Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jesus Loves Me

        The past few weeks, I've just been gliding by. Thoughts and feelings were kept shallow, struggles and uncertainties swept under the rug. The hours of the day slipped by unused while I remained wrapped up in my own little self. 
        I was tired. Tired of trying and failing. Of making resolutions and watching them slip between my fingers like sand. Of feeling too much of what I didn't want to feel, and feeling too little of what I did want to feel. I was so tired of being stuck where I was and seemingly powerless to change it. 
        I was tired, and for just a little while, I didn't want to think, didn't want to try, didn't want to be. I just wanted to sleep for a long, long time and fix all my problems in the morning when my brain could string together a coherent thought and I had the energy to live again. 
         But on Christmas afternoon, after the gifts had been opened and the wrapping paper cleaned up and the food put away, alone in a closet with my Bible, God told me something. 
         I love you
         I blinked. What?
         I love you
         "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus." (Luke 1:31)
         I love you
         "While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:6-7)
          I love you
          "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
          I love you
          "Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him..." (Luke 23:46)
          I love you
          "But they kept calling out, saying, "Crucify, crucify Him!" " (Luke 23:21)
          I love you
          "And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit." Having said this, He breathed His last." (Luke 23:46)
          I love you
          It is such a crazy, mind-blowing thought... that He loves me. That He came in the form of a man, was beaten and killed and raised again from the dead - all for me. I cannot begin to fathom such a love. 
          And yet here it is. God is continually pouring out the riches of His grace and love on the thirsty souls of this desperate, broken world. Many are blind, but those of us who have been given eyes to see... how blessed we are! 
          There is nothing that I need - nothing that I can - do to earn His love. Absolutely nothing. It is unconditional and unending. He knows me inside and out, far better than I could ever know myself, and He still loves me endlessly.
          He is my Strength. 
          He is my Joy. 
          He is my Peace. 
          He is my Love. 
          God, help me to never lose sight of that. 
          There isn't time to wallow in self pity. There is a fight to fight, a race to finish! So get up and get at it! Embrace the love that God has bestowed on you and let it strength you and fill you to overflowing. It is a love that is meant to be shared. 

~Riah

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Masterpiece

         This article is about a woman who turns her two-year-old daughter's drawings into beautiful pieces of art. Looking over the pictures, I was absolutely blown away by the art she found in her daughter's scribbles.
         It made me think of God turning our broken lives into something beautiful.

"The Little Red Boat"
        You may look at yourself and see a bunch of scribbles, mistakes that cannot be erased, but God looks at you and sees a beautiful piece of art. He is using each line, every choice you've ever made, to shape you into who He made you to be.

        "You are a masterpiece that grows closer to completion every day. You cannot expect to be finished overnight, and you cannot allow yourself to become discouraged when you don’t progress as fast as you think you should. The Artist loves to watch every stroke of His brush add another dimension of depth and beauty, bringing you closer and closer to His perfect vision. When the portrait of your life is complete, He will unlock the canvas from its easel, and hold it up: “Beloved, you are mine.” And with that, He will add the finishing touch: His signature- written in His blood. He will walk over to His wall and hang it up to admire its beauty and perfection. At that moment, you will be standing there with Him, having finally realized that your entire life on earth was merely preparation for this moment, and the eternity to follow."
~Joshua Eddy


~Riah

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Worth More

In a culture with high expectations that we all too often fall short of, it can be easy to doubt your value. The unrealistic ideal of perfection is displayed, demanded, and striven for at almost any cost. People are destroying themselves for the sake of being called beautiful by a world that really doesn’t care.
I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly sad.
The pressure is everywhere. Be thinner, girl; diet, diet, diet. Shed those pounds, get rid of that muffin top. Wear tight jeans, show off those legs. Dip your neckline a little lower, show more skin; guys only want sexy. Paint yourself with makeup; do absolutely anything and everything you can to be beautiful
Girls aren’t the only ones under pressure. Society isn’t too kind to guys either. Get a job, get a car, get a girl, workout, work harder; go to college and make something of yourself.
In today's culture, all that seems to matter is looking good and living good. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with wanting a good body and a good career. These are worthwhile things to pursue. But when it becomes an obsession - when these things begin to define your worth and who you are - that's a problem.
I know what it’s like to feel worthless; I’ve been there. And no matter how many times my family and friends would tell me that I was beautiful, talented, worthwhile, etc., I never felt it. All I felt was ugly, empty, and broken.
But there was one thing that got through to me. One simple, amazing truth that convinced me of my worth. It was this:
I was crafted by the hand of God, in His image, for His purpose.
And that makes me infinitely valuable.
You don’t need anyone or anything to define your worth aside from God.
The God of the universe took the time to make you with His own hands. What’s more, He died so that you could live with Him in paradise for all eternity. What more do you need?
You don’t need to submit to the world’s image to be beautiful.
You were created in the image of the almighty God; how can you be anything less than gorgeous? Just be who you are. It truly is the heart of a person that makes them beautiful.
You don’t need to stress about finding your ‘purpose’.
God doesn’t make mistakes. He chose to make you, to write you into His story, and He had a reason for doing so. Even if you don’t know what your purpose is yet, never doubt His plan for your life. You were made for a purpose, and you won’t die until you complete the very thing He made you to do.

So what if you have a muffin-top? That doesn’t make you any less beautiful.
So what if you don’t have well-defined abs? Strength of heart is so much more admirable.
So what if you can’t afford college? You don’t need a degree to make a difference.
Your worth is not in your appearance. Your worth is not in your personality, talents, beliefs, or anything else.
Your worth is in the very fact that you exist, because you were made and loved by God.
Don’t fall prey to the lies that society is trying to feed you. You are beautiful – no matter your body type, your laugh, your unique giftings, or any of the other things that make up who you are. God created you for a purpose, and He loves you desperately.

You are worth so much more than the world’s standard of beauty. Never forget that. <3



~Riah

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hello Autumn

         It's finally Autumn!!
        Autumn is my favorite season. It's not too hot (summer), not too cold (winter), not too wet (spring). It's the perfect balance of everything - not to mention insanely beautiful. There is something positively intoxicating about the crisp air, the turning of the leaves, the sense of peace that settles over everything. There's nothing else like it in the world.
     
       Sweaters, hot apple cider, crisp mornings, pumpkin bread, warm coffee, boots, foggy mornings, brisk evenings, vibrant leaves, walks through the woods, rainy days, peaceful silence, thick carpets of leaves,

        These are the things I love about Autumn. <3








~Riah

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day

        You probably just glanced down at the right-hand corner of your computer screen to confirm your suspicions and shook your head, muttering, "This post is three months late. Father's Day was back in June."
        Well, you're right. Father's Day does take place in June. But I'm talking about a different kind of holiday.
        During the sermon at church today, the elder who was preaching compared the Sabbath to Father's Day.
        Father's Day is a day set aside to honor our father's and all that they do for us. It's not that we don't talk to / fellowship with / thank and honor our father's for the other 364 days of the year; but the third Sunday in June is dedicated to just that.
       In the same way, Sunday is like a weekly Father's Day to God. Yes, we talk (pray), fellowship (read), and thank and honor (worship) the other six days of the week, but Sunday is a particular day that is set aside for fellowship with our Savior.
        I don't know about you, but that analogy really clicked with me.
       Sunday isn't about singing praise songs, listening to a sermon, and spending time with the body of Christ. These are all great - and important - things to do, but Sunday is really about you and God. It's about showing your love and affection by spending quality time with Him and honoring all that He has done for you.
        So get off your computer, phone, tablet, or whatever you're using to read this, and go spend time with your Father. This is His day.

~Riah

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gleanings 2014

          Hello again! I just got back from an amazing week in California, processing peaches and dumping hundreds (okay, thousands) of bags of noodles and mashed potato mix into bins.
          It was an amazing, beautiful, difficult week.
          My first year of Gleanings was incredibly fun. We worked, we played, we worshiped; joy was in the air you breathed. I guess I was expecting this year to be the same.
          This year, Gleanings was rough - in the challenging kind of way. It was like one of those sermons in which every single word the pastor says was exactly meant for you - except this 'sermon' spread out over a week. Morning and evening, every day, there was something new to encourage and challenge me. It was somewhat exhausting, albeit exciting.
          It started on Monday evening when one of the staff members, Brian, shared his testimony of coming to Christ after spending 17 years in prison (obviously there was a lot more to his story than that, but I'm not going to expound on it here). On Tuesday morning, one of the young men on summer staff got and up and shared his testimony. It started with the seemingly classic "born and raised in a Christian family" line, and ended with him seriously contemplating suicide. It was at his lowest that he found God, and now, two years later, he is doing immensely better.
          His encouragement to us was to take off our masks; to share our testimony in its entirety. To be open and honest and raw about the demons we face and the battles we fight.
          Daniel's testimony had a domino effect on the rest of the week.
          At every chapel gathering, at least one person shared their testimony at the open mic. And it was - well, shocking. You look at all these beautiful, put-together people - many of whom you've known for years - and you would never guess what they struggle with. Suicide, pornography, self-harm, unworthiness - just to name a few.
          You might think that such a confession would put the sharer in a negative light. But there is something incredibly beautiful about the strength it takes to share something so personal. All I felt was admiration.
         On Thursday, I felt a strong prompting to share. Which kind of freaked me out to be honest, because I've never really felt lead to share before - especially not something this personal. I fretted about it all day, trying to script out what I wanted to say in my mind. Evening chapel came, but they didn't give the little "if you have anything to share, please come up" message at the beginning. Which meant that if I was going to share, I would have to march up to the front between songs, uninvited. Lovely.
         So I decided to give God a contingency. I told Him that if someone got up and shared, I would follow them.
        At the end of the song, Deanna went up.
        While you shouldn't need to strike a bargain with God to obey His voice, it was reassuring to know that He wanted me to do this. Deanna sat down, and I made my way to the front, Bible in hand. And I told them.
        I told them that I had been depressed. I shared some of my struggles and the oppressive weight of my guilt. I read a passage from 1 Peter that I had read in my devotions that morning. Then I sat down.
        I don't know if my words made a difference. I don't know if anyone was blessed by them. But there was a relief knowing that I didn't have to hide anymore. They might judge me, they might not understand, but at least they knew.
         It can be hard - terrifying - to take off the mask. To expose yourself to the often-judgmental eyes of the world. But your testimony could be exactly what someone needs to hear - even if it's just the knowledge that they're not alone. We were meant to bear one another's burdens, not struggle through life on our own meager strength.

         There is so much more I could say, so many more things I learned, but I'll save it for future posts. Suffice it to say, I had a wonderful, blessed week. We did good work, we had good fun, and we made good memories. I am so thankful for God's goodness in providing for me to go.
         Remember that everyone has a past. Everyone has a story. And no matter how put-together they may seem, they may very well be breaking apart on the inside. Let us love one another as God has loved us.



















~Riah

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Besties

      Had a lovely time this weekend hanging out with Deanna. Thank you for all the laughs, bestie. <3
   
      ...and if Bob the Builder breaks his water bottle, I'll be sure to hand him a towel. ;)









~Riah

Friday, July 11, 2014

Morning Has Broken

Darkness obscures reality.
It brings out the worst in your imagination, turning the unknown into your enemy. It turns the beautiful into the drab. It blinds you from seeing obstacles in your path that could be harmful. It takes blessings for granted.
I’m not talking about the darkness that comes at the end of the day. I’m talking about darkness in the soul.
I have experienced some very dark times, especially these past few months; times dark enough that I wondered if I would survive. Where all I could do was sit and try to breathe. Or try not to.
Just thinking about it makes me shudder.
But over the past two weeks, morning began to dawn. The suffocating darkness, the paralyzing fear, is slowing ebbing away. I can see the sun coming up over the horizon, bringing light back to the world.
And I have decided that instead of wondering how long this day will last, worrying about when the darkness will return, I will enjoy the sunshine.
Because today, I am free.
Today, my obsessions and anxieties have no control over me. Today, I am not afraid of myself. Today, I feel like I am alive.
It has been such an intensely dark night, the sunrise is more beautiful and glorious than ever. It’s enough to bring me to tears.
This is not the morning – the final, everlasting morning. I know that the darkness will return, in this persistent cycle of morning and night. And yeah, that scares me, knowing the power of darkness like I do. But it’s the day that gets me through; these moments of peace and sanity that remind me that there is something worth fighting for.
Without that hope, I would have died long ago.
If you are in that dark place right now, please don’t lose hope. The night won’t last forever and joy will come in the morning. Cling to that promise, and know that God is faithful.
For those of you who aren’t in darkness, don’t ever take the light for granted. It's a gift.

Sing hallelujah
The sun’s breaking through
To take back the dark sky
And make everything new

We knew joy was coming
But we just had to wait
And now we sing hallelujah
'Cause it’s a brand new day

So let’s sing hallelujah
The dark night is gone
Creation is singing
So come join in the song

The Father is calling
To come out and play
So we’ll sing hallelujah
'Cause it’s a brand new day

Sing hallelujah
It’s a brand new, beautiful day

~Sing Hallelujah | Steven Curtis Chapman~

~Riah


Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Highlights {thus far}


--Welcoming my brother home after him being gone for five months.
--Witnessing the birth of my adorable niece.
--Buying an iPhone.
--Watching and enjoying new movies.
--Going to Portland with my mom and three littlest brothers. We spent the weekend shopping and admiring animals at the zoo.
--Being (totally and completely) surprised with a dachshund puppy. :D His name is Bokeh.
--Saving money for Gleanings.
--Getting a new pair of shorts.
--Flying to California with my mom for my grandpa's birthday.
--Eating ridiculous amounts of ice cream. <Oc~
--Reading good quotes.
--Accumulating books to put in my hope chest for my future kiddos.
--Meeting new people.
--Living in a house with AC (don't think I could survive summer without it).
--Watching fireworks.
--Shopping.
--Outlining my latest novel idea.

        I hope you're all having a fabulous summer thus far!

~Riah

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Thoughts On Frozen

I’m not a Frozen fan.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Frozen hater (it has Idina Menzel, I can’t completely hate it). But the more I look into this movie, the more agenda-driven it seems. True, it’s subtle; but it’s still there, and with each new movie (Disney or otherwise) it’s going to be less and less subtle. Because it’s the 21st century, people. Time to be progressive, right?
Perhaps by now you’ve heard that there is a distinct possibility that Frozen has a gay character. I personally didn’t notice it in the movie (like I said, Disney was subtle), but it was brought to my attention by this article.
Apparently Oaken – the giant, flannel, bearded man who runs the tradepost – is suspected of being gay from the dialogue he shares with the family in the sauna. He shouts, “Hi family!” and the family smiles (as you can see) and waves back.
It’s a 50/50 toss up. Maybe it is Oaken’s family in the sauna. Or maybe (like I assumed both times I saw the movie) he is just saying hello to a random family who came by his shop.
Steven D Greydanus from National Catholic Resource said:
        "Is there plausible deniability? Sure.
        "The adult male in the sauna, with his slim jaw and lack of facial hair, looks markedly younger than the mountain-sized, hirsute Oaken, and could be his oldest son. Next to him is a young woman who, given the conventions of animation, could be could be Oaken’s daughter or his wife — or, heck, the wife of the other guy, who could also be Oaken’s younger brother). It’s even possible that the family isn’t Oaken’s family at all; “Hoo hoo! Hi family!” could mean “Hi, random visiting family of customers.”
        "On the other hand…
        "What’s the moment doing in the film at all? Why make a point of having Oaken call “Hoo hoo! Hi family!” and fleetingly show the family in the sauna? At the very least, the moment and the line seems intended to suggest that they are, or at least could be, Oaken’s own family.
        "Why is the young man centrally positioned, with all the other figures around him? The framing of the shot, and his huge size, seems to suggest that he’s a father figure, not just an older brother.
        "How often do we see such a large family in a Disney movie? Why so many, if not visual misdirection to slip the moment past most viewers?
       "It seems plausible the filmmakers have thrown this moment in to allow sharp-eyed homophile viewers to draw their own conclusions about just what sort of “family” this is."

While we’re on the topic of improper sex, lets fast-forward about 30 minutes in the film to when the trolls sing to Kristoff and Anna. Here is the second verse of the song according to Disney Wiki:

So he’s a bit of a fixer upper
So he’s got a few flaws
Like his peculiar brain, dear
His thing with the reindeer
That’s a little outside of nature’s laws

So not only does Frozen leave open the possibility of a gay couple, now one of the main characters is implied to practice beastiality with his pet reindeer. That is just... incredibly disgusting (and this is a kids movie!).

       What is this movie’s mantra? “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart”. Great. Wonderful. Anna has probably seen a few Disney movies during her time in the castle, so naturally her first thought is to go to Hans – her true love. Go to the guy, get a peck on the lips, boom, you’re healed. That’s how it always happens, right?
But Disney threw in a twist this time. Hans didn’t love her. He just wanted her kingdom. Now Anna’s locked up in a room and is freezing to death while he runs off to kill Elsa. How delightful.
Luckily for her, Olaf’s carrot nose is versatile, and he manages to unlock the door. After convincing her that her true love is Kristoff, the two race off (quite speedily for a dying girl) to find him before Anna dies. But on the way, she sees Hans about to kill her sister. In that moment, a choice must be made. Kiss Kristoff and be restored, or stop Hans and freeze?
Being the good girl that she is, she chooses the latter. She leaps in front of Hans, (conveniently) turning into ice the moment she does. The sword shatters on contact, and Elsa is saved.
Elsa realizes what she did to Anna – and what Anna did for her. She hugs her sister and cries. And then, suddenly, Anna begins to thaw. She is restored to life, and the two sisters share a loving embrace.
So... who exactly committed the act of love?
It definitely wasn’t Hans. Kristoff may have acted out of love for her by taking her to Hans, but that obviously wasn’t enough, seeing as it didn’t heal her then. Olaf loved her – was even willing to melt (which pretty much equates to dying) for her, but even that doesn’t save her. Elsa didn’t do anything (except cry. But this isn’t Tangled, people, and she doesn’t have magical tears).
The only character here who could have possibly saved Anna was Anna herself.
Speaking from the perspective of a writer, it’s ridiculous. Having the heroine save herself – after she dies? Seriously??
And you notice how unspecific the cure was? An act of true love. That’s kind of broad, if you think about it. But it is her act of love that ends up saving her.
Never mind the fact that Kristoff loved her enough to take her there, and to come back when he realized there was danger.
Never mind the fact that Olaf was willing to melt for her.
Nope. She found salvation in her own death (as a side note, it really bothers me that people compare Anna’s sacrifice / resurrection to Christ’s).
And I think that’s really stupid.
My fellow blogger The Minstrel Boy wrote an excellent post about Frozen and its weak plot, which I definitely recommend reading. He had some really good points.

All in all, I wasn't very impressed with Frozen. Sure, the songs are catchy, and Idina’s voice is as glorious as ever. But it could have been so much more. The biggest turn-off for me was the weak plot; the other two elements mentioned above I didn't even realize until after the fact (and only mention to you now because I found it interesting; I don't dislike the movie because of them (although I found it disappointing)).
     
       Yup... so those are some of my thoughts on Frozen.


"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."
~Alexander Pope


~Riah

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Welcome to the World

        I had the immense pleasure last night of witnessing the birth of my niece, Fiona Jaine Eddy. It was such an amazing, beautiful birth. Thank you so much, Tianna, for letting me be a part of it. :)
        Welcome to the world, sweet little niece!

~Stats~
Born at: 10:04 PM
On: June 18th, 2014
Weight: 7.15 lbs
Length: 21"




~Riah

~~~~~~
        You can see more pictures here

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Of Lions and Laziness

        I read the following this morning on John Piper's devotional app, Solid Joys.


When Reason Serves Rebellion
by John Piper
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”(Proverbs 22:13)      
        This is not what I expected the proverb to say. I would have expected it to say “The coward says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” But it says, “sluggard,” not “coward.” So the controlling emotion here is laziness, not fear.
        But what does laziness have to do with the danger of a lion in the street? We don't say, “This man is too lazy to go do his work because there is a lion outside.”
       The point is that the sluggard creates imaginary circumstances to justify not doing his work, and thus shifts the focus from the vice of his laziness to the danger of lions. No one will approve his staying in the house all day just because he is lazy.
       One profound biblical insight we need to know is that our heart exploits our mind to justify what the heart wants. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right.
       This is what the sluggard is doing. He deeply desires to stay at home and not work. There is no good reason to stay at home. So what does he do? Does he overcome his bad desire? No, he uses his mind to create unreal circumstances to justify his desire.
       Doing the evil we love makes us hostile to the light of truth. In this condition the mind becomes a factory of half-truths, equivocations, sophistries, evasions and lies — anything to protect the evil desires of the heart from exposure and destruction.
       Consider and be wise.
~~~

~Riah

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Welcome Home

        After having been gone at ALERT International Academy for five months, my brother Caleb is finally home! Needless to say, I've missed him like crazy, and I'm so glad that he's back.
        Welcome home, big bro.



~Riah

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thinking About You

        You would think that time would make it easier. You’d think that after two years, I’d be used to it – the lack of your presence in the house. But it still feels foreign.
        Sure, we’ve acclimated. Mom makes a little less food for dinner, and we know that there is a little more hot water for showering and a little less laundry to be run. We’ve changed and adapted, squeezing into the new mold. We’ve settled into a new kind of normal.
        But it’s not the normal I want.
        I want the old normal back. I want you to still be here, forever checking the fridge for food, leaving your socks all over the place, and all the other silly little things that made up you. I want to be able to talk to you, see you, help you make dinner, watch movies with you, sit by you at church, clean your bedroom with you, listen to you share your heart with me... all those moments that I took for granted. I wish I could live them again.
        I know that God is good, and I can see so many beautiful things that came from your death, but that doesn't change the reality that I hurt. And some days, that pain is more potent then others. But it's okay. God has carried me this far, even when I was on the verge of despair, and I trust Him to bring me safely home.

        I miss you so ridiculously much, Joshua Steven Eddy. And I love you.


~Riah


Friday, May 23, 2014

Be Still My Soul

Be Still My Soul
Words by Katharina von Schlegel

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

~Riah


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summary of My Week

          Well folks, I've had a pretty good week!

Tuesday -- I got my permit.
          Wednesday... was Wednesday.

Thursday -- I turned seventeen. O.o

Friday -- received a belated gift from my parents; a ring made out of
Josh's signature. Which is just... amazing.

          And then Mom and I drove to Portland.

Saturday -- went shopping with my mom and had dinner
with my AMAZING Northern friends. Miss you guys! :D

Sunday -- more shopping and a long drive home.

Monday -- was welcomed home by my little sibs. :)

          And today I blogged about ice cream. So go check it out!

          I hope you all have had a fabulous week. =)

~Riah



Monday, May 5, 2014

Two Years


        It has been two years since I was forced to say the most painful goodbye of my life. Two years since I sat in this exact spot, begging God to turn back the clock. Two years since my brother Joshua completed his earthly mission and was taken home to be with his Creator. 
I’m raw emotion at this point, with no semblance of eloquence in words or poise of pen. Just a broken little girl, remembering her big brother.
I miss him so much. The hurt is so deep that some days, it's hard to even breathe. I didn't know that you could hurt this bad and still find the strength to live.
        But I have. I have found the strength to live - in Jesus. It has been a difficult journey. Incredibly long, dark, and painful, and yet immensely beautiful. Looking back over the past two years, I can truly say that the only reason I am alive is because of Him. He has given me strength to press on when I've reached the end of myself, peace to make it through the darkest night, and the deepest, purest love that makes life worth living.
        The hurt is never going to go away. One thing I've learned is that time doesn't heal wounds; it only teaches you to live with the pain. There will be pain in life until we are made perfect in Christ. 
        But that's okay, because no pain would mean no memories, and the last thing I want to do is forget him.

        

        "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." 
~Joshua Eddy (1993 ~ 2012)




~Riah

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On My Mind

Your favorite color was purple. Mine was orange.
You liked cats. I liked dogs.
You had big sisters. I had big brothers.
You wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be a writer.
        You were fearless. I was timid.
And we were the best of friends.

You taught me how to ride a bike.
I taught you how to swim.
You promised I would be in your wedding.
I promised you’d be in mine.
You vowed to be my best friend forever and always.
I echoed your words.
And I think that was the only promise we ever broke with each other.

        You grew up too fast, while I remained a child.
You were fun and popular, while I was shy and awkward.
You sheltered me from your darkness, leaving me to walk in ignorant light.
        You remained up north, while I moved down south.
        And with that move, everything shifted.

Sure, we’re still friends, but it’s different now. The distance has taken a toll, separating our worlds. We grew up side by side for so long, then suddenly you were 17 and I 16, living such different lives on what seemed like other sides of the world. I can't help but wonder when things changed.
Nothing will ever take away our childhood together. Those years we spent together, laughing and crying, going on adventures and making memories – those are the things that made us who we are. It is because of those things that, despite the fact that we don’t talk much anymore, you are still one of my close friends. No one else knows me in the way that you do. We will always have that special connection.
I don’t know where you are right now. What friends you have, what struggles you’re fighting, what wars you’ve lost, what battles you’ve won. What makes you happy, what makes you cry, what your fears, hopes, and dreams are. But I think of you often, and I want you to know how much I love you.


Just know that you’re on my mind.



~Riah



Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Treasure of Jesus


What can I do
How can I live
To show my world
The treasure of Jesus

What will it take
What could I give
So they can know
The treasure He is

And if I can sing 
Let my songs be full of His glory
If I can speak
Let my words be full of His grace
And if I should live or die
Let me be found pursuing this prize
The One that alone satisfies
The treasure of Jesus

~The Treasure of Jesus {Steven Curtis Chapman}~





~Riah

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Truth Will Make You Free

        We've all heard this verse before.


Notice that it starts with ‘and’? That means that it is the continuation of a sentence. And you will know the truth. There must be something we say or do that enables us to know the truth. Let’s go back a verse and look at this in context.

        So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” ~John 8:31-32

Where does freedom come from? Knowing truth. Where does truth come from? God’s word.
You see where this is going? Reading and believing and acting upon His word – His truth – brings us freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom from fear, freedom from death.
        The word freedom implies that we are enslaved; there has to be something for us to be set free from. That thing would be sin.
We are human. Our bodies are made of flesh, and our hearts are born with a desire for the things of the flesh. God’s standards are totally against the grain of our hearts, which is why He must give us the desire. If you long for what is good and right in His eyes then thank God, because He is the one who put that hunger in you. Nothing else possibly could.
But despite the fact that we long for God and long for what is good, we’re still human. Sin is still an inherent part of our nature. We cannot and will not be perfect on this side of eternity. This doesn’t mean that we should just sit back and not even try. The Christian life is a battle, fighting against the hold of sin on our hearts. We must constantly fight against it, or we will succumb.
So... how do we fight?
John 8:31-32 says it all. Continue in the word; know the truth and be set free by it. When we constantly immerse ourselves in God’s glorious truth, sin loses its shine because the glory of God shines so much brighter.
We will enslave ourselves to sin many more times in days and weeks to come. Failure is a part of life. But by continuing in the Word, we will also continue to be set free by the grace of God.
       What a beautiful thing.


        "You have to kill pleasure with pleasure. 'No' will not work in the long run. Enjoy Jesus more than sin." ~John Piper

~Riah

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don't Give Up

It seems like every day I’m finding new things in my life that need changing. I realize another sin that I struggle with, another habit that needs breaking, another habit that needs forming. My faults and countless, my sins innumerable. I’m beginning to see how thoroughly human I am.
        It’s overwhelming, really. I am overwhelmed by the amount of sin in my life and my inability to fix it. Christ has freed me from the bondage of sin and given me the strength to fight against temptation, but that does not remove my humanity, which, by nature, is sinful. No matter how hard I try I will fail, more often than not, because I am not perfect. And I won’t be until I am welcomed into heaven.
It’s frustrating because I want to be perfect. I want to love wholly and truly, I want to be pure. I want to honor God in all that I do. But while I am alive here on earth, that is impossible.
My guess would be, if you’re a follower of Christ, you can relate. More so than the rest of the world, we feel the sharp sting of failure, because we know who we are failing.
And it hurts.
Some days you have to wonder, where is the point in it all? Why fight today what you’ll probably give in to tomorrow? There are times you feel tired; tired of fighting, tired of bolstering your defenses, tired trying and failing. It would be so much easier just to lay down and give up the fight, even just for a moment of relief.
Weary traveler, please listen to me when I say –
Don’t.
Give.
         UP.
You are sinful, broken, imperfect, impure, and unholy. But you are loved by a righteous, perfect, holy, just, beautiful, and loving God, who humbled Himself and came to earth as a man so that He could die to free you from your addiction to sin.
You are still human; you will still fail. The addiction to sin was strong, and it still comes back to haunt you, tempt you. Don’t give in. Don’t think of yourself as the weak, helpless person you used to be. You have the strength of God in you. Don’t give up. Whatever relief or pleasure sin seems to offer is fleeting, gone in an instant. But the peace and joy that God offers never run out.
Don’t give up. Please. Whoever, wherever you are, you were created in the image of God. You are broken, but beautiful. Don’t become fixated on the moment. Think to the future – of the reward that awaits you in heaven. Of spending an eternity with those you love, worshipping your Savior.
Life is hard, and it will only get more difficult as time goes on. But it is not this life for which we live.
Life is hard. But eternity is bliss.

        “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, "By the grace of God I am what I am."
-John Newton

~Riah

Monday, March 3, 2014

Love

       One of the {many} things I’ve realized this past week is the lack of love in my life. I am such an incredibly selfish person. Everything comes down to me; what I want, what I feel, what I need. Even with people I truly love, I think more about my own comfort rather than theirs. And it is so frustrating, because I love this person, and yet all I can think about is myself. I am so human.
        I don’t want to be human; I want to be godly.
  In one of Francis Chan’s books (I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember whether it was Crazy Love or Forgotten God. Probably the former), he shares an exercise that I found extremely convicting. He took the passage about love from 1 Corinthians 13 and swapped the word ‘love’ with his name.
I’ve inserted my own name and gender in the passage below, but go ahead and put in your own name as you read. You tell me if you don’t feel even slightly convicted.

        Mariah is patient and kind; Mariah does not envy or boast; she is not arrogant or rude. She does not insist on her own way; she is not irritable or resentful; she does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Mariah bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I don’t know about you, but I know for me that paragraph is a complete lie. I am not patient; I am not always kind. I envy, I want my own way, I’m irritable. I am the complete opposite of those verses.
But that is how we are called to be. We are called to personify the love of Christ. Not the I’ll-love-you-as-long-as-you-benefit-me love of the world, but the selfless, whole-hearted love that Jesus showed in giving up His life for us – condemned sinners, who dared to spit in the face of God.
Everything comes down to how we love. How we live, how we treat others... I pray that God would fill me with His love, thus enabling me to pour it out on others. And I pray the same for you.

“Love is patient and kind; 
love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. 
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
~1 Cor. 13:4-7 (ESV)

~Riah

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Some days, everything seems so clear...

          Some days, everything seems so clear. Distractions have been put aside and you realize, as if for the first time, that God loves you. That Jesus Christ died on a cross to save you from eternal torture in the depths of hell. You recognize the sin in your life, and feel a renewed zeal to try and be like Christ.
          In a moment truth is renewed, and your soul rejoices.
          This is how I felt the other day. I had just gone to bed, and it dawned on me that I was going to see Josh again. I have known and thought about this fact for a long time, but in that moment the reality of it became so clear in my mind it gave me chills. I am an eternal being; I am going to heaven when I die. I am going to see - truly see - Josh again. And more than that, I am going to live with him. We won't  be separated by a wall of glass; we will be able to interact with each other, sing, talk, laugh. Eternity in heaven is not some vague existence. It is more alive and real than anything we can dream of.
         Everything seemed so clear in that moment. Life, death, God, love, eternity, sin... it all made the most beautiful sense.
         The best word I can think of to describe how I felt is inspired. I yearned to learn, love and grow - to make the most of the short time that God has given me in this place. I was filled with joy at the thought of seeing Josh again, and of meeting all my little siblings. I felt strong - strong enough to resist the temptations that wrack me every day. The eyes of my heart were again opened, and I realized how hungry I was for God. My soul was starving.
         But life goes on.
         Monday morning came. Before having been awake for an hour, I failed. A snappish word, an impure thought, a temptation indulged. Resolutions began to crumble, and I found myself frustrated and disheartened. Gone was the peace and joy I felt yesterday. Gone was that keen sense of His presence. I'd come back to earth, and reality felt much harsher than before.
         The thing is, our life in Christ is the reality. Experiencing His presence, love, joy, and peace should be a constant part of our lives. It's not a special treat that we only get once every couple months, a prize for being a good follower. No! God is always there with open arms. It is the sin and distractions in our lives that keep us from seeing this.
          We need more moments like this. In fact, we need every moment to be like this. Immersed in love and awe, filled with passion and resolution. Yes, you will fail - daily, hourly, minutely. So what? Get back up! Don't waste time with your face in the dirt feeling like a failure. Yes, you are a failure, but God is the Healer, and He will use your imperfections for His glory.
          Take a moment to think about the reality of God at least every day. During devotions, or even while you're doing dishes, just take a moment to pause and remember. Remember all that He has done for you, remember what is to come. And take heart.

~Riah

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Awesome Dad

Originally, this was going to be something of a mock-post, but I decided to make it a real one, because it’s something worth writing about.
Long story short, while I was at a sleep-over on Friday, Dad took my laptop and replaced my screen (which was suffering tremendously from Rapidly Dying Pixels disease) and my CD drive (which died much more speedily than my monitor). When I got home and thanked him for fixing it, he jokingly said that I should write a blog post telling you all how awesome he is.
After brief consideration, I decided to act upon his recommendation.
Dads have become something of a scarcity the last couple of decades. More and more men have begun to shirk their responsibility as fathers – and not just men. Women have decided that motherhood is a burden rather than a blessing. A burden not worth carrying.
Parenthood itself has become degraded in the eyes of modern culture. Children are a bother, an expense, a “problem”. An option.
I am so incredibly blessed to live in a family with both of my biological parents. To have nine wonderful siblings and an amazing sister-in-law. To be loved and surrounded by godly influences.
I have it so good.
I love my Dad. So, so much. I am so thankful for his presence and influence in my life. I am so glad that he loves and cares about me enough to protect me. I am so thankful for my Mom, who is such a good friend and counselor.

Don’t take anything for granted. Everything you have, no matter how small it may seem, is a gift. Be grateful for it, and never cease to be thankful.
And because I know you’ll be reading this, I love you, Daddy. Thank you for always loving and caring for your family. You’re pretty awesome. <3


~Riah

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Growing Up

It’s strange to think that I’m growing up.
I’m growing up, getting older and (hopefully) more mature. Childhood has slipped into the past, and adulthood looms on the near horizon. I’m in the middle place, that dreaded time of life known as teen-hood.
I was never one of those kids who were dying to grow up. I knew that my time would come, probably much sooner than I anticipated, and I was content to just be a kid and enjoy my childhood while it lasted. My life consisted of baby dolls, books, AWANA, Beanie Babies, Nintendo, and big brothers. And I was happy with it.
But then days grew shorter, and years began to pass more quickly. Suddenly I was nine, welcoming three new children and a baby brother to my family. I was eleven, beginning to realize what it meant to “grow up”. I was twelve, realizing that my relationship with God was not what it should be. I was thirteen, feeling immensely awkward and out of place in my new church. I was fourteen, struggling to learn how to say goodbye wonderful big brother – the one who, only weeks before, I had told that I couldn’t possibly live without (oh, the bitter irony!). I was fifteen, reveling in my first romance, but consumed with guilt. I was sixteen, and I quickly realized that it’s not as sweet as some say.
Now I’m almost seventeen, looking back on my past and realizing how much wisdom I still have yet to gain. How far I’ve come and how far there is still to go.
But that’s where I find encouragement. The glass, although half empty, is still half full. I have made progress. Not as much as I would like, but some progress is better than none. I have learned to grow in this crazy blur of minutes that is life. I have learned what it really means to really live.
Growing up is like walking into a mist. The further you walk into it, the more clear your immediate surroundings become. The future is still clouded, the past becomes a hazy remembrance, but the present is in focus, giving you just enough understanding to live and learn.
It’s different than I thought it was going to be. But I think that I can honestly say I’m content. I enjoyed being a kid, but I outgrew that skin. Now I’m a (very) young adult, and I’m ready to enjoy this part of life as long as it lasts. And I’m only sixteen, for goodness’ sake! It’s not like I’ve unlocked all the mysteries of life yet. There is still so much to learn, and that’s what makes life exciting.

         You never grow younger. The clock keeps on ticking, and we must do our best to keep time and make the most of it.

~Riah


Friday, January 17, 2014

❅Quotes❅

          I realized that I haven't done a quotes post in quite some time. So here goes!

  






















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This is my 100th blog post! Thank you all so much for reading, commenting, and being supportive. You are what makes this blog possible. :) God bless,

~Riah