Saturday, December 28, 2013

Of Our Savior and His Gandalf-Like Tendencies

"“Frankly, if you’re really not interested in adventures, it’s wise to hide when you see Jesus coming. He has Gandalf-like tendencies that are really quite alarming. “Follow me,” he says “Take nothing for your journey. Go the extra mile. Why do you worry about what you will eat or what you will wear? Seek first God’s kingdom.” These are not safe words. At the very least, they could “make you late for dinner.” In fact, they might mean you don’t get any dinner at all… in this moment, in this hour, you are being called to walk with Jesus. The question is, will you go?” 

-Sarah Arthur"

Friday, November 22, 2013

You're a Snowflake

I've been away a long while now, I know. But this long time away from the blogsphere has been one long grace-filled adventure, much of which I can't wait to share. 

But let me tell you of yesterday.

Yesterday, I woke to a frigid white world, and to a dire lack of desire to go to school. The last day before Thanksgiving break is always ridiculously difficult. 

Yet to the car I trudged, through the glittering, achy cold. And once inside, I paused.


Couldn't believe my eyes. 

Tangled in my hair was a series of perfect snowflakes. Intricate works of lacy perfection. Just... indescribably incredible. The snowflake in this purple picture is a real, live, close-up snowflake. They were like that, only so real, so tangible. 

And they were so small. 

I've heard it, like everyone's heard it. No two snowflakes are alike. 

No two snowflakes? 

We drove past fields, were sun was breaking through, dusting the glittery earth with light. There were blankets of snow, far as the eyes could see. And all of that was composed of trillions of miniscule, complex flakes, all of them hand-crafted by the God of the universe, and unique? 

How can anyone in the universe not look at a snowflake and think, Good heavens above, there must be a God.  

And all I could do was marvel. Dumbfounded. How we are loved!

I haven't gotten over it, the lesson of the snowflakes. Marvel, I'd call it. All today, in all the little things, all I could think was: snowflakes! He is real! He cares! He is in all the little things! He loves me! He loves me enough to even make snowflakes for me, and for all of us! And if He made every snowflake special, He's made every one of us a trillion times more special!

If the King of Creation takes time on every elaborate little snowflake, how much more is he working on you? Fashioning a magical work of art in you, your life, your testimony, your gifts? 

So much in such a miniscule fray of creation. 

So in love with the maker of snowflakes. 

Good night, all you glittery glimpses of His glory!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Where I've Been?

Gotta be brief. Gotta finish some work. 

Where HAVE I been? 

Well, praying Anything and getting answers (so sorry I haven't posted for discussion the last two weeks-- I have literally been swept away). Loving this song by Sarah Reeves: "Purify, refine, shape me I pray! Wreck me for your glory. You can interrupt my day!" 

Several times, as I've sung this, crazy things have happened immediately after. Like the early morning phone call, "I'm literally on the side of the road and have no one to call..." and God bringing to my mind just the right person with a car to pick them up and encourage them. Like bringing food to our church's family with a precious newborn. Or spending time with the pastor's wife (a wife barely older than myself) to build each other up. Or running into a plethora of people I know at the library, just to smile at and bless them and encourage those who are down, tell one going into surgery that I'm praying for you. 

 Like the opportunity to make dinner for the family I babysit for while a million or so children (three, but it becomes a million when they run fast) are shrieking and playing, and to sweep, and do dishes, and have a relaxing home ready for their parents when they get off of work. Or to serve five teenage boys running around my house because 'it has air conditioning.' And being cheerful when 'air conditioning' breaks, and enduring with those five teenage boys who are still around, and keeping the refrigerator stocked with Popsicles for them. It's also meant daring to start up my little Premade Book Cover page, like I've been too terrified of 'not being good enough' to do. It's also letting go when there's no immediate income. 

And today it was giving a soft answer and forgiveness to someone who had hurt me previously, and watching God turn away wrath. And it was seeing God do a complete turnaround and hearing this man (who has been harsh to me all semester) say, "I won't call you Teacher's Pet and stuff anymore. And I'm sorry I've been disrespectful to you." 

And all of these little things are big anythings when you are exhausted, and have a million and more homework assignments, and isn't summer time for downtime? 

But I'm learning that sometimes anything is withdrawing for downtime. And sometimes anything is prayer and Bible reading and journaling and delicious green tea on cool twilights with contemplation. 

And God has been here, and it has been good. All glory, for all of these little divine appointments, and all of the strength for these anythings, all to him! Always hold close to heart, faithful in little, faithful in much. So if you are as busy as I am-- know my prayers are with you! And if maybe you're sitting around bored, stifled with a not-so-grand summer, I'm praying for you as well!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bible Study... Last Week. And a lovely short story.

So in a blur of life I never got to share about last week's study, and honestly the reading from last week and this week have begun to blur in my mind...

But I'd like to share what God has been teaching me in general.

*We're afraid of praying "I'll do Anything." But the thing is... we are specks tossed by the waves anyway. Anything could happen to us anyway. God's hands are the safest place to be.

*I really related to what I think was chapter 3- I have lived all of my life desperate to please others, and let it rob me of my adventures with God. But what can mere mortals do to me? Really? Isn't life just a minuscule blip on the spectrum of eternity? They can hurt me once-- I'll live in God's happy kingdom forever.

*He is my soul's husband, and it is His approval and the peace I find in His arms that matters more than what anyone else thinks.

*I also really loved from this week's mention of Narnia in the reading. (I know, I'm getting ahead of myself but..) these books have always drawn me into the adventure of God's Kingdom like no other. As Jennie acknowledges, Lucy is largely the heroine in these stories. Why? The only thing spectacular about her is spectacular trust, hope, and belief.

*I am learning that He really is big enough for our questions! I've been asking some hard ones this week. I know this was really on Lauren's heart too-- what you shared made me cry because it was very familiar to me. But I think the whole reason I am a Christian today is because I asked God some very bold questions a few years back- like "Just show me you exist!" At that time in my life he brought me some amazing signs and books like The Case for Christ. (The Kindle Edition is 2.99 right now for anyone who wants to be faced with the amazing evidence for how very real our God is. A book written by a skeptic who set out to disprove the Bible-- and found he could not. It was powerful in leading some kids at my school to salvation.)

*Last week's challenge also taught me some pretty amazing things. Every time I was tempted to worry I prayed that God would saturate every area of my life instead. He made some amazing things happen-- like providing money out of nowhere. And I was reminded that in the middle of all my Martha-like worry, only one things matters.

Then, I thought I'd leave you with this slightly off topic short story I found in my inbox today. Maybe what we're grasping so desperately for is so much closer than we ever would have believed... 

Love and blessings abound!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bible Study Week One

It's only been a week, but it's been one beautiful study. 

There are a few things I would love to share about what God's been doing this week-- and I hope you'll share in the comment box below if you'd like to join us for this study!(So far it's myself and Lauren from the beautiful Beautiful Hope). If you can't join in-- don't worry. I hope you'll be encouraged along the way in any case! 

So here's some prompts for you and for me...

1. Your thoughts after digging into the word. 
2. Your thoughts on the reading of Anything and the Good Morning Girls discussions/videos. 
3. The practical. How did the challenge go? The memorization of the verse? How has your studying impacted your life in a practical way? 

1. The SOAPS were almost... difficult for me this week. This week we really dug into the depths of how hopeless we are without Jesus. 
But I realized that the women who have impacted me most in this life, women like Katie Davis, and Ann Voskamp-- these women are those willing to wear the words messed up on their sleeve. And it's through their difficulties and weaknesses that I learn the extraordinary strength of my King! 

The Word really struck me afresh with the fact that I bring nothing. I know it, but sometimes? You need to wallow in it for a bit. All there is now is what HE has done. I don't bring anything to the table. I don't do anything for Him. I walk with him because He saved and loves me-- wouldn't you want to live your life by the man who was the first to love you, who saved your life? Who paid the ultimate price to call you friend?  

2. I knew that feeling of shame Jennie talked about, getting into trouble in the second grade. It's haunted me most of my life, that hot "feeling of being in trouble with the teacher". I realized that while we need to come face to face with how worthless we are-- wallowing in our shame and misery for too long disregards the work Christ has done. Repent doesn't only mean to be stricken with our nakedness, it means to turn around and keep walking. 

3. Two things I had to let go of in the challenge to discover what was keeping me back, were two extreme opposites. I realized there was a desperate war in me. Secretly, I want to be loved by a man, desperately. It's been on my head and heart a lot these days, as I have had helpless and nightly dreams of being loved and being held. But then... there was also my extreme bitterness towards them. 

I've been disrespected by a great deal of the men in my life-- the majority of them. I've never been enough for them. To the man that meant most in my life, I was not skinny enough, he told me this straight out and embarrassed me greatly over it in the name of wanting me to have a good life. To a guy who was like an older brother to me, I was not smart enough. Nothing I said could be met with acceptance-- only haughty scorning. To a guy that was my first and deepest affection, I was not cool enough, and he excluded me often in certain company. And those are only the three foremost examples in a lifetime of scorning. 

It was one of those complex conflicts in the heart that you hardly understand, the sort that makes us the fearsome and intricate creatures called women. 

I had both forgiving to do, and surrendering to do. God can handle how we think and feel, like Jennie said in her book. Like the Psalms are books of stark soul-bearing. He can lift the burden of loathing and loneliness, and turn this poison of both obsessive hatred and wanting, into a passion for living for Him-- trusting He'll do whatever brings the most love, joy, and peace out of my life. With a man's love or without. And today, that's without. And today, He is more than enough. 

Also-- and this was big-- as I was listening to the video from Jennie, I realized that I too was holding back with my writing not necessarily because I was waiting on God anymore, but because I was terrified of criticism. Terrified. But if God wants to use my writing to encourage... shouldn't I trust that He can deal with the criticism? 

I know this study is just starting out-- but whether you're taking part or not, what has got deepened or done in your life this week? 

His Love is amazing! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Some Free Books I Stumbled Upon!

So I recently got an abundance of marvelous books-- namely that of R.C. Sproul's Crucial Questions series. They are perfectly and blissfully free for kindle now! I was so glad.

This series deals with those deepest questions burning on many souls about big gospel questions-- can I be sure I'm saved? Why pray if God is already gonna do what He's gonna do- does prayer change anything? Does God control everything? Can I have joy in my life?

All Bible-immersed and worth reading either to answer your burning questions or to have a concise answer for others.

So just a free gift for the day. Me personally? I've started writing a new book that for the first time in ages is not fantasy! ('Tis quite an awe). I'm immersed in school again. I've just started this amazing Bible study (hey, if anyone wants to join me, go ahead! Start the Bible reading while waiting to get ahold of the book-- we could even form an online group of some sort since I'm currently studying alone!) I'm hoping to reach 300 gifts this week in my happiness adventure- which has been going marvelous (Truly. I have felt leagues lighter!). And I'm also praying for you, readers, and friends.

Adventure ever on!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Today in Pins. A Rest Day.

My dear, dear friend and reader Tracy sent me a bundle of beautiful gifts! I couldn't find all of the original photos in order to pin them, but I found most, and they have a happy home on my gratitude list. 

What gratitude list? Well, these days I have been finding happiness with Pinterest for my magic tool. 

If you need some rest tonight, maybe peruse through and be reminded. There is Love in every fold and pocket of our world. 

What set your soul at rest today? 

(And I must add- I was so happy reaching my goal of 100 gifts in the first week! The plan is to reach 200 next). 

Gift 103. Surprise in my e-mail box. A message from Tracy-- more stunning gifts of Grace.

109. Just... photos of baby penguins arms outstretched in happiness. :)

83. This marvelous, marvelous author! All is Grace.

82. Reading in the fading light.

88. My dear friend's song, summing up today's sermon and today's plea. "Spirit of consuming fire/ burn intense inside of me!"

98. Artistic journaling, particularly in my scraps book. It's been therapeutic lately. 

111. The happy land of Beatrix Potter! What sweetness to grow up with. :) I love reading these to the children at my Church.

112. Appley Dapplys Nursery Rhymes - 1917 - Guinea Pig in Top Hat and Coat!

114. "I'm much better at sacrificing than surrendering." God calls us to come closer. And He gives us our heart cries and gifts for a reason. He only wants us to give them to Him that He may mold them to fullness! To live open handed is to truly live.

85. Redheaded munchkins holding the song book upside down in Church.
92. An abundance of blue eyed babies. 

106. Beauty out of common things. Like button trees.

86. Leaves beyond our chapel window, making soft hymns in the morning light.

89. Flowers scattered among steps.

108. Gorgeous gates. Reminding that it's more than all right to be "A Garden Enclosed."

95. Currently obsessed with Greenroom notebooks. (I get mine at Target). Inexpensive, beautiful, and recycled!

91. "A Mighty Fortress is our God!/ a Bulwark never failing/ our helper He amid the flood/ of mortal ills prevailing!" 
93. "The Spirit and the gifts are ours."

97. My orange dress (such as I normally hate) paired with a denim jacket. And suddenly I love it. :)

94. And I'm not Roman Catholic but this Catholic quote sums up everything. "The Church has outlived every major Empire. Think Twice." As a pastor said well several weeks ago, "Folks don't sacrifice to Zeus and Apollo anymore. But they do sing praises to Jesus."

87. The sharp, sharp, green and blue contrast beyond my window today.

102. Train tracks of a stunning nature.

110. Turtles and frogs and nature-turned fantasy. :)

107. Quaint typewriters.

105. "You're braver than you believe stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." So serendipitous that Tracy sent me this because I have been rereading my childhood favorites lately-- Winnie the Pooh among them!

104. Unfathomably beautiful Wisteria tunnels.

100. Quiet time and yoga to start the morning right.

101. And that happy glow that yoga leaves you with.

And just randomly. I had an Angry Cat moment today: 

And this hilariously summed the conclusion of the Spring semester: 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today in Pins. A Serendipitous Day.

Counting gifts with Pinterest and finding happiness. Peruse through for a breath of fresh air! 

What were some of your glad surprises today? 

73. Watching the Preakness with my hilarious mother.

65. Driving by a beautiful blur of buds, leaves, and dandelions.

76. Gorgeous, rustic notebooks.

63. Realizing that 100 years from now, no one will remember those little idiotic-sounding slips of the tongue. So... they don't matter! Learn as you go.

67. Nests amassed in the trees.
79. You don't need to be perfect to be loved by a Perfect God.

72. Delicious talk on the phone with a dear friend.

74. A day full of serendipity. Running into multiple friends at the store and randomly telling my mom I want to visit a certain university. Getting on the phone with my friend the minute I get home-- and she asks me to come with her and visit that university. I even just found the word "serendipity" on a random pin. But it's an eternity greater than a happy surprise. All is GRACE.

69. Just... Spring!

78. Stacks of blissful perfection.

71. That colorful myriad of late afternoon light. Our Lord makes beautiful things.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Today's Gifts

Battling some depression recently, I started keeping a grace board on Pinterest. I won't be too hard on myself, but I think it might be a fun challenge to count 1,000 gifts I already have by my September birthday (so 1,000 Summer gifts?). 

Most of us use pages like Pinterest to capture fragments of the beauty we long to have in our lives. Not too many of us use it to cherish what is already there. So why not join me in being among the first?

Today I'm sharing some of my gifts with you! (Maybe some look familiar? Maybe you have more treasures than you knew?) Take a moment in your day for a joy holiday. What are the gifts littering your life's pathway? 

If you start a gratitude board, please let me know! I'd love to link up and spread the joy.

Gift 46. Blossoms.

49. Perfect clusters of blossom.

45. Dandelions, particularly when they glow with dusky light.
34. Just... grace. This failing math class situation working out blissfully better, way less world-shattering and mortifying than I made it in my mind. Because when you ask for bread, you don't receive stones. Now I have a chance to go back and get a good grade!

50. Grassy hillsides with purple flowers, like the ones on the way to our local lake.

31. Delectably, creamy ice coffee in summery morning air.

33. An interview. Lucky to be called back the day after I applied!

23. My enchanted-book-of-a Kindle, and the beautiful things it holds. 

43. Quaint lanterns in our local shopping centers.

24. A confusing final causing me to fail an entire math class. My GPA plummeting. Depression sinking in. Only for me to learn... that the world does not spin upon my grades and accomplishments. Only grace.

28. smell of fresh mown grass!

52. Mythic pathways.

37. Finally got to grab this beautiful book today that my friends told me was delicious as its adorable cover-- it was only 1.99 for kindle on Amazon! (So go grab it!)

25. My scraps book full of scriptures and memories and encouragement. 
36. A friend in Literature class to tell me I sparkle. Another day to keep sparkling. A reflection of the light of lights!

51. Pink tulips.

44. Time to write outside, in the grassy breezes.

42. Tender young leaves.

Click here to see/follow the Grace List. Maybe share your gifts today in the comments below? Or hop over to the gratitude community of Ann Voskamp and take the challenge to search for and record three gifts each day. Just three gifts, to quadruple your peace and happiness.