Friday, June 26, 2009

Better Than I Deserve

Last night I was talking with one of my cousins on Instant Messenger, and I asked how she was doing. Instead of that normal lie-of-a-reply, "Good", she wrote this interesting answer:

"Not as good as I could be, but better than I deserve."

That made me start thinking. It is true, we are not always entirely "well"-- we may have physical pain, or a difficult family situation, or some emotional heartbreak, or tension with someone else. It can be easy to get caught up in dwelling on these things. It is also easy to try to cover them up and say we are well when we really are not.

But think.

What do we deserve? Do we deserve a bed of roses or perfect health? When I think about my sin, and what it did to my Saviour, I realize that I don't deserve the health I have, the wonderful church family that I have, the freedom that I have in this country, a room to myself... I don't even deserve to live. By my words and actions, by my very heart attitude, I have dishonoured my Creator and hurt my Saviour. I have rebelled against the One who gave me life-- surely I don't deserve life anymore.

But what is Grace?

It is God giving us what we do not deserve.

What did He give me?

He gave me Himself. He gave me salvation, by coming to this earth and living a perfect life, and then allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross and die in terrible agony... in my place... for that I wouldn't have to die forever. He also rose again, giving me spiritual life in Him. He gave me His Holy Spirit to lead and guide me into all truth, and to give me power to live my new life for Him. He has given me His Word to show me His ways and His commands and His promises. He has given me a place in the body of Christ, so that I may encourage others in Him and be encouraged by others. He has given me talents and abilities to serve Him with. He has given me promises to be with me always. He has given me courage to face the impending days of danger. He has given me breath to breathe so that I might glorify Him before others on this earth. He has given me a home in Heaven where I may dwell with Him forever and praise Him in glorious perfection at last.

Those are only a few of the things He has given me, but thy are enough to show you that I fare far better than I deserve. Today I could be dead and in hell. But God loved me and gave me all these amazing blessings in Him. What an amazing, wonderful God we serve!

How are you doing today?

"If eternity is an ocean,
this life is merely a teaspoon of its water."

-Jennifer Lamp

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Megan's Blog

Our dear friend Megan (Testi) Frederickson has started a new blog to share what the Lord is doing in her life! Feel free to take a look! :-)

Megan and Ben:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Morning Needs

O God, the Author of All Good,

I come to thee for the grace another day will require

for its duties and events.

I step out into a wicked world,

I carry about with me an evil heart,

I know that without Thee I can do nothing,

that everything with which I shall be concerned,

however harmless in itself,

may prove an occasion of sin or folly

unless I am kept by thy power.

Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.

Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error,

my affections from love of idols,

my character from stain of vice,

my profession from every form of evil.

May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Thy blessing,

and in which I cannot invite Thy inspection.

Prosper me in all lawful undertakings,

or prepare me for disappointments;

Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me with food convenient for me,

lest I be full and deny Thee,

and say, "Who is the Lord?"

or be poor, and steal, and take Thy name in vain.

May every creature be made good to me by prayer and thy will;

Teach me how to use the world, and not abuse it,

to improve my talents,

to redeem my time,

to walk in wisdom toward those without,

and in kindness to those within,

to do good to all men,

and especially to my fellow Christians.

And to Thee be the glory.

(This was posted on the back of the church bulletin on Sunday. I think it is from The Valley of Vision.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009


"Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God,
and the power of His Christ:
for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,
which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,
and by the word of their testimony;
and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them!"
(Revelation 12:10b-12a)
Doesn't that make you feel like jumping up and down in excitement!?!? :-D

New Blog

Amanda and I have started a new blog to share our homemade projects. We didn't want it to be private, because we want it to be an opening for eventually selling our projects. For privacy purposes, we've made different accounts that don't link to Day by Day or our other blogs, or tell much about us. I am "Elinor Dashwood" and Amanda is "Marianne Dashwood".

Enjoy! :-)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trust in a Loving God's Wisdom and Care

"Therefore I say unto you,
'Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;
nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.'
Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air:
for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you,
That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field,
which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven,
shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying,
'What shall we eat?' or, 'What shall we drink?' or, 'Wherewithal shall we be clothed?'
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:)
for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow:
for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
(Matthew 6:25-34)

After a busy week with company, I finally got a chance this morning to sit down and really review Pastor's message from Sunday. As I did, I realized how much I needed it. I am not poor, so I don't have to worry about what I'm going to eat for my next meal or what I will wear when my clothes start to tatter. But I do worry about other things. Since the last two or three months with so many young people dying, I've worried about how long I will have my friends and family around me. I worry about getting a job. I worry about whom I will marry. All sorts of things like that.

Then I noticed in verse 33, the word shall, or will. All these things will be added unto me... My Heavenly Father has promised to supply all my needs. He knows that I need and will supply it, BUT He wants me to realize first what should be my greatest priority:


In the flesh, I do worry about my future-- particularly whom I will marry, and how. But my Father wants me to seek HIM first, and be fully satisfied with Him alone, before I could ever deserve any young man who has a close walk with the Lord. No one-- not even my future husband, whoever he may be-- deserves that place of honour that God alone deserves. That is why now is the time for me to seek God's kingdom, to draw near to Him, and make Him my all-in-all. For all of my life I want Him to be my all-in-all. What a precious existence that would be! I'd never have to worry about anything, because I'd be so close to His heart that I'd just know He'd take care of me-- even if I didn't understand what was going on.

While I was reflecting on these things in my journal, a picture came in my mind that I felt sort of illustrated this thought. It dims in comparison to reality, definitely, but that is what pictures are for, isn't it? To reflect reality but not swallow it up? I was thinking about Bella Wilfer, one of the heroines in Charles Dickens' classic Our Mutual Friend. I was thinking about her beautiful and unwavering trust in her husband, John Rokesmith, the mysterious "mutual friend" of the story. Mr. Rokesmith has a huge secret that he has not told Bella, and, when the secret threatens to come to light, they have the following conversation:

"Don't you remember that you asked me not to declare what I thought of your higher qualities until you had been tried?" [said John.]

"Yes, John dear. And I fully meant it, and I fully mean it."

"The time will come, my darling-- I am no prophet, but I say so, -- when you will be tried. The time will come, I think, when you will undergo a trial through which you will never pass quite triumphantly for me, unless you can put perfect faith in me."

"Then you may be sure of me, John dear, for I can put perfect faith in you, and I do, and I always, always will."

And later in the story, when she discovers how he, at one point, was the mysterious man named Julius Hanford:

"And you don't ask me, my dear, why I bore that name?"

"No, John love. I should dearly like to know, of course;" (which her anxious face confirmed;) "but I wait until you can tell me of your own free will. You asked me if I could have perfect faith in you, and I said yes, and I meant it."

Eventually, John tells Bella his story, and she finally understands why he has done what he has done all that time.
I feel like John and Bella's marriage in this fiction tale is a picture of what a true marriage should be like-- a picture of Christ and His church. Even though circumstances are confusing and even scary, Bella chooses to trust her husband, knowing that he knows what is best for her and that, if he thinks she'd be better off to know, he will tell her.

Circumstances in life plumb don't make sense sometimes. But I need to be like Bella is towards John. I must trust that my "Husband" (Isaiah 54:5) knows what He is doing, knows what is best for me, and will let nothing harm me. When my life seems dark and frightening, I do not need to have all the answers, because my Jesus does. He is worthy of my trust and complete confidence, because He has never failed His bride and He never will, either. What a truly joyful life-- unquestioning faith and trust in my Husband-- Christ.

The above photo is Bella Wilfer and John Harmon/Rokesmith from the movie of Our Mutual Friend (BBC, 1998).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Editing Away

This week I have been furiously editing!

First off, I settled the timeline of The Marquis' Daughter. Get ready! I decided against the Baroque era for that, and decided on the mid-Georgian period (1750's-60's). I love the Georgian era and it really fits my story wonderfully. Far enough back that I can put in my highly fictional pirate theme, but modern enough for telescopes and more familiar ship details; the story fits right into the era of the Great Awakening, when relationship with God was emphasized, rather than formal/nominal "religion"-- I want my characters to have an actual walk with the Lord and during that era there were more people who did then during the Baroque era, when everything was a battle between denominations and over outward things like politics and whether or not a Christian should go to the theatre. Another plus for the Georgian era is that the Georgian lady is how I have always imagined Dreia-- the dress, hair, manners, etc.... it's so "Dreia"! I love it.

Anyway, so I printed out the whole first part so that I could read over it to see what I needed to change. I was overwhelmed at all that needed utterly demolished, revamped, improved, and added, SO.... the whole thing is being re-written! I can just hear some of you groaning. Here are a few of the many changes I am making. DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING if you have not read the book as it contains SPOILERS. Unless, of course, you don't mind spoilers; then you are welcome. :-)

  • Dreia's name. Who ever heard of a person named Dreia in the 1700s hundreds-- or any time before the mid-1900's for that matter!? I think I have settled on Sophia, since it has a lot of vowels like "Dreia" so wouldn't be too hard to switch to. I'm pretty sure the name Sophia would have been used in those days; plus, the name already holds a special place in my heart. If you think Sophia wouldn't have been a name in that era, PLEASE comment and let me know. The other options are Katharine "Kitty", and Clara.

  • The development of the character Isaac. So much is lacking in my present manuscript. You never really know who he is or where he is from, and when he gets saved it's kind of like, "He did what? When did this happen?" The whole character is entirely undeveloped. Now I am planning on getting into his thoughts more, showing his background more, and stepping with him through his journey to salvation instead of popping it upon my readers in a flashback.

  • The "plans" scenario. Totally needed changed. Now this is the scenario: Sophia's father, the marquis, is involved in a group of people who are trying to track and stop the pirates. They discover the pirates' headquarters, and the marquis sends Sophia with his plans to his magistrate friend, Aaron Shwederer. The pirates also have been spying and know the marquis' plans, so they intercept the ship on the way to the Isle of Wight and capture Sophia in order to stop her from conveying the plans. After Sophia's rescue, the pirates will start making plans for the new headquarters since they know they're on the verge of being caught. However, Isaac gets saved, leaves, and tells their new plans to the marquis. Then there is the scenario of going after the pirates and attacking their new headquarters.

  • Various characters. Too many are entirely steriotype; almost indistinguishable from the next. I am planning on adding more colour to characters such as Esther's mother, the twins, the marquis, etc.

  • The pirates. THANK YOU to Matthew and Mark Havener, and Michael Bollinger, for your ideas on improving those rascals. The boys suggested me making them more violent. Since I want this to be a book that I would read if I was to pull it off the shelf at a bookstore, I don't want to make them too violent; however, I am going to try to make Patch a little more serious (not so crazy) and Darkie, of course, is a little dumb but still bad, of course. Also, Isaac has not been with Darkie since the beginning, but is a recent protogee whose main job is writing for the illiterate Darkie. (This is due to the boys telling me that they never heard of a pirate band that stayed together for more than a few years; they all killed each other off. :-P )

  • The rescue scene. I'm keeping those plans to myself. Ha ha ha. :-D

Well, there are more, but I don't want to give everything away, now, do I? :-)

I made a timeline (on the flowered paper in the picture) which is helping me keep the events of the story straight.

Amanda and Beth also read it and have given me good ideas for improving the story.

For those who are interested in reading the book when I'm done, comment or email me and I'll put your names on a list so I don't forget. :-) I want to get it done in a month, but this month will be very busy so it may be longer.

More plans for my Kami story too; I am absolutely in love with my characters in that already. :-D

The 18th Century Lady:
Below is a sample of Georgian fashion from the film Amazing Grace (I haven't seen this movie yet but I have some screenstills from it, including the following.) The style below is similar to what I picture Dreia/Sophia wearing-- even the hair. :-) (A little higher collar though.)

My Writing Verse:
"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Loving Memory

If you scroll down a little, you will see that I have added a tribute to Aunt Leah, Harrison, and Sophia Wagoner on my sidebar. I'd been wanting to do it for sometime, and since this morning was cloudy and everyone else is away on errands or at violin lessons, I decided to pull up the PictureIt program on the downstairs computer and work on it.

Unplanned for and unexpected, I started to cry while I put it together as I remembered those precious lives, and thought about Brian having lost his whole family in just one night. The grief of that first week came back to me, surprising me. Well, I didn't put up the tribute for no reason. I'm asking you that each time you scroll past and see their pictures on the sidebar, that you would pray for Uncle Brian, and for Aunt Leah's parents, Kenneth and Erma Flora. I will never forget seeing Aunt Erma crying on a friend's shoulder, saying, "They'll never come running through the door at my house again." Or sitting at the kitchen table and telling us of hers and Leah's plans for the garden this year, and then her saying, "But I don't seem to have the heart for it anymore." This year is going to be so hard for them all and I am asking that you would pray that God would give them strength to get through it, and that He'd continually draw them closer to Him.

Praise the Lord for the promise of His that I posted under the pictures. Isn't it wonderful that we have this hope in Him-- if we believe on Him, we will indeed live forever. And Leah, Harrison, and Sophia live on, praising and worshipping God in the glories of heaven, and waiting for all their friends and family to catch up with them in God's timing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Choose You This Day Whom Will Be Your Master...

"No man can be owned by two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and material possessions."
(Matt. 6:24, MLT (Melanie's Literal Translation :-P )

Just one verse... and yet so much meaning packed into it. In fact, this verse, in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, is really the verse that determines whether we will obey all that is spoken in the verses surrounding it. This verse speaks of a CRISIS choice... our turning point comes when we make the decision (which is inevitable) to be mastered by God or by earthly things. It is a CONSCIOUS choice, not theoretical but practical. It is also a CONTINUAL choice, not once-for-all, but day-by-day and moment-by-moment.

The word "serve" in the King James translation literally means "slave for". A slave is someone who is owned by someone else; therefore, it could also be worded "belong to" or "be mastered by". "Master" speaks of someone or something having total possession of a person. Jesus challenges us to consider, who am I mastered by? God or material things? What drives what I do? What do I hope in? Where do I look to for satisfaction? Where does my mind go when I am lying in bed at night? What sets the agenda for my life?

Mammon (a Semetic word for money or possessions, according to the footnote in my Bible) can very easily become an idol to us. And mammon can be anything... for some it might be something as "innocent" as a cell phone, a blackberry, or a laptop. For some it may be work, music, or hobbies. For me it could easily be sewing, costume dramas, and classic literature. All sorts of things can come to master us, instead of us mastering it.

But God calls us to come unto Him; He calls us to belong to Him. He wants to be our Lord and our Master. As people made in His image, and children born into His kingdom, our hearts should be set in such a way that God our Saviour directs and controls all the we do. He should drive all that we do. He is the One we should hope in. He should be the One who brings us satisfaction. It is to Him that our hearts and minds should continually turn. He should set the agenda for our lives.

These thoughts, presented by my pastor in yesterday morning's message, really spoke to my heart and convicted me. They came very timely, also, as a dear friend of mine had encouraged me this last week to pray for the youth of our church to set their hearts on God, and have decided to start praying together on Sundays for that purpose. It was exciting that God should have prompted Pastor to preach this sermon just as we were seeing the need to pray for that very thing in our own lives and those of our friends. God's timing is perfect.

Below is the outline from Pastor's sermon. I should also add that most of the above lesson is drawn directly from notes that I took from his message; they are not original from me.

"A Call to Exclusive Devotion"
Matthew 6:24

I. Who is my Master?
A. The one I love
B. The one I long for
C. The one I lean on

II. What is "mammon"?
A. Material possessions
B. Tangible pursuits

III. What is God's mandate?
A. Full devotion to Him
B. Full determination for Him
C. Full direction from Him

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stories Cooking...and ReCooking... and Simmering... and Parboiling.... :-P

One thing I've noticed about myself: I totally live in a different world. We will be sitting at the table for dinner and Mommy and Daddy will be talking about landscaping plans, and all of a sudden the dinner table, the light overhead, the hearts-and-stars wallpaper, the food, and the family will all surge far away, the words become white noise, and I find myself in Tuquivi with Jeff, surveying the adobe-and-thatch building that will become his home and grudgingly scuffing his shoe on the mud floor...

...or I am with Kami Willard, standing by the casket of her younger sister, remembering her shattered past, and then turning around to see, with surprise, the man she used to love...

...or I am with John Cray and Mark Sayers, battling pirates, and Darkie hovering over Mark, pouring out the awful secret of his past...

...and then I hear something from the outside, perk up, and say, "Huh, what are we talking about?" and am answered by snickers around the table. :-P

I have two major developments going on right now.

First development:

A brand new story. Yes, told you my brain is always cooking. It is the story of Kami Willard. Seven years ago, Kami was in love with a young man named Jim. But then Jim's busybody family started telling stories about Kami's father that led to the breakup of Kami's family and the suicide of her father. Kami and her younger sister lived together for several years after that... But now her sister has died of a sudden, unprecedented seizure and Jim all of a sudden returns! Kami doesn't know that she can trust him-- or any Christians, for that matter. Aren't Christians just people who say they are "saved" and use that as an excuse to do whatever they want? Is Jim really sincere in His love for God... and for her? Can she lay aside the doubts and bitterness that she has stored in her heart against God, and allow him to heal her life and give her hope and a spirit of forgiveness?

I like this idea a lot; my plan is to bring the reader through the journey of the deepest parts of Kami's heart as she gropes for something to hold on to in life and as she seeks to know the reality of God and life in Christ. I'm trying right now to figure out the plot so that it is exciting and builds to intensity at the right spot... something I have a hard time with, which is why I love Airborne so much because that came very naturally in that story. :-)

Okay, second development:

Era changes! Ugh! Do you know what kinds of problems I've been having trying to reconcile my Ann Williams story idea with the era I picked for it-- 17th century England? It just hasn't been working at all, and I have gotten so frustrated with it! And yet, I love the story idea and I really want to write about the era. So I am changing some things.

I think I will move Ann's story to a different time period. I'm considering the Bolshevik Revolution. I might post some options on the sidebar and have you vote which one you think is the best idea!

But Crown and Parliament won't be left alone! I think I might move The Marquis' Daughter , The Pirates' Revenge, and the sequel back to the 17th century instead, and the third book, instead of falling at the time of the War of 1812, will fall at the time of the English Civil War. This will make MD much more believable, because people don't seem to really care a whole lot about historical accuracy that far back, so I can get away with having pirates attempting to take over the seas! :-P What do you think? I think it's a cool idea but I am very willing to hear your input!! :-D

Oh, I just love writing! :-D

P.S. Here is a funny story about how in-another-world I am. I had borrowed a video from Marie K. about Christianity and Science Fiction: Reclaiming the Genre for Christ. It was by Doug Philips of Vision Forum. (I don't care much for VF personally, due to much of their theology and practice, but I like their filmmaking resources!) Mr. Philips was talking about how many science fiction movies promote unbiblical philosophy-- many promote evolution; Star Wars promotes faith in "anything", not in the Bible, and is produced by a person who calls himself a "Buddhist Methodist",which shows in the stories... Anyway, Mr. Philips played a clip from Star Wars Episode 4 (which was my favorite movie when I was, like, 9 or 10 :-) ) It was the scene-- some of you may be familiar with it-- when Darth Vador and a bunch of guys are sitting around a table in, like, an office room or something (?), talking about the plans, and DV tries to choke the one guy, and stuff. You know which scene I'm talking about? (It's been a long time since I watched the whole thing, so I couldn't tell you exactly when and where it is, except that it's before the guys come to rescue Leia.) Then he showed the scene after the rescue, I think it was.... when DV is walking down the hallway, with dead people on either side, and his breathing machine going at it's normal, creepy rythm... and then my mom kicked my bedroom door open real loud (jokingly) and I just JUMPED in my seat!!! Oh my word, I was SOOOOO startled! (*AAAAaaahhhhhh, it's Darth Vador, come to get me! Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!) LOLOLOLOLOL.... Oh dear, I'm such a case. I get some absorbed in these things, I really find myself in whatever place I am daydreaming, reading, or watching, it's totally ridiculous. :-P Oh, Melanie, wake up, would you? :-P

Monday, June 1, 2009

Good job, everyone, on the poll... the answer was correct. It was from "Bleak House."
I'm thinking up another one now. ;-)

Beautiful Verses!

"Oh how great is thy goodness,
which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee;
which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man:
thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD:
for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.
For I said in my haste,
'I am cut off from before thine eyes':
nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.
O love the LORD, all ye his saints:
for the LORD preserveth the faithful,
and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that hope in the LORD."

(Psalm 31:19-24)