Thursday, December 29, 2011

Favorite Posts from 2011

This being the final Thursday in December, and thus the last week in 2011 (already?!!), it is now time to let me know which of the blog posts over the past year were your favorites! :) I'm going to make another little sidebar link list of them...

Oh, and you can also tell me why you liked them... if you want to... * smiles invitingly *

So... comment away! :) And thank you for reading!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Just a note: this post is rather different from most of my posts. I feel a little weird saying this here... especially since I'm not completely "out" yet (you'll understand more when you read it). But God has been impressing on me the need for being real and not trying to keep up an illusion of... not perfection, but of... being "good", I guess-- and this is part of that. :)

Before I really started getting to know God, I was in this dreadful state of being caught between two worlds: sick of this earth and all its troubles, and not really wanting heaven, either.

This world seemed to have very little good in it... I had very few real friends, and most of the friends I did have were far away. The political and economic world is a mess; which bothered me greatly. (you may not realize it, but I am and pretty much always have been interested in politics.) I saw immorality and hurt and sin everywhere, including in me. I felt alone in my desire for something more than simply being a "nice girl."

I was on the verge of this thing they call "Adulthood", at eighteen... and yet I felt like neither a child nor an adult. On one hand I was more childish than others my age--and on the other, I was much more mature.

I was trapped. Trapped inside myself, trapped between two worlds: wanting neither. No one noticed, or if they did I never knew they did. I myself hardly realized my dilemma: I lived in it.

Thinking, always thinking. Wondering if anyone else struggled like I did. Wondering where I fit in this world. Wondering what my life would hold. Quietly. Holding it in.

Wanting to know God--but He seemed so far away. Wanting to do right, but failing again and again. Wanting to fit in. Wanting to be noticed. Wanting close friends.

No tears. Just quiet, restless, incessant thoughts.

A heart that pretended to be soft, but was hardened.

Slowly, slowly... He broke through my walls.

Friends, prayers, books...

His word.

Real, not imagined pain.

Bringing me to the end of me.

Breaking me to the point of tears.

Holding my hand.

His glory.

His love.

He brought me out... is bringing me out.

And now I have hope for here. I still see all of the horribleness of this world. I still see the wretchedness of my sin. But I see something more: I see God's hand, over it all. I see God working, in and through me... and in and through those around me.

And not only do I have hope and joy for here, on earth, I now long for the day when I will finally meet my Savior face to face... when I will be able to see Him, hear Him, feel Him. When I will no longer have the sin... when all the troubles of this world are gone.

Finally, I am beginning to be... in this world, and looking forward to the next.

No longer trapped.

Free, in Him.

P.S. I know I know... you were expecting a Christmas background. :D I couldn't find one I liked... and Christmas in Florida is pretty green anyway. So I figure this works. :D

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Do You Read This Blog?

I'm curious. I'm always curious, but this time I'm curious about something in particular. Something you can help with. And, as you may have deduced from the title, I am wondering why you read this blog.

Is it because you're my friend? Is it because you collect blogs? Is it because you like the content? Is it because you learn things? Or because you're entertained? Is it because you believe similarly? Is it because you believe the complete opposite and like studying the other side? Is it because you like poking fun at my posts? :D Is it some other reason I haven't thought of yet?

There, I think that was a pretty thorough interrogation...

Oh wait, I have more questions. Why don't you comment, if you don't? Do you like the weekly scheduled posts? Or did you like it better random?

I've been putting more effort into it over the past few months and had a result I don't particularly like... less comments. :'( Which, I guess, is okay... since I can still hope you read them and get something from them, and I benefit from writing them.

However... it is more fun if I get comments. So I guess I'm... asking you to comment more. Especially on this post, since if you don't comment it'll be quite useless... ;)

Yes, I'm one of those pathetic bloggers who beg for comments. :D I know it's hard to comment on blogs sometimes because you don't know what to say or don't have time or whatever, but I'm not terribly picky about what you say, so when you get a chance in your busy blog reading lives it would be lovely. :D

P.S. Oh! Suggestions of any kind (except like... about college or cutting hair or things like that... :D I guess I should specify blog related suggestions) are also very welcome!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Counted Worthy

Recently I was attempting to do something nice for my father, and it was accidentally construed by a sibling of mine to seem like something quite different and not nice at all. I was quietly very frustrated and hurt… here I was trying to do something good, and I could tell it was being viewed as something wrong.

And then I realized something: This happened to Jesus all the time. And I was amazed and so thankful to Him, and grateful for a chance to understand even such a small bit of what He experienced. Seriously… He never did anything wrong (while I regularly do wrong), and over and over was accused (And even killed!) for things He did not do. o.0 (In my case, shortly thereafter, we got it all straightened out and no harm came of it.)

This is something I’ve been learning more and more, and it is so helpful… I think I started doing it when I read in the Hiding Place where they are standing in line, unclothed… and they realize that Jesus was humiliated in the same way. And Betsy says, “oh, and I never thought to thank Him!” (or something like, I don’t have the book with me. :( )

Somehow… it helps, knowing that He went through all these troublesome emotions and situations. And it helps when you look at your pain and realize how much worse His was… and that He did it for you, out of love. He didn’t have to experience that pain. He didn’t have to subject Himself to that torture and humiliation and false accusation. And yet… He did. For you. For me. For His father’s glory.

Sometimes you’re lonely, in the middle of a crowd… no one really understands you. You have a quiet ache that no one sees… no one cares about. Just think of Him: He had such a horrible weight on Him, knowing all that would come… and no one understood. No one could understand it. Even surrounded by so many followers, He was alone.

Perhaps you’ve loved someone and you love was not returned… just think how His heart breaks over the millions who totally reject His love.

And on and on it goes…

When you are suffering, remember to think about your Savior and what He went through for you.

Several good things are accomplished through this… one, your suffering will be put into perspective. :P Two, you will be so much more grateful to Him. Three, you will have an example to follow of how to deal with your hurt. Four, you will be distracted from your own little problem and your eyes will be on Him… which is always a good thing. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reckless Abandon

What do you think of when you hear that phrase? Probably something drastic, right? If you're a Christian, you might think of something like going off into the jungles of Africa... or vowing to live a life of self-sacrificing poverty... or choosing to be single forever... or something like that.

As I was washing dishes a while ago, and then again more recently, I was pondering this...

We are called to live with reckless abandon-- to Christ. We are to completely abandon our "selves": our desires, our dreams, our hurts, our thoughts: everything that is our "self"... completely.

That means... counting all of this world as nothing: that you may gain Christ. Actively choosing His will over yours. Leaving your life, your family, your loved ones, your future, your job, your stuff--everything--in His hands. Trusting Him to take care of the details... even if you don't like the outcome or can't see how it will "work out".

And that can take any number of forms... sometimes what self wants is to do something big and drastic and noticeable... and what God wants at that time is for you to be taking care of a little sibling. It doesn't always involve going off to the ends of the earth and getting yourself killed... Sometimes it means being still before your God. Sometimes it means speaking in front of a big group of people when you'd rather be anywhere else-- doing anything else. Sometimes it means giving up a hobby you love dearly. Sometimes it means getting rid of some clothes.

And sometimes it does mean giving up all you know and love and going wherever God calls. Sometimes it does mean literally giving up your life for Him.

It's willingness to do whatever He asks, mixed with utter trust that He knows best.

Because... He is worth it. So much more than worth it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

April Fool's

Warning: For some of you, this post is Completely Random. It's perfectly fine if you'd rather not read it--though if you do chose to, it may amuse you. ;)

And no, I haven't lost my mind... I do know it's Thanksgiving tomorrow and not April Fool's day... See, on April first of this year, a bunch of my friends and people from two of the forums I help moderate (The Rebelution and Holy Worlds) absolutely flooded me with emails. Somewhere around 220, to be exact. And I have finally, finally finished answering them!! And in honor of that accomplishment, I've decided to post a sampling of the kind of emails I got with some of my replies. 

They actually did two waves, the first one including tons of smiley emoticons... here's one of the more interesting of those emails.

there are many kinds of smiles:
:P :D  :T  :V  :Z  :S :O :B :J :)

straight, crooked, curvy, sly, ones with tongues sticking out, ones that show 2 front teeth, and of course, normal matter which type you have...
SMILE TODAY!!!!!!! :)

Then, completely to my surprise, came the second wave. With the questions. And the letters: serious, sweet, silly. And the goofy stories. And the editing requests. And more questions.... Here are a few of my favorites.

Hey, Duchess Daisy, I have a question. What do you believe about total predestination?

Do you really want to know? Okay, I'll tell you. I believe that God is God, and whatever He believes, that's what I believe. From my earthly perspective, I don't think He believes in it. However, I am quite fallible, and hencely I don't argue about it. :D 

Hi, Carissa.  I was wondering what you thought.  Do you think that gender is something that affects the soul?

This is a very interesting question!! I think it was my favorite one to ponder... I really have no idea. One thing I did fine interesting was that in Psalm 34:2 it says "My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad." David refers to his soul with a feminine pronoun. o.0 I don't know if that means anything, but I thought it interesting. It is fun to imagine different kinds of souls, though... kind of like the dryads in Chronicles of Narnia. :D What do you think?

Oops! I was going to ask, what do you believe about dating and courtship, as well! 
I believe... that each time God brings two people together, it is vastly different... and thus, no two courtships will be the same. I also believe that guys and girls should not mess around with each other's hearts (or bodies. :P) just for fun... if they are getting really close and spending tons of time together, it should be with the intention of marriage. And I believe that wisdom should be sought from parents, especially Christian parents, and other wise people in your life. (And tons more things, but that's all I'm putting here. :P)

Do you enjoying homeschooling?  And why?  What curriculum do you use?

I do enjoy homeschooling immensely! :D There are lots of reasons... probably my top ones would be:

1. I have been able to learn about things I'm interested in personally, instead of just whatever the school system decided for me.
2. I've been able to spend much more time with my family and learn practical skills here at home
3. I haven't had all the negative peer pressure
4. I have been able to be brought up with a solid Biblical worldview; which, while not impossible in public school, is definitely easier at home.

Those are the main things that come to mind right away... :)

We don't really use one particular curriculum... it's just a mix of everything. :D We do use Math-u-see, though, for math. And... various other things... it changes pretty often, too. :) We love to read, so that is a big part of our education. :)

Do you homeschool? And if you do, do you like it and why? 

Do you know of a good April fools day joke?

Well... it's kind of late, now, haha. But... I made an April fool's breakfast for my siblings... I put the oatmeal in their mugs and their tea in the bowls, among other fun things. :D My sister Cheryl also did one where you have a spool of thread hidden under your clothes (in a pocket or something) and you thread it up so it's coming out of the neck of your shirt... then when someone tries to take it off your shirt, it just keeps coming and coming. hehe. :)  

"If you were stranded on a desert island, what one item you would most want to have with you?"
I do expect a reply. 

Didn't you already ask me this once??? One item. That's so mean. I want a pen and a notebook.

Ummmmm.... item. I don't suppose I am supposed to be practical, am I. Cause that would be boring and stuff. So... let's see. 

A...a... shovel! So I could make sand castles and holes and stuff!

Ooooor... a Bible. Cause it would keep me busy for like... the whole time. You can keep on reading it over and over and always learn stuff. Plus also it would help keep me sane and stuff. And I like learning about God.

Hmmm.... perhaps... oh! A boat!!! Yeah! Then I could get off the island! hehehe.

Maybe... peanut butter! It's yummy...

Oh, oh! I know! I'd bring... our harp! Then I could play pretty music! And then maybe someone would hear it and like it and take me off the island! Plus if they didn't I would still have fun...

Okay, is that enough? Are you satisfied?? You better be. huff.  

And letters... 

hey girl...
whats up? hope youre having like a really cool day lol...its like so gray and rainy here its like totally depressing...dude you should like come over...oh yeah i forgot that would sorta take like a long time for you to get whats up, huh?...are you real busy? i'm just totally overwhelmed with like tons of stuff i mean its not even funny lol...yeah so just you know text me sometime so we can hang out and stuff OK?  yeah well i need to go and ill see you around sometime....

lol, gurl, u r so funny. like totally, man. i had an awesom day it was like so cool, man. im sorry it was depresing and stuff over there tho.. thats sad. yeah itwould take 2 long i thnk.. mabye someday we can come again k i will text u sometime. oh but i forgot u dont have a cell yet. thats like, lame, man... hurry up and get 1 k i will ttyl

Hey Carissa!

I just wanted to let you know that I was looking at your blog today, and though that it looked really really cool! :D Your post about the Casting Crowns song was awesome! Our God is so absolutely amazing!

How long have you been running your blog? What do you enjoy most about it?

Congratulations on your new sibling coming!! :D That's so exciting! When is your mom due?

May 'the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace'! (Numbers 6) I hope you have a wonderful day! :D

your sister in Christ 


I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner... I'm just finally getting around to answering the last of the prank emails. :)

I'm glad you liked my blog! :D He is indeed... very muchly so. :)

That particular blog... I think it's been about two years now. I like being able to have my writing read by others and getting comments... :D I also like picking backgrounds and so forth.

My little sister Esther was born on June 15th! :D :D :D My mom was due June 20th, to answer your question. Esther is super cute... (pictures here) and we love her dearly. It's hard to comprehend that not too long ago she was not here!

Thank you for that blessing. :)

Love in Christ,

Dearest Carissa,
    How are you today?  I am doing great.  I'm singing in a homeschool music festival which is great fun!!  It started yesterday afternoon and it is all day today and tomorrow morning.  Then tomorrow afternoon we will have a concert for our family and friends to come to.  So yeah, when you read this email I will be either eating lunch or singing my heart out.  Well, hopefully not all the way out. 
Stay safe dear, it's a dangerous world out there.  And do be careful when going through doorways.  I mean a thousand things could happen.  You could get dizzy and fall and smack your head on the door way.  Or if you were too tall you would bang your head on the top of the doorframe.  Or someone could slam the door on your fingers as you walk through...I could go on all day, but I'll spare you the gruesome details.  Just...stay safe!!
Love you lots,

Dearest Sally,

Yes, I know. I'm answering this. Don't ask me why. Ahem.

I am doing splendidly! Church was awesome. :D God is amazing...

Oh goodness!! I never thought of that!!!! What if you accidentally singed your heart ALL THE WAY OUT??? That would be simply dreadful! And then you'd DIE!!!!!!! Ahem. I'm glad you haven't singed your heart out yet... try not to, okay? Thank you.

I'll try. Maybe I shouldn't sing anymore... It sounds really dangerous, the way you put it...

Ack!!!! Ada, don't scare me like that! My heart might beat too fast, and then it might QUIT, and then I'd DIE!!

Love you more,

And the stories...

Dearest Mademe Gwinevere,
My, it has been soooo long since I've writen to you, hasn't it?  I feel like I'm writing to a stranger!  Its been terrible rainy here lately.  Well, I wanted to send you a first person account of something that happened to (guess)............Thats right....ME! :)
It all began the other day when I was (drum roll please)....playing with Hosea. (What's new, eh?)  We were kicking the soccer ball around when down the road comes a buggy.  Now, normally I wouldn't pay any attention to a buggy going down the road.  ( It has something to do with nerotransmitters blocking signals from your brain in order to keep you from being constantly distracted with unnecessary details, or something like that.  See, I DO pay attention in science!:P)  Anyways, back to my story.  What was so odd about this particular buggy was that the horse was......cantering.  Thats right, down Spring Grove Road cantered a beautiful brown horse, pulling behind it a black buggy, much to the surprise and puzzlement of Althea R. Wimer.  "Well," I thinks to myself, "What kind of person would let their horse run down this road like crazy, straight into an intersection no less?  No one!!  That horse must have escaped, and is now cantering freely down the road, with no one in the buggy!!"  So I do what most people do when they don't think very well, I panicked.  Leaving Hosea to stand wondering in the yard, I rush into the road, and start waving my arms in a big T, right in the path on the oncoming horse.  (Please, Please, Please, don't tell anyone else about this, okay?  We always been such good friends, right?  You wouldn't want to ruin my reputation, would you?)  Well, fortuanately the horse stopped, without crushing me in the process.  But unfortuanately, there actually was someone in the buggy.  This tall older Mennonite man steps out and in a thick Dutch accent asks me what in the world I was doing. (He didn't say it quite like that:D)  More unfortuanately, Mama had been watching my thoughtless escapade and came out to see what I had been thinking.  The answer?  I wasn't thinking.  Well, totally embarassed, I returned to the house, recieved a long long lecture from Mama, and was sent to my room to consider my actions. 
Well, thats the story.  Very humiliating.  You won't tell anyone, right?  Our secret, huh? 
Lady Cordillia 

(And yes, that story was made up. And yes, I... fell for it for a bit. Don't ask me how... :P)    

P.S. Yes, many of the emails were in green... my favorite color.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Prayer: a Journey

I think it started back when I was eighteen, this journey He's taken me on.

I began reading "The Necessity of Prayer" by E.M. Bounds in January 2009... I caught glimpses of the power, the importance and the beauty of prayer. In spite of seeing those things, however, prayer had still not become a crucial part of my life. I would easily skip praying for days on end... of course, when I realized it had been a while, I felt bad and tried to get back to it again. Still, however, it was more of a nice idea than a reality in my life.

Not long afterwards, Pastor Mark preached on prayer and challenged us to spend a minimum of ten minutes in prayer daily. I decided to take up the challenge: didn't always make it to a full ten minutes every day, but I tried. And through this practice, I became more and more consistent.

In May of 2010, God started impressing on me strongly the need to pray for one person in particular--so I started doing that.

God was drawing me steadily nearer to Him... through many sermons, books, and so forth. The days when I did not pray became fewer and fewer and farther in between.

In January of 2011, I read the book Forgotten God, along with several other fantastic books: God Smuggler (Brother Andrew), Brucko, The Hiding Place, and more. I also refrained from internet use (for the most part) for the entire month--which meant more time to pray and think. Something happened that month. I am not sure how to describe it, or what it was. But something is different.

In June I read the book "Wrestling Prayer"... wow. I highly recommend it. In that book, it mentioned a book called "Intercessor". I was just going to read the other two books it mentioned, since I had those. However, a friend of mine mentioned Intercessor and said I must get it. Since I had the money in the bank, I ordered it that day-- and got it two days later which was... crazy.

I finished Intercessor in July and was moved by it in many ways. I "happened" to be reading it during a time when a group of people especially need powerful prayer... which worked out really well.

I have since read "Prevailing Prayer", "The Power of a Praying Woman" and very recently "Why Revival Tarries"... each one broadening my understanding of prayer and of God and increasing my delight and awe in it... and Him.

I am very excited to see where He takes me from here!

I used to hear people saying that prayer was like a conversation. I wondered if it were really true. I never experienced it like that... But now--I have.

I used to read about people praying for hours and wondered how on earth they could keep praying for THAT LONG. Now... I understand. I still don't do it, at least not regularly... but I'm beginning to see how that works.

Now... I don't know what it is to go a day without prayer. I don't think I could do it if I tried--God has made it so much a part of who I am that I do it without even realizing at times. Sometimes I will be in the middle of something--anything-- and I suddenly know I need to drop everything and go pray.

I've experienced His presence in awesome ways... seen Him do so many incredible things, big and little, through my (and others, I'm sure) prayers... grown to know and love Him like never before.

Why do I tell you all of this? To brag on how wonderful my prayer life is? No... not at all. There is so much to be desired in my prayers. There are still many days when my prayers are brief and lack passion. There are still days when it feels like a chore. There are still so many more "levels" of prayer that I have not yet attained.

Rather, I want to encourage you on in your own prayer life: just DO it. Make yourself take that time every single day to spend 5-15 minutes in concentrated prayer. After awhile, it is no longer a chore: it becomes a joy and a privilege.

There is simply nothing like knowing that your prayers affected eternity... that God used you and your words to bring about something amazing. It never ceases to amaze me how much God cares about the little things: and then, on the other end, how He effortlessly makes impossible things happen. It's so, so important to always remember that no prayer is too small: and no prayer is too big. (provided, of course, that you are praying according to God's will and character.) God is all powerful: thus, to God, there is no real difference between what we as humans view as "hard" and "easy". Don't belittle God by not asking for big, "hard" things!!

The fact that we can talk to God is... mind blowing. It's one of those things, I think, that is so beyond our comprehension that we barely even realize how very awesome it really is... And then... not only are we allowed into His presence in this way... but He listens to US! To us! Remember who we are? We are indescribably small and horridly wicked... and yet... He not only allows us to come before Him: He longs for us to do so!!!

Oh, there is so much to say on this topic... all I can really hope to do is get you excited enough to learn about and experience prayer for yourself.

In closing... a few quotes from some of the books I mentioned.

"O brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper--and sleep too--than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgins slumber."-- Andrew Bonar

"...remember, God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ask or think. When we pray things that are on our King's heart, no matter how outlandishly audacious your prayers might seem to your own ears, they are nothing in light of God's willingness and ability to answer them." --Eric and Leslie Ludy, in Wrestling Prayer

"The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed the anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother, of a thousand blessings." --Chrysostom

“Let our prayers, then, be for Christ’s sake. If we want our sons and daughters converted, let us pray that it be so for Christ’s sake. If that is the motive, our prayers will be answered. If God gave up Christ for the world, what will He not give up for us? If He gave up Christ to the murderes and blasphemers, and the rebels of the world lying in wickedness and sin, what would He not give to those who go to Him for Christ’s sake? Let our prayer be that God my advance His work, not for our glory--not for our sake--but for the sake of His beloved Son whom He hath sent.

So let us remember that when we pray we ought to expect an answer. Let us be looking for it.” --D.L. Moody, Prevailing Prayer

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Full to Overflowing

Over and over, I keep thinking… there really is no other choice but to be fully devoted to Christ; completely surrendered to His will. It’s the only thing that will make sense on judgement day. It's the only thing that truly works here. (Notice I didn't say it makes sense here... ;)

There’s… so much more to this whole life thing than merely being a “good Christian” who goes to church, doesn’t do anything too awful, has a nice house and two cars, gives money to the church sometimes… the world is sick (and dying as a result of) of such shallow Christianity-- as I saw it written recently, “materialism with a few Bible verses tacked on”.

I recently had the privilege to be able to talk to a few people about Church… and God. One girl said she wasn’t into the religion stuff--she had Catholicism forced down her throat when she was little. I tried to point her to The Real Thing: to God Himself. “Religion”, at least the way she meant it, is man made. (Trust humans to make God and His Story boring!!) I shared my excitement over realizing that the God who made all of these marvelous things loved me and died for me… This is exciting, folks!! People should see it in our faces, hear it in our voices.

Oh, that God would fill us to such an extent that we could not contain our joy in Him! Would that His hope and love spilled out of us! That people could see His joy, His peace, His love in us! That they would look on us... and see a little Him.

I talked to another lady who had neighbors who attended church every Sunday: and were mean every other day of the week. She said they thought they could do whatever they wanted and then be forgiven at church.

She followed that up with “that’s not my kind of God.” Of course I cringed inwardly–it isn’t up to us what kind of God there is. But on the other hand: those people were representing God. Granted, they were doing a terrible job. But, regardless, they were representing. They had branded themselves as--at the very least--“Religious”… and so people looked at them and took their actions to represent their god.

People do the same with us. They know, especially when you make distinctly unworldly lifestyle choices, that you are (or at least claim to be) Christians. Followers of Christ. What they see in me… is what they will think of Christ. Yikes. * is very glad His power is working in me *

Oh, people! This is SO important. Souls are eternal--they are more valuable than anything else in this world. And we might be missing God-given opportunities to share the good news with them.

We do not know God. Not really. If we knew Him… how could we go on calmly playing and working for vain things– not making any effort at all to influence lives for Christ? How could we go on skimming glibly through His Word, as though it had no significant meaning? How could we go on praying fake, passionless, small prayers? How could we go on caring about which color flip-flops we have or don’t have? How could we go on allowing sin in our lives?

We don’t have time for this! Eternity is too long for this! We must seek Him. We must get to know Him. And how? By reading His word, by praying, by observing His creation… And then we must share this glorious relationship, this most wonderful of news… WE can know GOD!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Idea

Towards the end of last year, I read a book called "Humility:True Greatness". (And yes, I recommend it.)

In that book, it suggested five things to think about upon rising. Well, knowing me, I knew I'd never remember all of them at the same time, much less remember to think of them every morning-- much less actually do it. So! I came up with a plan. I found an image and either a Bible or hymn verse that went along with each thing, and then printed them out and put them on the wall near my bed. I thought some of you might like to try it as well... so I'm posting the pictures along with the things to think about. Let me know if you try it!

Here is the first one: on this one, you remind yourself of what Christ did on the cross. And... the fact that it was YOUR sin that held Him there. You contrast His goodness and sacrifice with yourself and just... bask in the wonder of who He is and what He did for you.
On the second one, you remind yourself how much you need Him for everything. Every single breath.You remind yourself that there is NOTHING you can do without Him. (If that doesn't humble you, I don't know what will...) (And yes, the girl is a bit odd looking... one of my sisters likes to tell me that.)

The third one you thank Him for as many things as you can think of, remembering Who all these blessings are from.

For the fourth one, you remember that you need to pray and read your Bible to learn more about Him... I also usually pray for a few "key" people-- the ones that He's especially laid on my heart. :)

And the fifth one... you remember to cast your cares on Him--to avoid thinking you are strong enough to carry them on your own. Acknowledge that you can't... that you need Him to carry them for you.

I hope this is helpful to you... feel free to print out and use my papers if you want, or make your own! I have found it very helpful for starting my day out thinking about God... and it really helps get things (and yourself :P) in perspective.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Devotions Over Dishes

Several months ago, I printed out 1 Corinthians 13 and put it on the window over the sink, with the intent of committing it to memory. I'm at the sink (nearly) every day, sometimes for hours--with "nothing" to do (um, besides washing dishes)... so, I figured, this should work splendidly.

Well, I still haven't memorized it. However, I did discover something: when one stares at the same chapter of the Bible, even if it's one you've heard approximately 15,237 times, you will learn new things from it, and things that used to confuse you will start unraveling themselves in your brain and begin to transform into something that makes beautiful sense.

Thus was the case with myself and the said chapter in Corinthians. The part about "Love is" and "Love is not" seemed to make sense, for the most part. But then there's the part where it starts talking about prophecies and stuff, and about face to face... and... huh? I thought we were talking about... love?

It has always confused me.

But in the hours I spent at the sink (and at other times, I'm sure) it started making sense.
Love never fails. . . .
See, God is love. (Rebeka tells me I don't have to say "obviously" because everyone already knows I state the obvious... anyways, in this case, we needed to start with that bit of obviousness.) And God is eternal--so, since God IS love, love is eternal. To put that another way, love is of God... hence "love never fails." It isn't that our human love will never fail: just that love itself will never fail, since God won't. (and can't.)
. . .But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; . . .
Prophecies aren't always right (unless of course they were real prophecies from God)... sometimes they fail. Or sometimes they are misunderstood. They are just a prediction... they aren't anything in and of themselves. And there will come a time when there is no need for prophecies. Hence... "they will fail."
. . .whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”. .
Our human knowledge is imperfect... we don't really know. We can learn... and we can think we know things about God... but we really don't know.
. . .For we know in part and we prophesy in part. . . .
At this point, here on earth, it's all in part.
10 But [again, "but" is such an awesome word sometimes] when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. . . .
Someday... oh, someday! We will KNOW! And all this partial knowledge here... will be gone. It will be of no worth to anyone... it will be completely eclipsed by "that which is perfect."
. . . For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. . . .
Face to face! *shakes head* I can't really fathom that... It's too wonderful.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. . . .
Wow... Think about that. We'll get to know Him like He knows us!
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The first two are human virtues, in a way. God doesn't have faith: He already knows what's going to happen. He doesn't have to "wait and see" or "trust" for anything. And it's very similar with "hope" as well.

But love... love starts with and is God.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We're All Going to Die!!

Wait. If you are a Christian, you didn't read that right. Go back and read it again. You're not supposed to read it like Chicken Little freaking out... you're supposed to read it like it's the best news ever. :D

I've been thinking about this rather a lot lately, and, oddly enough, it's a very encouraging thought. (Though my sisters keep telling me I really should say "we're going to go to heaven" instead of saying "we're going to DIE". Apparently "die" is too... melodramatic or something.) Anyways.

The point is: this world is not our home. We're just passing through. All the joys and heartaches that go along with this world will soon be gone--the fleeting, transient joys of this earth being replaced with the real, everlasting joys of heaven: and the pain and trials of this sin-cursed world will be entirely eclipsed by the "far greater weight of glory"... He will wipe away our tears... and bid us enter into His joys.
16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Somehow, when you look at it like this... you can bear so much more on earth. You can see how He is working it out for eternity. You can see of how little value earthly pleasures are... and you will be more willing to give them up.
44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Matthew 13:44
I don't know about you... but I can't wait to see my Savior's face. To think--we shall see Him!! That... is incomprehensibly amazing.
But, oh, to see our Savior's face!

From sin and sorrow to be freed!

To dwell in His divine embrace--

This will be sweeter far indeed!

The fairest form of earthly bliss

Is less than naught, compared with this.
I don't want to barely scrape into heaven--I want to be welcomed heartily by many who would not be there if it wasn't for me. I want to hear that "well done, good and faithful servant".
19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:19-21
I want to have treasure in heaven... treasure that lasts. I used to wonder if it was wrong to want that treasure, wrong to seek after it... until our pastor preached on it and said that the whole reason we are told there is treasure to be gained in heaven is so that we will strive for it. It's a reward-- we're supposed to want it.
32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

33Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 12:32-34
Sell that you have... I think it means we need to be ready to give up anything here when God asks... we need to remember that earthly treasure isn't the real thing--and use it to gain heavenly treasure.
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 1 Colossians 3:1-4
Nevermind, we're not going to die... we're already dead. :D And since we are "dead" and our lives are hidden with Christ... our focus is now on things above.

Just a ramble about some of the verses and thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind... not the most organized post ever, but I pray it gets you thinking.

P.S. Don't worry, I'm not in a hurry to die... :D Since I'm still here, I know God still has more for me to do... and I wouldn't want to miss it!!

P.P.S. This post was written from a Christian perspective, with sweet assurance that death is not something to be feared--for the simple reason that our God has conquered death and taken away the sting. I know I am going to heaven--not because I have done anything worthy of going, but because Jesus Christ has paid my penalty and covered me with His righteousness. And with this knowledge and trust, I can eagerly look forward to going home to finally meet my Savior face to face. If, however, you do not have this confidence, and you have not come to know His love and His forgiveness and salvation, please pray that God will show you Himself-- and ask me or someone you know to help you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Concerning Hearts (Not Hobbits)

(Caution: this post isn't "nice." [And, moreover, I was tired and thoughtful and in an odd mood when I first wrote it.] If you are faint of heart and/or do not like the Truth, do not read it. Thank you. Consider yourself warned. :D)

I started young, unfortunately.

I had my first so-called "crush" (I hate that word) at age ten. Yes... ten. Eventually that faded... and was replaced by another. And... another. And yet another. That's only if I count the ones that lasted at least a year...

And this without encouragement from friends talking about guys incessantly or parents making dumb jokes or the guys out and out making it plain they returned "the crush".

There isn't any need to go into all the details of those: the point is that this is an area in which I have had many a desperate struggle. There are many reasons for my troubles, I suppose... the primary one being this:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
I have read a great many books about purity.... Before you Meet Prince Charming... Authentic Beauty... And the Bride Wore White... Passion and Purity... Emotional Purity... Of Knights and Fair Maidens... When God Writes Your Love Story... I Kissed Dating Goodbye...

I never dated anyone. Never even got into a situation where hand holding would be an issue, much less anything more serious. I'm not super flirty. I dress modestly. I have good parents. I have good friends.

Yes sir, I can check off all the right boxes. I'd score pretty high on your average "purity level" test.

And with all that, my heart has not been kept pure. Still, even now, I have to fight wrong thoughts of all kinds: not just "crush" type thoughts; but selfish thoughts, prideful thoughts, evil thoughts, lustful thoughts, despairing thoughts, worrying thoughts, and the list goes on and on.

I'd like to blame someone or something else. But when it all comes down to it, what I allow to take root in my heart is my own fault.

But no problem, right? I mean seriously... look at the mess everyone else is in! Look at all the people I know who have babies before they have wedding rings!! And then look at all my check marks! Who could ask for more than what I've done (and not done)??

God, that's who.
3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5
Pure in heart, folks. That is the standard.

Do you know what? I just realized something very obvious and super brilliant.

Why is a "crush" such a big deal?! Seriously, doesn't God have bigger things to worry about??

Good question! The reason, my dear readers, is because often times said "crush" is translated to "idolatry" under God's HOLY eyes. If you know anything about God and have read anything in the Bible, you've probably discovered by now that God... well... HATES idols.
6Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

7For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:

8And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 14:6-8
He is number one. He doesn't want to be number one: He is. This is part of why He calls Himself "I AM".

And, from His divine perspective, He sees how incredibly dumb it is for us to exalt anything at all (heh, here is where anyone who has miraculously managed to read through the "crush" part without feeling guilty will get caught. :P Sorry, I didn't make up the rules.) above Him, or to rely on anything or anyone else to supply and do what only He can.
Are there any among the idols of the nations
that can cause rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are You not He, O LORD our God?
Therefore we will wait for You,
Since You have made all these.

Jeremiah 14:21-22
He is.... so unfathomably bigger and awesomer and holier and more powerful and more beautiful and... yeah.

Sorry, me and everything and everyone else, we are now extremely teeny, gray, sinful, ugly, and pathetic. (See, I told you this post wasn't nice.)

Hence, readers, hence "The Key" is not to simply read books about purity. It is not to just dress modestly. It is not to have the right checks on the purity test.

Oh, no. It's much, much harder than that. And much, much more awesome.

Are you ready?

No, really. Are you?

I don't think you are. I'm not. Too bad, I have to write it anyways.

You don't have to read it though. I'm giving you a chance. Be grateful.

Okay. This is IT. I have figured it out. *deep breath*

You seek God. With your WHOLE heart. You love God. With your WHOLE heart.

Well obviously, right? That's like... the answer to everything.

Yep. 'tis.

See... when our heart learns to be enamored with the beauty of the Lord... when our spirit grows into closer communion with His... as His thoughts gradually become our thoughts... when our mind is filled with His Truth... when our ways are shaped into His ways...

We will be too busy loving and serving the One True God to have any idols. Or crushes.

So, my fellow sojourners on this wild journey called life: don't focus on purity. Strive for it, yes. But not purity alone. That is rather a small goal, in a way. Hear me out! Don't leave!!!

Yes, purity is a high (and, humanly speaking, impossible... :P) goal. Yet, there is a higher goal. And in reaching for that higher goal, then and only then can we hope to be truly pure.

And that goal is to know God more. Always more, never enough.

Point One: In the strictest sense of the word purity, we are all impure. (Yes, yes, I know. In the sense of sexual purity, you can be physically pure. I'm talking about the broad, "heart" sense.) And we can never hope to be pure without the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It all starts with this. You can't know God without it, and you can't be pure without it, and you can't see God if you aren't pure (Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8), and yeah. You had better start here.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Hebrews 9:22

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26

(And yes, remission means forgiveness... which basically means to "wipe out" all past offenses. We no longer owe our blood to pay the fine for our sins: Jesus' blood has paid that fine for us. Hence our account is clear. It is reconciled.)
Point Two: we can never be pure if we continue to allow impure thoughts and things (Of any kind!! I am not simply talking about sexual/romantic things: I mean everything that is displeasing to the Lord.) in our hearts and lives. We must repent of them and do our best to remove them from us utterly.
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 20:22
Point Three: Seek God!! Saturate yourself with songs, books, movies, people, thoughts, blogs, etc. etc. that will help you to fall more in love with Christ: things that will jerk your focus off of you, off of others (or rather "The One") and onto Christ.

Read books like: The Bible, Crazy Love, Dug Down Deep, Humility: True Greatness, Mere Christianity, Forgotten God, Rees Howells: Intercessor, Don't Waste Your Life, Living the Cross Centered Life, E.M. Bounds on Prayer, Wrestling Prayer and so on and so forth.

Pray, hard and often. Ask God to help you to want Him more. Ask God to help you pray. Ask God to show you more of Himself. He will. He loves those prayers.
So 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.
Be warned, however. You will find that as you draw closer to God, He will require more and more from you. He will raise the standard. Some things that are okay for others will not be okay for you. Things that were not wrong for you a few months ago may be wrong now.

Do not be disheartened or deterred from this path: with the higher requirements comes deeper communion with God. And it is glorious.

Each new level of purity that God brings you to comes with a new level of knowing God. It is a process. A long, hard, lonely one. I have only just begun it-- and already I feel the pain.

Being refined and purified is not pleasant. Have you ever watched a blacksmith work? have you seen the way the heat the iron? The way they pound it? And that's just iron.
"To remove the dross from silver ore, the ore must be crushed, roasted and then fired at temperatures of 550 C [1022 F]"
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Proverbs 25:4
What is dross? "A mass of solid impurities".

It must go. It's of no use to anyone. And the process of getting rid of it is painful. Just ask silver.

{Remember: God brings us all along at different rates. There is no cause for either looking down on people who are "behind" you in one area or feeling hopelessly lacking as you look at someone who is much farther down the road. Just keep your eyes on Him. And if you want the process to go a little faster, do your part: draw nearer to Him. Ask Him to refine you and make you pure. Submit to His firing and pounding.}

But He will be with us each step: holding our hands, strengthening our hearts. And He will show us the blessings of the narrow path. He will become more valuable to us than any earthly treasure. And we will come out refined: pure at long, long last. A fit vessel for The King.

8O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

9Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

10For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

11Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.

12Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. Psalm 66:8-12

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cute Christianity

The above is a representation of some of the stickers you can find out there... others say things like "Smile! Jesus loves you!" and "Jesus loves you, but I'm His favorite" and some other, more disturbing things.

What have I got against stickers? Nothing. I love them. What do I have against Jesus loving us? Nothing at all, it's what keeps me going.

Then what is this post about??

Good question. See... the more I've learned about who God is... the more I've come to realize (and the more I realize the more I learn how much more there is to realize) how very awesome He is, and how absolutely crazy it is that HE loves us... the more repugnant this sort of "Cute" Christianity has become.

God is not cute. He is awesome, holy, terrible, just--and yes, loving. His love for us is not cute: it's insane. Why He would chose to love us--at such a terrible cost to Himself (He died. God. He died. Yes... God died.) is beyond my--perhaps even beyond human--comprehension. Why doesn't it doesn't shock us more?? Why doesn't it bring us to our knees in tears of wonder and repentance and humility? For one thing, I suppose, we are sinful humans. That accounts for a lot.

Another problem is we've allowed it to be come common place, expected, cute.

Of course God loves me! All the stickers say it! All the cute Sunday school songs say it! That's what some smiling Sunday school teacher lady said when I was five!

And we think it's nice. Yep, up in heaven somewheres, there's a God, and He loves me. Isn't that sweet? Fuzzy feelings everywhere... here's a sticker for you, too!

This sort of "oh, God loves me, everything will be just dandy" thinking is rather like... spraying perfume on gangrene to try and make it smell better. It's cute, and it may help (superficially) for a few seconds... but your foot is still rotting and threatening to kill you.

God loves you, alright.

But not the gushy, sweet-talking, here-is-a-chocolate-to-make-you-feel-better kind of love.

We're talking the kind of love that would cut off that rotting foot in order to save your life. The kind of love that screams in your face that you're going the wrong way and death is imminent. The kind of love... that allows pain and heartache into your life to bring about a greater good: knowing Him more.

The kind of love that dies for you.

So yes, Jesus loves you. But please, please don't take it for granted. Don't just put it on a cute little sticker.

Let it sink in deep. Ponder how incredible it is that our awesome Creator God died for you--out of love. Let it move you and change you. No more of this chirping "God loves you!" in a syrupy, fake-happy voice.

No... whisper it in your heart.

He... loves... me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Autumn!

Another Autumn has begun... fall colors (in your imagination or on your blog, should you happen to reside in Florida), apple cider, pie, crisp air... let's rejoice in it and thank God for this gift. :)  Here's a poem written specifically about the month we're in-- good thing I remembered it in time to post it before September is up!


The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

'T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

--Helen Hunt Jackson

P.S. I have slight cold, and am not thinking the clearest... if this post sounds a bit odd, that would be why. :P

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Own Three Bibles.


And that's just me. We have (at my most conservative estimate) ten other Bibles in our house. Probably closer to fifteen--perhaps even twenty.

I thought I didn't take this blessing for granted. I thought I was grateful for having so many Bibles so readily available-- in my language.

And then I started talking to Michiko [Mechi-co]. Her sister Yuko is a good friend of ours, and Michiko was visiting her from Japan for the second time. Or at least the second time we know of... On that visit, she became interested somewhat in Christianity: she saw the difference it had made in her sister's life, and she wondered what had happened. Yuko did her best to explain things to her, and purchased a Japanese/English Bible for Michiko to read.

We went over Yuko's house to visit (and eat--Yuko is an awesome cook. Chicken curry, anyone? :D), and we "ended up" talking about the Bible.

Michiko didn't know anything about the Bible. Anything at all! Imagine that. Seriously, I mean it-- Think about what that would be like!!

She was intensely interested in learning more: more about the Bible, more about Christ... and, in broken English, she attempted to ask us questions--and, in simple English, we attempted to explain things.

Now, I learned a wee bit of Japanese, but none of it really comes in handy for this sort of thing... "Good morning" "Please pass the salt" "Where is the computer?" um... I mean... uh... :P Thankfully, Michiko knows a great deal more English than I know of Japanese, so we were able to understand each other fairly well. (Though we did keep the dictionaries handy. :D)

Wow, what an experience. I can't even explain the blessing it was... I'm sure it's always exciting when someone is interested in learning more about Christ--but someone from a whole 'nother country! And someone who is the sister of someone you had prayed for years to become a Christian!!

It made me really value something I had only occasionally thought about: the fact that I've grown up learning about the Bible. I have a great deal of the history in my mind: when I read about Elijah in the book of John, I know who that is--and I can find the place where it talks about him in the Old Testament.

Seems obvious to those of us who have heard Bible stories about Elijah since we were three, I know: but that was one of the questions Michiko asked me after reading in John a little. When I want a verse about a particular topic, one comes to mind. (Even if I do have to do a little hunting to find it... :P) When I'm struggling with something, a verse comes to mind. When I want to help someone, a verse comes to mind. Thanks to my parent's diligence and church and God's work in me, my mind is quite full of scripture.

As I attempted to answer Michiko's questions, I felt so... inadequate. There is SO much to tell! And I only had a small amount of words to use! Somehow, though (Which translates to: with the help of the Holy Spirit), I/we were able to explain many of the major things to her... like the fact that Jesus is a mediator between us and God. I used the example of a translator, since that was a word and concept she knew very well (haha). It is so cool when God uses you in cases like that... and when motions and/or easily understood examples come to mind just as you need them. :)

As she told us some sad things from her family life, I pointed her to different passages in scripture, and watched as she understood what to do and what God did for her... it was amazing to see the power of the Bible in that way.

One thing that particularly struck me was when she read 1 Corinthians 13... half surprised, half glad, she said, "love is not proud?" and I said," no, it isn't." And explained a little. She said, "I'm so happy!" And told me that a friend of hers had told her (after a breakup) "please, have pride." It was so... interesting to see the difference between man's ways and the Bible's ways... and what a relief it was to her that she didn't need to be proud.

All of that has left me with a greater appreciation for the Bible... and for all of the years of hearing it and reading it. If you, too, have your own copy of the Bible, and were raised hearing and reading it-- please, don't take the wonderful gift you have been given for granted. Be grateful. And share what you have learned.

The Bible is... like no other book. Read it, treasure it, follow it.

There is Nothing

This is a song that has been a blessing to me lately... hopefully it blesses you as well. :)

[Verse 1:]
Lord I come before You
To honor and adore You
For who You are and all that You have done
Lord I am not worthy
My heart is dark and dirty
Still somehow You bid for me to come

So clothe me in humility
Remind me, that I come before a King

And there is nothing
There is nothing
More precious, more worthy
May I gaze deeper
May I stay longer
May I press onward to know You Lord

[Verse 2:]
May our time be sweeter
May I be a keeper
Of the promises I make to You in song
Lord may I remember these moments of surrender
And live my life this way from this day on

So clothe me in humility
Remind me, that I come before a King

And there is nothing
There is nothing
More precious, more worthy
May I gaze deeper
May I stay longer
May I press onward to know You Lord

So clothe me in humility
Remind me... that I come before a King

And there is nothing
There is nothing
More precious, more worthy
May I gaze deeper
May I stay longer
May I press onward to know You Lord

May I press onward to know You Lord

Courtesy of

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is this Wet Stuff on My Face?

I used to think crying was a sign of weakness. Too "girly". Or something to that effect. I'm not exactly sure what my problem was. But I made it a point to do my best to avoid it, and was quite proud of myself when I couldn't remember the last time I had cried. I was tough. I didn't need to cry. Everything was fine. I could handle it.

Or could I?

Something happened to me several months ago, something very good: I got in way over my head. And I couldn't handle it. From my perspective, there was no way out of the mess I seemed to be in--at least not any way that did not involve tremendous pain. And, finally, I broke down and I cried. Hard. It hurt. But it was a different sort of crying from what I had known: It helped. It was the kind of crying that comes when you reach the end of you, and you need God. The kind where God meets you-- and you find strength to continue: His strength.

So, I started learning. Or rather, God started teaching me. Crying, especially the sort of crying I'm talking about, is actually a sign of strength... in an odd sort of way. It declares that you have reached the end of yourself, and it forces you to run to God for help. It is a prayer--a desperate crying out to God: straight from the heart. It is humbling, especially for someone who used to avoid crying. It takes strength of character (and awe of God) to admit that you are weak.
9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have learned that many of my best prayers have come through tears--Tears for other people's pain, tears for my own pain, tears for my sins.

It is freeing and refreshing, somehow. (Even if you do get awful headaches and even if your nose will drip.) It brings healing and peace--and even joy.
3The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

4Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.

5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 123:3-6

Now, I still don't advocate crying excessively. For one, your head will always hurt, and for another, you'll use up all the tissues. Okay okay. Seriously, it isn't a good habit to cry over everything and anything. But if you have a good reason to cry-- for instance, you're praying about abortion, or you see the horror of your sin and are repenting, or you know a friend is going through hard times, or you yourself are pained--don't hold it back. Let the tears come. But don't just cry--cry out. To God.
5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:5-6

He's used to it--just look at Hannah, or David, or any number of others in the Bible:

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 1 Samuel 1:10


In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Psalm 120:1


1In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

2Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

3I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

4And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

5Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

6And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. 2 Kings 20:1-6


Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. Ezra 10:1-2


My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tearsunto God. Job16:20


Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: Acts 20:19

3And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

4For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. 2 Corinthians 2:3-4


41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. Luke 19:41-42

Jesus wept. John 11:35

(Allow me to point out that there is only one female in that group: crying is for men, too. Hello! Jesus wept, people!!!)

God knows we are dust:
13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

He knows we are miniscule (way better than we do, heh.): He knows we can't do it. And He loves nothing more than when we come to Him broken and humble, pleading with Him for help and forgiveness.
17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:17-18

(Remember Romans 4 --we who have accepted Jesus' sacrifice on the cross are counted righteous because of Christ's work on the cross. )

So go ahead--cry every once in a while. You have my permission. ;)

Just make sure you're crying to the Right Person, for the right reasons.

Oh, and please: don't forget to put your smile back on when you're done. Okay? Okay. Thank you.

Why? Because this world is not our home, and we are looking forward to that day when He will wipe away our tears.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Listen to My Pastor (and my papa)!

Finally, we are able to record our Pastor's messages, and I just thought I'd do a little promoting and tell y'all that. :)

Of course all the messages are great, but I especially recommend... um, it's kind of hard to pick. :D But... "Failure: the Key to Usefulness" was/is really good. :)

And hehe, you can also hear my Papa (Dad) preach. :D His sermon is "Lessons in Courage from Joshua" by Rob Mann.

(Sorry, the website isn't entirely, um, up-to-date... but hopefully Colgan, Josiah and I will be able to help with that some soon... )

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Living in the Present

I had been listening to Michael Card while editing a post... and just as I opened up a nice new blank blog post, I heard this line:

"Reject the worldly lie that says/that life lies always up ahead"

Ah, how we need that reminder... Or at least how I need it. I am so tempted to live in either the past or the future--forgetting that all too quickly what was once the future is slipping with alarming alacrity into the past.

I was three, longing for the day when I would no longer be required to take naps. At eight or thereabouts it seemed life would be completely figured out by twenty--surely by then I'd be married and know exactly what to do in every situation. I was ten, thinking that sixteen was positively ancient. I wondered what it would be like to have my driver's license--wouldn't it be neat to actually be able go to the store and get a few things quick, instead of joking about it? And, more recently, it seemed like it would take forever for mama to get that little hidden baby out so we could see her.

Well, guess what? I don't have to take naps anymore. (To my chagrin, sometimes.) I am past twenty; not married--and I haven't the foggiest idea of what to do in far too many situations. Sixteen is long gone and wasn't near as old as I thought it was. I've had my driver's license for over three years now. Esther has been outside of mama for over two months!

Time is not staying still, folks. And once it's done, it's d-o-n-e. As in, FOREVER. No retries, no extra lives. This isn't a video game.

How can we really grasp the horrifying finality of that? We are each given a gift: a certain allotment of time. We don't know now long it will be. And in that time, there is work to do.

Only one life,
twill soon be past.
Only what’s done
for Christ will last.

For some reason, God wanted you here now. (By the way, I think there once was a proper way to use those three elements... )

"Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: If you are alive, it isn’t."

"The Future" never really comes. It just doesn't. All we ever get on earth is right now. This moment.
"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.'"--Elizabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity
Oh, how much easier this is to write about than to live!

Do you have any ideas for living fully in the present?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Every Morning

Recently, early in the morning, I walked outside to find this marvelous artwork:


(Of course it was much better in real life, but you can get the general idea.)

It was as if God was saying how much He loves me, reminding me that He works through trials (through the rainbow, especially)--and showing me that His mercy is new every morning. It stopped me right there--as I gazed at it, my heart overflowed with praise and thanks.

I had been thinking about how wonderful it is that His mercy is new every morning, and this rare and beautiful sight was a delightful confirmation.
22It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Lamentations 3:22-24
A while back, as I was pondering this wonderful truth, I mentioned it to my friend Rebeka--and she added another astounding thought: it is always morning somewhere!
So His mercy is continuously being renewed. Wow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


(Written on July 22nd)

I have dirt under my nails. I promise, I did try to clean them. But there's still some left. And contrary to what you may think, I actually rather like that fact. You see, it has been many moons since last I had the pleasure of very dirty hands and feet, and it has done me wonders to enter, once again, the marvelous world of gardening.

I had forgotten the thrill of sticking a shovel into the ground and jumping up on it to force it deeper into the ground. (And no, you don't have to jump on it. It's just more fun that way.) I had forgotten how good it feels to hold a living plant in your hands and transplant it into the hole you just made. I had forgotten the fun of hacking away violently at weeds, and of pulling out clumps of grass and shaking the extra sand off. (It doesn't quite deserve the title of dirt...) I had forgotten the wonder of transforming an weedy area of ground into something more orderly and beautiful. I had forgotten that wonderful capable, pioneer-lady-ish feeling.

I was sweaty. I was dirty. My back hurt. My arms grew tired. My hair was a mess.

And you know what? I felt happier and more whole than I have in veritable ages.

There is something incredible about gardening (and just about hard work in general.) I felt closer to God; like I was doing something He created me to do, something He loves. And I was. He himself planted the very first garden!
8And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

9And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2:15
A few days ago I was having what I call a "Crying Talk" with my mama... I was saying how I feel (and have felt, to some degree, since I was probably... 12 or so) "stuck in my head", like I am not engaged enough with the world around me. And I didn't know what to do.

But after working in the garden... something changed. I think it has to do with physically demanding work... with closer communion with God... and with prayer. (Mine and others.) Last night I felt more thoroughly, truly joyful than I have in what seems like a long time... and my mind felt much freer and open: more easily engaged with the people and things around me. For so many reasons, it was incredibly fulfilling: a real blessing.

For one, I was being obedient, to both of my fathers--earthly and heavenly. For another, I was doing something I had been "nagging" myself about, something that I had needed to do for a long time. I was doing something significant: something that challenged me, something that benefited our family. I was doing one of the things I've been designed to do. And I would've missed the sunset if I wasn't out there working!!

Here is how it happened:

Early yesterday morning, when my dad was leaving for work, we were outside together and he mentioned that it would be nice to have a little garden where we were currently growing a lovely, tangled crop of weeds.

{Confession: normally when we have such talks, we all think it's a great idea, and then [it seems] no one ever does anything about it. Except maybe Hannah.}

Later on in the day, I was praying and feeling... I don't know, somewhat depressed and introspective. And I had one of those awesome prayers in which it's actually a conversation.

I said: I don't want to focus on me anymore!! I want to focus on You and know you more.

He said: Walk in my ways, and then you will know Me.

And I said: How?

And He said: Love. And specifically, love your papa by working on the school/office/craft/miscellaneous room and the garden.

(As usual, those aren't exact quotes, and no, I didn't hear an audible voice. Why do we always feel we must clarify that it wasn't audible??)

So I did. I got up and walked into the "cave" (our "affectionate" term for the office) and spent roughly an hour tidying it up. (Now the path is wider!) That felt really good, and I started cheering up just from that.

Next I walked outside into the front yard and examined the plants we had that still needed planting: a blackberry bush, an elderberry plant, a magnolia tree, a Cassava/tapioca plant, a Mystery Plant, mystery flowers, and peppers. (Yes, I know, lots. I have procrastinated planting them for a long time. :P)

I thought I should at least figure out where to plant them, since I really didn't want them to die (most of them were given to us for helping out at a pioneer days.), so took a few of them in hand, and went to scout out the yard. I quickly found places for the magnolia, blackberry and elderberry, and planted them all. I was enjoying myself and my energy was up-- I was on a "roll"--so I figured I had better keep going while everything was out and I was excited about it.

I thought it would be challenging to dig out the large, flat, round stepping stones that were in the area I was going to transform, but it ended up being quite easy. Especially when my strong little brothers came to the rescue. ;) (Namely William and Matthew.) We laughed as we watched them roll when we put them on the ground. :D

Hacking weeds out of the ground with a hoe is very fun. And tiring. William and Matthew helped me some, which was very nice of them. :) They also helped with getting the grass and weeds out of the dirt once I had loosened them.

Soon, however, they tired of this amusement, and decided to move on to bigger things: digging a hole. Of course. Isn't that what all little boys do?

I continued working for quite a while, getting all the grass and weeds cleared away and softening up the ground

The hole was becoming quite impressive by this time, and I pondered whether or not I should halt excavation-- decided against it. They are boys. They dig holes. It's good for them. And furthermore, holes are not permanent. We can fill them back up: We have the technology. ;)

The next step was to make a path. I happen to be the daughter of a tile installer, and we have plenty of path material around... I found some nice reddish pavers, and set about making a path.

By this time, the hole had become a future underground house. "Like in Prince Caspian!", they told me, eyes shining.

I've never made a path like that before... and I don't think anyone else has ever done it the way I did. :D I'm afraid I am not a very professional path maker: I just came up with a pattern out of my head and started digging with my hands and flattening the ground a little at a time, adding another row of pavers when the ground seemed ready, and whacking them against some other concrete in order to break them when I needed a smaller piece.

The boys learned that they couldn't dig an underground house. "You'll get to the water", said Emily. (You only need dig 15'-30' to get water in Florida... less in some places. :P) The boys pondered this for a bit...

It actually turned out pretty decently, to my surprise. Though several of them did break when I walked across it. Wimps. :P I'll have to fix that tomorrow.

"Okay, then let's make a well!!", said William. I have very visionary little brothers, it would appear. :D

For some odd reason, the mosquitoes decided that my left elbow was The Most Delicious Thing, and I felt as though I incurred at least 17 bites. However, I was Busy, and didn't have time to bother about paltry annoyances such as mosquitoes. Though I did kill at least one... I am not very merciful towards the creatures. Hannah kindly brought me some tea tree oil after watching me absentmindedly attempt to slap one, which helped with the itching. :P

Matthew was in the hole, and they were concerned about whether or not he could get out. He could. But it was a struggle. Emily made "a ladder"-- a few holes on one side. It was actually deep enough to come up to Matthew's chest, and both the boys could fit in together!

By this time it was dark, so I tidied things up and set a few potted plants where I thought they might work... I also put a solar light from the back yard near the path.

"Jump in, jump in!", they said, as I stood on the edge. I did. Bad idea. :P I jolted my side awfully... but I lived, and the hole was very cool.

We went in, and washed up... I was really dirty/sandy, as were the boys. :D

And thus ended our gardening adventures.

(At least, the ones we had last night-- I had more this morning

and will have more in the next few days. :))

P.S. (From a few days later) Further progress:

Josiah kindly saved me from those thin pavers and showed me some pretty, thick ones--and helped me make the path. :D This one does not break when you walk on it!! He also helped me mulch it. :) Emily swept the dirt into the cracks between the pavers... and then got inspired and weeded her little garden too. :D

Lesson: just get started and work enthusiastically on a project, and people will join you eventually. Works ever so much better than trying to drag people out to help. :P