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!)