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.


"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


           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?
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?
            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).
            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.