Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gift Of Love

            Merry Christmas, friends! I hope that you’ve all had a wonderful day filled with joy and laughter. I, for one, can hardly believe that 2012 is almost over. Time has gone by so quickly.
            I have been thinking a lot about the Christmas story over the past few days. And I’ve been struck again by the magnificence of it. It is such an incredible, crazy, awesome, beautiful story. There is none like it on earth.
            God - the almighty Creator of the universe – became flesh. He adopted human form and put himself in the womb of a virgin. He was born in a dirty stable, and placed in a manger to sleep. Men, for the first of many times, sought to end His life when He was only a baby. His life was filled with pain and suffering, yet He never complained. He bore it all with patience and love. He carried our sins up Calvary’s hill and died on a cross.
            But then He rose again. Death could not bind him. His power extended over death, and He rose from the grave victorious. But that’s not even the most amazing part.
            The most amazing thing is… He did it for us.
            For us. The beings He created and loved. The beings that rejected Him, beat Him, drew His blood, mocked Him, spat in His face. The beings who are selfish, cruel, uncaring, unloving, sinful, vulgar, and absolutely unlovable.
            He – who was above all – lowered Himself to the lowest state possible. He humbled Himself to become human, and so doing saved the world. He suffered a cruel and torturous death… and all for us.
            Is this not mind-boggling? That God would love us so fully as to give up His life for us? We, who are so utterly unworthy. I don’t know about you, but I find that humbling.
            God… thank You so much for what You did that day. In becoming a Man, You set us free. The Christmas story is just the beginning of an epic love story. One that You have written for us. Oh God, I am so undeserving of this… all of this. All the gifts that You have given to me. Why? I will never understand why You love me – a worthless sinner. I can never fathom the depths of Your love.
            But this I do know. I know that You love me, despite all my failings, and that You died for me.
            That means so much. Thank You, Lord. I love you.

                                                                                                     ~Riah


"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us!"
    -John 1:14      
          What a transition!
          What a stoop for that Infinite Being who proclaimed
Himself the Alpha and the Omega--for "The Ancient
of days" to assume the nature and take the form of
a cradled infant, sleeping on a virgin mother's bosom!
          We have no plumb line to sound the depths of that
humiliation. We have no arithmetic by which it can
be submitted to any process of calculation.      
          If we can entertain for a moment, the shocking
supposition of the loftiest created spirit in Heaven
abjuring his angel nature, and becoming an insect
or a worm--then we can, in some feeble degree,
estimate the descent involved in Jesus' humiliation.

          But, for the Illimitable, Everlasting Jehovah,
Himself to become incarnate . . .
  the Creator--to take the nature of the created;
  the Infinite--to be joined with the finite;
  Deity--to be linked with dust;
this baffles all our comprehension!
     
          We can only lie in adoring reverence, and
exclaim with the apostle, "O the depth!"      
"Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!"

                                            -John MacDuff, "Clefts of the Rock" 1874

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blessings

           I am so thankful for oil lamps, flashlights, bottled water, and cell phones. We have had a ridiculous amount of snow this week, and yesterday we lost all power. Water, electricity, internet... everything. Thankfully, some guys from Pacific Power were able to come out this morning and fix it for us.
And that got me thinking. There are so many little things that we take for granted. But often, it's not until those little things are taken away that we realize how much we depend on them. Like not having running water. God has poured so many blessings over us, yet so often we are blind to them.
In my post, Everyday Life, I talk about finding joy in the little things. But really – how do we find joy in the little things? People say that joy is a choice. Yes, it is a choice, but you can’t force yourself to be joyful. So where do we find true, genuine joy?
I read a wonderful book this year called One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. She shares how she suffered from anxiety and depression, and how she came to find true joy. It is an excellent book, and one that I would recommend reading.
So what is the key to this mystery? What is the key to the well of joy?
            Thankfulness.
Allow me to expound on this (you really should just read the book). Suppose someone gives you a present. What would you do? You would thank the giver of the gift, right?
Each and every moment is God-given. It is a gift. Every moment He gives us is a gift, with something beautiful and wonderful inside. But so often we are consumed with ourselves, or our lives, or what’s going on around us, that we are blind to these gifts.
Blind to joy.
Have you ever suddenly, out-of-the-blue, been struck by the enormity of what Jesus did for you? Have you ever just been overwhelmed with this feeling of thankfulness for all that He did and continues to do? And doesn’t it make you feel… joyful? I’ve had those moments, and they are beautiful.
We are incredibly undeserving, filthy, sinful, ugly beings. And yet God continues to pour out blessing upon blessing. Shouldn’t we thank Him for these gifts? Obviously, it’s impossible to thank Him for every gift – they are innumerable. But what if we thanked Him for each one that came to mind? Whenever you feel awed or wowed by something – whether an incredible sunset, the intricate complexity of the human body, or running water – stop and thank God for it. Feeling a subconscious gratitude isn’t enough. We need to actually voice our thanksgiving and praise to Him.
This morning, when I started writing this blog post, I looked out the window and saw a little chickadee hopping through the snow. As I watched it, I thought, Thank You for this moment, God. It’s such a simple, ordinary little thing; a bird hopping through the snow. But I was the only one who saw it, who got to enjoy it. God gave this moment to me, and that made it special.
There is a gift in every moment. My challenge to you is to look for it. And more than that, to thank God for it. He made it for you.


“Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.” (Gen. 21:19)
            In this wilderness, I keep circling back to this: I’m blind to joy’s well every time I really don’t want it. The well is always there. And I choose not to see it. Don’t I really want joy? Don’t I really want the fullest life? For all my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy –is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark? Prefer drama? Why do I lunge for control instead of joy? Is it somehow more perversely satisfying to flex control’s muscle? Ah – power – like Satan. Do I think Jesus-grace too impotent to give me the full life? Isn’t that the only reason I don’t always swill the joy? If the startling truth is that I don’t’ really want joy, there’s a far worse truth. If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment – am I not ultimately rejecting God? Whenever I am blind to joy’s well, isn’t it because I don’t believe in God’s care? That God cares enough about me to always offer me joy’s water, wherever I am, regardless of circumstance. But if I don’t believe God cares, if I don’t want or seek the joy He definitely offers somewhere in this moment – I don’t want God.
~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

 
~~~

I apologize that this post is a little disorganized. I guess I shouldn’t be writing at eleven thirty at night. ;P Plus, this is a rather extensive topic, and I don't feel like I can do it complete justice in a blog post.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Early Morning

          This is a poem I wrote a couple of days ago in honor of those who died in the shooting on Friday. I' m not very good a poetry, but I wanted to write something in remembrance of all those who died on that day.


Early Morning                                                                                                     12-15-12

Dedicated to Emilie Parker, who was killed in the school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, on December 14th, 2012.

Early morning
Sunrise smile
I twirl her around
She’s such a big girl now
Already six years old
But my girl Emilie, she’ll always be
Daddy’s little girl to me

Early morning
Off to school
She turns and she smiles
Oh how I love that girl
My little angel, walking away
Never could I’ve guessed
That this would be her last day

Early morning
Spent in class
Dreaming through the clear glass
When suddenly there was a shot
And a child fell, blood running hot
Screams and cries filled the air
As a man took lives without a care
Bullets flew, met their target
As he shot them, his feelings forgotten
Blood spilt, life fled
Till all lay on the floor, shot dead
Then with a cry,
The gunman aimed
His vile weapon at his heart
Took his own life in his hands
And with it, bade his soul depart

Early morning
The air is filled
With the cries of the mourning
Of loved ones still
Life is now fraught
With the pain and anguish
That evil has wrought
Life has been lost
Families broken
Hearts wracked with grief
As we remember those taken
But in the midst of the pain,
We hear a small voice
Reminding us not to fear
Evil has not won this time
We’ll again be with those we hold dear
They are gone on, to a better place
Surrounded by God’s unending grace

Early morning
Sun breaking through
As I thank God for His mercies anew
My heart is still wracked with grief
But I have now come to this belief
I will see my Emilie again
Twirl her around in the wind
Hold her close to my heart
And never, ever, shall we part.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

First Snow

          I went to see the Nutcracker Ballet this afternoon. It was amazing. Ballet is so beautiful. My brother and sister were in the performance (as the butler and maid) and did a wonderful job.
          We had our first snow of the year yesterday morning. It was so beautiful. It snowed again this morning, and I took some pictures to share with you.
          Never forget to thank God for the life that He has blessed us with. Each day is a priceless and undeserved gift, given to us so that we can give glory to Him. Let us not forget why we were created.
          Have a blessed weekend!
         




 
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Can't They See?


            Man is depraved. Just in case you didn’t notice.
            I am so sad right now. My stomach is tight, and my heart aches. How could someone do this?
            This morning, a young man (early twenties) went to an elementary school and shot a room full of kindergartners. As of one o’clock, twenty seven were dead – around twenty of that number were six-year-olds. He also shot his mother, who was the teacher of the class. Then he shot himself.
            (note: I am writing this post based off the information I know. As this is such a fresh story, I’m sure that it will change as we discover more information. So please forgive me if some of my information isn’t accurate).
            I just… can’t even fathom. Why is there so little value attached to humanity? How can people just go out and kill others? There was the Batman shooting in Colorado a few months back. There was a shooting at the Clackamas Mall in Portland just a few days ago. Not to mention the thousands of abortions performed daily around the world. And now this.
            It’s freakish.
Why is there no respect for life? Why can’t they see that this is wrong? I know that we, as Christians, see the value in life. We are created in the image of Almighty God and loved by Him. But the world is living in darkness; they can’t see. They cannot see anything right or good or true; they are blind to it. It is our duty as bearers of Light to show them the truth.
Every single person on this planet is an eternal being, with an eternal destiny. There is no such thing as death, for anyone. Either we go to Heaven, or we go to Hell. I’m thinking about this man, who ended his life (and so many others) this morning. Where is he now? I know the answer to that question, and it’s chilling.
I’m scared. I’m scared of the world that I have to grow up in. I’m scared, because I know that it’s only going to get worse. This is a world of sinners, ruled by sinners, and all are stumbling around in a void darkness, searching for some purpose to all of this.
We know the answer. We have found the light. So why aren’t we sharing this with them?
In his sermon, Is This Really Church?, Francis Chan talks about how we are called to make disciples of men. He attributes the following quote to another pastor whose name I can’t remember at the moment. But he says,
“Christ calls [the church] to be fishers of men. But instead, we’ve become more of an aquarium.”
We need to leave our comfort zone and reach out to the world. This is such a lost, sinful, depraved world, in desperate need of redemption. Life has lost its meaning, and now the world is losing its life.

~~~

Sorry that this is such a disorganized post, but I can’t think clearly right now. Please keep all of the people involved in this shooting in your prayers. I can’t imagine the pain that they’re going through. Their loss is so different from mine… Josh’s death (circumstantially) was an accident. But these children… these precious little children, were deliberately killed. Pray for them – please. It may not feel like much, but it makes such a difference.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beautiful Day

            Happy triple twelve!! It is December 12th, 2012 – 12/12/12. It will be a good many years until we have another triple-number year like this.

            It is a beautiful day. A sky masked with white cloud, husky green trees standing tall. The nip in the air is bracing, chilling as I breathe in.
            I feel… good. Better than I have been. Beauty is around me; it’s all I see. I am surrounded by people who I love, and who love me. I live in a land of abundant blessing. Yes, there is pain, but God is here, with me, even in the darkness. He will never let go, and it is His faithful love that has carried me this far.
            God is so good. He is revealing himself to me, little by little, bringing me to appreciate His beauty and majesty. He is wooing me, slowly but surely, drawing me into a romance with Himself. Oh, the bliss! I know not yet what it feels like to love One so great, but I pray the day will be soon when I am overwhelmed.
            This is my desire. To love God with all that I am. To feel the embrace of His love. To obey His commands with delight, and draw others to Him. We are all lost in a world of darkness, but only those who see the Light know it.
            I want to be filled with the Light. I still have so far to go… The road is seemingly endless ahead of me. The path is narrow, and filled with hardship, but I believe with all my heart that the destination will be worth it. God is calling to me. Oh Father, give me the strength to follow.
            I look to the sky. The white clouds part, revealing a stunning blue. I smile softly.
            God died for me, loves me. Forgives me. Despite all the evils I have committed, despite all the mistakes I make. Despite how utterly unlovable I am. He still loves me.
            It is a beautiful day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bible Study

            The Bible is a difficult book to read. It is the Truth and the written word of God, and because of this, we ought to live by what it says.
            I mentioned a long while ago that I was doing an exegetical study of the Bible. I wanted to do this for two reasons. 1. To learn the character of God and get to know Him better. 2. So that I can know how He wants me to live.
            The reason I say the Bible is hard book to read is because the more I read it, the more I realize how unglorifying my life is. Many aspects of my life are completely opposite to those presented in Scripture, and that saddens me. I want my life to glorify and please God.
            Over the last few years, I’ve learned that I am capable of nothing on my own. I’m not strong enough to be good, strong enough to follow. But that’s why God gives us the Holy Spirit. He is more than willing to fill us with His strength, if only we ask with a genuine and believing heart.
            So here we are; equipped with the Holy Spirit and a will to change. What now? Well, we read the Bible and do what it says. Sounds easy, right?
            Wrong.
            The Holy Spirit is strong, but our flesh is strong too. A lot of the time, we want (or think we want) what our flesh offers. It sounds more appealing than what God offers. But the choice to follow our flesh always leads to problems. Following God and His commandments is often the harder way, but it’s always the most rewarding.
            God says multiple times that if we truly love Him, then we will obey his commandments. Obviously, He knows that we will make mistakes. But He wants us to strive to follow Him and obey His word.

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at this natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
~James 1:21-25

            Again – if we are true believers, then we will be doers of the word. If we only hear the word and continue to live in sin, then we aren’t real Christians.
            Let that sink in for a minute. If you know what you are supposed to do and aren’t trying to do it, you aren’t a true follower of Christ.
            I don’t know about you, but that hits me pretty hard.
            In Hebrews 10:26, it says “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins”. And in Romans 6, Paul says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” God’s grace is infinite, but that doesn’t mean we can take advantage of it.
            I don’t want to scare or discourage you – I just want you to be aware. We need to take God at His word. The reward will be worth it.
 
~~~
 
            I hope that made sense. My brain has not been working lately. :P

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Deck The Halls

          Yay! We finally decorated the house for the holidays! I have to say, it doesn't feel like Christmas until you have a tree. The whole house smells like pine now.
          I love the Christmas season. I love the joy, the lights, the happiness, the surprises, the love. It just makes me happy and so thankful that God sent us His Son. Thank you so much, God.
          Another post coming soon! :)



Dickens Village

Nativity Scene.
 

Stockings!! :D

Our Beautiful Tree. :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Beautiful Pot

            We have dreams. Just about all people have some secret desire deep down inside them. Something they aspire to be, something they long to do. We all have dreams, and we work toward fulfilling them.
            My dream is to be an author. More than just about anything else, I want to write books.
            If we went a little further, I’d say that I want my books to glorify God and challenge my readers. I want those who read my books to enjoy them, but to leave feeling convicted and convinced of God’s sovereignty and goodness. I want to change the world through literature.
            This is my dream. It sounds like a worthy aspiration. To draw the world to God through novels. But what if that’s not what God has planned for me?
            I believe that my writing talent is God-given. We know that He wastes nothing, so He obviously has plans for my writing. But what if His plans are different from mine?
            What if I never become a published author? What if my writings never go farther than this blog? No further than emails to my friends? What if my dreams are never fulfilled the way I envision them?
            While I was looking up verses about the potter and the clay for my last post, I found this verse:

Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? -Romans 9:21

We all long for greatness. We as Christians want to do big things for God. But not all of us were made for big, incredible things.
Some of us are “common” vessels talked about in Romans 9. That is the way God chose to make us and use us. We don’t get to stand in the spotlight, or win the applause, or write a Best Seller. Some of us are just ordinary.
But we don’t need to have renown to make a difference in the world. Sometimes, it’s the smallest things we do that make the biggest difference. Showing love to the unlovable, kindness to the undeserving, peace to the restless, comfort to the hurting… These are the things that Christ calls us to do. And He has given specific gifts to each of us that will further enable us to do His will.
Take Josh for example. He wasn’t famous. He didn’t do anything spectacular; he just lived. He was kind to people. He encouraged those around him. He wrote a blog. He allowed God to work in his life – that’s it. And God used all the simple things that Josh did to change the world.
I’m not saying give up your dreams. Don’t. God has given you these desires for a reason. But don’t be afraid to follow God’s calling. If He is calling you to give up your big dreams and live a humble life, do it. As Josh so truly put it, “To surrender a precious dream is a fearful thing, but to pursue anything but the full measure of the glory of God's love is a wasted life.”
Don’t let your dreams interfere with your relationship with Christ. Don’t idolize them. Our dreams should be to reflect Christ, to shine His light brightly in the world.
And don’t be afraid of being a vessel for common use. Just because you may not be as beautifully painted or sculpted as other vases you see around you, God has crafted you with His own hands, and He loves you. That alone makes you immeasurably valuable.
Be whoever God made you to be. Whether famous or nameless, wealthy or poor, known or unknown, live the life that He has given you to the fullest. Do it all for Him, and to the furthering of His kingdom.
Be a beautiful, useful pot.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Soaking Ourselves In The Word

            When I was eleven, my mom, baby brother and I went to California for a week to visit relatives. While we were there, we went with my grandma to something called the Sawdust Festival.
            Almost right when we walked in, there was a booth where they were making pottery. My grandma immediately suggested that I make a pot. I declined, but my mom and grandma held firm, so in I went.
Don't I look thrilled? Actually, I was really shy about sitting next to a boy and having him guide my hands. :P
            I’ve always been fascinated by the making of pottery. It’s so amazing how an ordinary lump of clay can become something so beautiful.
            Pottery is a very gentle process. You have the keep the clay moist so that it will be pliable. The smallest amount of pressure from any of your fingers can radically change the outcome of the pot. You must be careful how you move your hands.
            In several places, the Bible compares God and His creation to pottery. Isaiah 64:8 says,

            But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.
 

            I think that this is a very accurate picture. All of us are empty, ugly, formless lumps, until the Potter gets a hold of us and begins to form us into the beautiful pot that He has planned. Although His hands are gentle, and His fingers never make a mistake, we are stubborn blobs of clay. We don’t want Him to change us, so we remain hard and dry, unwilling to let Him shape us into something beautiful. We stubbornly resist the gentle proddings He gives us and continue on in our own selfish way. Then, for our own good, the Potter applies real pressure and collapses the pot. It lies there, again a useless lump of clay, and realizes how little it had on its own. The Potter again begins His work, and hopefully the Clay will be a little more willing.
            The Bible tells us to be as soft clay. But how are we to do this? How do we remain sensitive to God’s touch, and let Him change who we are? The answer is surprisingly simple.
            Read the Bible.
            Really? Is it really that simple? Yes. Today, we seem to have an aversion to simple answers. We say, Oh, it can’t be that easy. Or, Surely there is something else. But sometimes, the truth really is that basic.
            We need to soak ourselves in the Word. We need to be reading it constantly, and talking to God. That is the only thing that will keep us soft and moist clay – reading the Scripture and prayer.
            If we truly want to be like Christ, then we must strive toward it with all that we have. It’s not easy, but the end reward will be so worth it.
            I must confess, this is an area in which I have been failing. I don’t read the Bible as much as I should. I’m pretty good about reading some daily, but even that has been halfhearted effort – especially during NaNoWriMo. And I don’t pray nearly as much as I should. When I do pray, it’s usually me praying for my family and friends. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but prayer should be more than us sending God a list of requests.
            So I challenge you: Read the Bible. Take every word you read seriously. Soak yourself in the words that God has given you, and let it change your life.
            Let Him make you into a vessel for His glory.
 
           
            To be continued in part two: The Beautiful Pot.

The Finish Line

            Ladies and gentlemen… I HAVE DONE IT!! November is over, and I have written 50,000 words of my book (actually, 51,644 to be exact).
            Wow.
            Isn’t it interesting how you can love and hate something so much? I love NaNoWriMo – it’s fun, it’s wordy, it’s insane. And yet I hate it – it’s stressful, it’s challenging, it’s sleep-depriving. But my love for it has conquered the dislike, and I can truthfully say that NaNoWriMo has once again proved to be an amazing experience, and I look forward to doing it next year.
            I would just like to give a great big thank you to all of you who have been watching me on this journey. Thank you Mom for giving me school off. Thank you to my family members for putting up with me. Thank you Deanna for all your many encouragements. Thank you to all my wonderful friends who have been checking up on me, praying for me, and cheering me on. You guys are amazing!
            And finally, thank you God. I could not have done this without You. You gave me this story and a love for writing – thank You. I pray that this story gives glory to You.
 
 
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Simple Words

          I was going through my song folder today, and came across this song that I wrote when I was ten. The words are basic, and I have no idea how the tune is supposed to go, but the message behind the simple lyrics is sweet.

Heaven
August 24th, 2007

Jesus You love me
Jesus You hold me like a precious gem
Even though my earthly brothers look at me like a dirty wretch,
You still hold me like a precious gem

As You hold me in Your hand,
I know this must be Heaven
Where we ride on the cougar’s back
And soar on eagles wings
And run and play in the grass
Climb up trees ever so fast
I know this must be Heaven
 
 
 
~~~
 
P.S. So sorry that I haven't had a "real" post in so long. NaNoWriMo has, as expected, consumed much of my time. I plan on writing a nice big post soon, so stay tuned!! :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

            Happy Thanksgiving!
            It is a lovely day outside. Wispy clouds, warm sunlight... My cat, Mr. Darcy, spent this morning tearing up my face, so I didn’t get to sleep in. I’m not overly thankful for him clawing at my eye, but I am thankful for my (normally) sweet little kitty. :)
            I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We’ll be having a scrumptious lunch/early dinner, and then my brother and his wife are coming over, as well as a family from our speech club, for pie and games. So tonight will be fun!
            In closing, I would like to share with you a list of 65 things that I am thankful for today (NOTE: I wrote this list as things came to mind. There is no rhyme or reason to the order that things are listed in).

I am thankful for…

  1. autumn beauty
  2. foggy mornings/cloudy afternoons
  3. the freedom to worship God and read the Bible
  4. my friends
  5. my wonderful family
  6. music
  7. late-night phone conversations
  8. warm sweaters
  9. God’s never-ending grace and love
  10. writing
  11. being told, “I love you”
  12. the fact that God is in control, no matter what
  13. knitting
  14. apple cider and pumpkin bread
  15. an amazing church
  16. masquerade balls
  17. a good book
  18. journaling
  19. the Terrible Trio
  20. boots
  21. calligraphy pens (and the ink-stains they leave on your hands)
  22. weddings
  23. my awesome new sister
  24. formal gowns
  25. forgiveness
  26. kittens
  27. dreams
  28. health (LIFE)
  29. the Writers Guild
  30. my leather gloves
  31. God’s promises
  32. inspiration
  33. cooking/baking
  34. sleepovers
  35. the riches that God has blessed us with
  36. typewriters
  37. photography
  38. speech club/speech tournaments
  39. beauty
  40. language
  41. antique shops
  42. shopping
  43. hanging out with friends
  44. prayer
  45. musicals
  46. clouds
  47. memories
  48. roadtrips with friends
  49. singing
  50. organizing
  51. rain
  52. scrap-booking
  53. Frisbee at the park
  54. ice cream
  55. little things
  56. swinging
  57. long walks
  58. Dutch Bros.
  59. home videos
  60. Photoshop
  61. horses
  62. snowflakes
  63. all the years I got to have with Josh, and all the memories I have with him.
  64. the love of God
  65. apple pie
          What are some things that YOU are thankful for?


Our beautiful turkey. :)

Apple and Chocolate Chip Pies.
 
The pie I made (well, Mom made the crust...) :D

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Freedom from Fear


            I recently realized that I am a fearful person. I’ve been afraid of losing loved ones, afraid of natural disaster, afraid of yesterday’s election, afraid of where our country is headed… Everything kept piling up, until I realized that I was living in constant fear.
            Fear is a lack of trust in God. I’m sure we all know this simple truth, but have you ever really thought about it? That when we are fearful, we aren’t trusting fully in God?
            I’m not saying that you’ll never be afraid. Life is frightening sometimes, and we can’t help but be fearful. But if we continue to live in fear, then it shows that we aren’t willing to trust God.
            Everything that happens in life is according to God’s plan and will. Shouldn’t we be content to let it all rest in His hands? Even if we worry, He’s still in control. So by living in fear, all we’re doing is missing out. Missing out on the blessings and gifts He has planned for us along the way.
I love the song Believe Me Now by Steven Curtis Chapman. This line has always stood out to me:
I am the God who never wastes a single hurt that you endure. My words are true, and all My promises are sure, so believe Me now.
            That first part just gets me. I am the God who never wastes a single hurt. Wow. All the pain that I have endured, all the hardships I’ve faced, it’s all for a reason. God is going to use every little hurt to create His beautiful masterpiece.
            God is the Grand Author. As a writer myself, that just makes everything so much clearer. I know what it’s like to have stubborn characters. I know that sometimes you have to hurt them to help them grow. And I know that the end result will be a complete, beautiful story. Hopefully, one that honors and glorifies God.
            In closing, I would like to share some verses with you that have blessed me. The first verse I read for the first time exactly six months ago – two days after Josh drowned. I found Isaiah 12 to be a huge comfort, but this verse in particular stuck with me.
            Accept the comfort that God offers, and let go of your fears. It will be worth it.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. -Isaiah 12:2

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you -Psalm 9:10

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you -Psalm 56:3

In God I trust; I shall be not be afraid. What can man do to me? -Psalm 56:11

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. -John 14:27

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.” -Mark 11:22


Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Josh...


            So, what’s it like up there? I wish I had some picture of Heaven, so I could imagine you there, but I guess I’ll just have to wait. For now, I imagine you playing with Paul, Evan, and Honor. Tell them their big sister says that she loves them and can’t wait to meet them.
Mom and I were talking the other day, and she said that it seemed strange, but that she actually misses you more now then she did when you first left. I replied that it’s because when you first left, the pain was in the thought of you never returning. Now the pain is in actually missing you.
            I can’t believe that it’s been six months. It feels like it’s gone by so fast, yet lasted an eternity. So much has happened, and yet so many things remain unchanged.
            I miss you so much, Josh. I miss talking with you, singing with you, dancing with you. I miss the happy, carefree days we spent together as children. The other day I was thinking about different things we did as kids. Our “Beanie Baby wars”, playing My Little Ponies, playing Eddyville, having you and Mom attend my “wedding”. We made so many memories together. I cherish those more than anything.
            I was also thinking about that morning – trying to remember the last thing I said to you. I’m still not sure what that was. The last thing that I remember was you asking me where the lunchbox was in the pantry. I told you, and you packed your lunch. And then…you walked out the door. I heard it close, but I had no idea it had closed for good.
I’ve tried to imagine what you must have felt like. What you were thinking about. Were you thinking about those standing on the rocks, watching you? Were you scared? Were you thinking about your family, grieving your death?
Of one thing, I’m sure. I believe that the very last thing you thought about was meeting God face to face. And I believe that you were excited.
            You have seen God’s face. Whenever I think about that, I start crying. You have been in the presence of God. The thought of you worshipping at the throne of God makes heaven and eternity so much more real to me. And the knowledge that you are still living gives me hope.
            I miss you so much. I never knew what it felt like to hurt like this. But I know – I know – that it was God’s plan to take you home. And that through doing so, you have changed the lives of thousands.
            You, Joshua Steven Eddy. You and your imperfections, your passion, your zealous love for your Savior. You and your love for others, your impulsive, cheerful personality. You and your quirks and gifts. You and your faith in God.
            Yep, well, I’m crying now. But don’t you worry about me. I’ll be okay. God has promised me that I will see you again, and I’m clinging to that promise.
            There is so much more I could say, but I’ll save that for another time. Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for being so good to me, Joshy, even when I didn’t deserve it (which was most of the time). You were a true brother, and I love you so much.
            Goodbye Josh… for now.

                                                                                                                             ~H


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Magnificent Obsession

          Happy November!! I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. The following song is my prayer for November, and ultimately, my prayer for my life. I absolutely love this song, because it describes exactly how I feel. It's hard to find songs like that. I hope that you're blessed by it as well.

Magnificent Obsession
by Steven Curtis Chapman

Lord, You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed and still I seem to stay
In the middle of life’s complications
All this pursuing leaves me

Feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
But now it’s brought me back to You
And I can see again

This is everything I want and this is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion 

Everything my heart desires, Lord I want it all to be for You
Jesus be my magnificent obsession

So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross and let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love that You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down
To so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains

This is everything I want and this is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires, Lord I want it all to be for You
Jesus be my magnificent obsession, my magnificent obsession

You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me

You are everything I want, You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires, Lord I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You
'Cause You are everything I want, You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires, Lord I want it all to be for You J
esus be my magnificent obsession, be my magnificent obsession
All for You

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Glory Of God

            I have been very challenged lately by the thought that everything we do should give glory to God. Everything meaning…everything. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says:

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

            God cares about something as insignificant as eating giving glory to Him? Wow. That should tell us something.
            This verse has been on my mind a lot the last couple weeks. And several times, I’ve found myself asking, What does this do to give glory to God? For someone who wants her life to glorify Christ, it’s been surprising to see how little my life glorifies Him.
            Some people might say, “It’s impossible for everything you do to glorify God”, but I don’t believe that’s true. God doesn’t ask the impossible of us. Actually, let me rephrase that: God may ask the humanly impossible of us, but He promises to give us the strength to do the impossible if we ask Him.
            If we ask him. That’s the key. So often, we don’t ask God for things, because we somehow think we can do it on our own, or that God is bothered with our requests. Which is completely ridiculous. God plainly tells us that it gives Him pleasure to give us what we ask of Him, if it is a truly good thing. So by not asking, we are actually withholding pleasure from Him.
            Some might also say that, since God asks the impossible of us, that we shouldn’t take the words literally. But considering what I just said above, we can throw that idea out the window. It brings God pleasure to give us what we ask for, so it would be illogical to assume that His words aren’t literal just because the command is humanly impossible to carry out. Also, we should know God well enough to know that when He says something, He means it. God’s not playing word games, or offering a suggestion. This verse is a command – do all to the glory of God. I believe that we need to take this seriously.
            And it is hard. It’s hard to go against your fleshly desires. But if we truly want to glorify God with how we live, and live totally for Him, then we must kill off our sinful flesh.
What would it look like if we lived exegetically? If we put aside our culture, our traditions, our preferences, and just went to the scripture to see what God says. What would our lives look like? Radically different, to be sure.
And yet, this is how we are called to live. This shouldn’t sound strange or radical; it should be how we live. God says that if we love Him, then we will obey His commandments.
Are we doing that?

A Walk Through Nature

          I went on a walk this morning. I couldn't resist the draw of the sun shining through the clouds, light reflecting off drops of dew, trees boasting yellow leaves. I took my camera with me, and I thought I would share a little bit of the beauty I experienced with you. 












Thursday, October 25, 2012

Writing + Insanity = NaNoWriMo


            A few weeks ago, I said I would tell you guys about NaNoWriMo. Well, here is the promised explanation.
            NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s run by OLL (Office of Letters and Light) and takes place every November (there is also a special NaNoWriMo called Camp NaNoWriMo that takes place in June and August for those who are unable participate in November).
            NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. That may or may not sound hard, but let me assure you, it’s hard. You need to average 1,700 words a day to make that goal. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears are shed in the process (the blood is from rubbing your wrist raw on the edge of your keyboard).
            But it’s so much fun. Thousands of people do NaNoWriMo (last year, there were 300,000+ folks participating, from all over the world), so you’re not alone in you writerly struggles. On your personal page, there is a graph of statistics, showing your progress, your average, and when you’ll finish if you maintain that average. You also have a place for a personal bio, and an excerpt from your novel (this year, you can also show your book cover, which I’m super excited about).
            You can update your word count as often as you want. There is a status below your profile that says how many words you’re at. Once you attain 50K, that status changes to “Winner”. Yay! 
            As far as I know, there isn’t usually a prize for NaNoWriMo (aside from a cool looking certificate saying you won). I think that some years they don’t do prizes, and some years they surprise you. That’s what happened last year. In early December, I got a message on my NaNo saying that I received a coupon for CreateSpace (a self-publishing company run by Amazon) that would pay for five copies of my book. So because I completed NaNoWriMo, I got five free copies of my book! It was so awesome.
           
            So that’s NaNoWriMo in a nutshell. I am about to embark on this crazy journey once again, in just six days. I’m so excited! Thirty days of writing insanity – of ridiculously late nights, typing, backspacing, key-board pounding, laughing, crying, schedule-cramming, and best of all…
            Thirty days spent writing my book and getting to know my wonderful characters. ::sighs:: Oh the bliss.
            If that doesn’t make you want to do NaNoWriMo, I don’t know what will. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

You Love Me Anyway

            My self-esteem as been at an all-time low these past five months. I’ve been angry with myself, frustrated with my failures, missing Josh, and just overall depressed. Not very fun.
            And I just can’t understand why people like me. That probably sounds really stupid, but it’s true. People tell me they love me, and I’m like, You love me? I can’t find anything in myself that’s even likable, much less lovable. People tell me I’m beautiful, and I go look in the mirror and try to find what they see. Still haven’t found it.
            We look at ourselves differently then other people look at us. When I look at myself, I see everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Other people only see what I show – which usually isn’t the bad or ugly (and any good I have isn't my own - it's God's). There are some people to whom I’ve been able to share most everything (awesome ones, you know who you are. I LOVE YOU!!).
            While musing over the words above, another thought popped into my head.
            God loves me.
            God loves me – even though he sees all the filth, all the sin, all the ugliness in my life…He still loves me. Wholly and unconditionally. He died – suffered the most brutal form of death - for me. Just the thought of it shakes me.
            Here’s an excerpt from a journal entry written on March 4th.

We had church communion today. And as I sat there, staring at the cup of grape juice, I could see Jesus – the whip lashing across his back, renting open his flesh. The blood spilling out. And as we started singing the last song, I just started crying. Tears ran down my face. Suddenly, the enormity of what He had done just dropped on me. He did it for ME. Why? WHY?! Why God? Why did you choose me? I’m absolutely nothing… I don’t understand…

            And I don’t understand this passionate, infinite love. And I never can, because I am a finite being. But when we accept and embrace God’s gift… He shares that love with us. He loves us, and gives us the power to love others. It’s such a beautiful thing.
            I would like you to go listen to this song. It’s really amazing, and encompasses what I've just written.

In closing, I would like to say that I am so thankful for all the people who love me for who I am. I know I’m not perfect, I know I make mistakes, and I know that sometimes I’ll let you down. But your love means so much to me. Thank you for all that you have invested in my life.
And thank you for telling me I’m beautiful. Because I am.
I am broken and beautiful.