12.28.2008

i am glad


that God gives us little gifts. (ice, chocolate, words)
practical gifts. (jobs, food, cars)
amazing gifts. (relationships, local churches, His word)
I am grateful for many, many other gifts that could fit on this list as well. Sometimes I don't catch God's goodnesss in these things right away. It's easy to forget how wealthy He has made me.
But there is one gift that makes all others seem small. It is the only one that ALWAYS displays God's goodness, always inspires awe and gratitude. It is the one that offers eternal hope no matter how dark the sky appears.
The most wondersome gift of all,
the Gospel.
that is what the sermon inspired me to think about all day. i wish this was my thought process all the time...it's a work in progress.

12.18.2008

Minuit, chretiens

Breaking tradition...I'm not posting O Come O Come Emmanuel this year. It's still one of my favorites. But there are other Christmas hymns that also resound with gospel truth and hope. This year I discovered the original translation to "Minuit chretiens" the poem from which our "O Holy Night" came from. It began as a French poem written in 1847 by Placide Cappeau. The English carol as we know it came from John Sullivan Dwight in 1855. It is a very loose translation. It's good, but I love the orginial French poem. (that is, i love the original french poem translated directly into english. as i cannot read french well.)

Midnight, Christians is the solemn hour
When God as Man descended unto us
To erase the original stain (sin)
And end the wrath of his Father.
The entire world trembles with expectation
In this night that gives to us a Savior.

Fall on your knees, await your deliverance.
Noel, Noel, here is the Redeemer,
Noel, Noel, here is the Redeemer!

The ardent light of our Faith,
Guides us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Conducted the Magi there from the orient.
The King of kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your grandeur,

It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The redeemer has broken every shackle
The earth is free, and heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was once only a slave
Those who had been chained together by iron, love now unites.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude
It is for every one of us that he was born, suffered and died.

Stand on your feet, sing of your deliverance.
Noel, Noel, sing of the Redeemer,
Noel, Noel, sing of the Redeemer!

12.13.2008

waiting. sometimes, it is very hard to do.


I've posted this scripture before, but God's words are far better than anything I could say.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40.28-31

12.02.2008

johnny p and romans

Life has been very full the past few weeks. Our grandparents came down from Montana, I photographed the engagement of my friend Bonni, thanksgiving with grandparents, work, etc. I'll try to revive this place.

Lately I've been fighting temptation to weariness, specifically in the neverending battle against my sinful heart. These excellent words encouraged me:
"In Romans 8:13 Paul says, "If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." But the problem is, we all know that in our war with sin we do not win often enough to have peace in our consciences. So if our life hangs on perfect winning in the war with sin, we are going to despair and not persevere to the end. We will simply give up, because there is no use trying.
What then will keep us going and fighting so that we will live? Romans 1:16,17 answers: the gospel is the power of God to save believers because in the gospel we can see revealed every day that our standing with God is not based on our own righteousness but on God's, freely given to us by faith. And when we see that over and over in the gospel, day after day, as long as we live, our faith is renewed and sustained, we press on in the fight. Our confidence that God will help us in life and save us from the wrath to come is based on our ever-renewed assurance that our acceptance with him is based on the gift of his own righteousness, not ours.
So every time the Bible demands you to do something do not think, "I must do this to take away my guilt or to get forgiveness or to get a right standing with God." Rather think, "I will do this because my guilt is already removed, I am already forgiven, I already have the gift of God's righteousness, and so I know that God is for me and will help me. So I will trust him and obey him and display by my radical, risk-taking obedience the glory of God's grace. And I will draw nearer and nearer to him in the fellowship of his sufferings and the joy of his companionship."

{quoted from a '90's John Piper sermon, the title of which i have no clue}

11.20.2008

He has made me glad

I discovered our long-lost old hymnal last weekend while I was changing our closet light bulb. (hhmm reminds me of a good rk song.) Some of the them have a depth and richness not easy to find in contemporary "pop-praise". The first stanza of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say" particularly stood out this morning. In fact, one of my friends wrote a melody for it so I hear it sometimes on my ipod. I am super-grateful for God giving folks in every generation the gift of God-directed expression in writing and music.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
'Come unto me and rest;
Lay down thy weary one, lay down
They head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was

Weary, and worn, and sad
I found in Him a resting place
And He has made me glad

I heard the voice of Jesus say
"Behold, I freely give
The living water thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him

I heard the voice of Jesus say
"I am this dark world's light;
Look unto me thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my star, my sun;
And in the light of life I'll walk
'Til traveling days are done.

by.Horatius Bonar.

11.16.2008

we're not done yet


The Packers absolutely destroyed the Chicago Bears today. We let them get a field goal in the fourth quarter so they could have a little something on the score board.
Green Bay winning 37-3. That, my friends, is a big deal.
(Big" when it comes to useless and trivial things, that is. ;)

11.14.2008

from strength to strength

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at your altars,
O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere..
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
~psalm 84~

11.12.2008

november 11.

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive made of stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Concord Hymn"

I'm not a huge poetry fan and even less an Emerson fan. But Veteran's Day was a good time to share one of the few that I do like. Even if it's technically honoring veterans from the Revolution. (i guess sometimes i do cave into the "obligatory holiday posts"...)

11.07.2008

more about goodness

Wednesday night in my caregroup, we sang two songs centered on the goodness of God. I'm thinking this is something God wants me to focus on... I was especially encouraged by a few lines in the chorus of the one of the old Sovereign Grace songs "You're So Good to Me":

"For you have crowned my days
With overwhelming grace
Lord, You're so good to me
Though troubles fall like rain
This precious truth remains
Lord, You're so good to me
Yes You're so good to me
..."

Those 3 lines sparked such joy in my heart. Truth is not changed by circumstances. This is truth: God is good to all those whom He has chosen. (indeed, His goodness is shown even to those who rebel against Him in the form of common grace. "Did the sun come up this morning?" as John Piper would say--but that's for another post.) The truth of God's goodness has a solid foundation in the gospel. No other appearance of goodness is needed to prove that God is who He says He is, than the death of His Son in the place of wicked sinners. Indeed, what evidence could be greater? "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15.13)

As I have sought passages that reference God's goodness, there is a theme I want to apply to my life. Scripture speaks of God's people as being satisfied in God's abundant goodness.
"Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!" Psalm 65.4

This is what I want. I want to be satisfied in His goodness. Not just read about it or believe it, but dwell* in it. No matter how many torrential downpours may fall upon those I love or myself in the future, may I never doubt His goodness.
"Oh, how abudnant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!" (ps. 31)


*dwell, verb
1.to live or stay as a permanent resident; reside.
2.to live or continue in a given condition or state: "to dwell in happiness".
3.to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing (often fol. by on or upon): "to dwell on a particular point in an argument".

11.04.2008

______

Sunday was interesting. There is much I could say but I'd rather express appreciation for the love of God shown to my family by His people. To update the situation:
Late saturday night, Grandpa had sudden health problems. His symptoms were such that he was in a coma-like state for awhile. He's been recovering from his second leg amputation. He appears to be slowly on the mend but still confused and lethargic. The amputation site is fine, but there are other things going on. Nobody is sure yet what is causing the confusion. In a way, it's not that important. What is of most importance is that he knows the gospel. God is sustaining. He doesn't belong to us, he doesn't belong to earth. He belongs to God.

On to the thankfulness. How kind of God to give us dear friends! My fam has been very blessed by folks wanting to care for us. (I mentioned the situation to one person in explanation of my absence from children's ministry and it seems half the church knew. Which is good because I wouldn't have thought to tell anybody else, and then we wouldn't have been blessed.) Mum Schwab, Felicity and Cherie spent their entire sunday afternoon in the ICU lobby with us. We were cheered by the company, conversation and card games. The Swansons wanted to bring us dinner. The Cook girls preached truth. Heather and Kayla made us treats and brought scripture (and goofiness) into our house. Beks uplifted me despite being sick herself. Many other folks are praying for Grandpa

During a conversation with Mrs Schwab I realized my family might come across as if we don't taking the situation seriously. We might seem glib or matter of fact to outsiders. It's not because we don't care or we're ungrateful! Honestly, we're used to serious. This type of thing has happened so much the past few years that it's normal. It feels more like normal life than like an interruption to life. And really, we are not suffering. Grandpa is suffering, Grandpa is enduring a trial. We are only trying to bear his burdens as best we can. And wishing we could take it all for him.

.:stability:.

Lana posted this on her blog today. I found it applied so well to my family that I'm stealing it. This, my friends, is the reason why we can be okay with not knowing what is wrong with Grandpa, how long it could take him to recover, how fully he will recover, or a million other questions that tempt us.

“It is just as well for us that in all the variableness of life there is One whom change cannot affect, One whose heart can never alter, and on whose brow inconsistency can make no furrows…The delight that the sailor feels when, having been tossed about on the waves, he steps again upon the solid shore is the satisfaction of a Christian when, in all the changes of this distressing life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth —‘I THE LORD DO NOT CHANGE.’”
The stability that the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a solid hold is like that which the Christian’s hope provides him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth.With God ‘there is no variation or shadow due to change.’Whatever his attributes were in the past, they are now;His power, His wisdom, His justice, His truth are unchanged.He has forever been the refuge of His people,their stronghold in the day of trouble,and He is still their sure Helper.He is unchanged in His love.”
Charles Spurgeon

10.28.2008

(encircled)

i need to hear this:

you came down
a light into the darkness
to souls that once were hopeless you gave joy
at calvary, you gave your life to save us
the righteous for unrighteous
so we could know your grace

you are good
and your mercy lasts forever
you are good to me
you are good
and your grace could not be measured

i am yours
forever you are with me
encircling, defending my soul
and when i fall
you draw me through your mercy
you faithfully forgive me
you lift me up again

When I think of my grandfather, it's tempting to ask "where's goodness?" Even as I pray for God to act, I wonder will He choose too. As if that is my business. It looks like Grandpa Benjamin is forgotten. But NO. He is encircled. Surrounded by God's constant care. Nothing can touch him apart from God's will. He is secure.
I need to remember. I need to believe. My heart is deceitful. I fool myself into thinking I am trusting God when in reality I'm working on "dams practical plans A, B and C for saving her family, friends and the world in general." What arrogance! I can't even save me from myself, but hey, I am going to save you. Job 38-42 is incredibly helpful. To paraphrase God's words to my own soul: Did I create the heavens? Do I know what lies in the depths of the oceans? Am I good [on my own]? Am I infinite?
No, no, no, no.
Therefore, how can I expect to understand the plans of God? He IS infinite and good. He created the heavens, earth, humans, life itself. I cannot expect to grasp the will of One whom I cannot even understand fully. That is how Job helps. It humbles me. It shows my pride and sinful motives. It reminds me I'm growing in trust. Still learning how to fully surrender every day. But it also gives hope as it displays God's greatness, majesty, brilliancy, glory.
What do I do with changed perspectives? Rest. In the fact that I, and all those who trust in Him, are always encircled by goodness. Practically applying it all...still figuring that out.

10.14.2008

i miss writing. {or} some things i will regret if i read them next week

life is busy. it is good. lots of thoughts. about everything. are swirling around madly in my head not making sense due to my bad habit of losing notebooks. sometimes threads of thought get untangled when you write them. sometimes writing helps me "get it". even if it makes others more confused. i'm not a real writer. i'd never write a book. but i write to preach truth to myself, to figure out exactly what i believe/think and where it is in error, to see sin that was masked in my heart, and sometimes to encourage others. And sometimes just 'cause i can.

that's why i never delete this blog. no matter how neglected it gets. somehow i always come back to throwing a few of my thoughts into words. here. when i'm working online it's easy to pop over and scribble. (okay, type. "scribble" is better though. because if it was written, it would be in hurried scrawl). it's harder to sit down at a blank page and write. when i try this usually goes through my head: "once i begin i will never stop and _________ has to get done so forget it."

i say all this to justify why i have a blog and never update. because it's not really about getting readers. {but if you enjoy something you read here, if it makes you laugh, or gives you good mockery material, that is all great.} i do want to encourage. i hope my words are God-honoring. but don't be surprised if sometimes i just ramble. if and when my ramblishness becomes self-centered; throw tomatoes at me until i get the picture.

hopefully i'll return from celebration more like a sane 20 year old and not a crazed one.

10.01.2008

*stars)

the stars are an awesome manifestation of God's glory. sometimes i think that He took tiny pieces of His glory and flung them into the sea of night sky as a visual reminder that we don't belong to earth. it's so easy to forget...
last night they reminded me that life is not about me. (you'd think i know that by now) nothing is about me. everything is about God. about bringing Him glory, reflecting His image, loving, worshipping, trusting Him. laying on our deck railing suspended between earth and sky, God adjusted my heart. life fell into perspective. struggles were minimized. the grace, love, mightiness of God was magnatized.

i have looked at the stars thousands of times, but every time is a little different. i often return to the house stilled, hushed, at peace. sometimes God speaks. sometimes He feels distant. even then, just being under His stars helps me believe the truth that He is near.
i guess i can't really explain it with words. words are pretty limited.
just look up at the stars tonight.

9.22.2008

september

I am ready for cooler weather. wind. changing leaves, falling leaves. open windows. sweaters. brighter stars. baking. Fall is my favorite season. Living in non-season florida, I'm tempted to whine and wish I could go to Virginia every september/october. This year, I'm trying to practice gratefulness. So I'm finding subtle signs that summer is breaking: the sky is a deeper blue, the air is nearly crisp, it smells like fall...
The past two days, I've driven home with my windows down and the wind wasn't hot or sticky. It is glorious. (( why is it that fall + older coldplay is swell? coldplay goes well with lots of things. but when i am driving around in the fall i find myself listening to thier old stuff. it just fits perfect.))
I am grateful that God created seasons.

9.19.2008

good morning starshine

I've been re-reading random sections of Trusting God {by Jerry Bridges} lately. A paragraph from the section on physical affliction greatly affected me:
"Trusting God in the midst of our pain and heartache means that we accept it from Him. There is a vast difference between acceptance and either resignation or submission. We can resign ourselves to a difficult situation, simply because we see no other alternative. Many people do that all the time. Or we can submit to the sovereignty of God in our circumstances with a certain amount of reluctance. But to truly accept our pain and heartache has the connotation of willingness. An attitude of acceptance says that we trust God, that He loves us, and knows what is best for us..."

While I wouldn't consider myself to be dealing with intense physical trial or heartache, I was still provoked by this passage. I was convicted to apply it to my everyday situations. What is my response when I dislike my circumstance? Is it humble or proud? How often do I deceive myself into thinking my "submission" is "acceptance"? How does this effect my ability to receive from Him? If my heart is not open to the situation/God's will; how can I expect to learn from it? So I think I need to cultivate accaptance. I'm sure God will provide ways to apply this...fun times. :)

9.12.2008

more than watchmen for the morning {for grandpa}

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
psalm 130
this psalm has been on my heart often recently. it is so good for addressing my current season of life. {that oxymoron called "actively waiting"}. whether I find myself in a time of joy or a time of fighting to choose joy; there is one thing I ought to be ALWAYS grateful for: my iniquity is not counted against me. all other gifts from God pale in comparison. no storm can destroy the power of this truth. my hope rests not on what i see, but on the foundation that my soul is eternally secure. it's a promise.
God's promises never fail.

8.30.2008

quieted by HiS love

"Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
"Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and
I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth."
Zephaniah 3.14-19

Ouch. My heart is challenged. Feeling that sword...how can I not believe all His promises? Am I so wise that my finite mind can grasp the plans of the infinite? Has He not said "so far as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above yours..."? Yesterday I was doubting. My heart was entrenched in the sin of unbelief. I was looking at circumstances I didn't like and trying to see how they could possibly be God's best for the people involved. That's not my job. My job is to only believe what He has said--and usually I find that after the choice to believe, little evidences of His grace present themselves. Even if they do not, I can rejoice. He has taken away the judgments I deserved--there is enough cause for rejoicing in that one phrase to carry me through the rest of my life. It doesn't mean life will always be fun. It doesn't mean I won't face sorrow. But it does mean I will always have cause to praise Him.

8.23.2008

i miss this kid

i miss the whole awesome crazy family. and the mountains. and accents, holly, rasberry milkshakes, cooler weather, random music...
but mostly. i miss als. cause she's my favorite.

8.21.2008

home again

Sorry about the deadness around here.
Fey is giving me quite a welcome. The last I saw of the sun was in Canada. I'm loving the 9 inches of cold rain. Except when the rain ends and the dense cloud cover acts as a sticky heat-intensifier. My sympathies to everybody powerless and flooded.

Homeness. Good but crazy. I jumped right back into the pace of life. It never seemed so fast before. I feel like I'm merging onto the fl turnpike as everybody flies by doing 80mph in a car that won't get over 40. Glad God's grace isn't limited to major crises. I need it to survive normal life! Hooray for dependance. (coffee would def qualify as a means of common grace, btw)

It's pleasant to be home with my fam. I feel slightly disconnected. Something to do with housesitting for three weeks then going far away to the north. They're pretty much the craziest, funniest, lovingest and sanctifyingest folks I know. I'm blessed. And they're a big part of why.

7.28.2008

2 weeks + 1 day


...until i see my dear Aly. August 12, 6:30 am I'll depart Jacksonville bound for Surrey, BC. Oh happy day!

{you'll just have to pretend that's a photo of als. i dont' have any recent ones}

7.17.2008

strength in rest

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
' In returning and rest you shall be saved,
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength...' "
{is. 30.15}
In June a friend emailed this verse to me. It is so helpful! When I'm tempted to worry about upcoming job changes--"in TRUST shall be your strength." When I'm tempted to demand an answer or direction from God in my timing--"QUIETNESS {humility}" And when I sinfully take matters into my own hands and start trying to "do" something; I'm convicted by "REST". How patient He is! He is faithful to bring back my constantly wandering heart. Back to resting in His sovereignty. What a good place to be. There truly is strength and joy there. I know no matter what comes to me, it is from my Father's hand.
"...for you have been my help, and
in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy."
(ps. 63.7)

7.09.2008

encouraged>

Mum read this to me Monday morning. I'm often tempted to doubt God... Will I will ever grow in one area without losing more ground in another? But no, God is faithful. The same God who made Saul the persecutor into Paul the church-planter is forming Christ in me. Mind blowing.

"And the parched ground shall become a pool..." Is. 35.7
"We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realise that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.
'Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And batter'd by the shocks of doom
To shape and use.'
God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from his hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape. The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don't lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you." -Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest

7.05.2008

i like being an american

The obligatory 4th of July post: I love Independance Day. When I was a kid, we hung out with mum's fam for our cousin's birthday. It meant watermelon-seed-spitting contests, swimming, water gun fights, lots of food, and fireworks on Indian River. Now every July 4 is different. But I still love it. I like an exscuse to be "cheesily patriotic" and remember how flippin' sweet our history is. Despite my current frustration with politics...we began well in 1776. Our country really was founded on Judeo-Christian values. {like it or not. if i were my brother, i'd say "if you don't like it, leave already" but i don't have his guts...}Here's an excerpt from our Declaration of Independance. {i left out the "facts" because it was so long but you can find them here.)
"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.[..many facts..]
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.[...]
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
"

7.03.2008

horray

{photocreditbeks}

"Whoa! I'm going to be an aunt?!" Yep, our dear Jane Bingley is pregnant!
Alright, technically I won't really be an aunt as she isn't really my sister. But Stephanie's the closest to an older sister I've ever had. She and Mike are thrilled. I'm calling it "the bingley baby". because if there ever were a couple to embody jane austen's Mr and Mrs Bingley, it'd be them.

6.28.2008

sing truth

"As Christians, we know that our greatest problem--separation from God--has been solved. Jesus Christ, the only Savior, has taken our sin upon himself, enduring God's wrath in our place and rising from the dead to assure us of our forgiveness.
But all our problems don't end when we turn to Christ. We still get sick. Marriages end. Children die. Our plans, great or small, are disrupted. We grow weary in the battle.
Scripture assures us that God is sovereignly using our difficulties as tools to make us more like his Son. "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love as been into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:3-5). While we know these things are true, in the midst of our hardships we can lose perspective. Problems can loom large, and our hopes can grow dim.
Come Weary Saints is an invitation to redirect your focus to the God whose love has been forever demonstrated at the cross of Calvary. As you listen to these songs, may your faith and joy in the Savior be strengthened for the challenges you face, now or in the future. "
{stolen from the liner notes of SGMmusic's "Come Weary Saints"}.

This is among my favorite weapons right now in the battle for joy and trust. So I'm doing a little advertising...Buy this cd. It doesn't matter what season you're in. If life is rough {read: if your circumstances ever feel parallel to 'rounding the Cape of Good Hope during one of it's infamous storms, in a dinghy, without oars.} buy it. If life is smooth {read: circumstances feel parallel to cruising the Mediterranean in a yacht.} still buy it. It will lay a foundation of truth. God is good. Sing about it.
That's all. Commercial over.

6.23.2008

ephesians 1

"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."
ephesians 1.11-14

6.11.2008

promises.


“God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper. He intended that they should be used. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see His promises put in circulation. He loves to see His children bring them up to Him, and say, ‘Lord, do as you promised.’ We glorify God when we please His promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for giving you the riches He has promised? Do you dream that He will be any less holy for giving holiness to you? Do you imagine He will be any less pure for washing you from your sins? He has said, ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are red as crimson they shall be like wool.’ Faith embraces the promise of pardon. It doesn’t delay, saying, ‘This is a precious promise, I wonder if it is true?’ but goes straight to the throne with it, and pleads, ‘Lord, here is the promise. Do as you promised.’ Our Lord replies, ‘Be it to you even as you will.’ When a Christian grasps a promise but doesn’t take it to God, then God is dishonored; but when one hastens to the throne of grace, and cries, ‘Lord, I have nothing to recommend me but this, You have said it;’ then the desire shall be granted. Our heavenly banker delights to cash His own notes. Never let the promise rust. Draw the word of promise out of its scabbard, and use it with holy violence. Don’t think that God will be troubled by your importunately reminding Him of His promises. He loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls. It is His delight to give favors. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. It is God’s nature to keep His promises. Therefore, go at once to the throne with, ‘Do as You promised..’” {Charles Spurgeon}

This quote is from CJ Mahaney's NA message "The Troubled Soul" from Psalm 42. The entire message greatly encouraged my soul. Specifically, God keeps bringing me back to this quote. Wielding promises of God like a sword is not my strength. I believe them in a sense of "this is God's word; God speaks truth; therefore this is true and will happen someday." But I'm hesitant to take them to God and apply them to myself. It feels proud and presumptuous. The sinful human going to the Holy God of the Universe and repeating His words? It almost seems like I'm accusing God of being forgetful! {i'm sure, with the sin that resides in my heart, these attitudes are there often} But as Spurgeon shows, there is a way to claim God's promises in humility. Hebrews 4.14-16--we can approach the throne covered in the righteousness of Christ and in faith plead "do as You promised."
I'm using the promise of Philippians 1.6 with holy violence to believe He will give grace.

6.09.2008

i heard you sing that you'd come back here...

welcome home little sister. can't wait to hear about your crazy adventures with mira in the mountians of NC. I'm sure grassy lane will never be the same again...

5.31.2008

when sleep isn't practical, coffee will suffice

here it is, the obligatory post-NA recap. It's always difficult to write these things. Partly because I'm still processing everything. Partially-processed thoughts don't translate well to words. But I'll try.

One word description of New Attitude '08: refreshing.

Longer version: Fellowship, worship, messages, small groups...they all combined to make one huge downpour of grace for my thirsty soul. I couldn't soak it up fast enough.
One night, Josh Harris read Isaiah 53 to a 17-member string section. It was breathtaking.
Worship was led by the NA band-led itself by Devon and Bob Kauflin. We learned "Nail My Glory", "All I Have is Christ" and a few other newish songs from the Looked Upon (Lu) album.

The theme this year was "The Word of God." "If the Bible really is God's word, Then we're called to delight in it and obey it." Good stuff, eh? Everything we heard was on this topic. I can't give you a rundown of every message. They all impacted me differently. Some encouraging, some convicting, some bringing truth to bear on my immediate circumstances. (immediate back home i mean) All had points I need to apply which is where the NA slogans come in handy. "Trying to drink from a fire hose" is how they describe trying to absorb and apply it all at once. Instead we should take "one bit of truth" and apply it to "one bit of life" to start with. If you want to know what we heard, visit the NA website. You can put CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, John Piper, Eric Simmons and Josh Harris on your ipod here. You can read Justin Buzzard's live blogging of the messages as well. Eventually they'll have some manuscripts up.

Of course we made some crazy memories too. There was never a lack of laughter in our room! {Or suburban} Bacon, egg and pancake breakfasts in our hotel room, late night CVS runs in the rain, giant twizzlers, the "penguin roof" restaurant in downtown Louisville, mini baseball bats... I'm blessed with good friends. Maybe I'll do a top ten highlight post. Probably not.
.end of scattered recap.

5.22.2008

(photocredit: joshscezebel)
Tommorrow I leave for New Attitude . I can't wait for biblical fellowship, crazy fellowship, little food, less sleep, amazing worship and incredible teaching...Pray for things like traveling mercies, conviction of sin, encouragement for the weary, etc. Thanks ya'll and have a good week.
enjoy the run-on sentances. ;)

5.12.2008

mum

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
romans 5.1-5

Mum, thank you for living out this verse. Thank for for living the gospel, loving the gospel, and teaching your kids the gospel. Thank you for being a living example of a Proverbs 31 woman.
I love you.

{{ps. this is not an obligatory holiday post. i wanted to do this one.}}

5.04.2008

psalm 33

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him...
For the word of the Lord is upright, and
all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm...
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations...
The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength...
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
~psalm 33~
I love the psalms. They comfort, convict, strengthen, refresh, and refocus my soul. No matter how dark the circumstances the authors faced, they never fail to proclaim truth. Truth of God's goodness, faithfulness, steadfastness, wisdom, grace, power...

4.27.2008

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. " 1 Corinthians 13.12 (kjv)

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." 1 Cor 13.12 (esv)

"βλεπομεν γαρ αρτι δι εσοπτρου εν αινιγματι τοτε δε προσωπον προς προσωπον αρτι γινωσκω εκ μερους τοτε δε επιγνωσομαι καθως και επεγνωσθην" 1 Cor 13.12 (greek stephanus nt)

4.13.2008

epcot

...amber and dams traversed the world in one saturday armed with vitamin waters, granola bars and chocolate. technically this is called "friends-with-employee-passes-got-them-into-epcot-for-free. but until they make billions of money with their rockstar impressions, it's as close to the world as they'll get. not like they have mild wanderlust* or anything.
considering all the mockery we americans endure for our cheesy patriotism, i think few canadians have seen this show.
it was a little weird eating lunch in a "british" pub in america. having once eaten in a "real" pub in wales. but the food was good and our waitress had an accent that set us reminiscing.

{photocredit: amber)
{germany}
flowers on the roof. (norway) {mexico}
exhausted. (waiting in line for mission:space).
epcot will probably never be the same again. but we didn't get lost, or break anything, or cause general mayhem/concern. at least not that we're aware of.
thank God for ac, good friends that make you wish you were as humble as they were (amber is the humble one, in case you don't know me), petrol, snacks, accents, laughter, funny tram narrators, etc. His blessings are shown even in little things like iced coffee in theme parks. (and yes red lights. but we don't appreciate those blessings so much).
*see dictionary.com for definition

4.07.2008

robin hood



happy birthday robin hood.
a few days late.
love,
your fellow "bookend"

4.01.2008

chapter eleven

Recently I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my fam the evenings I'm home. We finished "The Horse and His Boy" {one of the best ;)} last night. In this passage, Lewis paints such a picture of God's loving kindness in the seemingly "bad" or discomforting things in life.

Shasta is wandering alone at night in a strange country. He can't see where he's going in the mist and has no idea where he is. A stranger falls into step beside him and they have a conversation:

" [Shasta] told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all the dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at thier goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had anything to eat.

'I do not call you unfortunate.' said the Voice.

'Don't you think it was very bad luck to meet so many lions?' asked Shasta.

'There was only one lion.' said the Voice...

...'How do you know?'

'I was the lion.' And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. 'I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead, I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.' "

3.13.2008

psalm 16


Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight...
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
.psalm 16.
I love this psalm. I've read it often. This week, I found a new treasure. Verse 3. In a psalm where David is putting His trust in God and choosing joy in Him; he speaks about the righteous ones being his delight. What a good picture of the local church...anyway it jumped out at me. It resonated because I've found it true. I'm encouraged to fight sin and pursue godliness with greater vigor because of the "excellent ones" He's placed in my life. Those in my local churh, some in other churches, some in other countries.
He is so kind to give us such blessings.

3.03.2008

faithfulness

In Your grace, You know where I walk
You know when I fall
You know all my ways
In Your love, I know you allow what I can not grasp
To bring you praise

Thank you for the trials
For the fire
For the pain
Thank you for the strength
Knowing You have ordained every day

Your great power is shown when I'm weak
You help me to see Your love in this place
Perfect peace is filling my mind
And joy in my heart to praise You again

In my uncertainty Your word is all I need to know
You're with me every day
*copyright joel sczebel & todd twining

This song has become my anthem of sorts. {Since December} It paints a picture that reflects the state of my heart. Or rather, the state it should be. It strays. Often I react instead of respond. There are times my sinfulness astounds me. Take today. I was reading the Word of God. Surely my heart would be centered? Yet at that very moment my thoughts were wandering into the not-trusting-God-scenario of "what could go wrong next?" His grace is always avaliable when I'm weak. The glorious gospel never changes!
That's what I love about this song. It helps me fight the battle because it turns my focus. Up to where it should be--the Sovereign goodness of God. Yet it doesn't deny my surroundings--uncertainty and bittersweetness. There is natural sorrow but there is a joy too. It's a paradox I find myself living in. And because I'm sinful, I need scripture, songs, and prayer based on objective truth. (and mum. mums are amazing refocusing tools!) It can be easy to say "I choose to trust God, this is good even if it looks like sadness." Easy to say. Easy to mean 100% and live? That takes a little more effort.
I'm a slow learner, but He is a patient teaher. All that rambling to say: God is faithful. His steadfastness is a sure foundation. I am unendingly grateful for it.
"Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage."

2.25.2008

ben and betty

photo of mum's parents, right before their wedding 54 years ago. (as of friday).

Today is Grandma's birthday. I thought I'd post the story of their engagement in honor of her. Because it's not mushy. Unfortunately, I never wrote it down when she told it. She always laughed at the end over Great-Aunt Shirley's face when she showed that ring. {and shook her head over how competitive they were.} But this is how I remember. It's close to how Grandpa told it when Ericka and I showed him 'the ring' we found in Grandma's jewelry box.

In the 1940-50's there were two best friends named Elizabeth (Betty) and Shirley. They roamed rural upstate New York with their friends, brothers named Richard and Ben. The girls were very competitive between themselves. When Betty was in 10th grade, she and Ben began "going steady." {Richard & Shirley were also dating} Then Ben went into the Air Force. He was stationed in Denver, Co. but stayed in touch with Betty by letters.
One morning, Shirley came by Betty's house. "Richard and I are going up to Wellsville this morning--to look at wedding rings! We're getting married!" Betty was thrilled for Shirley. But all the same, she moped around the house until the mail came...
A few weeks prior, Ben had been off duty, wandering around Denver. Wishing Betty was with him, he saw a small jewelry store displaying sale signs. He stepped in. An inexpensive ring with a small, square diamond setting caught his eye...
Weeks later, Betty was thinking about Shirley and Richard's engagement when she opened her letter from Ben. As she did so, something small slipped out of the envelope. "Dear Betty, You already know how I feel about you. If you're willing to marry me, you can wear this ring. If you don't want to marry me, sell it or something. Love, Ben." Of course, Betty put the ring on immediately. She was ecstatic.
Later that afternoon Shirley came by. "I guess I'm engaged first" she said, proudly displaying her hand.
"Oh, it's lovely...what time did you get it?"
"Hhmm...I think it was around 1 o'clock when Richard and I finally chose it. Why?"
"Well then. I got engaged first because this came at 10 am this morning." Betty triumphantly held out her hand to Shirley. There was much exclaiming, laughter, and all else that goes with two girls rejoicing with one another.
.:the end.:

2.13.2008

conflict

O Lord God
Thou art my protecting arm, fortress, refuge, shield, buckler.
Fight for me and my foes must flee;
uphold me and I cannot fall;
Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmovable;
Equip me and I shall receive no wound
Stand by me and Satan will depart,
anoint my lips with a song of salvation
and I shall shout thy victory;
Give me abhorrence of all evil, as a vile monster that
defies thy law, casts off thy yoke...
Teach me to look to Jesus on his cross
and so to know sin's loathsomeness in they sight.
There is no pardon but through thy Son's death,
no cleansing but in his precious blood...
Show me the shame, the agony, the bruises of incarnate God,
that I may read boundless guilt in the boundless price;
May I discern the deadly viper in its real malignity...
Blessed Lord Jesus, at they cross
may I be taught the awful miseries from which I am saved,
ponder what the word "lost" implies,
see the fires of eternal destruction;
Then I may cling more closely to thy broken self;
adhere to thee with total being,
detest sin as strongly as they love to me is strong,
and may holiness be the atmosphere in which I live.
"conflict" from valley of vision.

2.11.2008

sixteen


photosbybeks.

there are lots of things i'd like to say. about my 'little' brother. {{who is now many inches taller than me}. but the words get in the way. so i think i will just. proclaim.
i love this kid. he's a super*brother.
and my friend.
happy birthday.

*super
n.
"first-rate, excellent," 1837, from prefix in superfine (1682), denoting "highest grade of goods," from L. super "above, over, beyond" (see super-).

2.04.2008

i watch the proverbial sunrise coming up over the pacific

photobybeks.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." {eph 6.10-12}

it is amazing how God can give grace. really. how one can feel utterly beaten down and exhausted; yet have peace and a knowledge that He will supply just the amount of strength needed. amazing. that's what my life has looked like since wednesday. it's pretty much the same as it was before wednesday, except God's grace has been poured out in greater amounts.
if i am making sense...
anyway these verses go along with a prayer from Valley of Vision that has helped me tremondously. which i will post some other day when time is not so short a gift.

1.28.2008

galations

"...yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." ~Galations 2.16-21

I read this yesterday, & this morning instead of reading Gal 3 I came back to this. Just these 5 verses. I was so impacted as I read them over and over, attempting to wrap my mind around it. I can understand that grace is by faith not works. But why? Why grace in the first place? What a privilege to "live by faith in the Son of God". And what a joyfully impossible truth that this Son of God "loved me and gave himself for me". That, my friends, is mind blowing. I hear it all the time and grow used to it, but this morning it took my breath away. Kinda like jumping into a mountain lake on a 90 degree summer day.

1.11.2008

sunrise comes

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and stars forever dwell:
I will not say that Day is done,
nor bid the stars farewell.
~Tolkien from the return of the king

My perspective has been a little skewed of late. But God is faithful to re-adjust me ever so kindly. Hence the poem. It reminds me of psalms. {I'm not saying I'm at journey's end or depressed or locked in a dungeon in Mordor...} It's from the last book in the "Rings" trilogy. Sam thinks he is at the end of it all, captured by evil. Does he wish he'd never started the journey? No. He turns his thoughts to home and what lies beyond his cell and sings of all things!
I want to sing when I am struggling with hardness. Especially considering how very small and light my troubles are. He is good.
and Sovereign,
Thus;
all there is to do is:
RESt.