner on His charity, and a continual guest at His table. I can never be self-sufficient. I never can walk alone. I am taught to cling and trust--to look up and wait in hope.

[...] I cannot thrive on the grace of yesterday, as nourishing and ample as that was for yesterday's need. I am dependent on God hour after hour, and minute after minute, for . . .
  fresh grace,
  fresh wisdom,
  fresh peace to garrison my heart and mind,
  fresh strength to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil."


-Grace Gems, Alexander Smellie
"The Secret Place" 1907

May 2, 2014

withered rose

When drifts of snow are dried away by gusts of wind and rain
Tree buds are blooming
The clouds are moving
And clear away all the pain

Though life is crowded by confusion that retreats, returns and grows
God's guiding my heart
Through this troubling part
Making a garden of this withered rose

thank You for the little things

Thank You, Lord, for tea biscuits, for long walks at dusk,
    for bronze mailbox numbers that reflect light like lava.

Thank You for books upon books - more than one can read in a lifetime!

Thank You for friends, who love me even when I feel most alone;
    for family that wraps me up in 'snuggly' hugs
    and tell me that they love me.

Thank You for cameras, for Drama Class, for fifteen choices of tea.

Thank You for alarm clocks - even when I want least to wake up.

Thank You for table lamps, cookbooks, video games, and pillows.

Thank You for fingers for typing and playing piano; for prayer, for stories,
    for funny TV shows, for John MacArthur sermons,
    for a building for my church to worship in.

Thank You for voices with which to sing praises to You!

Thank You for watch faces that spin an tick a happy tune in my ear,
    for cat food dishes, for autumn orange hand-knit blankets,
    for green jeans, for stuffed toy bunnies.

Thank You for wilted roses, for shiny silver earrings, for recycled paper notebooks,
    for bottles full of moss, for unscented lotion,
    for Swedish dolls that stack inside of each other.

Thank You for dried flowers, for eyeglasses, for chopsticks, for 'present' rings.

Thank You for tales by the Brothers Grimm, for emery boards, for postage stamps.

Thank You for sandwiches, for ribbons, for electrical cords, for backpacks.

Thank You for the little things, 
    the forgotten things, 
    the things we take for granted.

April 26, 2014

in Christ alone

This is my favorite of my little 'proverbs', my favorite song, my life goal; the sum of who I am and all I ever hope to be.

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: Christ is my Savior, my All-in-All, my Lord, my God, my King, my Brother, my Friend. He is the listening ear that hears me through any thickness of mountain walls, from any distance, at any and all times.

Living in Christ alone is my one lasting hope and dream.

I am a fickle creature - it is part of the curse of sin - but my God is ever faithful to draw me back to Him, to my First Love.

No man compares with Him. Nor anything the world can have to offer. His wisdom is worth more than all of the gold, silver, and precious gems in all the universe - and that covers only one of His many glorious attributes.

My body needs sleep, food, coverings, but my soul needs only Jesus, and He provides all of my needs - both earthly and heavenly - and cares for me more than many sparrows.

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

He is forever faithful, and I owe Him everything.

April 25, 2014

patience, time and prayer

Around Thanksgiving I wrote a blog post about one of my 'proverbs', a saying I repeat to myself as a timely word of wisdom: 'treasure the little things'. One of the others which I like to repeat quite often is 'patience, time and prayer'. Usually, there is no better remedy for a difficult situation than obeying the implications of this little proverb; to wait for the Lord to act and in the meantime to pray without ceasing, to not lose faith in Him but trust that He knows best and will accomplish not necessarily what is for our comfort, happiness, or anything at all that we want... but that which is for our good, and His glory.

Of course, there are times when we are in situations when we have to act ourselves. I am not a great fan of the popular phrase 'Let go and let God' because it implies complacency, a fatalistic attitude - as though God will do whatever He wants anyway so it doesn't matter what I do, or the fluffy theology that we can simply float on throughout life and everything will turn out just fine.

God's Word specifically calls believers to action on more occasions than one, possibly the greatest being to 'love one another' - to be selfless, to put others' needs above Your own, which is Christlike behavior, and might I add, much easier said than done! So, the complacent 'castle in the cloud' theology is out. And so is that attitude of fatalism. What we do most definitely does make a difference. Every person who ever lived is going to have to give an account to God for whatever righteousness or evil was committed by them during that time - no exceptions. So don't waste the time you have. Don't fall into the temptation of believing it doesn't matter, because after we die, the rest of eternity begins, and by then, there is no going back, no remedying what has been done. The time for mercy will be over. And this is important: Doing what is wrong is just as bad as not doing what you know is right.

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin."
James 4:17

And now, back to my point.

I have found the phrase, 'patience, time and prayer' to be immensely comforting over the past several years of my life. I have held it close, repeated it often, recited it to friends countless times. When I feel least in control, it helps me remember that God is. He is the Author of time, the Answerer of my prayers, the Master of long-suffering; I have much to learn, but He is a wonderful Teacher.

Be patient while waiting or while suffering (James 1:2-4; Colossians 1:9-12).

Take the time to read God's Word, have your mind renewed by its God-breathed power and truth (Romans 12:2; James 1:22), and remember that He is in control and works all things together for good to those who love Him and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord (Romans 8:28; Romans 10:9).

And finally, pray like the dickens! (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

April 24, 2014

weather or not

I am not much of one for beating around the bush, so here I go...

Whether or not others agree, I have - all winter and spring long - been finding the occasional snow to be quite a treat; whether or not some or all others complain that April is no time for snow and we 'deserve' better weather, I firmly say, "It is God's prerogative to send us whatever weather He so desires. Whatever He deems best is best, and I am not clay to argue with the Potter who formed me."

Last Saturday night, my mother read aloud a most excellent excerpt from Jerry Bridges' book, Trusting God. I am so glad that she felt led to share it with me and my sisters, and I feel led right now to pass along the blessed words to you. Hang on to your hat, unless you find yourself guilty.

"Complaining about the weather seems to be a favorite American pastime. Sadly, we Christians often get caught up in this ungodly habit of our society. But when we complain about the weather, we are actually complaining against God who sent us our weather. We are, in fact, sinning against God (see Numbers 11:1).
    Not only do we sin against God when we complain about the weather, we also deprive ourselves of the peace that comes from recognizing our heavenly Father is in control of it. [...] Whether the weather merely disrupts my plans or destroys my home, I need to learn to see God's sovereign and loving hand controlling it.
    The fact is, for most of us, the weather and the effects of nature are usually favorable. The tornado, the drought, even the snowstorm that delays our flight are the exception not the rule. We tend to remember the "bad" weather and take for granted the good. However, when Jesus spoke about the weather, He spoke about the goodness of God: "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45).
    Though God sometimes uses the weather and other expressions of nature as instruments of judgment (see Amos 4:7-9), He most often uses weather as an expression of His gracious provision for His creation. Both saint and sinner alike benefit from God's gracious provision of weather. And, according to Jesus, this provision is not merely the result of certain fixed, inexorable physical laws. God controls those laws. He causes His sun to rise, He sends the rain.
    God has indeed established certain physical laws for the operation of His universe; yet moment by moment those laws operate according to His direct will. Again Alexander Carson put it so well when he said, "The sun and the rain minister to the nourishment and comfort equally of the righteous and the wicked, not from the necessity of general laws, but from the immediate providence of Him who, in the government of the world, wills this result."
    We as Christians need to stop complaining about the weather and instead learn to give thanks for it. God, our heavenly Father, sends us each day what He deems best for all of His creation."

Very good stuff. In fact, I would have written all about this in my own words, but I really could not have said it better myself.

So, whether or not creation is yielding weather to your liking, please choose to be thankful and even praise God for the "bad" weather. He knows best.

March 20, 2014

wild rumpus

Surprises. I have had a lot of them lately.

I have a complex view of surprises; if I know generally what to prepare for, what to expect, I will probably like it a lot; if it seems like everyone knows what it is except for me, I will be virtually tortured until the surprise is at length revealed; if I know something is up, but when I ask about it no one will tell me anything except 'You'll like it', I will be all but driven mad. But perhaps the most surprising thing of all is that I really have enjoyed every one of the most recent surprises immensely. I guess it is just 'getting there' that is hard for me.

About three or so weeks ago, my friends threw me a surprise birthday party (my little sister had a huge hand in it; I think it was even her idea in the first place). I am the sort that when I see something fishy going on - people quieting or shifting feet when I come near, sharing whispers and occasionally glancing my way, or the like - I fine-tune my ears, sharpen my vision, and become the most aware and suspicious sleuth I know.
    Having discovered the hard way from a previous mystery party that my attitude only increased my irritation as no one would tell me anything - that, of course, is what surprises are supposed to be - I, this time, was purposefully ignoring the symptoms of secret-keeping. And besides this, my friends (who had quickly learned my tendency to grow snoopy) were being extra careful to keep me in the dark.
    After returning home from some fun hours of lunch and shopping with one of my best friends, my little sister drew me into our library - my dad is amazing, and we actually have a room devoted entirely to books, and our grand piano (and well, the TV, too) - by playing one of my favorite video games, Spyro: A Hero's Tail. (I cannot resist it, and boy, does she ever know my weakness!)
    About to chastise her for gaming without me, I stopped short when I saw the elaborate streamers, and then looked to the side to see almost our entire church youth group huddled against the wall, smiling like excited imps - they looked somewhere between plain happy and mischievous - and it took me all of a split second to realize what was going on. Then they jumped up and yelled 'surprise', at which I teared up; this, partly because I was impressed at how well they had kept everything a secret without annoying me, and partly because I felt so honored, privileged, and special that they had put in the time and energy to make a surprise party just for little old me on my twentieth birthday.
    And you know what? It ended up being one of the best surprises I had ever had!

When my grandparents took me to the Ordway to see the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra last Friday, I knew exactly where I was going, exactly who with and what for; I was informed that the venue would be fancy - you understand I had never been there before - and that I would most certainly enjoy it a great deal. What surprised me was that it was well beyond what I expected: Infinitely lovelier, far more spacious and grand, and the music above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I learned that Mendelssohn's piece 'The Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)' is possibly my favorite piece of music ever - other, of course, from my favorite song, In Christ Alone, and my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount.
    It was the best kind of surprise - better than I could have hoped or dreamed.

And this morning, one of my very best friends in all the world took me on a trip she admitted she had been planning for about a month. She had given me a card the previous Sunday at church telling me she was taking me on an adventure, and suggested some things for me to bring: Bible, notebook, camera, and (of course) adventure boots!
    She picked me up this morning and brought me to Minneapolis to a little bookstore for 'young people' (about ages 3 to at least 20). ;) It was called 'Wild Rumpus' - just like from Where the Wild Things Are. (And just for the record, I love that book!)
    We spent a few hours in that store, looking at new books, treasuring old ones we had read before, ogling various artwork, and petting the chickens. Yes, they had chickens in the store - petite little things, one black and one grey - roaming free for anyone to enjoy. Several children were chasing after the hens intermittently, and finally my friend gently caught one and cuddled with it for a few minutes. The hen did not seem to wish to leave her hand! There were also caged Chinchillas, many pretty birds, and even a small tarantula named Thomas Jefferson.
    I wish I could describe the ceiling for you, yet I am afraid I will not do it justice. The creativity raised my eyebrows and drew in my camera for a click or two. It had two layers, one of water and a lower one of ice, which appeared to be being cracked by a canoe. The sight daunted me for a moment. I was impressed by the imagination. Actually, that detail itself almost made the whole trip worth it!
    I purchased Enna Burning by Shannon Hale, a book I have read before but never owned (I wrote a review on it a couple years ago here on my blog). There were at least ten or more books I dearly wished to buy, but alas; a nanny's pocketbook is rarely full enough to purchase a whole shelf of treasures.
    Besides this, my friend and I enjoyed an unplanned but peaceful scenic drive around a lake, a visit to the beautiful Victorian-styled Lake Harriet Bandstand, the Lakewood Cemetery, and we even discovered a sidewalk 'little library' box, in which we left a secret note in dwarfish script (based on that found within the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien). It read,

'Greetings, dear reader.
I hope you enjoy your books.
From the green elves of the north.'

And I drew a little symbol using the first letters of my and my friend's names. I hope someone finds it and takes the time to discover what it says! Simple though it is, I presume it will make a nice bookmark for its discoverer. We decided next time we came by - for I am sure that we will, perhaps this spring or summer - to bring a book or two to trade. How will I ever give up one of my books, though, even if I get one in return?? Maybe I will just pick up a random book at a garage sale and trade that instead. 'One man's trash is another man's treasure.'
    All in all, though we felt a bit rushed - I am certain we could have spent days in these places and not have enjoyed all they had to offer - the adventure was wonderful, truly worth the wait. And I am so thankful to the friend who gave this to me as my birthday gift. (Let's have more adventures soon, eh?) ;)

I realize it has been long since I last wrote - over two months, I believe! Well, I shall simply have to make up for that. After so much time, I have much to tell.

January 11, 2014

good Soil

"[...] Have I been making a fair show in the flesh without having a corresponding inner life? Good growth takes place upwards and downwards at the same time. Am I rooted in sincere fidelity and love to Jesus? If my heart remains unsoftened and unfertilized by grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately wither, for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart. Let me dread a godliness as rapid in growth and as wanting in endurance as Jonah’s gourd; let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus, above all let me feel the energy of his Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and enduring seed in my soul. If my mind remains as obdurate as it was by nature, the sun of trial will scorch, and my hard heart will help to cast the heat the more terribly upon the ill-covered seed, and my religion will soon die, and my despair will be terrible; therefore, O heavenly Sower, plough me first, and then cast the truth into me, and let me yield thee a bounteous harvest"
- Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning devotion, January 11th

January 7, 2014

holding onto hope



Spring is coming. It may be difficult to imagine, especially after yesterday, one of the record coldest days of the season, but it is coming.

I awoke early yesterday, before the sun had risen above the eastern trees. After it was glowing golden on the white blanket out the window, I was beginning to read Romans when I looked out at our front yard trees; small buds have appeared, a sign that they are waking from their winter slumber.

School has been cancelled in many places because of the cold, but I am accepting the buds as a sign of comfort that the winter, though exhaustively long to some, shall have its end.

In much the same way, I apply this to suffering in this life; hearing from my Pastor about Revelation which reveals the future laid up for me as a Christian has been as though gazing on the buds of the trees - a sign of hope. We endure winter's wrath now, but spring shall come.

We all tire of life at times; I am teaching myself to live by the precious words of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which say,

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing;
in everything give thanks;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

It's cold, but spring shall come. Life is hard, but because of faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we have the hope of heaven. Endure a little longer; put your faith in Christ; hold onto hope.
Spring is coming.
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