Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You Know You're Homeschooled If...

1. You heard the phrase "socialization" and laughed because you had more friends and knew more people than your public school friends.


2 You went to school in your PJs.
Not usually, but there were times when it was rather nice not to have to rush around and get dressed... :)


3 You considered school work after lunch to be cruel and unusual punishment.
Haha, wasn't it? Of course, it was my own fault, but such things didn't occur to my grade-school mind.

4 You had to move laundry off your desk before you could start school.
Or the dishes off the table, or the LEGO universe, or the doll dishes...
5 A snow day meant that you had to shovel the driveway after you finished your school work.
Either before or after - usually before. :P

6 You had to look at the clock to see if you could call your public school friends yet.

Or to see if they would be home to play outside. I grew up next door to a homeschooled family, so I was lucky. :D

7 You thought that “public-school-kid” was an insult of the highest degree.

8 Your friends talked about waiting in line for seven hours to try out the new roller coaster in town, so you went and waited five minutes on a school day.

Not the roller coaster, but yeah, we did get a lot of school-hour benefits. :)

9 Gym class was actually a fun activity like swimming.
Or frisbee, or just playing with the neighborhood kids. 

10 The closest thing to a bully in your school was your slightly strange two-year-old sister.

Yeah, no joke.

11 You slept in till 9 am on weekdays but got up at 7 am on Sundays.

Oh, everyone I knew who went to school was jealous about that! 

12 Your favorite author was Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, or P.G. Wodehouse.

Umm, no. But, hey, I actually read books that weren't fantasy or science fiction for FUN!

13 You have suffered through Saxon Math.
Haha, soooo true! Those books were the plague of my childhood. And the color combinations they came up with! Orange and royal blue, mustard yellow, blue and that ishy gray-green color (:P)... We used to make jokes every year about who got an ugly math book and who got a pretty one. Fifth grade was the best because you got the pretty silver-and-blue one... :D 

14 You spent more than 2 hours each day reading and writing...voluntarily.
Only two? Good grief, I read more than an entire public school class combined! And writing...Oh yeah, I did that too. :)

15 You actually wanted to receive books on your birthday.

My relatives would have wondered if I was sick or something if I didn't have a mile-long list of books on my birthday or Christmas list. 

16 You stayed up till whenever, and not because you were doing homework.

Bedtime? What was that?

17 You could get days ahead in almost any subject.

You could also get days behind in almost any subject as well...

18 You had more friends way older and way younger than you than ones your actual age. 

That's one of the best things about being homeschooled. There isn't any class warfare. :)


'Till next time!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Your American Girl Doll Shaped the Rest of Your Life



For those of my followers who adore American Girl and own at least one doll, this link is a fun and very true read! (Especially if you own one of the original American Girls ending at Addy)

And for those of you who don't own the dear things, it is still a well-written article and very funny (and there is a nice little piece at the end for you guys too!)

Enjoy!

'Till next time,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

God, I screwed up. Again.

I feel as if my blog hasn't been worth reading lately. I try to write about inspirational things which people will feel after reading that reading it was worth their time, but sometimes it's so hard to put just what you want to say into words and hope that it comes across as relevant and true to the people who read it. I hope I've been able to do at least some of that amidst all the other messes I throw at you poor people. :)

I have so many things I could talk about right now, it's hard to choose a topic and stick with it.

One thing that I've been thinking about lately - and my family has been discussing in our morning Bible studies - is the story of Rahab and the Israelite spies.

You know the part where Rahab lies to the soldiers of Jericho and tells them that the spies left the city before the gates were closed?

Well, my little sister asked how God could have used that lie to save the spies when lying is a sin.

That brought up the point of how we sometimes sin and God still uses that sin to implement His plan for our lives. Only, if we hadn't sinned, the implementation of how He could have worked in our lives to the same end would have been so much greater!

To face the truth: sometimes we just don't trust God enough to let Him work powerfully in our lives.

If Rahab hadn't lied to those soldiers, God could still have saved those spies - and the story would probably have been much different, most likely with more action and a few miracles.

I'm not saying that the story of Rahab and the spies is boring (and anyway, Rahab didn't believe in God, so lying probably presented itself to her as the most natural way out of a possibly lethal situation), but just think of how much more spectacular it could have been if Rahab hadn't sinned.

Looking back over my life, I can see many situations that probably could have turned out differently if I hadn't let fear overcome me or I hadn't gone for the easy way out and ignored God's voice prompting me to do something I knew I should.

The point is, though, that God can still use our stumblings for His own ends. If God has an ultimate plan for someone, even our failing to do what we know we should can be re-routed and used for His glory.

That's what's so amazing about His grace. There are second chances, third chances, fourth chances, ect.

God's ultimate plan will always be served, no matter what rabbit trails we sinners take off on.

For example...

- What would have happened if Barak hadn't gotten weak knees and begged Deborah to come along with Him in battle? (We wouldn't have the awesome story of Jael, but who knows what else might have occured?)

- What would have happened if Jehoash had struck the ground with those arrows more than three times? (He would have completely destroyed Aram. And think of how the course of history might have changed with the removal of those pesky Aram-eans!)

- What would have happened if David hadn't sinned with Bathsheba and killed Uriah off in a handy battle? Where would Solomon have come from?

-What would have happened Rehoboam had listened to the wiser elders instead of his group of friends? (First off, Judah and Israel probably wouldn't have split up...)

And, on the other hand...

What would have happened if Esther had gotten a panic attack and told God "I can't go to the king"?

What would have happened if Joseph had hardened his heart and refused to accept his situation as God-given?

What would have happened if David had told Samuel "Don't pour your oil on me; I don't want to be king."?

Or if he had told Goliath "You're right. I am a dog. Get me off this field in one piece!"?

And Ruth. What if she had told Naomi "Are you joking? I'm not sleeping by anyone's dirty feet!"?

And finally, what would have happened if Mary had told Gabriel "No way. I'm a virgin and I'm going to remain so until I'm married."?

(There are hundreds more, but in the words of whoever wrote Hebrews: "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel and the prophets...")

Anyway, the point is:

What would have happened if all these people of great faith had chickened out when the chips were down and refused to trust God?

No doubt God would have figured out another way to get things done, but then we would most likely not have those great stories of faith that teach us so much about courage and trust.

But we put those people on a pedestal and say "oh, how brave they were!" - and they were. But what we often forget is that the same God who helped them is there to help us. And He hasn't lost strength over the years. He is still the same God who helped Esther and Joseph and David and Mary and everyone else who did anything worth recording in the Bible.

He still is God.

And despite our bumblings and stumblings and upsets and mistakes, He still works His perfect will through us. Transforming our lives from ashes and rubble into the stuff of legends.

So when you read about the heroes of the faith and feel discouraged (as I often do) because you never, ever could be as courageous as they were, remember that they too, were simple, ordinary people, whom God chose to use in a complex, un-ordinary way. And also remember that God longs to use us all in this way if we don't shrink back and say "God, you're asking too much! This is too hard for someone small like me! I don't have that great of faith or enough courage to do this!"

Do you think any of those heroes - alone - did either?

I would say no. Most definitely not.


In the words of Paul: "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Philippians 2:13; emphasis added)

And just before that: "Continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling..." (Philippians 2:12b; emphasis added)

God knows we're weak - and the amazing thing is, He doesn't want us to be strong by ourselves. "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13; emphasis added)

On our own, we can only make a mess. With our pride, our desire to show off, and our wrong motives, we make mud pies out of God's perfect plan.

And it is only when we are afraid to do something and know that we cannot - under any circumstances - do it by ourselves, that we truly find His strength. Only then we can move mountains and tell them to go throw themselves into the sea.

We have to remove ourselves from the equation and say, "Ok, God. Use me." And then trust that He will.

After all, if He did it for every other hero in the Bible, why on earth would He not do it for you?

Don't be afraid of messing up God's plan. If you do make a mistake, He can work around it. But don't use that as an excuse to get out of things. Challenge yourself to trust God to work through you and see what miracles He can do!

May the God of peace be with you.

'Till next time,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Journal of Procrastination {Day 4}



A fill-in-the-blanks for those days when inspiration eludes me

Date: Tuesday, December 13. 2011

Time: 11:28 a.m.

Thought/Quote/Verse/Idea for the day: 
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. - Psalm 61:2

I got up at: 6:00 a.m.

I am listening to: Pilgrim by Enya

I most recently ate: Breakfast: a blueberry bagel, yogurt and an orange

I am currently working on: Still working on the sequel. It was clipping along at a brisk pace, but now it's slowed down to the usual writer's block-ey crawl. :P

Comfort food/beverage at the moment: hot tea with cream and sugar. *bliss*

I am looking forward to: tomorrow morning being over so I can enjoy Christmas.

I am reading: The Protector by Dee Henderson - and not enjoying it... And Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. Apparently I haven't met the love interest yet... Sounds interesting!

I am memorizing: Matthew 6 (haha!)

I am thinking: about many things: my Pearson-Vue CNA exam tomorrow (ick), what I'm going to be doing afterwards, the blog post I should be writing - among other things...

Plans for the day: puttering around, maybe study a little more, go to choir...

In my hair: nothing. It's loose today.


Most recently wrote: Chapter 11 of my novel sequel. (67 pages and 32,017 words - in case you were interested in an update...)

I am thankful for: my heavens, it's Wisconsin and the middle of December (give or take a few days...) and it's 42 degrees outside! I know what I'm thankful for.  

I am wearing: a denim skirt, slipper socks, long-sleeved white shirt, blue tunic sweater, and a silver necklace.

Latest gift listed in my notebook: "making Christmas tags". Hmm....

Christian self-help book I am currently reading: Diamonds in the Dust by Joni Eareckson Tada

My surroundings: my basement - which is something we show off to home improvement people.

I am craving: tomorrow afternoon. :)

I should be: folding the whites, practicing taking radial pulse and respirations on my sister... Boring stuff.

Tomorrow I will: finally finish off my CNA course, go to the library, go to my friend's house for dinner and Truth Project Bible study, then movie night with my friend, her sister and my sister.

Book I am contemplating reading next: Granted I ever finish this Dee Henderson romance, I think I'll go for something really different. Like Agatha Christie.

Random fact about myself: I have a weakness for Lurlene McDaniel books - which are ridiculously gushy and cliche, but since everyone dies in them it makes up for the mush. :D

The weather is: warmish and sort of grey

Any library books at the moment: Wanda and the Frogs by Barbara Azore. It's a kids book, by the way, and I got it for my two-year (or is it three?) old sister.

Movie(s) I watched within the week: Up and The Nativity Story and A Christmas Story

Indignant about: Nothing. Just a little nervous...

Random movie/book quote that's running through my head: "Fighting fire with fire, we ignite the couch!" - Rocky and Bullwinkle - How to Remove An Unwanted Guest from Your House and Make More Living Room

Scratchy pen or smooth pen: both!

Last thing I threw away: good question... I think it was a Dixie cup

Last book I bought/received: I haven't bought a book for myself in a little while... Probably Of Men and Of Angels by Brock and Bodie Thoene.

I am wondering: what I'm going to do next in my novel. I've hit one of those icky dead-end things.

Song stuck in my head: Get Out of This Town by Carrie Underwood


Most recent crazy plan: Overspending on my Christmas gifts because I suddenly came up with a thousand things I could have gotten. :P

Under the clip: library list and paper with boy names and a page number from a book that I want to look up

Random Spanish word: telefonee a ajustes - phone settings

I learned today: that I'm still not sure what I want to do with my life

Picture-thought: Due to all the ridiculous politics going on around this state; people trying to recall a governor who has done nothing but good for our state, I shall make my political leanings very clear:



'Till next time! 



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Tag!



I got tagged for this post by my sister over on Rachyrache's Hobby Corner and thought it might be fun to 
share some Christmas cheer! (Because I know such a thing has been rather sadly lacking on this blog...)

Rules/instructions:
  1. Link to the person/blog you got tagged from
  2. Do the tag
  3. Tag three people!
So, here's the tag:


Is your Christmas tree up?
Absholutely! We got it before December even arrived - that's a record in this family. 

How about the rest of your decorations?
Put 'em up last Thursday, the gorgeous little things. Though the porch wreath somehow got transported back into the attic before we could get it up. I'm not saying that I suspect anything, but I think my dad had a hand in that one... 

Do you have an artificial tree or a real tree?
Are you kidding? Fake trees have no scent - besides, they look like brooms with that funky brown/green plastic mixture that's supposed to make them look real.   

Do you have any lights or decorations outside?
That we do. Some tall ski-like snowmen that the little ones made at my aunt's house on Craft Day years ago set in pots that us older ones painted especially for them at the same event. We ended up with the pot I painted - which I do my best to turn to its best side every year (it's hard to do that, though, seeing as it doesn't really have a good side...). We also have a ginormous wreath and a smaller garland that we wrap around the porch railing. 

Do you have a favorite ornament on the tree?
Do I have a favorite ornament? I hate these "favorite" questions; I don't play favorites. But we do have these pretty glass balls that my aunt helped us swirl paint in. They're gorgeous - and dwindling. We manage to smash at least one every year. I made the ugly ones, but the ones my siblings made are worth hanging in the front. 

How many Christmas trees do you usually have up?
One. For a few years we had two, but it was too much work to water them both.

What is the best Christmas present you have ever gotten?
Oy vey, I don't even remember all the presents I've gotten...My favorite from last year was probably Felicity's American Girl tea set from my Grandma. But it's definitely not the one I've used the most in the past year.   

Who do you celebrate Christmas with?
My family on my dad's side, my family on my mom's side, my friends, my immediate family, my Good News Club... :) 

What is your favorite Christmas song?
I knew this one was coming... I don't have a favorite - there are so many I love! - but one that I really love this year is one we're singing in choir: Where Shepherds Lately Knelt - very powerful words! Actually, if you click on the title the arrangement is the one we're singing in our choir...

What is your favorite Christmas food?
My Grandma's thumbprint cookies. Buttery, brown melt-in-your-mouth cookies with an enormous blop of fluffy red or green frosting in the middle. It wouldn't be Christmas without those cookies. 
And eggnog. I adore eggnog. 

What is your favorite Christmas memory?
What is it with all these 'favorite' questions? Ugh... I do have a veritable ton of good ones. One that's sort of special is when we were at at my dad's parent's house we would go across the street and sing Christmas carols for their elderly neighbor who couldn't get out of her house. We were all impatient to go home and open our presents, but we never would touch one package until we had gone and sung to Olga. She died a few years ago, but I still remember her sitting in her wheelchair with an afghan over her knees, clapping for us when we finished and giving us candy canes. The first candy cane I ever remember eating came from her. 

Do you have trouble falling asleep on Christmas eve?
We usually stay up until Christmas morning watching a movie, so I don't really fall asleep on Christmas Eve. :)

What time do you usually wake up on Christmas morning?
I haven't the foggiest. 

Do you do any special traditions for Christmas?
Oh plenty. My dad hides our nativity scene figures and we find them, we watch a million different A Christmas Carol movies, It's A Wonderful Life, The Nativity Story, and A Christmas Story, we have a family celebration on Christmas Eve and go to church, eat snacks, give each other gifts, and watch a movie... Christmas traditions are the best! 

I don't think I'll tag any people in this post because I don't know who has been tagged and who hasn't. We wouldn't want anyone having to fill out two of these things! :D 

A very Merry Christmas to all of you! 

'Till next time,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guest Blogger!

Hello ladies! 
Today we have a guest blogger: my dear friend Amy, who is a freshman at Bryan College in Tennessee. 


Here are her thoughts on the plans of God:


A is good...but B is good too

What if I were to be all deep and spiritual and say to you …God gives us choices. Your response might be something like, DUH. Of course God gives us choices! That is part of what it means to be human, why we are not robots, free will and all that stuff.
But if you are anything like me, your idea of those “choices” involves a good choice…and a bad choice. Take Path A and all this great stuff will happen. Take Path B and you will completely screw yourself and your future. Worst of all, you have strayed from God’s perfect plan for your life, so now you are damaged goods! Really, no pressure.
Recently I have been struggling with a decision that, while not completely life changing, was pretty obviously a crossroads. Panic ensue! I was fairly certain one of those paths must be God’s will, and the other one must not be. Obvious right? But I had no idea which was which. In fact, both paths seemed good.
I was talking with a friend about this internal struggle I was having and she gave me some wise advice. In fact, it is what I just shared with you. God gives us choices. But! Those choices don’t necessarily have to be good vs. bad. Sometimes God gives us two good paths, and lets us choose. He lets us pick our blessings.
Or, as the speaker the next day put it, A is good. But B is good too.
Did you catch that? In case I didn’t, God sent it to me twice, first from my friend and then from a speaker. A relationship with God is not a blind attempt to follow a hidden path. It is not sitting around wondering if He said left and you misunderstood and went right. God doesn’t have just one perfect path laid out that if you stray from you are screwed. He is the God of the universe and knows what you think before you even think it. He knows the decisions you are going to make long before you make them. Yet somehow, in some marvelous way beyond my comprehension, He allows us freedom in the relationship. A freedom to choose, because He has provided Path A and Path B and both lead to blessings. Of course, there is also a Path C that leads away from God. We have freedom to choose that too.  
Mind blown yet? Perhaps I can give a more personal example. When I was six years old, I decided I wanted to go to Patrick Henry College. And for almost twelve years, that was my ambition. It was simple a fact of life. I was going to go to PHC. And in a way, God did open up that door. I was accepted to the school, got scholarships, path A was ready for me.
But so was Path B. There was this school in Tennessee, you see, a little bit bigger than PHC, and more missions focused, called Bryan College. They were actually…pretty awesome. But more awesome than PHC? I was in doubt. Yet when it came time to make my final decision, it wasn’t so easy. Bryan or PHC? Path A or Path B? I didn’t know. I assumed one was God’s perfect choice, and one was less perfect. Though it was not my main concern by any stretch of the imagination, one of my friends summed up the uncertainty when she said, “What if my future husband goes to the school I was supposed to go to, and I don’t meet him?”
Path A or Path B?
Well, those of you who know me know the answer. I chose B. I went to Bryan. And yet even though I have been here going on five months, and I absolutely LOVE it, I have often wondered…why God? Why did you put that desire for PHC in a little girl’s heart if you were going to take me here? Was I just being stubborn? Did I make the wrong decision? But here seems so right.
In light of this idea about choices, I believe God would have blessed me if I had gone to PHC. I know, without a doubt, that Bryan College has blessed me more than I ever imagined. God gave me a choice…and wherever I go, He goes with me. There is no yellow-brick path that I must absolutely NEVER stray from. Sometimes there are two perfectly good directions.
Now, here is what I am not saying. I am not saying God endorses every decision we make. If I go out and get drunk, God may bring beauty out of that pain, but that doesn’t mean it was His will. And sometimes, there is a very clear Yes and a very clear No. We have to be in tuned to that. There is no point of no return with God. He will love us no matter what, but there is definitely a line of what God’s willis and what isn’t. Discovering His will isn’t always easy, but I have found Scripture, wise counsel, and simply prayer to be the best answers.
God gives us freedom in our relationship. He doesn’t micro-manage. We are not half-robots that have no say in the good stuff. He has a will for us, yes, but sometimes we get to pick the blessings that go with that will. For me, that is a life-changing realization. I am carrying a burden I don’t need to when I stress out about pleasing God. Because on my own I can’t please God, and that is okay.

Thanks, Amy! 


'Till next time,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Wonder

My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 
- Psalm 34:2 -

As I read this verse I wonder how often - or if - my soul really does boast in the Lord.

Does my daily life show others that my soul is overflowing - boasting - the goodness of my Creator? Am I the kind of person who brightens the lives of others by being an outpouring of the love God channels through me? Or do I put myself forward and put God behind my own interest. 

I wonder. 

Do I bubble over with His promises? Am I a reflection of His glory? Do I constantly focus on giving less of me and more of Him?

I want others to see Christ through me - and to see it as Christ and not as me. How can I take credit for the things that God alone has done?

I want my soul to boast - because God is good.

'Till next time,
  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Five - The Number of Thanksgiving

One Thanksgiving our entire family was gathered at my grandparent's house for dinner. The table was set and the food was cooking when I walked through the door and everything smelled (as usual) absolutely delicious.

After taking off my coat, I wandered into the dining room and as I walked past the table, I noticed something different.

At each place, next to the water glasses, were five kernels of dried corn.

Thanks to my Christian history books, I knew what they represented.

When the Pilgrims were in America for their first winter, they ran out of food. They were so low on supplies that, towards the end of the season, they each received five kernels of corn for their daily meal.

And when they had the first Thanksgiving, they put five kernels of dried corn at each place to remind themselves of God's provision.

That was the only Thanksgiving I remember where we had those symbols of God's goodness at the table, but I'll never forget it. For some reason, those little kernels seemed to add something more to the celebration that day.

A reminder of God's providence and how truly blessed we all were. And also a reminder of how often we fail to take a moment to thank God for His gifts.

This Thanksgiving, I hope more than ever to remember what has been sacrificed for this country and what Jesus sacrificed for me - and to be truly thankful for the blessings I take for granted every day.

"What if you woke up this morning and found the only things you had left were the things you thanked God for yesterday?" - Terry Shock

Happy Thanksgiving to you all; I am so thankful for every one of you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Woes of Writing

Sorry it's been such a long time, folks. The more free time I have the less I seem to blog. Perhaps because there is nothing much of interest to blog about?

I have been working like a mad thing on a sequel to one of the novels I hope to publish, though, and that does take a lot of time. And cappuccino. :)

I finished the first novel sometime this spring, I think, though to be actually finished I have to go through and edit it (again) and that is not happening at a very advanced pace. To be perfectly honest, it's not really happening at all...

Anyway, it's set in the 1800's. 1877-78 to be exact. (This was done purposefully so that I wouldn't land my character in the middle of the Civil War, which, to me, is not the best time-period to write about.) It revolves around a girl named Jocelyn (who is the namesake of my pen name. Just a bit of trivia for you!) who lives in England during the golden age of Queen Victoria (which also happens to be 1877-78...).

It's a bit generic, I know.

Jocelyn is 18 and having a lot of the usual troubles most Cinderella-story types encounter. Falling in love, a pushy cousin, a despotic aunt, no parents, a grandmother who is, in most senses of the word, dying, and a twin brother who has been lost since birth.

Just the usual stuff.

So she off and goes to look for her brother and the rest of the story is full of intrigue, romance and murder.

Does that sound like anything you would read?

Looking back over the time between starting it and finishing it, it's a bunch of hills and valleys. Anyone who has written anything can relate here. There are the moments when you're on top of the world, writing away and marveling at how a mortal being like yourself could write such scenes, such jewels of wit and wisdom!

And then there are the lows where all you want to do is erase the blasted junk and start over.

And then there's the time when you put in the last word and sit back with a enormous smile and realize that now you have to go back and fix all the mistakes you've been putting off the entire time.

All those mistakes don't matter then (you're finished!) - until you print it all off and see, for the first time, how long it really is.

And then you go back and edit and realize how tacky it really is. How overblown the drama, how dry and stale the suspense, how flowery the dialogue... And that illusive dream of becoming a published author gets blown full of holes and you settle for an attic trunk stuffed to the bursting with finished manuscripts.

 And then you actually take the time to rewrite that bit that always annoyed you or brush up the dialogue that always hit your ear wrong, or polish up a scene that needed just something more to make it work and you find out again that all is not lost, and that you can still salvage this poor story and make it something more than the generic Christian romances you've read and scoffed at all your life.

And that's about where I am with it right now.

Pounding away on a sequel, while its mother book sits in a binder, not even completely printed, waiting for me to slash it over with colored pens.

Oh woe is me.

And I can't even give you a little bit at the end because I still haven't edited it yet and just looking over it makes me blush.

The only comfort I have at the moment is that no one in it faints and falls into some guy's arms.



Till next time,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Journal of Procrastination {Day 3}



A fill-in-the-blanks for those days when inspiration eludes me

Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time: 12:03 p.m.

Thought/Quote/Verse/Idea for the day: Change is inevitable, except from vending machines and, in all seriousness: What if you woke up this morning and found the only things you had left were the things you thanked God for yesterday? - Terry Shock

I got up at: 6:10 a.m. (It took me a full ten minutes to push the covers off this morning :P)

I am listening to: O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Enya (Who needs to wait for Thanksgiving?)

I most recently ate: Breakfast: half an egg bagel with cheese and a bowl of grapenuts with milk

I am currently working on: A sequel to my first completed novel (:D !)

Comfort food/beverage at the moment: Hmm... Anything hot that tastes good

I am looking forward to: Nothing in particular, but I'm excited to be alive right now. :)

I am reading: A Common Life by Jan Karon

I am memorizing: Matthew 5 (still)

I am thinking: about many things: novels, music, the beautiful weather, plans for the day...

Plans for the day: taking the neighbor boys to their piano lessons, writing, making enchiladas for dinner, going to choir, movie night at my grandparent's house...

In my hair: a braid on the side


Most recently wrote: Chapter 4 on my sequel (15 pages and 7,324 words!!!  Just thought I'd share... :} )

I am thankful for: Gorgeous weather (chilly, but sunny and clear), a walk with my mom this morning and watching the sunrise, a peaceful heart, joy, a certain thing I've written that I absolutely love... There's so much to be thankful for!

I am wearing: a denim skirt, slipper socks, a long-sleeved white shirt and a brown-and-pink tunic top

Latest gift listed in my notebook: "morning moons"

Christian self-help book I am currently reading: None really at the moment. I'm thinking about reading Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore, but I'm not sure if it's good or not and need to do a little research.  

My surroundings: my living room. I've been camping out up here for a good while now, writing away (sort of...)

I am craving: barbecue potato chips 

I should be: switching the laundry if it's done, unloading the dishwasher, writing, reading... Nothing immediate

Tomorrow I will: do nothing really interesting that I can think of

Book I am contemplating reading next: The Protector by Dee Henderson (I haven't read a gushy romance in a while...)

Random fact about myself: I am addicted to Nancy Drew PC games 

The weather is: crisp, clear, golden...Breathtaking

Any library books at the moment: One. A Common Life by Jan Karon

Movie(s) I watched within the week: The Last Brickmaker in America and How To Train Your Dragon (which I adore)

Indignant about: Am I indignant about anything? Wow...  

Random movie/book quote that's running through my head: Thanks for nothing, you useless reptile - Hiccup - How To Train Your Dragon

Scratchy pen or smooth pen: don't know, don't care to find out :)

Last thing I threw away: an entire bag of garbage. Folks, I am moving up in the world! 

Last book I bought/received: Flying South by L.M. Elliott

I am wondering: Why I can't always leave things in God's hands 

Song stuck in my head: I haven't got one, at the moment. But I usually do, so stay tuned! (No pun intended)


Most recent crazy plan: I do not have crazy plans! They just happen to be rather stupid and random at times...

Under the clip: same as usual with a library list and math note added

Random Spanish word (courtesy of my English-Spanish dictionary...): I don't have it, so I'll do one that I know without looking - tres - three

I learned today: that I don't pray nearly enough

Picture-thought: I would put one up of the new Japanese lantern/plaid fleece blanket I just made, but I can't get a good picture, so I'll do this instead:



Two of my favorite things: yellow birches and grey skies :)


Till next time!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

September In The Rain

The grey skies and driving rain splattering through the yellow leaves outside my window today remind me of a song I heard last week - and old, old song by Frank Sinatra with such melancholy words and such a sad, sad feeling to it. I thought I'd share and put you all in the same grey-day feeling. :)

September In The Rain
The leaves of brown came tumbling,
remember?
In September, in the rain.
To every word of love I heard you whisper,
the raindrops seemed to play a sweet refrain;
the sun went out just like a dying ember,
that September,
in the rain.
Though spring is here, 
to me it's still September - 
that September -
in the rain.


Songs like that always make me wonder about the stories behind them. To me this one speaks of a young woman, standing under a tree on a dark street with the sky heavy and grey above her and the rain falling around her and a single street lamp shining a golden glow on her face. And she's just standing there, thinking about her fiancee who is "somewhere over there" fighting in the war and remembering the last time she had seen him - which could be the last time she ever would.  

I hope you feel properly melancholy now!

'Till next time,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Love Like That

I've been thinking about posting this for a while, but haven't had the time or the words to do it. Now I'm free and I might as well give a stab at getting it down in a semi-readable, semi-understandable way. 

We'll see...

To begin, a little background : 

It's no secret, I guess, that for almost eighteen years, I've been wondering how on earth all my friends have been able to say "Oh, I'm SO in love with God!". And they are. I can see it. But for me, it's always been a struggle. 

I've been a Christian since I could understand what being a Christian was about. I've taught Bible clubs and Sunday School and VBS. I've mentored friends and sisters. I've done countless Bible studies and devotions. I've read books and pored over my Bible. I've been memorizing Scripture since I could read it. And I've prayed again and again for God to open up my eyes to His love - and nothing ever happened. I began to feel like this was it. There wasn't ever going to be that exhilarating knowledge of God's love for me. It was always just going to be an endless drone of "Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins because He loved us so much." 

I'd heard that so many times it lost its meaning. 

I was starting to lose hope when journal after journal was blotted with frustrated rants at God because He wasn't showing me the real meaning behind His death and how I couldn't grasp the meaning of the verses that said that "God's love is unfailing" and "For God so loved the world" and so on and so forth. I felt trapped when year after year passed and I still seemed stuck at the same bland plateau that I had always been on - inches away from grasping the true meaning of my faith and yet still falling short of feeling God's love wrap around me. 

I started giving up because I figured that maybe this was reality and no one really "fell in love with God" and they were just pretending to look like good little Christians. I wrote a letter to a friend once and said that I had realized that this was how it was going to be for me. I wouldn't ever have that heady experience of God's love; instead I would have just a steady knowledge of the love that Scripture assured me was there. 

But as that sank in, I realized that it wasn't enough. If other people had this exhilaration, I wanted it to. But I couldn't figure out how to grasp it and hold it. There were moments, yes, when I knew without a doubt that God loved me and my heart would jump and I would laugh with pure joy. But those moments were few and far between and they didn't satisfy the hunger I felt to know God and fall securely in His unfailing love.  

So I kept stumbling and praying and crying out to God that it wasn't fair and that I didn't understand and that I needed His help. 

But, as usual, nothing came. 

I grasped at solutions that didn't work, I tried this and that and the next thing, I delved into every single idea I could think of that would force me to open up my eyes to God's love and none of them worked. I was right back where I started. 

Frustrated, discouraged, and helpless. 

And then I started a course of joy. Through the writing of Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts (which I have referred to many times lately :D), I began to realize that thankfulness was the only way to fully realize God's love because that is how He shows His love to us anyway. Through the gifts He pours out on us every day. 
I started (ok, I attempted to start - it's really difficult to change old habits and start thanking God for everything!) the list of one thousand gifts and that didn't go to well (I'm still going at it, but one thousand is a looong way off  :-/ ) but another thing that did go better was that I started reading the Bible in a different way. 
Instead of just reading to read, I started paying attention to what I was reading and made more of an attempt to understand the meaning of what I was reading. I was amazed at what I found.

One verse especially hit me. 

Psalm 50:23 - He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.

It was exactly what I wanted. To be shown the salvation of God. To know and fully realize why He died on that cross besides the Sunday School pat answer "to save us from our sins". 

I wanted to know why He cared that we were saved, why He went through the suffering and rose from the dead, why it made any difference to Him that we went to heaven instead of hell. I had a hundred whys and no answers. So I figured that I would prepare the way for God to show me the meaning of His salvation. 

I sacrificed thank offerings in the form of prayer and praise. And I know that makes me sound really holy and all that, but, to be honest, I still forgot to thank Him over and over. 

Praise God for His forgiving spirit...

The answer came with swiftness that knocked me off my spiritual feet. 

He showed it to me in Hebrews 12.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

I had read and heard this verse a million times (exaggeration added) and I had never seen the answer to my questions buried inside it. 

Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...

It all sort of dawned on me in an instant. One of those flashes when suddenly you realize how stupid you've been. Or, as my friend says, "a real "duh" moment".

Jesus died so that we could be forgiven, yes. But there was another reason. A much bigger reason. 

The joy. 

The joy set before Him. What He was looking forward to. 

And that was the sin barrier crashing down so that He could enjoy real communion with us. So that we could draw near to Him without our sin getting in the way and spoiling the sweetness of the relationship He longs to have with us. 

And when I realized that, I realized the worth I have to God. I'm not just one of the millions whose sins were forgiven by His blood. I'm a personal reason for His death. For the joy of communion with me, He suffered and died. 

And that's a humbling and honoring thought at the same time. 

And it makes all the difference in my view of God. 

That He died for the joy of a relationship with me. That that was the joy set before Him that He died to gain. 

Just thinking about it makes me feel so incredibly small and yet so incredibly awed. 

The King of Heaven died for the joy of drawing me near to Him. 

Where else can you find love like that?

'Till next time,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week in Review

Sweet mother of mercy; I survived!

Four days of clinicals are in my past and I can now stay up later than 9:30 and turn off my 5 a.m. alarm.

Such luxury.

And just when I was getting used to these hours...

Truly though, I'm very satisfied. I am eons more confident about the vocation and though nursing home care is probably not what I want to go into, I've realized that I do enjoy the job (though how those overworked CNAs manage nine or ten residents in the morning is quite beyond my comprehension).

I suppose I could do a rundown of how I spent those eight hours every day, but my journal was already bored by that. I'll just do some highlights.

Monday: when the resident I was caring for told herself over and over where I was so that she could tell me when I got back that she remembered where I had gone. She really was a dear; winking and smiling and waving at me. :)

Tuesday: when one of the residents at my table at lunch gave me one of her birthday cookies after we sang "Happy Birthday" to her. She was so sweet about it.

Wednesday: when the usually ornery resident that I was assigned to with my partner was an angel the whole shift and I got a chance to become more proficient in the use of mechanical lifts and take on more of a responsibility role with a complete assist resident who couldn't walk.

When I had an opportunity to follow a CNA around and help with her tasks and chat with her, which, in turn gave me many experiences that I would otherwise have missed.

When I got to play my flute for the residents at lunch. :)


Thursday: my partner and I were able to care for two residents and get them both to breakfast on time. I was able to dress a patient completely on my own and get a few more experiences that I really wanted to practice.

When one of the patients on the Alzheimer's floor told me that she enjoyed talking to me because I had "some brains". I'm still not sure if I should regard it as a compliment or an insult... Lol.

So that pretty much sums up my week! I'm going to relax tonight with my brother's birthday meal and Arsenic and Old Lace.

'Till next time,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wrenches

Wow, I feel productive. I'm actually not writing on a Wednesday and I'm a day early! And I actually have a specific topic to share!

Is it just me or does something feel seriously wrong here?

Let me check and make sure the moon isn't full and the world isn't ending.

So, to begin...

Last night I was in bed thinking about the week I had ahead of me. Behind me, Monday morning/afternoon I had already put another day of skills in the books and studied for an hour the material for the test this morning.  I was thinking ahead about the test and studying for the skills on Wednesday and my fist clinical on Thursday and some plans my friends and I were making for Friday and Saturday and in and around those activities.

As usual, I was organizing my upcoming week and deciding when and where I would do this and that and how I would fit studying in, when I would go shopping for clinical supplies, when I would pack lunches for all these things, when I would talk to people about schedules, when I would get a shower in (yes, I do plan that too...), when I should get up in the mornings to get to clinicals, where I'll put the things I need, when I'll pack the things I need and where I'll leave them and the list could go on. 

I'll spare you, though.

I like my life to be organized and planned out. I like to know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it. And that's not a  bad thing. Not if you don't let your plans overtake your life. 

That's my problem.

I've become so excessive in my planning, so exact about the order in which things will happen that I panic when the smallest thing intrudes in my life. I frantically rearrange my schedule to accommodate the new disturbance and find another level of organization. Another groove where I control everything and everything happens according to plan. 

James 4:13-15 sums this up perfectly:

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."  

It's not the planning for the future that's wrong. It's the leaving God's will out of the picture. It's the grasp I have on my life, the control, that I won't give up. That's the problem. 

I'm so focused on what I'm doing next, what's next on the agenda, that I am literally ignoring all else until my work is finished. Brothers and sisters get yelled at for interrupting, frustration builds when chores need to be done in the middle of what I want to do, people get cut off because their conversations take too long and I need to get on to the next thing, I get stressed out because I can't control annoyances and they interrupt and bother me. I have such a tight grip on life that a wrench in my plans can send me into a tizzy. 

And God knows it. I've allotted Him a half hour in the morning and even that has a strict routine to it. I read this and this and this and this and then I review this and memorize this. It's so strict that I'll rush through a passage just to stay on track and I don't stop anymore to savor the words. 

I can't. 

I have to stay on schedule, here, Lord! 

So, basically what God showed me last night (once He got through the tangle of Jell-O pudding cups, plastic spoons, study hours, alarm settings and other planning-oriented things that were churning in my brain) was that  when I have such a tight grip on my schedule, I don't give Him any room to work in my life. 

The things He sends my way are ignored in the interests of my schedule, the blessings He tries to bestow through Scripture go unnoticed or are rushed by, the gifts I should be writing down get a perfunctory look and a rushed "thanks a lot God" in passing. I'm only looking ahead to what I have to do. I don't have time to stop and smell the fall air or bask in the glory of an autumn sun through yellow leaves or even really pay attention to what's really important. 

I'm choking life out through my desire - my need - for control.

So, the main point I'm trying to get across is not a sappy, time-worn adage of "stop and smell the roses!", but more like what my Dad told me when I told him I didn't think I wanted to be a CNA after I finished this course. 

Don't limit God. 

Don't tell God what you're going to do or what you don't think you want to do. Don't get yourself into a mindset that says "No, God. I won't do that." Don't give up trusting that He knows what is best and that He works out everything for good. Don't organize your life so much that you don't leave room for the occasional wrench that gets thrown in.

It's not worth it. It really isn't. 

In a tacky summary: God's wrenches are always for your good. 

He wouldn't send them if they weren't part of His plan and He knows the plans He has for you. And He promises that they'll prosper you and not harm you and that they'll give you hope and a future. You never know what is in store for you. 

'Till next time,