Friday, November 22, 2013

If I Die Young

If I die young, bury me in satin. Lay be down on a bed of roses. Sink me in the river, at dawn. Send me away with the words of a love song. 
The sharp knife of a short life. Oh well, I’ve had just enough time. 
       Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother. She’ll know I’m safe with You when she stands under my colors. Oh, and life ain’t always how we think it oughta be, no. Ain’t even gray, but she buries her baby.
The sharp knife of a short life. Oh well, I’ve had just enough time.

Josh used to sing this song. I never really paid attention to it then, but it means so much to me now. I can't help but think that when he would sing this song, Josh had no idea that he would die young. Or that his young death would take place in a river.
The sharp knife of a short life. 
Death is like a knife – a sharp, biting knife that pierces your heart and doesn’t go away. Thank God for His gift of grace, or the pain would have killed me long ago.
I miss Josh. Those words seem so simple, but I haven’t yet found any that adequately describe how I feel. I miss his voice, his face, the smell of his Old Spice deodorant. I miss having him confide in me about girls. I miss giving him fashion advice, and asking him to return the favor. I miss listening to him talk about his faith.
But the one thing that carries me through is God and His sustaining grace. Because I know that one day, I will see my brother again.
And it will be wonderful beyond imagination.



~Riah

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Act The Miracle

One thing that I have learned over the past couple of years is that being a Christian is hard. Not only because of the varying levels of persecution that Christians experience across the world, but simply because we are human. And as such, we’re sinful.
There’s no escaping it. Each and every one of us is born with a sin nature. One that we cannot conquer until Christ returns.
So. What do we do in the meantime?
We study God’s word. We seek His will. We pray. We endeavor to shine the light of Christ is this dark world.
And a lot of the time we fail.
Failure is something that is hard for us to swallow. It is a mark of inadequacy, a sign of weakness. To fail is to not be good enough – which, when it comes to God and His word, we aren’t.
I have failed in a lot of things lately. I’ve failed to fulfill my list of resolutions, failed to be kinder to my siblings, failed to be patient, failed to encourage, failed to spend more time in the Word, failed to keep my mind pure, failed to keep my body in shape... The feeling of failure has been overwhelming. And discouraging.
It is frustrating to realize (again) how incompetent I am. Utterly weak and dependent. It’s also humbling to realize how much God loves me. Not because I am weak and dependent, but simply because of who I am.
I still grapple with the incomprehensibility of this.
How can He... love me?
Life has been difficult lately. For the past few months, I have been sliding downhill. Some nights, I fight to climb higher; others, I let myself fall deeper. I lack the strength to fight to voices in my mind, so I succumb to them. I let myself believe that my life is pointless. That I’m a failure. I am trapped inside myself, wallowing in the dark misery that overwhelms my mind.
All the while, He is waiting just outside.
There are no excuses. God offers us the strength we need. It is a long, hard fight – one that must consume every part of who we are. But when the dust settles and the blood dries, we will be the victor. And our reward is everlasting.
        Yes, I am a failure. But He is a Lover. And love, portrayed in crimson blood, covers a multitude of sins.
If we would just open our eyes and stop thinking about “me” long enough to see God’s outstretched hand, we would find our strength renewed. As I said in the beginning, we will not conquer our sin nature until we enter the gates of heaven. But with God’s strength, we can certainly fight it.

      "When it comes to killing my sin, I don't wait for the miracle.
                                                                                                       I act the miracle."  -John Piper



~Riah



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1 + 1 = 2? Debatable.

          Sometimes, it equals three.


          I'm an Aunt!!
          New baby brother, little niece or nephew on the way... Does it get better than this? :)


~Riah



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Miracle of Life

          I witnessed a miracle this morning. What other word can even begin to describe the birth of a child?
         At 3:16 this morning, Haven Evangelist Eddy was born. My mom had been planning on having a home birth, but since Haven was eighteen days late, we decided to have him induced at the hospital. They broke her water, and he was born less than four hours later with no complications.
        As far as statistics go, he's 9.11 pounds and 22 1/2 inches. He has quite a bit of dark hair, as you can see in the pictures, and definitely looks like an Eddy. :)














      I am overwhelmed with joy and love for this little one. What a perfect, beautiful miracle. 
      God is good. :)

~Riah



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Sound Of Grace

--A Short Story--                                                                                                                          
Written May 20th, 2013

Before her is a field. A vast, dry field, interspersed with a few dead trees. There is nothing around for miles, save the path that she walked to get here. She closes her eyes and inhales deeply, remembering… Her eyes open. The air has changed. As has everything else.
In the middle of the field is a house. The windows which used to shine with light and love are now dark. The door which she always remembered being open is now shut. The roof sags in an exhausted effort to hold itself up. Everything appears cold, dismal, and empty.
Tears biting her eyes, she approaches, irresistibly drawn to this house. With an unsteady step she climbs the porch, and her trembling fingers reach for the door. It opens with a groan and slight hesitation.
Everything is coated with years of dust. She brushes the tips of her fingers across the windowsill. Mama wouldn’t have liked that; she had always kept everything just so. A smile teases her lips at the thought of Mama cleaning house.
        The floorboards creak as she makes her way through the rooms. She is in the doorway of time; reliving the past, surrounded by a memory. Everywhere she looks, there is something to be remembered. That empty spot on the shelf where they used to keep the big family Bible. The burnt spot on the floor from when John tried to light Daddy’s pipe. The nook in the cupboard where she used to hide her treasures. And that little smudge on the window that drove Mama crazy. Every day, she would have a go at scrubbing it off, but nothing worked. Daddy was going to buy her a new pane of glass for Christmas, but Mama didn’t make it that long. The fever came before December did.
        A chill comes over her as she steps into the bedroom. All too vividly, she sees Mama lying in that bed, face pale and damp with sweat. Eyes wide and unseeing. She can feel Mama’s cool, clammy hand gripping hers. Her grip slackens…
       The memories are too much. With a sob, she drops to her knees and buries her face in her hands. It has been so many years; long, hard years of learning to say goodbye. Goodbye to Mama, goodbye to the past… There are days when she can laugh long and loud, and there are days when tears make it hard to breathe. Grace is the only thing that has kept her alive.
       Wiping away her tears, she opens the nightstand drawer. Empty. She knew it would be, but she had hoped –
       As she pushes the drawer shut, it catches on something. Pulling it back out, she sees a piece of paper, yellow with age. She picks it up and recognizes Mama’s handwriting immediately.

      Be still. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and listen. Can’t you hear it? 
      It’s the sound of grace.

      The last words are read through a veil of tears. She closes her eyes and breathes deep. It is silent around her, save the steady beating of her heart. Life.
      The sound of grace.

~Riah


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Let Go

          You’re clinging to the edge of a cliff. A dark chasm looms beneath you, its black, menacing face leering at your pitiful condition. Your arms are trembling, your fingers burning with pain as you struggle to hold on to what you know.  Everything in your life has driven you to this point. All familiar territory has fallen away and left you here, hanging in the narrow space between the past and the future, the familiar and the unknown.
          You have a choice to make. Whether to hold on and continue to live in fear of what you cannot see, or to release your grip and embrace the change. A quiet voice nudges you.
Let go.
Your fingers stubbornly tighten their grip as you press yourself against the wall. Let go? Impossible. Who knows what lay in the dark pit below?
I do. You must let go.
Tears force themselves from your eyes and stream down your face. For so long you have held on – hoping, praying that you wouldn’t have to go through this. That somehow, things could go back to how they were. But you know they cannot.
My child, trust Me. I will keep you safe.
Can you really trust Him? You think back to all He has done; coming to this earth as a man to save you from your own depravity. Enduring the most vicious torture, pouring out His blood to save you from eternal damnation. You – a helpless creature incapable of taking a breath without His grace. He gave you His life, and continues to do so day by day.
         You remember all the times when you turned away from Him, and He patiently waited for you to come back. The times when He opened your eyes just a crack, giving you a glimpse of the bigger picture. The days when you were wracked with grief, and He filled you with peace that surpassed all understanding. The moments when you felt nothing but the joyous consumption of His pure and complete love. He has done so much... He has nothing left to prove. He is God Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega.
          How can you possibly not trust Him?
          God, I’m afraid. You admit. I don’t know what’s down there. All I can see is darkness. How far will I fall?
          You will fall only as far as you must, but you will never be out of My hands.
          Will it hurt?
          There is always pain in healing, Dear One.
          But Lord... why do things have to change?
          This season of your life is past. It is time to move on - for you to move to richer soil, where you can grow deeper in me. You cannot live for Me fully where you are.
          I... I want that. But I’m still afraid.
You have no need to fear, My child. Everything that happens to you is according to My plan. Trust Me.
  You suddenly realize how much time you have spent here, undecided. But no more. You take a breath and feel the power of God fill you. Your heart is pounding, adrenaline rushing, fear pulsing, but mind decided.
I trust You, Lord. May Your will be done.
Your fingers slip, and you close your eyes as you immerse yourself in the terrifying yet exhilarating sensation of freedom.


~Riah



Friday, September 27, 2013

Psalm 27

Psalm 27
A Psalm of Fearless Trust In The Lord
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.
11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

          Wait on the Lord, friends. He always comes through.

~Riah

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Never

        A few weeks ago, I was browsing a list of quotes when I came upon the following:


Those words stirred memories; memories of things that I more or less regretted doing. Times when I’d made the wrong choice – choosing immediate pleasure rather than pursuing the infinite reward of Christ. I may have smiled in the moment, but I later regretted my choice.
Never regret something that once made you smile. 
Can I please just say that this quote is ridiculous? Please?
This quote is ridiculous.
I know that I tend to look deeper into things than intended. I doubt that the author of this quote honestly meant “never regret”. But that’s the part that annoys me – their use of ‘never’. ‘Never’ is one of those huge, powerful words that are now used so loosely (like awesome, always, and love).
Have you ever really thought about the word ‘never’? What it really means? That may seem really obvious; never means never, of course. Duh.
But more than that, ‘never’ is a promise.
To say you will never do something is a promise. This can work the other way as well, like if I were to say “I have never been ice skating”, but that’s not what I’m talking about. ‘Will’ talks about the future, ‘have’ about the past. I’m talking about ‘will never’.
With this in mind, read the following verse.
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” ~Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)
        You have probably heard that verse dozens of times. But when was the last time you sat and really thought about what it meant? He will never desert you; never forsake you. That is a promise, and one that you can wholly rely on.
        Just for clarification, while I don’t think “never regret” is a proper statement, I do not think we should trudge through life regretting all of our past mistakes. Christ died to cleanse us from our sin; past, present, and future. We don’t need to bear the weight of it anymore. Regret, repent, and move on.
We have so many reasons to smile each day – the pleasure of sin should not be one of them. Save your smile for the good things that deserve it. Like the fact that God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, has promised to never leave you.
Now that is something worth smiling about.



~Riah

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Home Again

I spent the last week at Gleanings for the Hungry, a mission organization based in Dinuba California. In a [very small] nutshell, Gleanings processes peaches during the summer that have been donated to them and sends out the dry fruit to other missions organizations around the world to give to the hungry. As I said, this is a very small description of who Gleanings is and what they’re about. They do much more than dried peaches. I encourage you to check out their website and read more about them there. :)
This past week has been amazing. Working, worshipping, fellowshipping – laughing and crying. Playing Frisbee, trash can, and getting slaughtered at Egyptian Rat Slap. Waking up at five in the morning and going to bed at eleven. Making new friends, deepening old relationships. It was a very blessed week.
When I got home on Sunday, I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a blog post about Gleanings. Yes, I’d had a wonderful time, but I didn’t feel like I had anything worth sharing with you guys. I’ve heard so many stories of people who have gone to Gleanings and had some life changing experience there. Like God suddenly taking hold of their heart, or learning something totally new, or finding their calling in life. And as much as I tried to go to Gleanings with an open heart and no expectations, I admit that I was hoping. I was hoping for some spiritual revelation. For God to speak to me as clear as day and tell me... something. Anything. I was so tired of how my life had been. I wanted God to grab me and show me exactly what I need to do to fix my life.
As if He hasn’t done that enough times already.
But He did. Perhaps not in such a sudden and direct way as I was hoping for, but He did show me an area in my life that I have been neglecting lately.
That area was Himself.
My relationship with God has been sadly neglected the last few weeks. Somehow, He failed to make the priority list. I didn’t have the ‘time’ to sit and read my Bible; didn’t have the ‘time’ to pray and talk with Him. I love God, but I have been letting other things take first place in my heart; the place that should belong solely to Him.
You grow to love someone by getting to know them. You get to know God by reading His word and talking with Him. It’s that simple – and that difficult. But I strongly encourage you to give more of your time to God. It may feel like a waste of time, but I promise you it will be worth it. If you seek God with an open and honest heart, He will answer you. We cannot experience God wholly until we are wholly surrendered to Him.
        Loving God. That seems to be the current theme of my life. When I look at myself, it’s so easy to be discouraged by all my many faults and failures. But then I look back over the past two years, and I see all the numerous ways in which God has been working in me. I may not have come as far as I like, but I am moving. Slowly but surely. And I know that God will continue to work in me until the day I am welcomed into heaven.

Well, there’s a brief summarization of what I learned at Gleanings. If you want to hear more about my trip, feel free to leave a comment or message me!
I also want to thank my grandma, who helped enormously with the financial aspect of Gleanings. Thank you so much for helping send me to Gleanings, Grandma. It was such a huge blessing. I love you! <3
And to all my Gleanings friends, old and new... I LOVE YOU GUYS!! I cannot wait to work with you again next year. You people are amazing.




~Riah



Monday, August 19, 2013

Live Out Loud - LIVE!!

Last night was AMAZING!!
Steven Curtis Chapman had a concert in Medford! Steven Curtis Chapman (as you probably figured out by now) is my favorite music artist, and has been for years. He was one of the artists that I grew up listening to. The lyrics in his songs are so true and deep; not many artists are like that. His music is one of the things that has helped me get through the last year and a half.
I was absolutely thrilled to hear that he was coming to Oregon (is it just me, or do famous people almost never come here? ;P). For the past two months, I have been bursting at the seams with excitement.
As already stated, the concert was amazing. We were in the sixth row, just slightly off center, so we had an excellent view. Steven Curtis Chapman's two sons, Caleb and Will Franklin, made up a part of the band, so getting to see them was neat. :)
I don’t know if I could say that any one song was my favorite. They were all pretty equally awesome. :) Long Way Home was wonderful, and I loved I Will Be HereDive and Do Everything pulsed with energy. He also sang Cinderella, one of his most popular songs. Hearing him sing it live... was amazing. He sang it with such passion and feeling. And the version he sang had a different ending (the alternate ending version is featured on his album, Deep Roots. You can listen to it here). And I also really liked Heaven In The Real World.
         Okay, I loved them all! Told you they were all good. ;P
        And now for some photos...


Steven Curtis Chapman!!
Father & son (Caleb and Steven Chapman)

Caleb Chapman singing "Glorious"

And of course I got a souvenir. :) My parents bought me this super cool SCC shirt.

Singing, worshiping, crying – seeing my favorite singer live. Spending an evening with my parents. Feeling very blessed. That about sums up my night. :)
        The only other thing I have to say is....
Lalalala live out loud! 



~Riah

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blessings

A handful of things that have blessed me recently...

-New boots! My parents bought me an awesome pair of cowboy boots that I love. :)
-The surprise baby shower that Tianna and I pulled off for my mom. ;)
-I am so thankful for friendship. In the past year, I have had the opportunity to reconnect with several friends that I hadn’t seen in years. It has been such a blessing to get to know them again.
-The smell of summer rain.
-Singing in the middle of the night with my friend.
-My brother and his amazing wife, who have now been married for one year. <3
-Good movies! We have watched several good movies lately, my favorite of which was Unconditional, starring Lynn Collins and Michael Ealy.
-Holding an umbrella so my mom could barbeque in the rain.
-Eating chocolate chip brownies.
-Writing.
-In’N’Out Burger. Sooo yummy!!
-My sweet little Knight.
-Being able to worship God and read the Bible without fear.
-My awesome church. :)
-Roses.
-Knowing you are loved. <3
-My wonderful blog readers!! :D You guys are awesome.

~Riah

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Surprise Shower! :)

         Tianna and I threw a surprise baby shower for Mom yesterday. It was so much fun! I've never had the chance to throw a surprise party for someone. And yes, she was totally surprised.
         I am so thankful for my mom, and for the little baby that God has placed inside her. She is amazing, and I am so glad that we were able to bless her in this way.
        And now I you to look at the pictures. ;) Because they are pretty cool.













~Riah

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Singer

          The following verses are from Calvin Miller's book, The Singer. The book is a poem about how Christ came to earth and saved us from our sin. I hope that this little portion blesses you. :)


His seeming madness made the
Music play a hundred times
more loudly than before.

It lured him from his highland
Home.

He left the mallet broken on
The vise and walked away

Never had he been the way he
Walked, and yet his feet knew
Every step. He could not cease
to marvel how they moved his
body forward through the
mist of circumstances which he
vaguely knew by name.

His naked feet intrigued him,
For they moved with purpose
Which his mind had not yet
Measured. Besides they each
One wore a curious scar of some
Wound as yet unopened; yet they
Had been there long before his
Birthday. What twist of meaning
Had Earthmaker given him, to
Scar his feet before he ever
Walked?

From the hills, he walked ever
Downward to the valley miles
Below.

Down, down, down – until the
Vegetation thickened into
Shrubs, and the desert gave
way to river jungles.

And there where water lapped
At his fatigue, he heard a
Singer, singing his compelling
carols to the empty air.

The tradesman knew that it was just
An earth song, for it was
Different from the Star-Song
Which begged him to be its singer –
Yet somehow like it.

The River Singer finished and
They walked into the trees.

“Are you the Troubadour, who
Knows the Ancient Star-Song?”
The tradesman softly asked.

“No, you are the Great Troubadour
For whom the songless world,
So long has waited,” the
River Singer said. “Sing, for many
Years now, I have hungered
To hear the Ancient Star-Song…”

“I am a tradesman only…”

Then the River Singer waded out
Into the water and beckoned
With his hand. Slowly
The tradesman followed.

They stopped waist-deep in
Water. Their eyes swam and
They waited for the music
To begin.

It did.

The tradesman knew the River
Singer heard it too.

The water swirled around them
And the music surged.

Every chord seemed to fuse the
World in oneness.

They stood until the surging
Current buried them in song.
It then receded and the music
Died away.

And the river was once more a simple river.

Then over that thin silver
Stream the thunder pealed, and
A voice called from the sky
Above…

“Tradesman! You are
The Troubadour! Go
Now and sing!”



He was not alone when he awoke.

The ancient World Hater had
Come upon his resting place
And not by chance.

The Hater leered at him with
One defiant, impish grin.

“Hello Singer!”

“Hello, World Hater.” The
Troubadour responded.

“You know my name, old friend
Of man?”

“As you know mine, old enemy of
God.”

“What brings you to the desert?”

“The Giver of the Song!”

“And does he let you sing it
Only in these isolated spots?”

“I only practice here to sing it
In the crowded ways!”

It was hard to sing before the
World Hate, for he ground each
Joyous stanza underneath his heel.

The music only seemed to make
the venom in his hate more
bitter than before.

The Hater drew a silver flute
From underneath his studded
belt. He placed it to his
Leathered lips drawn tight to
Play a melody.

The song surprisingly was
sweet. It filled the canyon
with an airy-tine and hung its
lingering reverberations mysteriously
in every cleft. It
rippled on the very ground
around their feet.

A strange compulsion came upon
The Singer. Furiously he wanted
So to sing the Hater’s tune.

He barely staunched the eager
urge to sing.

The morning sun glinted fire
Upon the silver flute. The music
And the dazzling light appeared
To mesmerize the Singer.

“You must not sing the Hater’s
Song,” the Father-Spirit cried,
“Be very careful, for I love you,
Troubadour.”

“Now,” cried the World Hater,
“Let’s do this tune at once.
I’ll pipe, you sing. Think of
The thousand kingdoms that will
Dance about our feet.”

“No, Hater, I’ll not sing your melodies.”
The Troubadour replied.

“What then Singer, will you sing?”

“The Ancient Star-Song of the
Father-Spirit.”

“Alone, without accompaniment?”

“Yes, Hater, all alone if need be.”

“You need my pipe, man.”

“You need my song instead.”

“The music of your song is far
Beyond my tiny pipe.”

“Then go! For I shall never sing
A lesser piece.”

Then all at once the Troubadour
Began again. The mountains
Amplified his song. It swirled
As sunlit symphony, until
The Hater put his pipe beneath
His belt and fled before
The song of love.

“Beloved Singer, beware the
World-Hater,” The Father-Spirit said.

Then upward there the Singer
Stretched his arms and said
Again, “I love you, Father-Spirit.”

He waited there a moment while
The sky embraced him and then
He walked away. Ahead he saw
The cities rise, and people
Thronged the crowded ways.

-Calvin Miller, The Singer


~Riah

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How Deep The Father's Love

        Why does He love me?
Me – a sinner. Someone incapable of good, unworthy of life, undeserving of grace. Irreverent toward His holy name, ignorant in the ways of good, blind to the light.
And yet... chosen.
He chose me.
Why?! I cannot begin to wrap my mind around the idea; around the fact that He loves me. That He hung on a cross, pouring out His life in a river of crimson for me. That in me, He can make something beautiful.
I am in awe.
And yet, even after all that He has done, I still forget. I lose sight of the Path. The distractions of the world pull me away, clouding my mind. I chose sin over righteousness; fear over trust. Hate over love.
Oh Lord Jesus, please forgive me! I am such a sinner, in desperate need of Your daily grace. There isn’t a moment that I don’t need You. You are my everything; never let me lose this dependence on You.
I have been chosen... forgiven. Loved by the Lord and Creator of the universe.
Can I ever hope to comprehend?

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure. 
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom



Jesus died for you. Because He loves you.
He loves YOU.
Never let yourself forget the enormity of His love and grace.

~Riah

Saturday, August 3, 2013

<><>♥<><>

          Totally random... but totally awesome. ;)


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               ...a broken sinner, made beauiful by the grace of God.


~Riah


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prayer For Rain

          Late Thursday night, dry lightning started countless fires in the Southern Oregon area. The minor fires have been put out, but there are a couple that have grown to monstrous proportions. Already, 35,000 acres have been burned. The smoke is thick everywhere from Cave Junction to California.
          At this point, the fires are just too big to be controlled, much less put out. What we need right now is rain.
          Please, please pray that God would shower us with rain and put out these fires. Pray that the smoke clears. Pray that He keeps Oregon safe.




~Riah

Monday, July 29, 2013

Serving Leftovers To A Holy God

That is the title of a chapter in Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. And I have to admit, it makes me wince. It happens more often than I like to think. When I finish doing what I want to do, then I’ll give God a few minutes of my time. Spend ten, twenty minutes reading the Bible, count my blessings, and tell Him goodnight. Next morning, it’s back to the me show.
So often, we fail to prioritize our relationship with God. It’s almost like once we’re saved, that’s it; we don’t have to do anything more. Jesus loves me, try to live a good life, then I go to heaven and party for eternity. Whoopee!
Um, no.
Life is hard, and being a Christian is no exception. In some ways, it’s harder. We have a moral standard that we strive to live by. We are mocked and ridiculed by a world that doesn’t recognize us. We have to work and wait to receive our reward. Yes, we hold fast to our beautiful hope in God, but it is difficult in a world full of temptations.
Our relationship with Christ is more than just a ticket to heaven. He wants us to know Him, love Him, worship, and glorify Him. As Francis Chan says,
         “[God] wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd.”
This life is about God. Period. We were created by Him for Him. To have a real and personal relationship with Him. Living for God doesn’t start when we go to heaven; it starts now.
  I have failed and continue to fail. I keep wanting to give more time to God, but I keep not doing it. I become selfish, hoarding away my time for my own pleasures. Reading a novel somehow is more appealing than reading His word.
If you don’t eat for a very long time, you sometimes don’t even feel hungry anymore. Your body is trying to cope without the food. But as soon as you start eating again, you realize just how famished you were.
When we don’t read the Bible often, we begin to lose our hunger. Distractions pull us away, and we forget about spending time with our King. If this is where you are right now, go spend an hour reading your Bible. I think you’ll realize that you’ve been starving for it all along.
Pour yourself into your relationship with God. Don’t give Him your leftover time; give Him your first time. Your first thought. Give Him all that you are.
Because it’s all you have to give.


        “The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives.” ~Francis Chan

~Riah

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sierra Springs and the Bible

We need water. Water is one of the few things in life that we absolutely need; without it, we cannot long survive.
Jesus offers us pure, holy water that will satisfy our thirst as no other water can. It is drawn from the Well of Life. Once we drink of this water, we won't want any other.
All of this makes me think of the Monk episode, Mr. Monk Goes To Mexico.
Knowing that he is going to a place that may not be able to fulfill his need for Sierra Springs, Monk brings with him an overabundance of bottled water – just in case. Shortly after their arrival in Mexico, Monk and Sharona are robbed of all their luggage. Food, clothing, toiletries… it’s all gone. But what is the one thing that Monk is concerned about?
His water.
Throughout the episode, we watch as Monk searches desperately for water. People offer him other kinds, such as Aquafina and Arrowhead, but Monk refuses them all. Sierra Springs is the only bottling company that he trusts. At one point he finds someone with Sierra Springs, but they don’t see its value; they taunt him and pour it out on the ground.
During his three day stay in Mexico, Monk drinks no water. Everyone tries to persuade him that the other brands are just as good, but he knows the truth. No other water can satisfy him.
Can you see the parallel?
There are many false religions – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Pantheism, and Buddhism, just to name a few. They knock on your door, they quote their books to you, and they try to win you over to their side. But we cannot be fooled. We have tasted of the only pure and satisfying water, and we know that no other can quench our thirst.
When the world looks at us, they’re confused. They don’t understand why the Bible means so much to us, or why we are so “intolerant” of other religions. They mock us and threaten to torture us, but still we must hold fast. Even if they take away all that we own, they cannot take away the hope that we have in Christ.
Monk would rather die from lack of Sierra Springs than seek satisfaction from any other brand.
Would you rather die for your faith than turn aside to false religions?
Read your Bible. Immerse yourself in it. Consume pure water. Grow in your love for Christ. And stay strong in your faith.

~Riah

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hard Work Never Hurt Nobody

         Greetings! Goodness, it feels like I haven’t posted in forever – when in reality, it’s only been a week. ;) I guess I just miss you guys.
Just as a side note, I know that my post title technically isn’t true, but I’m in a weird mood, and that is what I want to call it. So deal with it.
Now that we’re through with the preliminaries, I have something to tell you.
I am an impatient person.
Yes, dear friend, you heard me right. Riah is impatient. I like things to be done promptly, “quickly and efficiently” as I tell my siblings when they dawdle while picking up toys. It drives me crazy when people move slowly; I like to be swift and complete any given task as soon as possible. I’m also slightly *cough* OCD about things be clean, neat, and in order. Mom will be in the middle of making dinner, and I’ll start putting away ingredients that I think she’s done with – when she’s not. I want things to be tidy, and I want to be places on time. Which, in our family of nine, almost never happens.
This is something I have been aware of for a while, and am trying to control. I mean, really, does it matter if Levi and David take twenty minutes to pick up a handful of toys? Is it going to kill me to leave the salt shaker out until Mom finishes making dinner? No. I just have to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter.
But my impatience extends beyond the desire to ‘clean up’ quickly. I can’t tell you how many story plots I have stashed away in a folder, waiting to be written, because I don’t want to take the time to outline them. Seriously. It’s ridiculous. I am a plot-first writer, which means that story ideas come to me naturally, while characters are a little harder for me to create (but certainly not less pleasurable). When I think of a story that I love, I sit down and write as it comes to me. In the end, what I have is a great idea with no PLOT whatsoever. Needless to say, it’s frustrating.
If I just took the time at the beginning, however, to outline my story and figure out what’s going to happen, my books would turn out a lot better. And I know this. But I’m too impatient (and lazy). I don’t want to wait to write this amazing story for weeks while I sweat and bleed trying to figure out all the angles and plot twists. I’d rather write it now (even though I know it would be much more amazing if I worked it out beforehand).
All that being said – my mom sent me a blog post from Desiring God this morning called Lay Aside The Weight Of “Not Feeling Like It”. The Desiring God blog does not often disappoint, and it certainly didn’t today. I would encourage you to read that post; it's short, and well worth the read.
The gist of it is this; we like to take the easy path. We prefer the momentary pleasures that the world offers, rather than working toward the better reward that God promises us. Why exert effort when we don’t have to?
But this life is not about pleasure. It’s about living for Christ and expanding His kingdom, making disciples of all men. And it’s hard. I may write good blog posts, encouraging you to do all unto the glory of God, but I fail. So much of the time. Maybe I sound like I have it all together, but I don’t. I too am broken.
It’s hard to stand firm in sinking sand; in fact, it’s impossible. If you stay in the mire, you will drown. But Christ is our Rock and our Stronghold; through every storm, He will remain steadfast. Cling to Him, and He will hold you up.
I want to encourage you to not be lazy. Don’t put off doing something because you’re “not feeling like it”. Don’t not do something just because you’re too impatient to do it right. God never promised us that life would be easy – but He did promise us a reward that far surpasses all comprehension if we live according to His word. Don't miss out on that gift. Give Him your all.
         After all, hard work never hurt nobody.

~Riah


       “…God, in great mercy, is showing us everywhere, in things that are just shadows of heavenly realities, that there is a great reward for those who struggle through and persevere (Hebrews 10:32–35). He is reminding us almost everywhere to walk by faith in a promised future and not by the sight of immediate gratification (2 Corinthians 5:7).
      “So today, don’t let “not feeling like it” reign as lord (Romans 6:12). Rather, through it see your Father pointing you to the reward he has planned for all who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Let it remind you that his call is not to indulgence but endurance.”
~Jon Bloom



~~~

Determined not to be lazy (and because I miss my writing dearly), I have begun to outline a new story! I actually came up with the idea a couple of years ago, but am finally going to put it into action. I plan on spending the next couple of months writing a detailed outline, finishing just in time for NaNoWriMo.
I will hopefully post a synopsis for The Dream Tamer in a week or two. :)


Friday, July 5, 2013

Psalm 101

Recently, I realized that I was growing negligent in my relationship with God. I wasn’t spending as much time in the Word or in prayer as I knew I ought. I wasn’t putting forth effort to be more like Christ. I had let down my shield and was entertaining thoughts that I normally would have fought against.
In a word, I had grown lazy.
One night, God convicted me of this. I suddenly realized that for the past couple of weeks, I hadn’t been living for anyone but myself. Which, I had long since learned, was a worthless thing to live for. I saw how far I had been drifting, and I asked God to forgive me.
Then I asked Him for a chapter. A verse. Something that would be perfect for where I was at in that moment, that would challenge and convict me. I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on Psalm 101.
And I started crying.


I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land,
That they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.


Stay strong, followers and lovers of Christ. Read the Word, fellowship with your Maker, revel in His love, grace, and forgiveness. Believe and be changed. Nothing else in this life is worth it.

~Riah

Friday, June 28, 2013

Just A Dream

I stared off at the mountains, absentmindedly running a brush over my horse’s back. One year.  Almost fourteen months since he died. How can it have been that long? A familiar ache settled on my heart. It was always there, but in quiet moments like these, it pressed more painfully. How have I survived?
  My horse nosed me gently, bringing me back to present. I smiled weakly and stroked his neck. “I’m sorry, baby. You want some hay… don’t you?”
My words slowed as I became aware of a presence behind me. It was warm, familiar, and yet I almost didn’t recognize it. Slowly, I turned around.
Time seemed to stand still. Surprise, disbelief, and inexpressible joy washed over me in a tidal wave of emotion. I began to tremble. I remained there, stupefied, eyes focused on the figure that approached me. My heart was pounding in my chest and my mouth had gone dry.
No… this… this can’t be real. But even as I argued with myself, his face broke into a wide smile.
A sort of strangled laugh escaped me as I ran toward his open arms. I threw my arms around his neck as he drew me into his embrace. He was so warm, so real.
So alive.
“Oh Josh!” I cried. “You came back! We all thought that you were dead. We had a funeral, and hundreds of people came. You should see all the things that people have said about you. Oh Josh, you’re here! I missed you so much. Everyone has missed you. What took you so long to come home? I love you, Joshy!”
The words tumbled out of me in a rush, mingled with sobs. He said nothing, only held me close. I pulled back slightly so I could look into his face.
Oh, how I’d missed those eyes.
“You’re home, Joshy.” I whispered, a smile spreading across my face. “You’re home.”

~~~~~

I didn’t want to open my eyes. I knew what awaited me, but I wasn’t ready to go there. Not again. But I knew I had to.
Wiping away the tears that wetted my cheeks, I opened my eyes. The clock read five fifty AM. I sighed and rolled over. For one, brief moment, I had been in ecstasy.
But it was just a dream.

~Riah

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Open Your Eyes

Fear.
Dark, blinding fear. It was all she knew.
Her heart raced as she tore across the barren field, the wind whipping her hair back. Running… always running. She couldn’t stop for a moment. She had to get away, had to escape. It was pursuing her. Her only hope was to outrun the Presence that followed so closely behind.
Darkness loomed ahead of her, beckoning her into its black recesses. It was so close, and yet so far. She longed to be again enveloped in the dark’s cold embrace.
Her lungs were begging for air. Her calves burned, and her head throbbed. She couldn’t keep running. Perhaps she could rest for just a moment…
But no! The moment her steps began to falter, she felt it again; the warmth of the Light on her back.
Get away from me! Her heart cried as she again broke into a run. Terror of the unknown pressed itself on her as she blindly ran toward her refuge. The Light began to steal over her. She let out a cry, covering her eyes.
“Leave me be!” She said, falling to the ground. She curled into a pathetic ball, still trying to block out the Light. “I don’t want You near me!”
The Light hurt her eyes. The warmth of it made her skin burn. She was so accustomed to the chill of darkness.
“My child, you are afraid. Let Me calm your fears.”
Her breath caught. The Voice was deep, warm… gentle. Unlike any other voice she’d ever heard. Something about it made her heart yearn to trust Him.
“No!” She cried, her hands still covering her face. It took everything within her to resist His words. “You are the reason I am afraid.”
“What have I done to you to make you fearful, dear one?” The Voice asked.
Dear one. Not ‘idiot’, or ‘worthless’, or ‘ugly’. Dear one. Never had such an endearing name been attributed to her.
Remember what He did to you. A voice whispered in her heart. It’s all a joke; He doesn’t really love you. Who could possibly love a worthless piece of trash like yourself?
        Despite the many times she’d heard them, the words stung. She took a shaky breath before saying, “You… You are the reason I am what I am.”
“And what are you?”
His voice was so gentle and caring, it brought tears to her eyes. “I am unwanted; abandoned by those who should have loved me most. I am mistreated; other use me to bring them pleasure. I am lost; forsaken by those who promised to guide me.” Her voice gave way as she succumbed to her grief. “I am ugly, worthless, broken, hopeless, and most of all, unloved. Life means absolutely nothing. Nothing! Where have You been, Light?” She demanded, her voice shaking with tears and anger. “You who calls me “dear one”. You who claim to be the bearer of peace, love, and light. You ask me why I fear You. The answer is because You are the one who has done this to me. You caused me to be born, and then left me to rot. Why?! Why have You let me live in such agony? All I can see is utter darkness and despair. This world is dying, Light, and You have done nothing to prevent it. That is why I fear and despise You.”
Her words hung thick in the air. She was trembling, grief and rage contorting her features. Several long seconds went by, the silence only broken by her quiet sobs. If only she had opened her eyes, she would have seen that the darkness was slowly receding.
“My child,” His voice was warm, soothing. It stole over her skin and crept into her heart, melting her like ice. “My dear, beloved child, I have always been there for you. I sat beside you in your darkest hour. You had only to open your eyes to see Me. But you closed your eyes and blamed Me for your hurt, and you resented Me for it.
“There is always pain in life, Daughter. If your life was perfect, you would have no need to trust Me. But you do need to trust Me, for I am the one who can bring you life. I am the one who can heal your wounds. I am the one who can satisfy your every desire. I am the one who loves you. I died to bring you life.”
His words pushed away the doubt that had clouded her mind, and suddenly she understood. “Oh Light… I was so wrong.”
“Come unto Me, My child. Reflect My light in this world of darkness.”
“But how?”
“Believe in Me. Demonstrate your love by obeying My commandments.”
“Oh Lord… I do believe.”
“If you believe, then you shall be saved.”
Everything suddenly fell away. The oppressive weight of her guilt was lifted. The hurt she’d been carrying for so many years was gone. The knot of tears in her chest loosened, and she was finally able to breathe freely. Never had the air tasted so sweet. A gentle breeze wisped around her, bearing the scent of flowers.
“Open your eyes, My love. I have set you free.”
Slowly, she opened her eyes.


This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if  we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
~1 John 1:5-7


~Riah