Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blog Makeover and Book Update

Hello friends! I hope you all like my blog's new look! I had a fun time making it more "me". I recently did Shauna's blog as well (with a great deal of input from Shauna!). Luckily school lightened up in the past week so that I actually had the free time to be creative! That always makes me happy and brings joy to my heart.

Well, life here is fairly normal and non-rushed right now. I am enjoying the extra time that I have each day. If you know me personally, you also know that my life is next to never slow and dull. I love doing things, meeting people, serving, and using my gifts to glorify Him with every breath. Right now, however, it seems that the Lord is most glorified in me when I take the extra time that I have and spend it with Him.

Book progress is coming... very slowly...but it's coming. If you all would pray for my motivation, I would appreciate it. I long to get this book done, but knowing where to start and how to organize my thoughts is very difficult for me. I am more of a blogger; with little random spurts of inspiration every now and then. So I have lots of random paragraphs scattered throughout my computer database. Perfectionism is also my weakness. Instead of just getting thoughts down, I correct as I go. This is time consuming and makes me exhausted after awhile. But I just can't STAND those red squiggly lines that appear underneath misspelled words! can laugh if you want, but it really is annoying to me.

Sometimes I also have doubts as to if God would be able to give me the words to convey what He wants people to know. I know it's silly of me, but these doubts are often very relentless. However, I know that the Lord wants me to write this book, whether people read it or not, so I need to press forward. I will quote a friend's words that God used to encourage me:

"But if you are being obedient to the call of God, it is your faithfulness that matters, not the visible fruit that you do or do not see."

Please pray that I would be faithful and motivated to do what I know God is calling me to do! It's such a struggle sometimes, but I know that in the end, if it glorifies the Lord, it's going to be worth it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Unexpected Tears...

Have you ever had a flood of tears wash over you at the recollection of something? I was going through some pictures on Facebook today and saw some of a girl's bridal shower. I didn't even know the girl, but suddenly, I came to a picture of her and who I assumed immediately was her mom. Her mom was sitting right next to her in front of a fireplace writing down the gifts that her daughter had received. They were the only two in the picture and the floor around them was littered with gifts and wrapping. In my mind, I could just hear the mother exclaiming over each present that her daughter received and talking about "how cute it will look your new kitchen or how it will go perfect on that "one wall". Of course, she and her daughter were the only two people who knew which "one wall" she was talking about. I could just imagine that mother completely sharing in her daughter's joy over everything that she had receive and anticipation for what the future would hold.

And as I sat there, staring at that mother and daughter heart broke and the tears started flowing harder than they have in a very long time. I folded my head between my arms and just cried. Sometimes you just need to cry, and this was one of those times. I could just picture that lady sitting next to her daughter, being my own mom...and me sitting next to her, sharing in the excitement together.

But then, with a gentle yet painful pull at my heartstrings, I realized that it would never be; that I would never get the wonderful opportunity to be with my mom on that special day... that she wouldn't be there to share in my joy and write down all the wonderful presents that I received; that I would never catch that beautiful glimmer in her eye that told me she was just as excited as I was; that I would be surrounded by people that loved me but not the one person who knew me better than anyone else ever did or ever will.

These thoughts are so painful. Every time I see a photo of a mother with her daughter there is a slight pang that goes through me, like a bittersweet teardrop hitting my face. I long to hear her voice, hear her laugh and feel her arms around me again.

Just because the Lord has been walking beside me doesn't mean that I haven't still experienced pain. I have fallen time and time again, but what gives me peace is knowing that there is always someone right there to pick me back up again and set me on my feet. I will experience pain in this life, and Christians should not expect to live a life without pain. God did not promise us a life without pain...but He did promise to walk with us and keep us underneath the shelter of His comforting wings as we experience that pain. He promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He promised to give us that "peace that passes all understanding". The most amazing thing is that He is faithful to those promises. Though I have experienced the pain, I have also experienced the peace.

I will continue to miss my mom as long as I walk this desolate earth...but I do know that the Lord's arms will be enfolding me even when my mom's are not. His loving arms are so much larger, greater, and more powerful anyway...and I know that one day, both my mom and I will be able to share in each other's joy...eternal joy...everlasting joy. Then I can look into her eyes and see that shining glimmer of excitement, hope, and love...that look that I remember so vividly and miss so dearly.

I love you and miss you, mom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

49 years ago...

49 years ago, today...a little girl was born. She had a face that was always smiling and there was a love for life that only grew along with her. Through life's challenges and struggles, this little girl turned into a woman...and this woman eventually found God...or rather, God found her. But God was not content to just leave her where she was at. No, He wanted to stretch and challenge her so that she would be an encouragement and a light. He wanted her to shine. He wanted her to become like Him.

And so, as the years passed in enjoyment of every moment, He decided to do something that would make her come alive...but would eventually lead to death...death of the body, but not the spirit. Something that would really show His glory to the world. He knew she could handle it...He had been preparing her for the task since she was born.

So one day...she became aware that she was afflicted. But what made this woman extraordinary is that she turned to the Father and praised Him. She thanked Him for the afflictions that He had given, and in that moment... God knew that He had chosen the right woman for the task.

This woman determined to take in every new day and glorify God with every breath that He chose to bestow on her. The choice wasn't easy. No, it was a struggle. But the choice was made all the same, and glorify Him she did.

Then, one November morning, Gods hand came down to give this woman her final breath on this earth. While we cried tears of pain, He cried tears of joy...for He knew that her heart would start beating again in a different place; a glorious place; a place that He had been preparing for her.

So we watched this woman smile and laugh her way into the Fathers loving arms.

I watched my mom live and die, but with equal joy. I watched her laugh and weep, but with equal strength. I watched her praise on the mountaintop and through the valley of the shadow, but with equal faithfulness. I watched her...and in turn, I saw the glory of God unfolding before my very eyes.

Today is a glorious day...a day that might be filled with tears but is also filled with joy. A day filled with memories of love and laughter, of good times shared and now gone. A day to marvel at Gods faithfulness through the storm.

My mom continues to live a life of praise and joy....though not here in England with me. I know that she is celebrating in that beautiful place which no earthly mind can comprehend nor imagine. And that thought...brings me peace and comfort as well as overwhelming joy.

While we look back today at the life that my mom lived, she looks forward into eternity...into the very face of Jesus.
"I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God"
Job 19:25-27

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Praise and Wonder...

"Oh God you are my God
And I will ever praise you
Oh God you are my God
And I will ever praise you
I will seek you in the morning
And I will learn to walk in your ways
Step by step you lead me
And I will follow you all of my days"

I have this song stuck in my head and heart this beautiful morning. I just arrived home from taking a long leisurely walk in the cool breeze and beautiful sunshine with my brother. This song seems to reflect my hearts prayer at the moment - that I would seek Him, but not only seek Him but praise Him all of my days. Because really, I have so much to thank Him for. My entire identity is wrapped up in Christ, and if it weren't for the mercy that He has shown me by calling me one of His own, I would crumble into nothingness.

My brother was talking to me this morning about how he has been listening to a commentary by Ravi Zacharias. He said that it was talking about how children have so much wonder for the world. They just have an innocence and joy for good and pleasant things that seems to get lost as they get older. If you have ever seen a child playing at a park, running with the wind blowing through his hair, or laughing at absolutely nothing, you understand what I mean. His joy is complete. As we grow older this joy, innocence, and wonder is often left behind. What a pity that is! Perhaps when Jesus said that we should become like little children in order to inherit the kingdom of God, he meant that our wonder and innocence should not be lost due to maturity or age.

If any of you know my mom, you might say that she had the excitement and wonder of a little child sometimes. This was not a flaw in her character, but an excellent attribute, one which I hope to some day imitate. My childhood was never boring because we would go on picnics, build the Mayflower ship out of boxes, sing and dance around the house, and examine ladybugs and toads. She had an eye for the little things...the simple pleasures of life that are sometimes forgotten in the hustle and bustle of every day living.

I think we need to let ourselves be swept away by childlike wonder more often! God smiles when we marvel at what He has done or created. Praising Him is a way that I can attain that sense of wonder again because it helps me to see more clearly the wonderful things that He has done for me.

Well, I had better close, but I just had to share those thoughts. Have a wonderful, beautiful, most excellent day...full of praise and wonder.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Familiar Voice?

My Max Lucado devotional yesterday really got me thinking. He was talking about how, one day, we will all hear Jesus' voice. Now, I have thought about this many times before...but then he asked a new question, one which I have never really taken the time to ponder...when you hear his voice on the last day, will it be a familiar voice? Will it be a voice that you have come to know and love? Will it be the voice that has comforted you in the darkest days of your life? Will you recognize it?

Often times I spend way too much time doing things for God when he calls me to simply be still and know that He is God. My quiet times should be...just that. Quiet! Only in the stillness can we hear his voice; only when we take a moment to be still, do we truly come to recognize the loving words of our Savior.

Do I recognize His voice when I hear him calling me? Do I know and love that gentle touch of his spirit that so fills me with joy? Am I ever willing to answer His quietest call?

If I can grow to recognize His loving voice, how exciting life becomes! When I call Jesus my friend, I want to truly mean it! You have a hard time being a friend to an inanimate object. True friendship goes both ways... giving and taking in love.

We often only love the things that we know. I love my sister and brother because I have spent so much time with them. I love my dog because she has been in my life for so many years. I love my closest girlfriends because we have developed bonds through heart to heart talks. So how can I say that I truly love Jesus, if I do not have a personal relationship with Him in order to know Him?

My prayer today is that I would not ignore my Heavenly Fathers loving voice, but would learn to recognize it in such a way that it will be familiar and dear to me on that last day.
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