Thursday, December 30, 2010

Race Towards The New Year....

Hey folks!
In case you are wondering why I haven't been posting lately, it's not because I've forgotten to post, and it's not because I don't have anything to post.  It's that I don't have time to post! ;-)
That is, I have a couple long post ideas in my mind that I'd like to write down-- a book review, a devotional article or two, reflections on this last year and this Christmas season-- but I am busy with something else instead. 
You see, I am aiming to finish my novel, The Marquis' Daughter, by 12:01 A.M., January 1st, 2011. :-) And I still have almost a whole chapter and a short epilogue to write by then.  So expect my "New Year" post to come a little late. ;-)
Well, I'd better get back to my writing now. ;-)  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

My absolute FAVORITE Christmas carol....ever...period. :)

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the Everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th' Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

Come, Desire of nations, come;
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman's conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent's head.
Adam's likeness now efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Hark! the herald angels sin,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

~Charles Wesley

What's your favorite Christmas carol?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Swing Over and Visit...

Bethany's new photography blog!


"The Lord your God is in your midst..."

Emmanuel.  God with us.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ came to earth, fully God and fully man, and dwelt among men.  He lived, died, and rose again.  Now He has given us His Spirit to dwell in us and guide us.  He is truly "God With Us". 
Let this thrilling thought remain with you throughout this season and this next year.  Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, God is with you, and He will never leave or forsake you.
We are never alone, for God is with us.

"Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, 
for behold, I come 
and I will dwell in your midst, 
declares the Lord."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letting Go

The following text is an excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity.  In this chapter, she is speaking primarily of her separation from her future husband (Jim Elliot) as their preparation to serve the Lord took them different places after a short time spent near each other, studying in Quito.  However, what she says applies to more than just a person's love life.  I thought what she says here might be an encouragement to many of us who are going through the difficult process of "letting go", so I wanted to share it with you. May you be encouraged and blessed, as I was!


The growth of all living green things wonderfully represents the process of receiving and relinquishing, gaining and losing, living and dying.  The seed falls into the ground, dies as the new shoot springs up.  There must be a splitting and a breaking in order for a bud to form.  The bud "lets go" when the flower forms.  The calyx lets go of the flower.  The petals must curl up and die in order for the fruit to form.  The fruit falls, splits, relinquishes the seed.  The seed falls into the ground. . . .

There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go.  At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops.  If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul.

It is easy to make a mistake here.  "If God gave it to me," we say, "it's mine.  I can do what I want with it."  No.  The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of-- if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory.

Think of the self that God has given as an acorn.  It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional.  Think of the grand glory of an oak tree.  God's intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree.  His intention for us is "...the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."  Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes.  When you look at the oak tree, you don't feel that the "loss" of the acorn is a very great loss.  The more you perceive God's purpose for your life, the less terrible will the losses seem...

...There must be relinquishment.  There is no way around it.  The seed does not "know" what will happen.  It only knows what is happening-- the falling, the darkness, the dying.  That was how it felt to be separated as we were-- as though we had been given no clues as to why this had to be.  "The wanting itself is good," Jim wrote, "it is right, even God granted, but now God denied, and He has not let me know all the wisdom of the denial."  We were yet far from the depth of spiritual perception Lilias Trotter had when she wrote those profound words quoted earlier: "The first step into the realm of giving is...not manward but Godward: an utter yielding of our best.  So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning: that is not worthy of the name for 'no polluted thing' can be offered." ...

...We were being asked to trust, to leave the planning to God.  God's ultimate plan was as far beyond our imaginings as the oak tree is from the acorn's imaginings.  The acorn does what it was made to do, without pestering its Maker with questions about when and how and why.  We who have been given an intelligence and a will and a whole range of wants that can be set against the divine Pattern for God are asked to believe Him.  We are given the chance to trust Him when He says to us, "...If any man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self."

When will we find it? we ask.  The answer is, Trust Me.

How will we find it? The answer again is, Trust Me.

Why must I let myself be lost? we persist.  The answer is, Look to the acorn and trust Me. 

~Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity, pages 163-166


May the Lord grow and bless and strengthen you all, and may each trial, each "letting go" He brings you to, serve to make you more like His Son Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Background...

I played around a bit with the background and header today.  It's not Christmasey.... just new.  What do you think?  Yes or no?  Could the color scheme be improved?   What think ye of the new header?

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Dare to be Alone"

"Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me" (John 16:32).

It need not be said that to carry out conviction into action is a costly sacrifice. It may make necessary renunciations and separations which leave one to feel a strange sense both of deprivation and loneliness. But he who will fly, as an eagle does, into the higher levels where cloudless day abides, and live in the sunshine of God, must be content to live a comparatively lonely life.

No bird is so solitary as the eagle. Eagles never fly in flocks; one, or at most two, ever being seen at once. But the life that is lived unto God, however it forfeits human companionships, knows Divine fellowship.
God seeks eagle-men. No man ever comes into a realization of the best things of God, who does not, upon the Godward side of his life, learn to walk alone with God. We find Abraham alone in Horeb upon the heights, but Lot, dwelling in Sodom. Moses, skilled in all the wisdom of Egypt must go forty years into the desert alone with God. Paul, who was filled with Greek learning and had also sat at the feet of Gamaliel, must go into Arabia and learn the desert life with God. Let God isolate us. I do not mean the isolation of a monastery. In this isolating experience He develops an independence of faith and life so that the soul needs no longer the constant help, prayer, faith or attention of his neighbor. Such assistance and inspiration from the other members are necessary and have their place in the Christian's development, but there comes a time when they act as a direct hindrance to the individual's faith and welfare. God knows how to change the circumstances in order to give us an isolating experience. We yield to God and He takes us through something, and when it is over, those about us, who are no less loved than before, are no longer depended upon. We realize that He has wrought some things in us, and that the wings of our souls have learned to beat the upper air.

We must dare to be alone. Jacob must be left alone if the Angel of God is to whisper in his ear the mystic name of Shiloh; Daniel must be left alone if he is to see celestial visions; John must be banished to Patmos if he is deeply to take and firmly to keep "the print of heaven."

He trod the wine-press alone. Are we prepared for a "splendid isolation" rather than fail Him?

~Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Streams in the Desert

(Very timely!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Green Leaf in Drought

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and it is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit."
(Jeremiah 17:7,8)

The heart that hides in the Lord cannot be destroyed by the fires of trial, no matter how hot they may be. Rather, when the trial comes-- by sudden fire, by howling wind, by relentless sun-- they only serve to drive the roots of that heart deeper into the soil of faith. There, deep in the soil, the heart draws nourishment from the living water and grows as it never would have before.

God has promised us that nothing in heaven or in earth can separate us from His love, not even the ever-feared tide of change. In fact, it is these trials that prove whether our hearts are truly grounded in our Lord or not. If they are, we know that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, and our leaves will remain green.

As a sweet and beloved chapter in my life closes this December and a new chapter begins, may my heart not fight against it, but rather may it reach deeper to the source of life and love and joy and peace, that fruit may increase and abound for my Lord.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Regency Christmas Ball

Here's for an abnormal post on my blog. ;-)

Last Friday, my family and I had the opportunity to attend a Regency-themed Christmas ball with a group of homeschoolers and homeschool graduates. We had a lovely time!
Here are some pictures:

We had a lovely time and the Lord allowed us to make new, like-minded friends. And I tell you what, English Country Dancing is addicting. I'm still skipping across the kitchen floor.... ;-)

If you want to see more pictures from the ball, here are some posts by some of the other young ladies who were there.

Rachel B's blog
Anna F's blog
Hannah M's blog
Kate D's Blog
Michaela F's blog

And videos-- I am sorry they're so big!! I'm not sure how to make them smaller.




Photos by Brandon Pieplow and Hannah L.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Stick with your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let critics malign, let enemies accuse, let the devil do his worst; but see to it nothing hinders you from fulfilling with joy the work God has given you.  He has not commanded you to be admired or esteemed. He has never bidden you to defend your character. He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood about yourself which Satan’s or God’s servants may start to peddle, or to track down every rumor that threatens your reputation. If you do these things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord. Keep at your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected, misunderstood, or assigned impure motives; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men. But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, 'I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.'"


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trust in the Lord

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths."

Once again God is giving me the opportunity for testing-- testing to see whether I will really obey this command to trust and whether I will really believe this promise. You see, it's not a one time lesson. God's child may have learned to trust during one particular circumstance, but later become so comfortable in the untroubled day-to-day and so settled in her own understanding that when God chooses to shake her world again, she finds she does not trust as well as she should. It's these "shaking" times-- of uncertainties, of change, of separations-- that cause us to run back to Him and realize we don't have it all together, but He does. He has it all under control. He knows how our future course will run, even though we don't, and He has promised to direct it and make it plain to us in His timing and way.

It doesn't mean the path will be difficult now and then, and it doesn't mean we'll always be able to see the next step until we're there. And sometimes we have to follow the way He is leading the authorities above us even when we think we know better than they do-- we must still trust that He knows what He is doing and He is good, and He will not bring us into anything that is not ultimately good for us. Indeed, it is in times like this-- when it is dark and uncertain and we can't see what's happening, or why it's happening, or how to make it through-- it is in times like this that He whispers to us, "Courage, dear heart," and we realize anew that joy and peace that are found in trusting Him, the unseen yet faithful God.

Our own understanding? It'll fail us. Admit it, self-- you don't have it all together, not by a long shot. But God is always, always trustworthy. And He will direct your path.

P.S. Thank you, Lord, that You do not let me go on in complacency but rather give me testings in life to jar me out of the ruts that are so easy to fall into, and to draw me closer to You. You are SO good!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just a Post to Say...

...Merry Start of the Christmas Season!

"Did you say Christmas?  Is there anything under this tree for me?"

"O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree..."

Pictures by Bethany (and turtle property of Bethany) :-)

What are some Christ-centered ways that you celebrate Christmas?  I'd love to hear ideas.  Also, any ideas for a Christ-themed, Christmas-themed blog-post series?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Living Christianity

"This church stands here in the name of Christianity.  But what is Christianity?  I know but one definition.  Christianity does not mean what you think or what I think concerning Christ, but who Christ is. . . . I tell you what I have learned only that I may stir you up to ask yourselves, as I ask myself, 'Do I then obey this word?  Have I ever, have I once, sought to obey it?  Am I a pupil of Jesus?  Am I a Christian?'  Hear then His words.  For me, they fill my heart with doubt and dismay.

"The Lord says, 'Love your enemies.'  Do you say, 'It is impossible'?  Do you say, 'Alas, I cannot'?  But have you tried to see whether He who made you will not increase your strength when you step out to obey Him?

"The Lord says, 'Be perfect.' Do you then aim for perfection, or do you excuse your shortcomings and say, 'To err is human'?  If so, then you must ask yourself what part you have in Him.

"The Lord says, 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.' My part is not now to preach against the love of money, but to ask you, 'Are you laying up for yourselves treasures on earth?'  As to what the command means, the honest heart and the dishonest must each settle in his own way.  No doubt you can point to other men who are no better than you, and of whom yet no one would dare question the validity of their Christianity.  But all that matters not a hair.  All that does is confirm that you may all be pagans together.  Do not mistake me.  I am not judging you.  For my finger points at myself along with you.  But I ask you simply to judge yourselves by the words of Jesus.

"The Lord says, 'Take no thought for your life.  Take no thought for tomorrow.' Explain it as you may, but ask yourselves, 'Do I take no thought for my life?  Do I take no thought for tomorrow?'

"The Lord says, 'Judge not.'  Did you judge your neighbor yesterday?  Will you judge him again tomorrow?  Are you judging him now in the very heart that sits hearing the words, 'Judge not'?  Or do you side-step the command by asking, 'Who is my neighbor?'  Does not your own profession of Christianity counsel you to fall upon your face, and cry to him, 'I am a sinful man, O Lord'?

"The Lord said, 'All things you would that men should do to you, do also to them.' You that buy and sell, do you obey this law?  Examine yourselves and see.  You would want men to deal fairly to you: do you deal just as fairly to them as you would count fairness in them toward you?  If conscience makes you hang your head inwardly, however you sit with it erect in the pew, can you dare to add to your crime against the law and the prophets the insult to Christ of calling yourselves His disciples?

" 'Not everyone that says unto me, "Lord, Lord", shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.' "

-from a sermon by fictional character Thomas Wingfold in The Curate's Awakening by George MacDonald pages 104-106

( My apologies for any typos :-)  )

I am re-reading one of my favorite fictional books and my favorite book by my favorite author George MacDonald. ;-)  And once again I am being challenged and convicted.  Is my Christianity real?  Am  I really living, thinking, breathing, in a way that glorifies my Lord?  Do my life patterns reflect Christ in me, or do I act as anyone else in the world would act? 

To read my review on the book I quoted from, The Curate's Awakening, click here.  And if you can, get a copy.  It's one of the best books I've read!! (I'm sure all the self-sufficient, got-it-all-together editors of today would have a hard attack how MacDonald "tells" rather than "shows" and breaks off into what they'd call "lectures" (rather musings on Biblical truth and encouragements to the reader), but if you are interested in growing in your life in Christ and knowing Jesus better, you'll love this book!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I'm so sorry, everyone, for my lack of posts!  I have been seriously very busy.  I had an Etsy order to finish "as soon as possible" and several other sewing orders from people for Christmas, I and am working on finishing Bethany's petticoat and hers and my Regency gowns for a Regency-themed Christmas gathering coming up on December 10th.  I've had a little time to catch up on reading blog posts and writing emails, and very little time for writing MD (I am sooooooo glad I didn't do NaNoWriMo this year or I would have had NO time to write or else felt VERY overwhelmed), and almost no time for blogging.  I have had several post ideas but they haven't taken the form of typed words yet. :-)

Hopefully next month I will have more time for posting. 

Happy Last Day of November!

The Shepherd and His Sheep

     "For thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.   As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.   And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.   I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.   I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. . . . .
     ". . . . I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep.   And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.   And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken."

~Ezekiel 34:11-16, 22-24

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good Blogs to Read, Part 8

Doing It Write

I met Amber a year or two ago on the Sense and Sensibility Forum.  Our first interaction with each other was teaming together to defend the gospel of Christ in a rather interesting debate about religion.  I then began to follow her blog, then we began emailing, then we friended each other on Facebook.  The Lord has really blessed our friendship, even though we've never met in person; so many times the Lord has used her to encourage my heart or set my focus back on Him.  And besides that--  we also share a love for writing!  Not only does she like to write, but she does write, and she writes for God's glory.

Just recently Amber has started up a writing blog called Doing It Write.  Here she posts her own struggles and triumphs in her writing, reviews on helping books and websites on writing, and thoughts on how we can glorify God with our writing.   She speaks honestly and freely and brings everything back to God-- God has given us the ability to write; we should use it for His glory.  Already I have been very encouraged and challenged.

I highly recommend this blog to all my writing friends!  And even if you are not a writer, check out her other blog, The Fruit of Her Hands-- I guarantee, you will be blessed by Amber's writing!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Which God Answers Prayer and Reminds Me of His Protection

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. For He will deliver you from the snare of the flower and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night..." (Psalm 91:1-5a)

Those who know me very well know that I am a very fearful person. In fact, a bit of a phobiac, if indeed that is a word. Ever since that month in which Aunt Leah, Harrison, and Sophia died in a fire, our cousins' cousin died unexpectedly from a seizure, and we discovered about our friend Megan R's death from an accidental gunshot wound, I have been terrified for the safety of my family. I have been terrified of fire, of carbon monoxide, of hunters, of illness, of the cracked tree in our side yard falling on my parents' bedroom during a windstorm. Many has been the night that I've laid awake praying over and over, "Lord, please protect us-- please protect each member of our family-- please protect our house."

I know the Lord understands the fear that arises from seeing tragedy in the lives of people around me, and yet that does not make that fear, that lack of trust, right or even "okay". But He cares. He watches over us. And today He proved that to me in a very special way.

I had been awake for much of the night. From the time I went to bed to about 12:30 or 1:00, I was awake thinking about this and that, and at around 4:00 I woke up again-- not with the terror that I've awakened with many a time, thinking I smelled smoke or something like that, but rather just with a nagging, quiet sort of fear. My dad was going to be leaving to visit some friends in another state at 5:30, and a violent wind was blowing outside and smacking raindrops against my window. I was worrying about him and Mommy driving to the airport in the bad weather, and about him flying, and about us at home, and the wind... and as usual in a windstorm, I was thinking about the tree in our side yard with the crack up the center. "Lord, please protect Daddy as he travels, and please protect us here at home. Keep us from all harm..."

I decided to stay up to see Mommy and Daddy off to the airport, so about five minutes before they left, I got up. Kitty had come in when they were taking luggage out to the van so I sat on the floor and pet her while Mommy and Daddy finished getting everything ready. Then I hugged Daddy and told him "I love you" and "Have a safe trip." Then Kitty and I went to the sliding door, which offers a good view of the road, to wave to Mommy and Daddy as they drove away. It was still dark outside, so I did the usual "wave" we've been doing since we moved to this house-- switching the porch light on and off a couple times. They disappeared around the corner and I let the curtain fall. "Well, I guess we'll go back to bed," I was thinking. But before I could move from that spot, I heard a noise.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

I'd heard that sound before-- like the prelude to thunder, only louder and closer. "Ohhhhhhhh Lord, help us! The tree!" I scooped up Kitty in my arms and made a dash for the side of the house opposite the side yard. Kitty, terrified, jumped out of my arms, and before I had even crossed the room, I heard a loud BANG!

My next thought was, "Did it fall on the house?" It hadn't sounded like it-- the bang was more of that of the tree landing on the hard ground outside. Still, I hurried to Amanda's and my bedroom to see. The windows in our 1950s ranch-style house are very high for a short person like me, so I climbed onto my bed, lifted the shade, and looked out.

My heart stopped.

Oh. My. Word.

Just outside my window the very tip-tops of the tree were just touching the side of the house. Right on the other side of the wall from where my head goes when I sleep. Right there. Just touching the edge of the house.

"Wow. God is good!" I said. Amanda, who had been awakened by the noise, climbed up on my bed too and was awestruck as she, too, saw the protection of God. A moment later, Bethany joined us and we all were amazed at the goodness of our God.

A while later, when the morning had cleared the darkness, we looked out and saw that the tree had not broken off close to the ground. It had broken off several feet up-- maybe five feet-- jaggedly, as it had had a crack up the middle (I think caused by us having our campfires right next to it). If it had broken further down, it might have landed on our roof and caused more damage. However, God guides even the forces of nature, and He had it cut off just where it did to protect us and our house, just as I had prayed He would.

I wonder why we are so hesitant to believe that God really does watch over us, that God really does hear and answer our prayers. Our God loves and cares for His children. He has promised in Scripture to watch over them, and He always keeps His promises. Sometimes He allows what we call tragedy-- a freak fire or a mistake gunshot-- but that does not mean He has forgotten to watch over His children. And sometimes-- in fact, most of the time, if you think about it-- He shields us from things that can harm us. Whether it is a tree falling on you during the night, or skidding on the ice on a bridge, or a semi-truck drifting into your lane-- so many things could happen that we don't even realize, but our God keeps His eye on these things, and He protects us. And he not only keeps an eye on our physical protection, but He also sees the other details of life that we think He might not notice-- family problems, church problems, friendship problems, stress from busyness, and other things. He sees, He knows, and He cares. And He always keeps His promises.

So now I know I do not need to fear. My God is watching over me, and when I lay my head down at the end of this day, I can do so knowing my God neither slumbers nor sleeps-- He is watching over me and my precious family.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"The heart set to do the Father's will need never fear defeat.  His promises of guidance may be fully counted upon.  Does it make sense to believe that the Shepherd would care less about getting His sheep where He wants them to go than they care about getting there?"
~Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity, page 50

Monday, November 8, 2010

"You're Such a Dreamer... Get Over It"

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

This verse is quoted frequently and often imprinted on Bibles, Bible cases, coffee mugs, pictures, pens, jewelry, and other gifts for high school and college graduates. It is used to encourage people that God has a plan for their lives, far greater than they can even imagine, for good and not for evil, and to encourage them to follow that plan.

However, in a practical sense, the same people who quote this verse, and others like it, and give gifts with this verse (and others like it) imprinted on them, also contradict it as they relate to the people in their lives. Everyone likes to be assured that God has a special plan for them, and that they can do something wonderful, but it is much harder, often, to accept His will and the dreams of others. I'd say this is probably a notable challenge for parents, as they watch their children grow and make decisions and form dreams, but I have struggled with it myself in regards to my family and friends, and I am not a parent.

Is this right? Is it a good thing to tell people God has a plan for them, and to encourage them to follow His will for their lives, but when we discover that this plan may involve something extraordinary or unusual or even dangerous, to suddenly discourage them and tell them they're just fanciful dreamers?

Many people who have done extraordinary and lasting things in the past faced this from others. Isobel Kuhn's mother, who was the president of the Women's Missionary society in the Canadian Presbyterian church, told Isobel, "If you go to China, it will be over my dead body. I will never consent." Eventually, the Lord used Isobel to bring thousands of the Lisu people of China to Him. William Carey, upon presenting the idea of going to India as a missionary and speaking of the command for Christians to evangelize, was told, "Young man, sit down: when God pleases to covert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine." Carey is now known as the Father of Modern Missions. Gladys Aylward was told by a missionary society that her education was too limited for her to go to China, and that the language was too hard for her to learn. However, she went to China on her own with almost no money and introduced many people to Jesus and saved the lives of many children during the world war. Our Lord Jesus faced rejection by family, friends, and the religious rulers of the day, because He did the will of God, and that will was not what they thought to be good. And He is our Saviour and perfect example.

These are just a few people who have sought to do God's will and been criticized and hindered by those who had a reputation as religious, God-fearing people. These people probably felt very justified in their opposing. "My daughter, go to China, where she could be killed for her faith? It is too dangerous, and as her parent, I must protect her." On the other hand, there are those whom God leads to do less "glamorous", but just as noble, things, such as being a homemaker, mother, and wife; and even though this is not a dangerous calling, they get the same amount of opposition. "Listen, you're an amazing pianist; you have so much talent! You can't just waste it like this! You need to go to college and put it to good use; what good will be it if you live your life changing diapers and making dinners? You're going to waste it all... You've got to go to college..." This is the prevailing mindset in this country, this mindset that screams of "I know better than God what is best for your life", regardless of how dangerous or how quiet God's plan may be.

A missionary speaking at our church yesterday spoke of this attitude many people have. Parents teach their children wonderful stories from the Bible; before the children even know their own names, they have heard the story of how God parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, how God used a young shepherd boy to kill a mighty giant and save his people, how Jesus walked on water and calmed a storm. They encourage their children to do God's will. Then their teenage daughter asks permission to join a short term mission team to New York City and the parents nearly lose it. "You? Go to New York City? No way. That place is dangerous. The culture is full of evil. You'd be surrounded by wicked people. You could get hurt. No way; you're not going to New York City." And by doing this, they basically say that God is a liar, and that all those stories are false-- God cannot part a sea so that people walk over on dry ground, God cannot use a young boy to save His people and kill a giant, God cannot calm a storm, God doesn't know what is best, God cannot change lives, God cannot protect a teenager seeking to spread His Gospel in New York City.

This is a serious problem. Is God pleased when we (I say "we" to include friends and siblings like myself) tell others that God is almighty and that they must follow His will and then, when He makes His will known to them, change our minds and say they are foolish? Could it be that when we do that, we do it, not because we don't believe it is God's will for that person, but because it is not our will for that person? Is it because we think they ought to do something else (as though we know better than God), or that God cannot take care of them as well as we can? Are we really concerned with God's will, or our own will?

Many articles have been written to encourage young people to follow God's will, no matter what. While I agree whole-heartedly and may write an article about that sometime, this article is for the family and friends of those young people. Are you really desiring God's will for the people closest to you? Are you stepping back to let God fully work in the life of your child, sister, brother, friend? Or is your attitude, "You're such a dreamer...Get over it!"?

"So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!"
(Acts 5:38-39)

Note: This article is not written directed towards any one person. This is something I've been convicted about myself recently and that we all need to be reminded of.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Word of Encouragement

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

~Annie Johnson Flint

May you know the grace and strength of our Lord today as you "climb"!  

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I think this little-known holiday (accidentally fallen on the same day as one of the worst holidays imaginable ;-) ) may be one of my favorites, next to Christmas.  This year, we "celebrated" it (if you want to word it that way) by watching the film Luther.  You see, on this same day, in the year 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door at the Church at Wittenberg, thus initiating what we now know as the Protestant Reformation.

This is a wonderful day to reflect, not only on the work of God in causing men to return to the Bible for truth, but also on the truth His Word does contain.  The days prior to the Reformation were hideously dark days.  People lived in despair and fear, toiling from day to day, fearing God's judgment and believing in terrorizing superstitions.  They could not read God's Word for themselves, so they did not know about God's love, His mercy, His justice, His compassionate, His faithfulness... These truths bring such great comfort to us today, but they did not have this comfort.  One can almost hear Jesus speaking directly to the Church of that day as he did to the lawyers of his day:  "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering."

However, when brave men such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, God's Word was opened up again to the common man.  In translations from Latin into the common language, men and women were able to discover for themselves that God did love them, and that He gave His Son as a ransom for their sin so that they, if they would believe on Him, might have eternal life and blessing in Him.   The re-entrance of God's Word upon the dark world sparked a great revival, seen not only in the Church, but also in matters of politics, science, economics, and morality.  Indeed, "the entrance of thy words giveth light" (Psalm 118:130).

Take time today to thank God for giving us His Word, and thank Him also for the men who risked their lives to provide us with a way to read It.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

God's Care and Provision

"And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?   If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?   Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.   But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!   And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.   For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.   Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

(Luke 12:22-34)

Isn't it wonderful to know that God loves us and cares for us?  I think many conservative Christians brush over this fact because they see it as "prideful" or over-emphasized by "liberal" Christians, but nothing can change the truth of it, nor the joy we have for knowing it.   God told us so because He wanted us to know it.  It is a glorious truth!

This passage reminds us of God's special care for us.  Why should we worry that we won't have enough to eat, or clothes to wear, or a place to live, or that we will never marry or get a job or whatever the case may be?  God sees our needs and He always provides.  He did for our family in very special ways while my dad was off work.  Many times He has provided what we needed just when we needed it.   He knows, He cares, and He provides, just as He does for the flower of the field and for the little birds in winter.

Not only does He provide for physical needs, but He also provides for our emotional needs.  Many a time have I felt in the quiet of my heart that I had no more love to give, that I could not hope any longer, that joy was impossible, or I have felt lonely and longing, and He has reached down and met that need with Himself.  He gives us that love, joy, peace, hope, fulfillment.  For those of us who long for the right partner to make up the other half of our hearts, God provides us with Himself, and in His time, if it is His will, He will provide us with that special person.  He cares for that, and He will meet that need.  There is absolutely no reason to worry that He won't.

Instead, we have the joyous privilege of resting in Him and, in the waiting time, of seeking Him.  While He provides for our physical and emotional needs, we are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness, the things that will last forever.  We are to actively come before Him and learn of Him and take His yoke upon us; we are to daily deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him; we are to read His Word, sing praises to His Name, reflect on His character, and proclaim His Gospel to the world.  It is our duty to seek Him; it is His joy to provide.
I am so glad that He has revealed His loving and caring heart to us in His Word.  It would be a miserable life indeed if we did not know and accept the truth of His lovingkindness and goodness to His Creation.  But to know God is inexpressible joy.

Pictures by Bethany :-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

God of Heaven (lyrics)

A couple posts back, I posted a video of the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team singing "God of Heaven".  I wasn't sure if you could catch all the words (the video quality was poor) so I thought I would post them here for you to enjoy and meditate on.

Words and Music by Heather Sorenson

God of Heaven, God of all the earth and sky.
Great Creator, Master of all nature.
Who gives birth to snow from heaven,
Holds the waves at ocean's edge,
Gives the orders to the morning,
Shows each dawn its place to shine?
God of Heaven, God of all the earth and sky.

God of Ages, God who wrote the Book of Time.
Sovereign Ruler, Alpha and Omega.
Saints before, He's guided safely.
History's pages signed by Him.
Author of our days and hours;
Things to come are held secure.
God of Ages, Alpha and Omega.

God of Power!  God who breaks the darkness.
Righteous Warrior, Champion of His children,
Goes before us into battle;
Good and evil bow to Him,
Those in bondage freed forever,
Victories won at  His command!

God who heals us, God who gives us peace and hope.
God who listens, Carries all our fragile
Dreams and heartaches, wins and failures;
Binds the broken; hides the weak.
New beginnings freely offered;
Who can make us whole again?
God who heals us, God of Power,
God of Ages, God of Heaven,
God of all the earth and sky.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Michelle at "Pilgrim's Welcomed Home". Thank you, Michelle!  In this tag, I am to answer the questions she asked, tag eight people, and then ask eight questions of my own, which the people I tag will answer if they decide to do the tag. :-) 
This has been a very lovely, but challenging (in a good way) tag!  Michelle asked some very thought-provoking questions!  Here are my answers:

1. I have a painting in my home that immediately gets my heart to singing Sheep May Safely Graze. Is there a photo or a painting or even an object that makes you think of a song to sing? If not a song, is there a Bible verse that comes to mind?
Well actually, this picture by John Brown reminds me of that very song you mentioned.
Sheep Grazing Under Apple Blossoms
Isn't it so beautiful and peaceful?  Sheep by still waters and green pastures, a picture of God's loving care for us.  With God as our shepherd, we need never fear!
This one following makes me think of the song "Sometimes a Light Surprises".

2. If you could sit across a table with someone living today, who would it be and what one question would you ask them? Please, I beg you, no politicians.
Another hard one.  Most of the people that I don't know already whom I loved to sit across the table from and talk with are no longer living. :-(  But, I suppose it does not have to be a famous person... I would love to sit across the table from my penpal whom I've never met in person, Amanda C., and ask her... I'm not sure what, but I know we would have so much to talk about.  I think it would also be wonderful to sit across the table from someone who knew Eric Liddell or Amy Carmichael (my heroes :-) ).  I would ask them what it was like to know them, what stands out most to them in their memory, and how they impacted their lives.

3. We are studying the history of classical music at our home. If you could choose one piece of classical music, what selection would you choose, who is the composer, and why does this song have meaning to you?
I love Chopin's Raindrop Prelude; it's so beautiful and expressive.  The music sounds like it's raining and thundering.  It is my favorite piece to play on the piano.

4. What one thing in all of creation that you can see with your eyes, grips your heart and makes you stand in awe of His majesty? Why?
The ocean/lake/any large body of water, especially if the sun is setting into it.  There is something about the crashing waves, the breeze coming over the water, and the brilliant colors that seem to just sing of the majesty and creativity and power of God.  

5. Is there any one thing you are fanatical about? How do you know (has somebody told you!)?
This was a hard one, probably because I was thinking to literally.  I think I may be fanatical about American Girl-- most girls my age have given up on dolls, but I still love AG dolls and still talk to mine and play with their hair and keep up on the latest AG news.  I may also be described as "fanatical" about writing; it takes up at least an hour of every day except Sunday, and along with that comes much daydreaming about my book, falling in love with my characters, and seeing random people at the store and coming up with stories for them in my mind. :-)

6. If you could choose a season, which one is your favorite and why? Describe what it looks like outside your window today.
Definitely spring... because that is when life conquers the death of winter, new things begin to grow, and all Creation looks so happy.
Outside my window are brilliant orange and yellow leaves in the trees and on the ground, blue skies with patches of fluffy white cloud here and there, wood is stacked up and ready for winter, and smoke from our stovepipe is dissipating into the chilly air.
(Okay, I worked on this post over a period of a couple days, and right before I am posting it, it is dark and chilly outside.  But when I was writing the answer above, it was afternoon. :-) )

7. What's your favorite "just got out of bed in the morning" drink and do you have a special place you go to enjoy it?
Coffee!!!  Definitely!!  I usually just have it in my room, on the floor with my back to my bed, though if it's not too hot, I like to have my coffee and quiet time down in the basement.  

Now I will tag eight people, but if you would rather not do the tag, don't feel bad declining.

Bethany at Day by Day 
Amanda at Amanda's Journals
Gabrielle at Joyful Daughter
Leah at The White Woods
Ana at Ana's Corner
Hanne-Col at A Rainbow of Thoughts
Emily H. in the Comments
Teddy in the Coments

Agh, hardly anyone who follows my blog has a blog, which is why I mentioned some friends answering in the Comments section or in any email.  I may even answer them myself. :-P  If anyone else wants to do this, consider yourself tagged. :-)

My questions for you:
1. What is one of your earliest memories of growing up?
2. How many books do you read at one time?  Do you read several books of the same genre at once, or do you include a variety of genres in your reading?
3. Have you ever been to a foreign country?  Which?  If you haven't, what country would you most like to go?
4. What is one lesson the Lord has been teaching you lately or reinforcing in you?  How has He been working in your life and making you more like Him?
5. What is your favorite movie costume, one you wouldn't mind having for yourself?  Or do you even notice movie costumes at all?  What is your favorite era for period dramas?
6. Give one Scripture reference that has been very special to you over the years, and describe why it means so much to you.
7. Would you rather live in the middle of town, in the suburbs, or in the country?  Why?  Which state would you like to live in most, if you could? 
8. Name one historical figure (missionary, politician, explorer, anyone) and one person you know who has impacted your life in an outstanding way.

Have fun!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our Mutual Friend

Our Mutual Friend is the last completed novel written by Charles Dickens.  It was published in serial form throughout 1864-5.  Containing many unique and fascinating characters, thought-provoking satirical subplots, and Biblical parallels, it is still read today and even more appreciated today than when it was first written, and has also been made into a six-hour film miniseries by the BBC in 1998.

Dickens’ last novel, and one of his most complex and unique plots, finds its beginnings with a man named Harmon. Harmon was a hard, greedy, and unfeeling man who gained a great fortune in dust mounds. Upon his death, his inheritance is to go to his son John, who has been living abroad for most of his life, on the condition that he marries a woman whom he has never met—one Bella Wilfer. However, at the time that young John Harmon was to return to claim his fortune and his bride, he is reported drowned.

At this unexpected turn of events, the Harmon fortune goes to Mr. Harmon’s most trusted servants, Mr. and Mrs. Nicodemus Boffin, while various people become suspect for the murder of the drowned man. Happy-go-lucky, endearing, and unspoiled Mr. and Mrs. Boffin decide to “go in for fashion” and take in John Harmon’s intended bride, beautiful but mercenary Bella, to help soften the injury at being willed “like a dozen spoons” and at losing a prospective fortune. Joining the Boffins to act as a secretary is a mysterious man called John Rokesmith, who appears to have no back history but who studies Bella quietly and faithfully.
At the same time, a carefree, idle young laywer named Eugene Wrayburn makes attempts to clear Gaffer Hexam, the man who recovered the body of John Harmon, of the suspicion of having done the murderous deed. Not only does he wish to clear Gaffer, but he also finds himself attracted to the man’s modest and gentle daughter Lizzie. He is not the only man attracted to Lizzie’s beauty and sweet temperament; the girl also finds herself followed by her brother’s somewhat psychotic schoolmaster.

In his masterful way, Dickens weaves together a tale so complex and so compelling, and at the same time packed with rich spiritual truths, and all of it finding its center in the “mutual friend” of the title. Approximately 800 pages of reading will sweep you up into a tale consisting of sweet romance, murder mystery, stalkers, the painted lives of high society and the stark realities of riverside London, wealth and poverty, disputed wills, midnight chases, and a vast array of unique characters (some totally loveable and some absolutely detestable).

Not only does Our Mutual Friend commentate on the social ills of the day, but it also portrays a variety of Biblical truths that leap right off the page into the very lives of the readers.  In this story, we see parallels of Christ's relation to the Church (how He draws us and proves us through testing), of faith and trust.  We see the difference between selfishness and contentment, between false love that seeks to gain for oneself and true love that wishes the good for others.  We see the mind of the redeemed, and we see the mind of a murderer.  We see the false expectations of the world and the heart of what truly matters.  Our Mutual Friend gives its readers much to think on and apply.

Our Mutual Friend is, at this point, my favorite Dickens novel (and miniseries), and I highly recommend it!  However, it may not be enjoyable to those who enjoy an easy read, a simple plot, light comedy, and few enough characters to keep track of easily.  Dickens was a writer with a master mind, and reading any book by him is no small undertaking.  However, it is both enjoyable and rewarding.