Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fatherhood in Form

When all else crumbles and falls
When evil men forsake God's laws
Biblical fatherhood stands firm
When all others fail to meet the term

Courageous fathers create the might
For a nation to rise and fight
A peoples' standard is what makes them free
And this is what good fathers see

True fatherhood will lead the way
Invest in their children every day
Train the next generation what's right
So they will never forsake God's Light

Fatherhood's form stands straight and tall
Strong and ruled by God's Law
Every thought captive to God's Word
With greed and lust they can't be lured

Godly fathers won't flow with the flow
Or blow wherever the wind listeth to go
The armor of God's Word makes them strong
And prepares them to battle right from wrong

The form of a father ought to be brave
With a legacy they'll take to their grave
No feminized man to be our lead
But a righteous and bold man we need

Alas, this day so many men lack
To carry their gun and hoist their pack
Men have failed as soldiers of God
To spread liberty wherever they trod

But hope remains among the dust
Not all men have begun to rust
Fatherhood's form is rising in men
Who bravely stand to fight and win

A father cannot just be any man
It takes more than most men can
It's sacrifice until the very end
And raging storms that God does send

Reward always seems so far out of reach
Until little ones live what you did teach
God will bless the righteous even in trial
And give them strength for every mile

The simple and weak will not last
But will fade far away into the past
Only true fathers will never die
As their memories rise in triumph's cry

History will remember their day
Of how they rose to pave the way
They never gave up no matter the cost
Or worldly pleasures that were lost

God gave them strength to press on
And gird their bodies in manly brawn
These men—courageous, fearless, and bold
Fight with the Sword that they hold

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Liberty Home School Graduation Class of 2012

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."  -Philippians 3:13-14
I used to think that this day would never come.  As a little girl I couldn't wait to grow up, be done with school, and finally become an adult as I had always wished to be.  I used to think that meant being able to do whatever I wanted to do, but the older I became, the more I realized this was the furthest thing from the truth.  And now, as I enter graduation, I realize it even more so.  True maturity is not just in age, but in behavior, and that is a hard lesson I am still learning.

It's almost a scary thought of never getting back a special period of life.  Eighteen years of my life have now been lived.  I have gone through much laughter and tears, sorrow and bliss, heartache and happiness, pain and pleasure, grief and joy, discontentment and ease, anger and peace, strife and harmony, and I can say without remorse, it has all been worth it.  I have had my own fair share of being an unthankful and rebellious daughter; I have experienced more than enough of doubting faith; I have lacked in many areas that I should have been triumphing in; I have wallowed in the mire of self-pity—yet God has never failed me nor left me to the evil devices of my sinful heart.

He has been good to me for eighteen years by giving me amazing parents that I don’t deserve, and seven wonderful siblings who have had to put up with me being the oldest.  Although we may not be the wealthiest family in material possessions, I believe I am the luckiest and richest girl to be alive.  I have love.  I have refuge.  I have protection.  I have friendship.  I have family.  I have salvation.  I have eighteen years to my credit.  I have an abundant life to look forward to.  I have joy.  I have unending love and forgiveness from my heavenly Father.  I have the life of a wife and mother to look forward to.  I have so many blessing to be thankful for!  As I look at the whole picture of life, it isn’t bleak; rather, life is bliss!

Twelve years is a long time.  During the middle of those twelve years I thought it was the longest period of my entire life.  I remember wanting to grow up more than anything else in the world.  Time ticked too slowly for my taste, although my parents prudently advised me that before I knew it I would be looking back wondering where the time went.  How right they were!  Now looking back I realize that I was in too much of a hurry.  My goal during school was just to get by so that I could be done.

Graduation was a mark of achievement in my mind of throwing away childhood and becoming an adult.  I also looked forward to never having to open a school book again (although I didn't realize that one day I would be teaching my own children, and thus, opening those once-dreaded school books).  I thought that once I was done with my twelve years of education, I would never have to worry about "school" again.  Now that my twelve years are up, I understand that all of life is learning.  We don't stop learning until the day we die.  Education doesn't stop with graduation, for I hope that I will continue to learn more and more the rest of my life.  Right now I feel like I still have so much to learn!

A phase of childhood is now passed.  I don't have the feeling I thought I would have.  I used to think that graduation would begin a new kind of "freedom" for me: freedom from rules, freedom from learning, freedom from long tedious hours hunched over a desk with a stubby pencil in my aching fingers while the clock still said two hours until torture was over, freedom from childhood, and freedom the restrictions of boredom.

Although it was subtle, those attitudes were really a form of feminist independence that I couldn't wait to exercise once I "grew up" and became able to do whatever I wanted to do.  But now, I actually feel like I am saying goodbye to a dear friend I will never see again, for I will never have those twelve years back.  Maybe my thoughts have changed towards my now-past school days.  What used to be an enemy has become a memory that I will hold forever—that of learning at home with my siblings under the careful wisdom and tutelage of my parents.

With this apprehension of melancholy sadness and sobriety comes excitement.  This day that I have looked forward to for so long has finally arrived!  I don't feel very worthy or proud in one respect.  There were times I hated doing school, as I'm sure every child feels at some point.     There were many days that I didn't care if I learned anything or not, for, quite frankly, there were times I was rebellious and didn't want to learn anything.

There were days when the work was harder than usual and I wanted to quit.  Then there were days when I was so lazy I just didn't want to do the simplest things.  Nevertheless, although there are things I regret, especially not making the most of my time and trying to learn all I could, I am very thankful for the time God gave me to learn, and the little bit of knowledge I have acquired in these twelve years.

I could not have succeeded if it had not been Christ who strengthened me (Phil. 4:13), and my parents who urged me on.  I can say, like Robert E. Lee, George Washington, Charles Spurgeon, and many others have said in the past, that I owe everything to the wisdom, guidance, and teaching of my parents.  Most young people do not realize until they grow older how much influence their parents really have on them, and how much they owe everything to the love and care of the ones who raised them.  I want to carry on the legacy that my parents have tried to instill in me, so that not only will they be proud of me, but so that my children and other future generations will be taught the same things my parents have taught, and continue to teach me.

I am thankful for the direction they have led me in.  Without their guidance I would be wandering and lost right now, with no direction, no futuristic goals, no dreams to live out, and certainly no purpose for my life.  Everything I am and ever even dare to hope to be can only be credited to my parents, who have always been faithful, even when I wasn't faithful to them.

3 John 4 says that, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."  I want to be a cornerstone, polished after the similitude of a palace (Psalm 144:12).  I don't want to be an example of what a child should not be; instead, I want to make my parents proud.

This is not just an ending, but a very bright beginning.  My school days have ended, but so much life is still awaiting me.  All I have to do is live it out.  First and foremost my goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in everything I do, as 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

One cannot have a wonderful, fulfilling life outside of Jesus Christ.  Without Him no one can be anyone.  A life without Christ is fleeting, unfulfilling, and completely worthless.  Christ is the only thing, but everything to live for!  Without Him there is no direction, no purpose, no goal, and no meaning to life.  My hope is to live a long, happy, and productive life, as I'm sure every human being hopes for, and that can only be accomplished in Jesus Christ who is sovereign over all of life.

Secondly, as a new beginning looms in front of me, my futuristic goal is to become a wife and mother, as God has ordained for women.  I don't see a homemaker's life as drudgery or a slave in chains under patriarchal tyranny.  Instead I understand that true biblical womanhood is a woman's greatest calling.  A woman is not just a wife and mother, but an entrepreneur, a helpmeet, a giver of progeny to be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth, and so much more!  She is most successful in any work in her own God-ordained territory: the home.

What I have learned in these past twelve years will be the foundation for the rest of my life, as well as putting it into practice, not only in what I do, but when I begin to teach my own children in later years.  The principles and life lessons I have learned were designed to continue to teach me and lead me in the direction I am heading.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  -Proverbs 22:6

This is a big step I am taking, of one ending and another beginning, and it is my prayer that I do not fail in the tasks God has given me.  Presently my goal is to serve God in whatever capacity He leads me, whether it is the seemingly mundane chore of daily life, a trial I am tested with, or a brand new adventure that I have always dreamed of.  My prayer is that I always remain faithful to the calling therewith I have been called, as I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, as He leads me throughout life.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him; and He shall direct thy paths."  -Proverbs 3:5-6

As the old words ring true:
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Old Gray Uniform

Folded and tucked away in a wooden drawer
Lays an old tattered suit of gray
Blood and mud has long stained its color
From a battlefield where the soldier lay

Once he fought for his native land
To protect her purity from uncouth invaders
He battled courageously against blue bellies—
Men who were freedom-haters

Now his uniform lays forlorn
There's not much occasion to take it out
The sight of it usually brings tears
Memories of a bloody bout

The soldier's back was once young and strong
But now he's bent with age
He will never forget the Southern struggle
Of warring against a tyrant's rage

He was once the emblem of the South
Young, strong, and fervently proud
But now he's a forgotten old man
Whose voice is not so loud

Yet he is still just as proud
He still walks with a firm step
His old musket, though a mockery to some
Will always shadow his doorstep

His gray uniform once had a purpose
To fight Liberty's battle
But now—forgotten like its wearer
Is thrown into the mud by prattle

The old gray uniform is an emblem
Of a glory forever long gone
Of a day when the man was young
And his gun was drawn

The old gray uniform is still in battle
Of fighting evil invaders
Men who don't understand liberty
Wicked men who are God-haters

Friday, May 25, 2012

God is Good...All the Time?

Scene 1: A happy-go-lucky Irishman sitting in his fields of ripe, golden wheat with a huge smile on his face.  The sun is shining brightly, the sky is blue with white, puffy clouds lazing around, and birds are chirping gaily.  It is the perfect day.  "God, You are just absolutely amazing!  This day is perfect, my fields are ready to be harvested, and I feel so happy to be alive!  Life is grand, and God, You are so good to me!  Yep, God is good."  He nods his head in affirmation of what he just said as he looks about his beautiful wheat once again.  "Yes, God is good, all the time!"

Scene 2:  The puffy white clouds have tuned black and menacing, while the sun no longer shines.  The wind begins to pick up dangerously as storm clouds threaten to unleash their fury.  The happy-go-lucky Irishman now has a furrow between his brow as he gazes up into the sky and then back at his wheat.  Harvesting was to begin tomorrow. Thunder roars, startling the Irishman.  He runs for cover as the clouds suddenly open up and let loose torrents of pouring, gushing rain.  He ducks into his barn, soaked to the skin.  Worry lines increase on his forehead.  What had happened to his perfect day?  Stark fear springs into his eyes as he hears an unwelcome sound.  He prays his ears deceive him.  But no, his eyes confirm it.  It was hail.  "No, oh no, my wheat.  God, why are You doing this?!  What happened to doing what is best for me?  Don't You understand, that wheat is my livelihood!  What will I feed my family with if I haven't any money?  God, You're supposed to be good all the time!  No, please no.  God, if You truly do what is best for me, stop this hail before it completely destroys my crop!  God?  God!"

Just what is a fair-weather friend?  Someone who is not steadfast; able to be relied upon only when things are going well, much like the Irishman in the story.  When everything was going according to his plan, he trusted and relied upon God.  Yes, God was good then.  But as soon as things didn't go according to the man's plan, he lashed out at God.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." -Romans 8:28

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

A 15th Birthday!

Happy 15th Birthday to Kirstie Anne!

 The four oldests together

Gorgeous 15! ♥

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Life of a Slanderer

"It is one thing to lie to others.  It is still another matter to lie about others.  This involves slander.  To tell lies about other people is to cause them grave injury.  The Devil himself is the master of slander.  He encourages his disciples to engage in gossip, backbiting, and slander.  To steal a person's good name may be more harmful to the person than to steal their property.

"God is so concerned about slander and lying about others that He included a prohibition against it in His Ten Commandments: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor' (Exodus 20:16).

"The prohibition includes more than falsely accusing someone in a law court.  The responsibility in Israel to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a law court was taken very seriously.  If perjury was committed in the courts, the penalties ranged all the way to the death penalty.

"Justice cannot be maintained in the land unless the courts can be certain of the honesty of witnesses.  But on a more daily basis, injurious lies can take the form of slander.  Let us consider briefly the meaning and force of the verb 'to slander.'  To slander someone is to tell lies about him, lies the injure him.  Slander involves making an unjust accusation.  We have all felt the sting of being slandered.  It is one thing to suffer injury for sins of which we are guilty.  It is another thing to be punished for something we did not do.  No one enjoys the pain of false accusation.

"I labor the point of slander's being an injurious lie because it is one of the chief works of the Devil against God's people.  To slander a person is to injure that person's reputation.  Our reputations, our 'good names,' are important to our lives.  Life is difficult enough without trying to operate with an evil reputation."1

"Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." -Psalm 34:13

"He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool." -Proverbs 10:18

Slander is an ugly word.  Slander.  What do we think of when we hear the word?  Insult.  Smear.  Character assassination.  A once good name thrown in the mud.  Hatred.  Lies.  Cruelty.  Pride and jealousy.  Resentment.  Disgrace.  Tarnish.  Slander.

Slander is much like the cruelty seen in the classrooms of public-schooled kids.  Snooty high school girls picking on the one lonely outcast because of jealousy.  Rumors of character-slight.  Lies spread so that someone else looks bad and is discredited from teenage society [i.e. pride: a promotion of self].  From kindergarten to high school, kids sure know how to slander.  Another word is backbite.  Slander is much like grabbing a knife and stabbing someone in the back.  Most times slander will hurt much more than a protruding knife will.  Words have force.  Words have power.  And if used for evil, words cause wounds much deeper than a blade can go.

But it isn't just public-schooled kids who know how to be cruel.  Think about it.  Pride is a sin in everyone's life, and because pride only wants the promotion of self—for self to look better than everyone else—it is only a logical follow-up that the cruel words of slander and degradation will pursue.  Not just the world and its people, but Christians as well, our own friends and families even!  The life of a sibling is constantly filled with jealous lies about a sister and hateful, stinging words of degradation to a brother.  The same is said of life amongst friends. In an instant someone whom you thought loved and trusted you turns into a conniving, slanderous, roaring lion, seeking to devour.

"Lie not to one another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." -Colossians 3:9-10

Lying creates a vast majority of tension and even hatred between people.  The guilty party who does the slandering, miserable are they!   "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified" (1 Thessalonians 4:6).  As for the innocent to whom the slander is against, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-48).

For those of us who have had to deal with friends or family creating rumors behind our backs, loving that person is a hard thing to do. Sometimes it seems impossible even.  Why would they do such a thing when they were once a good friend?  Why would they pretend to love us, and in the next instant stab us in the back?  These are difficult questions to answer.  Perhaps some kind of jealousy and resentment on their part.  Maybe they were never really the person we thought them to be in the first place.

It still hurts.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." -Ephesians 4:31-32

Forgive them?

Why should they be forgiven when they have spread lies about me, hurt me, caused strife between us, ruined friendships, created division, and slandered my once good name?  They don't deserve my forgiveness!

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." -1 Peter 3:8-12

As we have seen many times, the tongue can be the unruliest member of our body (James 3:6-18).  First of all the sin of envy, jealousy, or hatred causes unrest in the heart, which then proceeds in slander, lies, and evil words from our fire-of-a-tongue.  There is no other cause for this, except pride and self-love.  Self-love is angered when we think another person looks better than us in front of other people.  Pride is miffed when someone else is better than we are.  Therefore, the tongue begins to wag, degradation causes catastrophe, and before we know it, the situation is out of hand and people are hurt because of our slander.  Our pride and self-love can't stand for someone else to be in the limelight.  "I can do better than that!"  Self says.  "I am better than that!"

Unfortunately our personal pride is strong.  Pride is happily uplifted when someone else is degraded.  We think that it makes us look good when we make others look bad.  However, we don't realize that no one likes a slanderer.  No one lasts long in a friendship with slander.  A true friend is one "that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor" (-Psalm 15:3).  A true friend dies to self, and that means he will not care whether another person looks better than him in front of others or not.  It is only those with evil intentions of heart who will spread the rumors, start the gossip, and create the lies.  A mean word is like a cruel slap in the face.  It stings, it burns, it causes embarrassment, but the one who looks the fool is the one who did the slapping.

The Lord abhors the lies of a slanderer.  "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer" (Psalm 101:5).  Instead, He demands a loving heart.  "To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing meekness unto all men" (-Titus 3:2).

The effects of slander are very dangerous.  Therefore it is our duty to beware of the trap we all so easily fall into.  Whether it is a look, a glance, a whisper, a cutting remark, it is to be removed far from us.  Slander creates more problems than we know what to do with.  Slander is the treacherous enemy of friends and family alike.  It separates the very best of friends and the closest brothers and sisters, if it is loosed.  Slander destroys, whereas love creates.  While slander is forgivable, first of all it must be repented of.  Our tongues must be guarded by the Word of God, and the sins of envy, jealousy, pride, and self-love—which causes slander—must be isolated from our heart.  No good thing comes from the maliciousness of slander.  It is a life of wounds and friction.  And it is not a life worth living.

"A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends." -Proverbs 16:28

"The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." -Proverbs 18:8

"Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer the strife ceaseth." -Proverbs 26:20

"The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." -Proverbs 26:22 (Repeated from Proverbs 18:8)

Footnote 1 R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God: Overcome the obstacles that keep you from honoring God, pg. 196-197, 199; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois, 1988.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What It Means To Be a Mother

Any woman can have a baby
But it takes much more to be a mother
A special kind of rare quality
—Something better than any other

Any woman can have a child
Even the unworthy know the way
But the rarest kind can be a mother
—Something you can't find just any day

To be a mother is a high calling
It takes a lot of sacrifice
The joy, the sorrow, the pain and tears
Is a dear, but well-worth price

A mother is a fruitful vine
Who sees children as God's reward
Her duty is to train them well
And raise them in the fear of the Lord

A mother is compassion and love
The one who kisses our bruises goodbye
In her embrace is found pleasing  peace
And on her shoulder we can cry

A mother is wreathed in gentleness
Her hands welcome a soft touch
Her voice is kind and sweet to the ear
To nothing compares her hugs—not much!

Made in beautiful form and heart
Her eyes hold heavenly wonder
She finds blessed joy in her children
She loves us even when we blunder

Even in the midst of wrong-doing
Her patience is an endless fountain
Though there are times when discipline is needed
She gladly faces each fiery mountain

A mother is one to whom children run
They can never get enough of her love
A look, a glance, the slightest touch
Has more meaning than the stars above

A mother has such influence
Her children crave her approval
She has the gift to give them care
Or drive them away with her removal

A mother will raise her children
To show them the way of life
What it means to be a godly woman
Both as a mother and a wife

She is diligent in all she does
She never wastes a precious minute
Self-sacrifice is great, but reward is greater!
Her every desire is to win it

The fruit of her hands is blessed
She is the keeper of the home
Her children will always remember their training
No matter where their feet do roam

It takes a lot to be a mother
Not just any woman can do the job
Though there is a lot of hardship
The bliss nothing can ever rob

It takes grace to be a mother
God must give the strength for each day
But oh, how sweet a baby's coo
And a child with much to say!

Though the back becomes bent with age
Though the years take their toil
A mother soon sees her babies grow up
Still she is a queen so royal

She will always be the same
Her glory will never fade
Her husband will never leave her
But keep true to the love God made

A mother is a special woman
A jewel among many thorns
Her heart is worth more than gold
Love and kindness her home adorns

Rise up and praise her, you her children
She has given you much to be thankful for
She is the treasure of the family
You could never ask for more

Friday, May 11, 2012

Zero Tolerance

"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." -1 Samuel 15:25a

Rebellion is nothing new to mankind.  God has had to deal with man's rebellion ever since Adam and Eve's sin in the garden of Eden, the Israelites in the wilderness, up to 21st century Christians of today.  It is a never-ending story, for there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).  For this cause, every parent has had to deal with the same willful clash of subordinate despising authority: the stubborn, defiant child resisting the parents' authority (i.e. submission crisis).

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farewell, Sweet School Days of Mine

I never thought I would actually be saying that.

I remember when I used to think about graduating and being done with my school days forever.  I longed for this day incredibly so, because I couldn't wait to "grow up" and finally be done with school.   I didn’t care what happened next, just as long as I finished in a hurry.

However, now that the day has come, I can’t help but look over the past twelve years and wish I had taken more advantage of being a schoolgirl.  I had wanted to grow up too fast.  And now that I have hit the "adult years," I can't help feeling a little mournful that those days are gone.  For good.

It's almost a scary thought of never getting back a special period of life.  Eighteen years of my life have now been lived.  I have gone through much laughter and tears, sorrow and bliss, heartache and happiness, pain and pleasure, grief and joy, discontentment and ease, anger and peace, strife and harmony, and I can say without remorse, it has all been worth it.  I have had my own fair share of being an unthankful and rebellious daughter; I have experienced more than enough of doubting faith; I have lacked in many areas that I should have been triumphing in; I have wallowed in the mire of self-pity—yet God has never failed me nor left me to the evil devices of my sinful heart.  He has been good to me for eighteen years by giving me wise parents that I don’t deserve, and seven wonderful siblings who have had to put up with me being the oldest (oh yeah, you younger siblings know what that means!).  Though we may not be the wealthiest family in material possessions, I believe I am the luckiest and richest girl to be alive.  I have love.  I have refuge.  I have protection.  I have friendship.  I have family.  I have salvation.  I have eighteen years to my credit.  I have an abundant life to look forward to.  I have joy.  I have unending love and forgiveness from my heavenly Father.  I have the life of a wife and mother to look forward to.  I have so many blessing to be thankful for!  Life isn’t bleak; life is bliss!

Look out world, here I come!  

I must admit, I am definitely not the most qualified to be growing up.  I still have so much to learn!  Just because I am graduating from my schoolgirl days does not mean I am fully prepared for anything that may come my way.  I will never stop learning on this journey of life, but that is the rewarding aspect of life!

The years have passed frightfully fast.  I used to think as a little girl that I would never grow up.  Life just wasn’t fast enough in my estimation.  My parents were always saying that life is actually too fast and I would realize it the older I grew, but I never could believe them.  Until now.  Now I understand just how fast life can be.

Thankfully I still have so much life to live ahead of me.  My dreams are still the same, and I plan to live them out.  My desire is still to become a wife and mother, all in God’s good timing (as hard as that is to say right now).  As for now, I can dwell in the knowledge that God is doing what is best for me—much better than I can even imagine.  In my impatience I cannot see what lies ahead.  In my finite “wisdom” I think that now would be best, but apparently God thinks differently.  For now, I rest content that one phase of life is over; many more are yet to come!

Just think.  Life is exciting.  Exhilarating.  Fulfilling.  Breathtaking even.  And it is all mine.  A gift from God.  One set of happy golden years are over, but there are others yet to come.  Even now I am experiencing a wonderful life!  So, farewell, sweet school days of mine.  I shan’t be remorseful, or regret the past, but instead press on toward new horizons.  There are too many grandiose dreams to live out in life, and I don’t want to miss out on even the smallest one.  Life is too precious.  Life is too fleeting.  One day I will look back on these days and wonder where the time went.  Just as I do now.  Goodbye, Happy Golden Years of schoolgirl days; hello Happy Golden Years of a brand new adventure!

Those Happy Golden Years

I never thought the goodbye would be tearful
When I waved my school days away
As I said goodbye to my childhood
And reached for a brand new day

I never thought I would miss those days
Of being young and learning a lot
Of books and pencils and aching fingers
And appliance of what I was taught

I'll miss being that little girl
Sometimes eager and sometimes glum
The dreary days I hated school
Once again those days will never come

I used to look forward to this day
Of being grown-up and free
But my childish naivety was sublime
To urge me on to what I wanted to be

I have found as the years have passed
That my time of learning does not end
My departed school days mark a beginning
Of a new horizon just over the bend

My outlook is bright as I press on
Excitement wonders what God has in store
I can only guess and be faithful to Him
As I spread my wings and step out the door

Farewell, good ole school days
Yesteryear seems so far away
Those happy golden years of being a child
Will never leave my memory from this day

Of how I was taught by the wisest parents
And learned side-by-side with siblings so dear
But now I have grown and those days are gone
My heart aches as I shed a mournful tear

Farewell forever, my sweet schoolgirl days
I press on to the mark of God’s calling for me
I’ll still be learning what life has to hold
A new dawn approaching I can see

I’ll miss you to a small extent
But I’m eager to experience something new
God has a plan for my life I know
—The big and little things I do

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When Dreams Come True

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, 
and obtaineth favor of the LORD." ~Proverbs 18:22

"To be a mother and homemaker and an environmental expert in designing a place for the particular blend of people which will be your family—to grow and develop—is an amazing possibility. To be at the same time a wife and a companion, an interesting, growing, changing, developing person in the eyes of the man you married—not for just two years nor twelve nor twenty nor thirty, but forty and fifty years—is an added portion of this career." ~Edith Schaeffer
Right now I'd say that my foremost wish (besides wanting to glorify God in all that I do) is to get married.  Yeah, that little-girl-dream all girls have.  Not because I want to escape the evil clutches of a tyrannical life at home, not because I want my woman's independence, not because I dislike being a daughter at home, but because I want to have a husband to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, to do his laundry, clean his house, make his meals, cook him scrumptious desserts, run to him and jump into his arms every day when he gets home from work, read a good book with him in bed, sneak chocolate and ice cream under the covers and giggle like secretive ten-year-olds, go walking in the park while holding hands and maybe even stop at the swing set, fall asleep on his shoulder under the stars on our front porch and have him carry me to bed, have him look deeply in my eyes and tell me how much he adores me as he whispers of my beauty (big imagination here), go on adventurous, romantic escapades, have our own candlelight dinners at home, give birth to his children, and on and on my simple list goes.
Okay.  I admit I have too many stars in my eyes.
Guess I forget to mention the countless times he will track muddy boots into the just-sparkling-clean house, the disagreements and arguments (hopefully those will be few and far in-between!), the time he will go to pick me up and drops me of all things (slow down on the chocolate, Rachel!), his grumpy mood after a long and tedious day at work, the nights he doesn't want to snuggle but goes right to sleep (bummer), the food I scorch, the times he is late coming home, my irritable moods, my impatience with the children when they are being too noisy in their play, the squalling baby who keeps me up every hour of the night, the day the washing and drying machine breaks down, the time I eat onions and he doesn't want to kiss me ("what's up with that, Honey?!"), the tears of frustration, the times when nothing in the house seems to stay clean,  and on and on this list can go.
It's a crazy world.  One moment we are living on the high of new love, and the next we are back to reality.  No worries.  That doesn't damper my desire to get married.  The good definitely far outweighs the bad.  Sometimes the cost is great, but the reward is just so much greater!
But because my aspiration to get married is greatly elevated, discontentment tends to seep into my life in paramount abundance.  Especially the older I grow.  God, my longing is too much to bear!  Marry me off soon...please?
Oh yes, I absolutely want to get married (and God, as a side note, soon...ahem...whenever You think best would be preferable!), but many times I approach my desire for marriage with the wrong attitude.  I'm telling God I know better concerning when I should get married, instead of submitting to His will.  Marriage is viewed with my two hungry eyes, regarding it as some earthly heavenly state more privileged than the one I'm in.  Not so.
Of course, as many married women can attest I'm sure, there is nothing compared to living with the love of your life, taking care of him, and all the benefits of marriage, but we unmarried gals still have a lot to learn that they already know.  Those married women already know that marriage isn't a bed of roses every day, every minute of the day (as wonderful as a bed of roses sounds).  There are problems to deal with, just as there are problems to deal with before we get married.

Oh well.  Life is life.  Life always have problems.  I for one am willing to take the problems with my dreams.  Dreams do come true, if you can recall Cinderella's story from back when you were five.  Maybe not in the fanciful fairytale Hollywood version of love, but dreams can become reality.  I know my dream to get married will come true one day, but in God's timing.  I simply have to trust Him with that epoch in my life.  I can feel the bliss just thinking about it...
If you think about it, dreams really do come true—the right kind of dreams that is.  Our dreams, hopes, desires, and expectations for the future must become God's desires (Psalm 37:4-5).  Only then will they come to pass.  We must give up ourselves completely to the will of God.  But guess what?  We will have a much more wonderful life because of it!  He will give us the desires of our hearts, because we will desire what God has in store for us—what He deems best.
When dreams come true.  It sounds like a fairytale.  Life is a fairytale of sorts sometimes, mixed with a heavy dose of realism and life (i.e. sin, fallen man, and the chore of daily living).  After all, life can't be all bliss and pleasure; life always has thorns with its roses.  Nevertheless, God is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28), and we should always remember that God's good is much better than our best.
 So I'll keep dreaming.  While living in the here and now.   One day my dreams will come true and I'll get to wear a fancy white dress and a veil with flowers in my hair and walk down the aisle on Daddy's arm to the man of my dreams who will be waiting at the alter. 
And I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Who is the fairest of us all?
I know it isn't me
The scars I can't hide
The times that I've lied
This ugly heart you see

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Who is the best one of us all?
I fear it isn't me
The trouble I create
The times that I hate
This ugly heart you see

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Who is the righteous one of all?
In tears—it isn't me
In sin and in wrong
I can never keep strong
A terrible wretch I be

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Why must I be the worst one of all?
Alas, yes this is me
My flesh is so weak
Self-love it does seek
Pride stops a bended knee

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
I am the basest one of all
What is wrong with me?
I try and I fail
I drown in a gale
My lips raise a frantic plea

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Who can save me from this fall?
I fail when I try
I need a hand
To help me stand
In despair I cry

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
Christ is the Savior of us all
I desperately need His strength
My sight is dim
Which is why I need Him
My rope has a very short length

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall
I found help after all
Humility paves my way
My outlook is bright
Guided by the Light
Peace and security liven my day

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Eye-Catcher

 (True modesty and purity in action)

Adeline sighed and pressed her nose up against the glass of her upstairs bedroom window that overlooked the quiet streets of a small but picturesque, old-fashioned town.  It was the beginning of springtime in Texas, for the warm weather had already arrived and the wild flowers by the roadside had already been showing their faces for several weeks now.  Adeline's eyes watched teenagers from the local high school as they walked—some in groups, others in pairs—along the streets of her town.  School had just let out for the day, but Adeline was bored because she had finished her book work hours ago, being home-schooled, along with her chores.  Now there was nothing to do but take her usual place at the window seat and watch high-schoolers that she could only long to be friends with.

Adeline slowly raised the window, and a fresh breeze whirled her hair around her face.  Her eyes particularly watched the teenage girls.  They were so different from her, with their tight shorts that Adeline's parents had strictly forbidden, tank tops which exposed too much skin, and jeans that all-too-clearly displayed their small but curvaceous hips.  Adeline understood the importance of modesty, but she didn't know why the guys of her town always wanted to hang out with those girls.  Guys didn't give her a second glance as she walked by in her modest and feminine apparel.  She couldn’t help feeling maybe she didn’t have what it took to please a man.  She hated her insecurity, but it was always there, staring her right in the face.

Adeline's eyes followed a particular group of older teenaged girls—the bright and sumptuously beautiful girls—and the ones who wore the skimpiest clothing and most daring makeup. To Adeline, they looked great, with their toned and tan legs, even if their shorts were too short.  Why is it that guys only go after those sorts of girls?

Adeline sighed once again and turned back to her open Bible that lay on her bed.  She was envious.  She was coveting.  God, it's not fair!  Not fair?  Adeline could hardly believe she would say such a thing to God.  Tears began to rim her eyes.

Footsteps sounded on the staircase leading up to her room, and Adeline tried to dash away her tears as she turned to see her mother open her door.  Seeing tears on Adeline's face, her mother's warm smile turned into a worried expression.  She sat beside her on the bed and wrapped her arm around her.  "What's wrong with my Adeline?"

Adeline bit her lip.  She was afraid her mother wouldn't understand.  Who could?  Adeline couldn't understand herself most of the time.  She lowered her eyes in shame.  "Nothing," she whispered.

Adeline's mother cast a knowing look out the open window as loud, boisterous, girlish laughter sounded from outside. Living in town was not the best thing for a sixteen year old whose parents were trying to raise into a godly young woman, but their situation couldn't be helped.  She prodded her daughter again.  "C'mon, you don't just cry over nothing.  What's wrong?  I'm your mother and it is my job to help you.  So tell me what's wrong."

Short, jerky sentences finally came from Adeline's lips.  "It's just not...fair!"  She blurted out.  "Why are all the most beautiful girls the immodest, loose ones?  And what's worse, guys only seem to like those kinds of girls!  Every eye is drawn to them, but someone like me isn't even given a second glance.  Even the girls at church dress like that!  I want to be beautiful too!"  With this her sobs deepened.

Adeline's mother sighed long and heavily.  "Addy, how many times have I talked about this with you?  You are beautiful. Both your father and I have said so."

Adeline sniffed.  "Yeah, but you're my parents.  Of course I'm going to be beautiful to you. And besides, you would just say that to make me feel better."

Her mother raised an eyebrow.  "Then who do you want to be beautiful to?  Every man that looks at you?"

Adeline blushed.  "N-no, but I want to believe it.  I look at all those other girls and my confidence in myself is shaken.  I'm not beautiful compared to them.  They get to show off everything about themselves, while I have to hide beneath my frumpy old clothes.  I feel like I'm such a misfit."

"But you are beautiful. Your beauty comes from the inside out.  Remember, 'Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised' (Prov. 31:30).  A woman's heart is the most important factor in beauty, not what she looks like on the outside and what she wears.  In fact, the Bible implicitly requires modesty in a godly woman."

Adeline bowed her head.  "I know, Mama, but why do I still long to be viewed as beautiful on the outside too?"

"Every woman does," her mother answered.   “We want to be admired, pampered, glorified, adored, and worshipped, and for some reason, Hollywood has portrayed women as only being 'beautiful' if they look and dress a certain way.  But if we are women who truly seek to firstly, glorify God in everything we do, and second, to be a godly woman, we must not fall into the trap that the world sets for women.  Each woman has a separate and distinctive unique beauty, and you only want one man to love and cherish you for it, not every bozo that sees you on the street.  Who cares what those kind of men think!  They are just seeking instant satisfaction from those girls.  You only want one man to see your true beauty, and it is your job as a Christian young lady to keep that for him until you are married."

"Let me ask you something," her mother continued.  "When the Bible talks about the whorish woman, what do you think of her?  Do you envy her, or do you scorn the very thought of her?"

Adeline blinked.  "Well of course I would not envy her.  After all, she seductively leads men on to destruction."

Adeline's mother smiled knowingly.  "Ah, so why would you envy those girls that you just saw out your window?  How are they any different from the woman talked about in Proverbs?"

Adeline's mouth opened, though she didn't speak right away.  "How...I's different...isn't it?  I don't want to entice or seduce men like the bad woman in Proverbs.  Those girls aren't wicked or rotten."

"There really is no difference, Adeline.  The clothes that you envy other girls wearing?  It is seductive and enticing to men.  The freedom that you long for?  It will cause a man to lust, even causing him to act upon his lust if he is not controlled by the Word of God.  'Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?' (Prov. 6:27-28).  When it comes down to it, Adeline, there is a dark though perhaps hidden reason behind your envy and longing to be like other girls.  A woman feels such exhilarating freedom if she knows she can entice a man with her beauty, and particularly her immodesty.  However, this is wrong, and more importantly, this is sin.  I know, because all women are the same.  We want to use our power, but always for evil."

"These worldly girls, they're just pleasing to the eye for a time.  They are eye-catchers.  Needless to say, they don't have the true beauty of the hidden heart that will keep a man enticed all his life.  Outward beauty fades, and one day they will have lost all manner of physical beauty that they flaunt right now.  One day they will be old women who have lost their girlish figures.  If it is your desire to dress like the world, you too will be admired by all men.  Because men are visually-stimulated, they are pleased by shapely legs and too much skin.  But that admiration will fade with time.  Do you want to win a man with your outward beauty, or the lasting beauty of a godly and pure heart?  The former never last, but with the latter you will keep a man until death do you part."

"You can be part of the world if you want to by dressing the same as other girls you see.  You can become an eye-catcher too, but I must warn you, God strictly forbids it.  Women want to exercise their independence from God by doing what they want and dressing how they want to dress, regardless.  This is sin, dear Adeline, and your father and I do not want a life like this for you.  It is a life that only leads to destruction and only unhappiness and disappointment is found there.  Do you want to be known as 'loose,' 'easy,' and 'floozy'?  Proverbs gives us many admonishments against the adulterous and seductive woman."  She picked up Adeline's well-worn Bible.

'For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.  Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.  Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.  Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house.'  -Proverbs 5:3-8

'For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.  Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.  For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulterous will hunt for the precious life.'  -Proverbs 6:23-26

'For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house.  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: and behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)  So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.  Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.  I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.  Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.  For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: he hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.  With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.  Harken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.  For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.  Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.' -Proverbs 7:6-27

'A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go right on their ways: whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.' -Proverbs 9:13-18

'As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.' -Proverbs 11:22

'For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.  She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.' -Proverbs 23:27-28

“Adeline, do not make the mistake of envying the immodesty and freedom of the world.  As I said before, and as Proverbs clearly shows us, it is a life that leads only to destruction.  Never doubt that you are beautiful just the way God made you (Psalm 139:14), and in fact, your modesty and the purity of your heart makes you ten times better than the girls of the world.  The man who wins your heart will have found more beauty in you than all other women combined, because you have beauty that lasts—beauty that can only come from God.  Don’t worry about being pleasing to the eye.  Any woman can do that with the right dress and makeup.  Work on becoming pleasing to the heart.  I’m not saying that you have to be frumpy and out of style, for God wants us to take care of our bodies so that we might bring Him glory (1 Cor. 6:19-20); I’m saying that one day a man will be captivated by not only your outward beauty, but also the beauty that shines from within.  Don’t worry about these other girls who receive all the attention because they know how to snare men.  Neither should you envy those of your friends who profess to be Christians yet dress like the world. Christ explicitly declared that we are not to be of this world in any form or fashion, including how we dress (1 John 2:15-17).”

“Dear Adeline, I cannot stress enough the importance of remaining pure, even in your heart.  If you waste your time longing and wishing to look like the girls of this world, you are compromising your purity of mind.  Think on what is true (Phil. 4:8).  The truth is you are a different sort of eye-catcher.  I’m sure those girls down on the street look at you and wonder why you don’t dress like they do.  After all, it’s the norm these days to flash off your body.  Girls and guys alike may sneer and scoff at the way you dress and behave, but I’m sure underneath all that false bravado they can’t help wondering why you dress and do what you do.  You are a mystery, because you are different.  Your difference sticks out like a sore thumb, but not in the bad way you think.  People stop and wonder, and maybe even think how pretty and quaint you look—something that just stepped out of an old-fashioned movie.  Men will treat you like a lady because you dress and act like one.  But if you look like all the other girls, you will be treated just like the ‘easy catch’ you portray.  You practically invite a man’s evil thoughts and actions by your dress, unless your dress declares that you are not out to gain their attention and perversion.  True men will respect and honor a true woman—a woman who acts and looks like a lady.”

“You have power, just like every other woman.  The question is, will you use it for your own self-glorification, or use it to glorfy God?  Think about that for a while.”

Adeline’s mother rose from the bed and patted Adeline’s shoulder.  “You are worth so much more that this world has to offer.  If you buy into the lie that the rest of the world has bought into, one day you will regret your decision because your life will not bring forth true happiness.  You can only have a wonderful and fulfilling life if it is lived according to God’s Word.  I know you don’t want to waste your life; therefore don’t waste your thoughts by wishing you were something different than you are.  Beware of the eye-catchers that tempt you with their allurement.  Nothing good comes of it.”

Adeline sniffled and wiped tears from her eyes.  She nodded and smiled through her tears up at her mother.  “Thanks, Mama.  I know better than to think this way, but sometimes it just gets me down and I start to believe the lies that deep down inside of me I know are not true.”  She rose and threw her arms around her mother.  “That talk was just what I needed.  I want to use my power for good.  It’s just so hard to not envy the world’s standards of what ‘beauty’ is.”

Adeline’s mother smiled against her daughter’s hair and hugged her tighter.  “That’s my girl.  I knew you didn’t really want a life like the girls you see.  All women are tempted with that lie, even me, and it is a daily battle to fight against our flesh.  But it is our duty as Christian women to protect not only our purity, but also the purity of the men who view us.  We have a huge responsibility, so we have to be very careful.  But you know what, men, and more importantly God, will honor us for it.  We have to faithfully purpose that we will not become a world’s eye-catcher, but instead be an example for women of this world to see and follow.”

Adeline smiled, finally at peace, and thankful for the wisdom of her mother.  “Yes Mama.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

True or False Love

When I was young and immature, I pretty much took love at its basic concept, as any young child does.  I loved my parents, I loved my siblings, I loved my family, and I loved my friends.  What else was there?  That was love.  It wasn't until I began to grow up that my version of loved changed (particularly due to a demolished sense of love portrayed in romance novels).  Love was that beautiful thing of romance and flowers, gazing deeply into someone's eyes, being "in a relationship" with someone, saying sweet things, being told sweet things, candlelight, and "ooey gooey mush," as some people like to call it.  However, the more I find out about true love, the more I realize that there is so much more beneath the underlying surface of romance.

For the rest of this article, visit my Guest Post on Covenant Devotion

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Reb!

A very happy tenth birthday to my one and only favorite brother!

Let's go fly a kite!

Brother and I =)

 Cowboy Reb!

Goofy with Grace

Friday, April 6, 2012

Blossom & Bloom

 Gorgeous Grace

 Little girl + flowers= smile!

 Now that is one tall flower.

Jane Austin elegance

 Precious capture!

 Taken by my wonderful photographic sister

 Blue eyes!

 Daisy Girl

 Cousin love...

 And best friends!

 Windblown but beautiful!

 Dogwood trees in luster and bloom