Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year Has Passed Us By...

Here I am, a couple hours until the new year. Of course, it doesn't really feel much different than any other night, and yet it is strange to think of a whole year gone and exciting to think of new year yet to come!

As I look back over this past year, I think that the main lesson the Lord seems to have been impressing upon me is trust. I found this journal entry that seemed to summarize it for me. I wrote it after Megan's death, during my first stay away from home at the Hadleys (which I realized I miss so much, after reading through my journal ;-) ) and right before Leah, Harrison, and Sophia died.


"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5,6)

TRUST: Taking my hands off the steering wheel and allowing God to take full control, being completed assured in His ability to work all out for His glory and my good, and resting accordingly. [Note: Lately I would add, "Learning to accept His will as good, acceptable, and perfect, for loss or for gain.]

THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING: I have noticed, with the Hadley children, how they often try to break down circumstances and figure them out for themselves, which, if they acted by it, would truly bring disaster. It is a foolish thing when I try to figure things out for myself and act according to what I think I know. God's understanding is so infinite; mine is so limited; why don't I just take my hands off and trust that He knows best?

IN ALL THY WAYS, ACKNOWLEDGE: We need God every moment, every hour, every day. With each breath we breathe,we must rely on His wisdom and rest in His promises. Never should we embark on an activity without acknowledging , setting our minds on and trusting God.

HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS: He shall make straight your paths. He shall lead, guide, direct. He shall bring to a glorious consummation. Okay. So why ever worry!?!?


Though I had forgotten about this particular entry, the lesson has stuck with me, reappearing again and again, throughout this year. So have the words Aunt Lois shared with me when the Wagoners died: "When you cannot trace God's hand, you can always trust His heart."

Tears filled my eyes last night as I realized all that the Lord has brought me through this year. Good things, "bad" things, big things, small things, outward situations, inward struggles... Over and over, He has taught me to trust Him and love Him completely, especially when I do not know what He is doing or why He is doing it. I have fallen so much more in love with Him this year as I have seen more and more how good He is! It is wonderful! (Who needs a husband when you have Jesus?? I've been thinking I would rather have my late-night devotional times with the Lord than anything else. Those moments are so precious. :-) )

Anyway, here are some of the things that the Lord brought into my life this year to help me rely on Him, trust Him, and love Him more.

  • Daddy's injury and being off for so many months, and details of workman's compensation, healing, etc. God taught me to trust Him to provide for the things in life that we often take for granted. He never failed us, ever! :-)
  • The marriage and moving-away of one of my best friends (Megan F). God taught me to trust Him in His leading in other people's lives.
  • Learning of the death of our childhood friend, Megan R. God taught me to trust Him when events of life shake me to the core, and also He taught me the importance of never taking the people in my life for granted.
  • Being away from my family for the first time ever and spending a week with one of the dearest families in the world! (the H. family ;-) ) (this was one of the good experiences, definitely :-D ) God taught me to trust Him when going someplace without my family during a time that I was dealing with tragedy (Megan R.) and also so many other lessons just by watching the kiddos, who so often let spill out the realities we adults usually keep inside. :-)
  • The death of Leah, Harrison, and Sophia. God taught me to trust Him even when my heart and others' hearts are breaking, when absolutely nothing makes sense, when darkness shrouds His presence and makes it seem as though He wasn't there, in control. That is a very hard thing to do-- trusting God when I cannot trace His hand at all. But He taught me, and is still teaching me.
  • {Confession :-o} The young man I liked starting to date another girl {winces! okay! so it never hurts to be transparent... so long as no names are mentioned! :-P ). God taught me to trust Him when my plans go awry and things outside of my control don't go the way I wanted them to; and to rest in His own perfect love, and to love others as He loved me, whether that love is returned or not.
  • Rewriting Airborne. God taught me to trust Him for the right words to say and the ability to keep on even when inspiration is low. (Writing, you know, is more than just a hobby to me-- it is a ministry!
  • Struggling with continual headaches, often several a week. God taught me to trust and rest, even when I would really like to feel better. :-)
  • Our new president being elected and beginning to make problematic choices. God taught me to trust that He-- JEHOVAH-- is in control, ordering all the events of history to bring about His perfect will, and that He will conquer-- He is the Conqueror, even now.
  • Seeing lots of my friends and family members dating/courting/marrying. God taught me to trust Him to bring about the right man in my life in His timing, and to love Him above anyone else.
These are just a few of the things. There are other smaller cases or more private cases that God still was teaching me trust.

At the time, some of those things were very, very hard (though some were quite pleasant, like visiting the H.'s and writing ;-) ). But now, as I look back, I rejoice in what He has done. If it had not been for these things the Lord brought me through this year, I do not think I would know the joy of hiding in Him and trusting Him, and seeing Him always reveal Himself as trustworthy. Perhaps I would not love or praise Him so much because I would not have seen for myself how very worthy of love and praise He is. I love Amy Carmichael's words: "We...would fain see clear; but, could we see, what need would be for faith?"

God has taught me the satisfaction of resting on the Rock that is higher than I, the peace of knowing His very present help in trouble, the tear-jerking joy of hearing Him say, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." I treasure these moments in which He has taught me the supernatural blessing of knowing Him. We can never know what the next day will bring, or the next year. Speculate as we might, we just don't know. However, one thing we do know, and can be completely assured of: God will be the same as He ever was, He will glorify Himself, He will conquer. May it be true of me that my heart would never stray for Him, but draw closer and closer to Him each day of the upcoming year, and each day of the rest of my life.

"My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever!" (Psalm 145:21)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Good Blogs to Read, Part 2

Today I am going to share with you another one of my favorite blogs,

The Blue Inglenook

The Blue Inglenook
is the photography blog of Leah Siefkes. Not only is Leah a wonderful friend of mine, but she is also one of the best photographers I know. She has amazing skill with her camera, and the best part of it is that she desires to use it for God's glory!

Leah's pictures capture the wildness and beauty of God's creation, the quiet warmth of home scenes, the loveliness and nostalgia of mid-western hometowns and farms, and the hidden beauty of small things. More than once, Leah's pictures have stirred me to praise the Lord for His awesome creative power and for revealing Himself to us in so many ways. Many of her photos instantly bring a Bible verse to mind about God's goodness and greatness.

I am sure you will enjoy viewing Leah's amazing photography and will be blessed as I have. These pictures deserve to be enjoyed by all! :-)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Christmas Miracle

My most recent poem! It really happened, but it was actually a couple nights ago, not last night. :-) May you be encouraged.

Last night I stood beneath the starry sky
So like that sky in Judah long ago.
A radiant light glowed 'round the half-lit moon,
Illuminating all the fallen snow.

Beholding then that peaceful, wintry sight,
I should have felt the joy it stirs within.
Instead I looked up to the sky and asked,
"Throughout my life, Lord God, where have you been?

"I've prayed and prayed for that soul to be saved,
And yet he hasn't turned to You at all.
And often when I come and try to pray,
I feel we're separated by a wall.

"Where is the peace and joy of which men speak?
Why is it, Lord, that people always say
That miracles take place at Christmastime?
I do not think they do, or every may."

These doubts did fill my heart like demon spies;
I wondered whether God was even there.
Alone in misery, I bore within
Those burdens never meant for me to bear.

I turned away from all that starry host
And came inside to mull over each thought,
And though I could not see it, there within
A battle of the heart was being fought.

But God is God, and Victor is His Name,
And through His Word He whispered to my heart,
"My child, I am your God, and yes, I have
Been working in your life right from the start.

"Perhaps the darkness veils Me from your eyes,
But darkness does not mean that I'm not there.
I am your refuge, and I'm always near,
So cast on Me your each and every care."

And as those words fell softly on my heart,
A seed of faith inside began to grow.
Emmanuel, "God with us", came to earth,
So we His love and presence now may know.

That moment as the stars peered in my room,
My failing, fleshly eyes began to see
A Christmas miracle of all the best:
Emmanuel, my Savior, God with me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Night the Angels Sang, Part 2

For the rest of his days, Judah could not explain how it all happened, but it was as though God directed them directly to the stable where the Messiah lay.

The three shepherds entered the old stable warily. Judah’s senses immediately took in the surroundings. First was the mixed smell of moldy hay and fresh, clean hay and the unsavory odor of manure from the pens. Filling the room were the chorus of hee-haws; the soft, snorting and nickering and pawing of horses; the low, brooding moo of cattle, which were all very numerous with the huge influx of people that had come to Bethlehem for the taxation. As Judah’s eyes began to adjust to the darkness of the indoors—his eyes were still dazzled by the sights of the angelic visit—he could see dusty cobwebs hanging from rafter to rafter and netting across the hay. He could depict the forms of the cattle, donkeys, horses, and even a few camels. Finally his eyes rested on the sight he was looking for: a young girl, lying amongst the strewn hay; a young man sitting next to her; and before them a low manger, the animals’ feeding trough. Instinctively, Judah took a step closer.

The young man sitting by the woman looked up with large brown eyes, his face marked with rigor, courage, contentment, and love. A brief glance of his eyes served as a survey of the visitors—the very impromptu and perhaps intrusive visitors, Judah felt that he might be thinking. Then the man spoke with a hint of surprise in his voice: “My good men. To what do we owe this visit?”

Alphaeus, the leader as usual, stepped forward. Judah’s eyes flashed from him to the young man to the little figure in the manger—tiny, red, and still. Awe enveloped him as his father spoke: “Forgive us for barging in on you in the way. But—we were given a grand announcement from heaven and—well, we came to see if we might see the—the Messiah. They—they said we would know him by—they said he would be wrapped in swaddling clothes and—and lying in a manger.”

The young woman, who had awakened upon the shepherds’ entrance, turned her wan face towards them, and a light of joy—or something more, Judah could not tell—crossed her tired face, and her parched lips parted in a soft smile. The smile was all the answer the shepherds needed. They reverently approached the very modest, rough feeding trough to have a full glimpse at the one promised by God from the days of Adam. Judah took in the sight with awe. There was nothing apparently outstanding about this baby. He was tiny, and wrapped in plain white swaddling cloths, his eyes were shut tight and he was puckering his mouth a little; and on his head was a soft black fuzz. He was beautiful, and it awed Judah’s heart that this tiny, helpless little baby was actually the Messiah of the world.

“But why are you here?” Alphaeus spoke up with a note of concern in his voice. “This is no place for One so great to enter the world—any child, for that matter.”

“I am afraid we had no other choice, save the streets,” replied the man Joseph, gravely. “There was no room in the inn, but they let us stay here.”

“No room!” Alphaeus repeated the words in the same tenderness. “No room for the Messiah, the Savior?” He looked softly at the sleeping child, and then carefully lifted him out of the manger to his broad chest. “Oh, my Lord,” he whispered, resting the Christ Child against his shoulder, “but there is room in my heart for You.”

To an uninformed beholder, the child in Alphaeus’ arms would seem like just any other baby. But Judah’s eyes, which had beheld the wondrous sights of the angelic heralds of goodwill, knew that this was no ordinary baby. Inside that infant body was the Spirit of the Living God Himself, God in the form of a created human being. This was fully God—and yet He was fully human. It was in that moment that a thought dawned on Judah. The Messiah did not come to overthrow Roman tyranny in a powerful wield of the sword, with banners flying over Him and the shouts of warriors around Him. He had come that night in human flesh to fleshly humans to turn their hearts to Himself—He came quietly, and yet He would change the world.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Couldn't Help but Share :-)

We had our Christmas celebration tonight and I just had to share some of the lovely surprises of the night. :-)

Thank you, dear sister Bethany! :-) Isn't it beautiful!? I always wanted a necklace with my initial on it.
Now this was obviously from someone who knows me well!!
Thank you again, Bethany! I am such a helpless [pea]nut! :-)
Beautiful. Thank you, Teddy dear!! This Willow Tree figurine is called Wisdom. I angled the picture to catch name (white scanned paper on the right) and picture (center back) of two friends that have allowed the Lord to instill in them His wisdom and have been such an encouragement to me. It is the same with Teddy. I am so blessed and humbled as I reflect all the wonderful friends the Lord has brought into my life.
Thank you, Amanda, for the lovely "Day Book"! It is SO me!! :-D

Each page has room to record thoughts for each day, as well as a quote.

My dear pappa and mamma also got me an MP3 player!! I have been wanting one so that I could listen to music when I'm sewing and worshipful music before going to bed (instead of on my computer). I can't show you a picture though, because it's plugged into my computer, synchronizing. :-)

And this is what Daddy and I got for everyone! WOOHOOOO!!! We taped this off of TV ages ago but the tape is getting old and hard to watch, plus it has commercials on it. So when we saw this at the Christian bookstore, we snatched it up for an "everyone" Christmas present! :-D It is, like, such an awesome movie!! It is amazingly close to the Biblical account compared with a lot of "Bible" movies, and Ben Kingsley is amazing as Moses. I highly recommend it.
Daddy also painted for us some adorable Christmas tree ornaments; they have circles in the middle for us to put in pictures! :-D

This Christmas I have been thinking almost more along the lines of thanksgiving. I am so blessed! The Lord is so good! Even though I am so difficult and SO unworthy to even be able to come before Him (and I mean it-- SO unworthy), He loves me and He forgives me and is helping me to know Him better and become more like Him. Because of Jesus Christ, come in the flesh, dying for my sin and rising again, I can have the eternal life that I do not deserve. I am amazed.

Second to all those "spiritual blessings in heavenly places", I'd have to say my favorite Christmas gifts are:and:
What would I do without my family? Daddy, Mommy, Amanda, and Bessie, I love you all SO MUCH!!! The happiest of Christmases to you all.

And to all my friends! You don't know how much each of you means to me. For several years as a pre-teen and young teen, I had very few friends, and often longed for someone my age whom I could really fellowship with over the things of the Lord. Now the Lord has provided me with SO MANY dear sisters in Christ who edify me in my walk with the Lord and challenge me to serve Him. Not only that, but we also share a variety of interests and can enjoy late night chats, share Christmas gift secrets and smuggle presents for our moms, share book/story ideas, dress up together, and so on! You all are so special and I hope you all have the most wonderful Christmas and New Year!!


The Night the Angels Sang, Part 1

I wrote this story back in March when reading through the book of Luke. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Judah stretched himself out on his back on the grass which was dampened by the cool night mist. He let out a quiet, contented sigh as he gazed on the immaculate dome above him. How he loved a night like this! Not a cloud marred the sparkling display above. A slight, cool breeze swept over the hill and down to the town of Bethlehem slightly beyond. The sheep grazed peacefully, at ease in the knowledge of the care and skill of their keepers. And Judah could lay there in the same peacefulness, as though he were under a spell cast by the beauty of the night, and he could pick out pictures made by the stars above—beautiful pictures that his father had taught him to find during the many nights out in the fields, watching sheep. Judah liked to think that all the pictures worked together to tell a marvelous tale of excitement and adventure.

Some perhaps might find a shepherd’s life dull, inferior, and undesirable. True, there were long, hot days, and long, cold nights; exposure to wind, rain, dust, and the scoffing of others; there were stubborn sheep that refused to listen and caused no end of trouble to the shepherds: searching, shouting, climbing, putting themselves into all kinds of peril to bring them back. And yet there was something about this work that drew Judah. What it was, he could not exactly tell. Perhaps it was the freedom to roam. Maybe it was the delight of caring for—and even bonding with—God’s creatures, out in God’s creation—something few people had a chance to do. But perhaps the reason was nights like these—all the tumults and struggles of the world were quietly left behind, forgotten, for some time, in the mere joy and peace of being as close to God’s original desire for beauty and order as possible. Rome might control the land, it might lay heavy taxation on the people and require registrations—as was the new decree of Caesar’s, in action that very day in the town below—, people might hate and hurt each other… But no one could touch those beautiful, twinkling skies overhead or mar the massive dome. No one could hurt them or move them or change them. Those were God’s stars, and, in Judah’s perspective, like little peepholes into His even more magnificent splendor. Judah wasn’t sure he could ever bear to see a full display of God’s glory and splendor—how terrifying it would be!—and yet he was glad for these peepholes.

“I say it’s time He step in and do something. This world is going down fast.” Judah’s reverie was broken by these agitated words, spoken by a fellow-shepherd, Jonas. Judah hadn’t noticed that there was a conversation going on until just then, and, as much as he wished to hold to the glory of the moment, his interest was too piqued now to return to that. He propped himself up on his elbow and listened to his father’s reply.

“Yes, I also long for the day when God vindicates His people Israel and shows us His glory and redemption,” Alphaeus was answering, his tone of voice confirming the word he had used—“long”.

“Does He not care?” Jonas exclaimed, almost despairingly. “Come, Alphaeus, do you not also wonder that such a great and mighty God can look upon the plight of His own people and let it go on as if it were none of His business?”

His question was following by a long pause, broken only by the soft whisper of the breeze and the quiet bleating of a few sleepless sheep. Judah knew his father well enough to know that this pause was not caused by doubt on his part, or from a feeling of being beaten. He was merely collecting his thoughts, which at least he voiced: “We do not deserve His attentions. We, our people, have rejected His Word, His work, His prophets… We have stubbornly chosen to go our own way, despite His invitation to return. Why would He want to aid us now? And yet—” Jonas had been about to protest, but the “yet” caused him to fall back silently and wait. “And yet,” Alphaeus continued, “I think—I hope—I believe, even—He does see. He must see. He is a God of mercy. If He were not, this world we live in would be burnt to a crisp in no time at all. God has promised redemption, salvation… Messiah. I do not know when He will fulfill this promise, but I know—I know He will, at the perfect time, just as he did in rescuing our people from bondage in Egypt. But oh, that He would act soon!”

This brought a lull in the conversation, which gave Judah time to think. He loved to hear his father speak in this way. He knew that when Alphaeus was a child, he had listened in rapture to the Scriptures read and expounded on the Sabbath, and gleaned all he could of the Sacred Writ. What he had learned, he had taken to heart and then shared them with his children. Judah loved to sit at his father’s feet on the long, lone days of watching sheep, and listen to the great stories of God’s miraculous works in Israel, and to His precious promises in the Psalms and the Prophets. Judah never felt it was his place to voice it, but he, too, wanted to see God fulfill His promise to send a messiah to free His people from this bondage under Rome. And yet he had heard the promise so often repeated by his father, and it sounded so far away—in the past or the future, he knew not—but he wondered if it could possibly happen in his lifetime.


“Oh! Oh, God, have mercy! Have mercy on us!”

The terrified voices again brought Judah to reality. He hadn’t realized until now that at some point his thoughts had grown muddy and he had drifted off to sleep. Now he jerked up at the sound of the voices and became aware of a strange brightness—bright, brighter than the sun—surrounding them, tearing the night sky. Judah looked—and instantly the terror that had enveloped his father and Jonas jumped at him and wrapped him up like a spider does a fly that wandered into her net. For there, in the sun-like magnificence was a man—or at least he looked like a man, and yet at the same time was quite unlike anything Judah had ever seen. The man’s clothes were white and reflected the light so that it almost pained Judah’s eyes to behold. The shining man, the shining garments, the shining sky terrorized the boy, and he fell on his face with muffled cries similar to that of the other shepherds. What was happening? Was this God? Woe to them if it were, for no man could see God and live, Judah had heard, and now he had an inkling why. The brightness nearly blinded him, and he covered his eyes in terror. He clung to the grass, as he seemed to be whirling around in the dizziness of the moment.

“Fear not,” said a warm, unfamiliar voice. The words were like a warm breeze passing over Judah, and his soul began to feel a calmness. He slowly unscrewed his eyelids and peered warily at the glorious display. The shining man was still there, and he was speaking with a tone of mixed compassion, joy, authority… and many other things that Judah couldn’t make out.

“Fear not,” he was saying, “for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be for all people.”

A tingle of thrill shot down Judah’s back at the words—“good tidings”, “joy”, “all people”. The dread of the moment did not seem quite so great as those words of goodwill came from the heavenly man’s mouth.

“For unto you,” the shining man continued with joy, “is born this day in the city of David—”

That’s Bethlehem, thought Judah.

“—A Savior, who is Messiah, the Lord.”

The words struck Judah like a blacksmith’s anvil, and he could sense the shock from Alphaeus and Jonas as well. Messiah? The Savior? The promised redeemer? Could he really be hearing this man right? Or was this a dream, carried over from the conversation he had overheard that very night?

It was as though the angel anticipated or sensed their doubt, for he then said, “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and lying in a manger.”

A manger? Judah scarcely had the time to register the thought—Messiah, born in a stable?—for suddenly the angel was joined by an innumerable host. It was as though all the stars had drawn close and were all ablaze on that Palestinian hill, singing in loud, triumphant strains:

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

The glory was petrifying; the news was petrifying. For a moment, Judah wondered if he had actually died in his sleep and was actually at heaven’s gates. But then, quietly, like a fire being smothered, the heavenly host vanished, the herald among them, and there was again the still night and the cloudless dome of sky—only the stars seemed so much dimmer.

It seemed like a whole minute had passed when Jonas finally said in a shaking voice, “Alphaeus, did you just see what I just saw?”

Alphaeus nodded mutely.

“Did you hear what I just heard?” Jonas added.

Again, Alphaeus nodded, but no words came from his gaping mouth.

“Judah!” Jonas hurried to the boy on shaky legs and grabbed his shoulder as if to make sure he was real. “Judah, did you see a bright light, and a shining man, and a heaven-like choir, and did you hear them say that Messiah was born in Bethlehem yonder?”

“I did.” Judah nodded, realizing that his whole body was in tremors. Silence, strange silence, filled the night air. Realization settled on Judah. He had just seen an angel—a whole host of angels. He had just heard the announcement that God had indeed remembered his promise, made so long ago, and that Messiah Himself, the Savior, was there, in Bethlehem, not a mile away, sleeping in a manger—which meant, a stable. Could it be? Could it really, truly be?

The silence was broken as Alphaeus lifted his palms towards heaven, his eyes still fixed on the spot where they had seen the angel, and said aloud, “Praise be to God, who has visited his people from on high and revealed this glorious news to men of no significance.” Then, on impulse, he stood up and said in a voice almost jolly, “Jonas! Judah! Did you realize? Messiah is come! Come with me; let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us!” And he began to almost run in the direction of the sleeping town.

“But stay!” Jonas grabbed his elbow. “Are you sure? I mean—what if this is all a dream?”

Alphaeus shook off the hand and replied with conviction, “I cannot think it was a dream—we all saw it, and it was too real to be a dream. Here we all are—I can feel the roughness of my cloak on my back sure as day, and I do not remember waking up either.” At that, he turned and headed towards the village.

“But father,” Judah called after him, “what about the sheep?”

“Leave them, leave them, my son!” Alphaeus called over his shoulder. “The Messiah is born!”

If one had been looking in the direction of the hill that night, they would have seen a running procession as the three shepherds, each becoming more and more convinced and excited, sped down the hill towards the sleeping city of David.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Meaning of Literary

Feeling literary means...

  • You lose your appetite or don't think to eat.
  • Your desk is littered with papers.
  • Your papers are covered with red ink.
  • You throw your clothes on the shelf at the top of your closet instead of hanging them up neatly.
  • You spend most of your free time typing with a purpose.
  • Your shoulder muscles ache.
  • You daydream constantly.
  • You create stories from the simplest things, like seeing kids walking home from school.
  • You sometimes catch yourself believing you are actually in your story and know the people whom you're writing about and whom you've created.
  • You sleep in until eight o'clock because your writing and imagination have drained you.
  • You sleep in until eight o'clock because you stayed up until midnight working on your novel or your magazine. :-)
(Did anybody notice what time I posted this?? :-P)

"Genius burns, Jo!" :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Blogs to Read, Part 1

Hello, friends!

I thought I would start "advertising" for the blogs that have been an enjoyment and/or spiritual encouragement to me, so that you might enjoy them as well! :-) I am not sure how often I will post these; perhaps one a week. That'll take me a while, as I follow many blogs. :-)

Today I will begin with:

Quest for Contentment

Quest for Contentment is a blog created by two young ladies, Brittany and Jordan, to encourage young ladies towards contentment in singleness and in whatever situation the Lord has put them. These girls, both members of Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, IL, truly show hearts that are sold out to the Lord in a way that I am longing and striving to be.

At the top of their sidebar is the verse, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Phil. 4:11). Indeed, this verse reflects the many encouraging and well-written articles shared on this blog. Recently they posted an article written by Jeanna G. (daughter of Dr. S. M. Davis from Solve Family Problems); this article shared ways to pursue contentment during the holidays. Another recent post was a poem entitled "Wait", in which the anonymous author questions why God is having her wait, and God answers that the purpose of waiting is that we might draw closer to Him and learn to find fulfillment in Him. In November, they featured a Bible memory contest, assigning Bible verses focusing on contentment, resting, and joy in Christ.

I highly encourage you to swing over to Quest for Contentment and take a few moments to read what they have to share. I guarantee that you will be encouraged and blessed!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comforting Thoughts from Amy Carmichael

Lately I have been reading Gold Cord, a book by Amy Carmichael, meant to give the basic history of the Dohnavur Fellowship, but, more than that, sharing the amazing truths of God that she and her fellow-workers learned during those years. Miss Carmichael is such an amazing authoress; the way she shares her heart and God's heart with us truly hits home and helps me to see things in a whole new light. Here are some excerpts from Chapter 23: "And A Light Shined in the Cell".


Home of our hearts, lest we forget
What our redemption meant to Thee,
Let our most reverent thoughts be set
Upon Thy Calvary.

We, when we suffer, turn and toss
And seek for ease, and seek again;
But Thou upon Thy bitter cross
Wast firmly fixed in pain.

And in our night star-clusters shine,
Flowers comfort us, and joy of song;
No star, no flower, no song was Thine,
But darkness three hours long.

We in our lesser mystery,
Of lingering ill, and winged death,
Would fain see clear; but could we see,
What need would be for faith?

O Lord beloved, Thy Calvary
Stills all our questions. Come, oh come,
Where children wandering wearily
Have not yet found their home.


"Years later, in an hour of need, the Everlasting Comforter came through the Septuagint version of Psalm 105:18, 'His soul [Joseph's] entered into iron.' It was not that others put him in irons (though they did, they hurt his feet with fetters), it was that he himself acquiesced in, willing walked into the unexplained trial of his God's dealings with him. 'His soul entered,whole and entire in its resolve to obey God, into the cruel torture,' is Kay's note on that great matter; but what fathomless depths it must have held for our Lord Jesus when He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Calvary, and certain it is that whatever way of pain may open before any on of us, we find as we walk in it the marks of our dear Lord's footsteps leading on. He walked alone on that road so that we need never walk alone."


"Light-- there is something in the word that is not of earth. On a day when it brought us the very tenderness of God, a cable came from Australia: And a light shined in the cell. The words turned to song, such simple song that it would not be written here if it were not hat so often very simple, almost infantile things carry little cups of comfort:

And a light shined in the cell,
And there was not any wall,
And there was no dark at all;
Only Thou, Immanuel.

Light of Love shined in the cell,
Turned to gold the iron bars,
Opened windows to the stars;
Peace stood there as sentinel.

Dearest Lord, how can it be
That Thou art so kind to me?
Love is shining in my cell,
Jesus, my Immanuel."

~Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord, chapter 23


With these thoughts in mind, may I ask you all to remember the Ripleys, the Wagoners, the Floras, and the Hopewells in prayer this Christmas, as they go through the season without some of the dearest people in the world to them? The pain of losing a child or a wife is great, beyond what some of us can imagine, but Jesus had trodden that path before-- so please pray that He would make His presence very well known to them during this season and fill them with His peace and comfort. Thank you all!

Hebrews 2:5-18

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying,

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;
thou crownedst him with glory and honour,
and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet."

For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

"I will declare thy name unto my brethren,
in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."

And again,

"I will put my trust in him."

And again,

"Behold I and the children which God hath given me."

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.


My thoughts: This morning while reading through Hebrews, I was struck and awed by the thought of Jesus taking on flesh, identifying with sinful man, "not ashamed to call [us] brethren", tasting death for us so that we might taste life eternal. In the words our Pastor used last Sunday, "Jesus stooped to the lowest possible place to bring us to the highest possible place." This is the mercy and grace of our wonderful God! This is the meaning of Christmas!

Rejoicing in our living Savior,


Friday, December 18, 2009


"I should not care to live with a husband and no sister. I would not care for that at all. I think I should die."

-Ruby Pratt, Lark Rise to Candleford

I thank the Lord for the wonderful sisters (and kitty) that He gave me! I don't know how some people live without a sister!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today's "Morning and Evening"

December 15


“Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.” (Ruth 1:14)

Both of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord’s people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law. It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth and holiness, is not so small a matter. How stands the case with us, is our heart fixed upon Jesus, is the sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Master’s sake? The after gain will be an abundant recompense, for Egypt’s treasures are not to be compared with the glory to be revealed. Orpah is heard of no more; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death; but Ruth lives in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line whence sprung the King of kings. Blessed among women shall those be who for Christ’s sake can renounce all; but forgotten and worse than forgotten shall those be who in the hour of temptation do violence to conscience and turn back unto the world. O that this morning we may not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a cleaving of our whole heart to our Lord Jesus.

~Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Lord's

"One shall say, 'I am the LORD's...'"
(Isaiah 44:5)

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
(1 Corinthians 6:19,20)

"...Whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord's."
(Romans 14:8)

Isn't there great peace and joy and purpose in knowing that Jesus Christ bought us out of the slave market of sin so that we may know Him, belong to Him, and serve Him? To know that He holds us secure and will not let us go? To identify ourselves by His name and know that our Master and King will never fail or forsake us? In reading these verses the other day, I was filled with a sense of excitement as I thought about belonging to God. I also could not help but wonder: What great troubles arise when we forget the fact that we are bought out of slavery to sin by the blood of Jesus Christ and now belong to God. What a sad life in which a person lives as though he were his own master, following the desires of His flesh and forgetting the one who gave His very life for his ransom!

I wonder how different our lives would be if we more often considered ourselves as "property of God" so to speak (in these sense of the verses above.) Earthly things would take the back burner and matters of eternal value would take precedence in our lives. Hedonism and selfishness would be replaced with a desire to do God's will and please Him. I wonder how many things we would stop doing and how many things we would start doing, for His glory. For, having been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and saved from sin, we no longer have to obey the devil; we are free to obey God, finally!! We can now live the life that God intended us to live when He created us!

It is a comfort to reflect on the character of our Master-- faithful, loving, just, true, holy, merciful , gracious-- and we are privileged to follow in His steps! As servants of God, let us not "entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life, that we may please Him who hath chosen us to be a soldier." May our lives be characterized by a joyful readiness to do His will!