Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

"O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain: O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength: Lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God.  Behold, the Lord God will come with power, and His arm shall rule for Him: Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.  He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall guide them with young."  -Isaiah 40:9-11

"For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given:And the government is upon His shoulder, and He shall call His name, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of peace.  The increase of His government and peace shall have none end: He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to stablish it with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."  -Isaiah 9:6-7

Confessional Creed (Nicene Creed)

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living."

"Many waters cannot quench love, 
neither can the floods drown it: 
If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, 
it would utterly be contemned."  ~Song of Solomon 8:7

I have always loved this verse, partly because I hope that one day when I am married this will be the description of the love between my husband and I.  "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."  The flow of the music in these words are mystically romantic, at least to a girl with extreme romantic inclinations.  Like me.  However, in our "girlish romantic inclinations" many times we can distort the view of true biblical love.  We develop a false misconception of happily ever afters, goosebumps and shivers down the spine, sentimentally romantic candlelight and flowers, irrationality, and...you know...all those things girls love.  Basically the belief that when two people fall head-over-heels there is nothing but happiness and passion and bliss and eternal peace is, quite frankly, the idea that has brainwashed our minds by romantic novels and Hollywood.

But don't get me wrong, there is happiness and passion and bliss in true love.  There are happily ever afters, goosebumps and shivers down the spine, sentimentally romantic candlelight and flowers, and so forth in true love and marriage, in a biblical, God-defined way.  We cannot automatically dismiss the love-making as off-limits to Christians as something irreligious, and make love into some hard-core lack-of-feeling mentality.  Definitely not.  God delights in love and marriage.  The Bible speaks many times on the aspect of love between a man and a woman, and even the romantic details that follow (Song of Solomon is an perfect example).

Nevertheless, girls are emotional.  Very emotional, very dramatic, very romantically inclined, and they we love every aspect of those wishy-washy feelings of love.  Why? We are women.  When a movie ends in a very happily ever after we get a feeling of gleesome "Oh I can't wait until that happens to me!"  Trust me, girls are oftentimes hard to understand, even for me being one of them, especially when it comes to our romantic tendencies.  Unfortunately we would sometimes rather live in a romance fantasy than the real world.

There is a destructive force of evil conforming the minds of young people today regarding love and marriage.  Not only are they encouraged to wait to get married until later in life, but when they do get "involved" there is a lot of fantasy regarding intimate relationships between young men and women, and it is initiated by Hollywood as a flirtatious and selfish type of love.  However, this is totally contrary to the biblical definition of true love.  

This post is not specifically targeting the differences between the world's version of love versus the Bible's, important though the subject matter may be.  Instead, I see most of all a disturbing amount of longing and sighing amongst girls wishing and hoping and praying for the right man to come along, especially Christian young women.  Perhaps it is because we are trying to live according to God's standards, which includes courtship and marriage, so we are often unhappy with our situation in life as we wait for "the one."  We may know what true love is, and we may be waiting expectantly for it, but sometimes we are so downright discouraged that we become discontent with our lot in life.

"Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living." -Jim Elliot

I come across the above quote one day in a book and it cause me to pause and wonder.  Jim Elliot was writing to his fiancee Elizabeth (who would later become his wife), and it surprised me that he would have such a surrendering attitude.  At that time they were both separated by many miles, and it was rare when they were able to see each other.  Yet still Jim Elliot wrote those words to her.  He understood how hard it was to surrender his life completely to God in every area, especially when it was concerning his love life.  More than anything he wanted to marry his beloved.  Nevertheless he understood that a person's intense longings must not slay the appetite of their living, or it will waste their life.

Because girls are eccentrically romantic we tend to look to the feelings that make us feel good.  In doing this we do not realize how easly we sow the seeds of discontentment.  Whether we are still waiting, or whether we know who God has intended for us, we all can have the same problem.  Our longings will absolutely destroy the moments we have for living a life dedicated to God—out of marriage or in marriage.  If we succumb to  disastrous feelings of longing that we cannot control, how will we ever be satisfied with what God has given us?

Trust me, I now that waiting and hoping is no easy task.  God gave every woman an inner desire to be loved by a man, but that is not a license for not living our lives.  In each of our lives—no matter our age or station—we can all invest in the families that God has placed us in, and develop the gifts He has blessed us with.  All too soon we will be starting families of our own, if it is God's will.  One day we will be enjoying an incredible amount of happiness as the man God has for us woos and wins us.  Then our womanly desires will be completed in an even fuller sense.

But until then, we are complete in Christ.  We have His love.  We are His part of His bride.  More than anything else, we are to be satisfied in Him.

And then one day we will be united in holy matrimony, and experience something grand and marvelous beyond our wildest dreams—biblical romance at its fullest.  In my opinion, that is far better than what the world has to offer.

"Delight thyself also in the LORD; 
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 
Commit thy way unto the LORD; 
trust in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." ~Psalm 37:4-5

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful in Thought and Love

I would have to say that I am most thankful for love.

Because love can cover just about everything.  It was love that sent our Savior to the cross to pay for our sins.  It is love that unites family and friends together—knit in harmony.  It is love that is the greatest of all virtues (1 Cor.13).  It is love that says "I love you and I'm willing to deny myself for you" (John 15:13).  It is true love that is not just a feeling but a commitment.  It is love that God gives everyday in His mercy, grace, and forgiveness, in giving us life and health and raiment and shelter.  I'd say that love ranks tops on my list.

It is hard for me to fathom the depth of love.  And when I say love, I'm not talking about this modern Grecian-version of love that happens between a guy and girl at first sight—you know, the head-over-heels type.  Of course there will be romance and all that goo in courtship and marriage (c'mon, every girl likes it!), but I am referring to: A father's tender embrace.  A mother's warm smile.  A sister's giggle.  A blossoming friendship.  A brother's silly joke.  A gathering of thankful hearts.  Worship and praise to God.  A baby's cherub dimpled grin.  Commitment.  Encouragement.  Faithfulness.  Devotion.  Inspiration.  Joy.  And many other such blessings.  The simple yet most profound things of life.

Thanksgiving is most definitely a time of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator, even though every day ought to be the same.  Now is a time when we sit back and thank God for all of the blessings He has imparted to His humble subjects.  Because the truth is, He has done so much for us and we barely even recognize His presence in our lives.  Many times we take God for...heaven forbid...granted.  How in the world could such lowly people, basically scum in God's sight because of our sin, take the Most Holy One for granted when He has done so much for us?

In fact, it is very easy.  We get caught up in our own little worlds of selfishness and pride, and forget that it was God who made us, God who gives us breath each day, and God who could take away everything we hold dear in a heartbeat.  Simply because He is God, completely sovereign, and He has every right to do what He deems best.  Simply because He is God.  And that is why I am most thankful for love because I see love in the grace of God that He would give us even a tiny morsel of bread, or a glimmer of light in darkened lives, or forgiveness amidst our sin.  Or so much more that we don't even deserve.

It was love that shaped our individual lives.  It is love that continues to shape our lives according to His will and plan.  It is love that I hold most dear, and I believe that love sums up our entire lives.  Love is salvation and sanctification all rolled into one.

May y'all have more than just a blessed Thanksgiving—may it be full of the richest and deepest love imaginable.  May God shine His love upon you and your families, and rain down many blessings upon each individual.  Remember that it is love that keeps us going, so I believe it is our duty to love in return.  And not just an ordinary type of love either.  An incredible, sacrificing, amazing, forgiving, inspirational, joyful, heroic love.  And let us rejoice in the goodness of God, because of His love.

"But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: 
let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: 
let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee." -Psalm 5:11

Monday, November 14, 2011

Magical Reality

Life is busy this time of year.  The pecan trees are ripe in harvest, my mind and hands are busy with Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, the leaves keep turning colors and enveloping the ground (and I just love Fall walks as the leaves crunch underneath my feet!), I'm reveling in continual happiness, friendship is blooming and blossoming, and I am satiated in God's goodness.  Life couldn't possibly be any better from my point of view.

Liberty loving our huge pile of leaves

This past month and a half has almost been eye-opening for me.  I am amazed at God's goodness each morning that I behold a new day.  Although family relationships remain top priority, friendship is a beautiful thing, even outside the home.  Especially that friendship which has lasted years and years, ever since childhood.  It is a bittersweet and nostalgia feeling to see life-long friends that were playmates as children suddenly become men and women.  Where does time go?  Life suddenly seems to become confusing, exciting, unbelievable, and incredible at the same time.  A friendship that remains devoted, loyal, and constant is a friendship that will press on to even greater heights.  And that is a blessing from God.

I don't think I need say I am sated.  It is bliss. It is magical. It is grace. It is happiness. It is wondrous.

"Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: 
so doth the sweetness of a man's friend 
by hearty counsel." -Proverbs 27:9

"Iron sharpeneth iron; 
so a man sharpeneth 
the countenance of his friend."
-Proverbs 27:17

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Poetical Song in the Midst of a Multitude of Color

I'm back to blogging after a month's leave of absence, and a two-week trip back home in Indiana.

I must say, I miss all the excitement and adventure we experienced during those wonderful two weeks.  I greatly miss the dear folks with whom we spent many hours laughing and talking—all the thrilling memories we now have to look back to—and I can't help thinking about how changed I am as I come back home.


 Home is where the heart is, or so I've been told.  Home is where loved ones gather each day.  Home is where there is laughter and play and memories.  Home is where Christ dwells in the midst of an institution that He created.  Home is lots of babies squealing around the hearth.  Home is wherever we meet in love and friendship.   

I love the sound of the word home.  It invokes a cheery sort of warmth in the pit of one's stomach, just like watching flames dance in a fireplace on a chilly Autumn evening with a friend.  All is peace, all is quiet, but there is such depth and significance to the silence.  I feel at home right now in the comfort of my own house, yet I can't help but miss the home that we left behind in the hearts of all our friends and family in Indiana.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Bliss is rather hard to describe, at least in my point of view.  How does one begin to express the deep yearning of love and ecstasy and excitement and incredibility and unbelievability and joy that comes from each blessing of God?  I know that I am not worthy to even attempt to describe it, except in these three words: God. Is. Sovereign.

God's sovereignty has everything to do with life.  It declares that He is in control of every aspect of our lives; it proclaims His goodness and wisdom and power and might; it sings loudly of His faithfulness to those who love Him (Rom.8:28); it shouts to the north, south, east, and west that He is the Creator, Master, and Lord of the universe.  It proclaims His majesty and holiness.

I feel so wonderful right now that I feel like singing.  My heart is too full for words.  Or is it?

At times when life seems too complicated
All I have to do is sit back and think
That the full picture is really so simple
And so much faster than the eye can blink

The colors of Autumn are a rare beauty
That only come once a year
Purple, orange, green, red, and yellow
Make God's love even more near

Love is a glorious thing
I can't even imagine its depth and height
One moment I cry in doubt
The next makes my throat swell tight

God's grace sometimes seems strange
But that is the mystery behind glory
Why some are called and others not
Is a deep and majestic story

A woman's emotions are a crazy ride
No finite man can understand
From happy to sad all day long
But even through that I can feel God's hand

True love is not just a feeling
Like Hollywood and storybooks say
True love is a biblical definition
That will last through even the roughest day

It is times like these when there's nothing to say
Yet I seem to think the most
Right now my heart is too full for words
Filled with peace from the Holy Ghost

There was a lot of happiness that happened on our trip, some of which I can't even begin to tell.  The joy of seeing lifelong friends once again, and the fulfillment of spending time with family members, is practically indescribable.  Even the photographer's lens is unworthy to capture such moments.

fishing ;)

friends for always

 Father and Son


 Mischievous =)

 Football player in-the-making

 Photographer's battle


 Best Friends!

 Darling Little Bit!

 Cousin Elaina~So Sweet!

 Grandparents' love

 Self-portraits~love my new camera!

 Theater night with best friends~Courageous was fantastic!

 Autumn definitely is my favorite season of the year!

 My favorite Monkey!

 Old-fashioned preacher

 Guys and Guns

Unfortunately I couldn't post all of my pictures like I did on facebook...way too many!  But from the few that I have posted you can see a wee portion of the immense fun that we had every day.  We didn't want our trip to end, but as we know, all good things must come to an end.  Bummer.

So for now I'll just enjoy my new COOLPIX L100 15x wide optical zoom camera and my beautiful blue chocolate cellphone. Did I mention that I was extremely happy?

Joy cometh in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5