Monday, March 29, 2010

I went flying today. :) :) :)

For the first time in months.

(months as in... more than 12 months)

I was surprised at how much I remembered!

But I was also surprised at how difficult some things were.

Like... just the pressure needed to move the yoke up or down.

My muscles were really out of practice!

And the sad thing is - that was something that shouldn't have been difficult.

Ok, maybe the precision could have been a little off or something.

But I should have been in shape enough from other things that two hours of flying didn't make my shoulders hurt!

But they did.

Know why?

Because I've been letting a lot of things slip lately.

I haven't been taking care of myself (eating junk food, not exercising, going to bed WAY too late every night)

I haven't been taking care of my time (yeah, even when refusing to allow myself on facebook, twitter, etc, the internet has been eating a lot of my time)

I haven't been getting all of the school done that I should be (I have a lot left to get done and am running out of time!)

I haven't been taking care of the relationships I should be focusing on most ("come play with me" "sorry, I have to do school" - ok for school, but why do I have to do school then? because I was doing something else earlier. Usually something a lot less important than spending time with my siblings or helping my parents or grandparents.)

So when I need to do something (get up early, use my muscles, etc) it's a lot harder than it needs to be. For the regular stuff I'm doing, I'm fine (or almost fine).

But when a little extra is needed - I don't have it.

The scary thing is, I've been realizing how much this has to do with my real life.

I haven't been memorizing, I haven't been seeking God as hard as I could be, and my thoughts are taken up with the things that I spend time on. I have not been using self-control, while at the same time I'm watching myself get more and more selfish. I'm doing ok (I think) but I'm afraid that when a little extra is needed - I won't have it.
Strangely enough, what I've been reading in both My Utmost for His Highest and His Princess for the past week or so (besides what I've read in my Bible and seen in my life) has really been along these lines. I've tried to do better - but I can't. It's so easy to think, oh, when I need to, I'll start doing ____ again. But I've found it's a lot easier to stop doing what you're supposed to than to start it up again. However, it is also true that God promises His help to us, and so...

I'm ready to start working on myself. :)

I'm not sure how it will all work out, but I know I don't want to find myself tiring out when I need to stand strong, because of how I have chosen to spend my time.

Seek Him!

Monday, March 22, 2010

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Genesis 50:20

My family is memorizing this verse, and today we were discussing it:

Who did God mean it unto good to?


his brothers?


The amazing answer is all of them!

Through that one terrible incident, God did so many incredible things!

Imagine if Joseph had grown up the annoying, spoiled, "special" child of Jacob, with all of the terrible-examples-that-were-his-brothers surrounding him. Who would he have become without the experiences that he had in Egypt?

Who would the other fathers of the tribes of Israel become if they had not sold their brother into slavery, and so missed all of the lessons that they learned through that?

Really, what would have happened to Egypt if they had not had someone to interpret the Pharaoh's dream?

What would have happened to Jacob's entire family if there had been no food in Egypt?

What would have happened to the world if there had been no nation of Israel... no tribe of Judah... no David... no line of David...

Of course, we know that God promised the coming of His Son, and promised that He would be of the children of Abraham. He even told Abraham that the Israelites would come out of Egypt!
But isn't it amazing that the way He used to keep those promises not only worked out best for the world, but worked out best for the individuals involved! Although Jacob and his family hardly seemed to be following God with the intensity that Abraham did, God used even their sin to refine their character, bless their life, and change the world.

That's cool.

It makes you wonder...

What is going on in my life that God could use to change the world?

[I have 10 evil brothers... my dad is making them hate me... I'm a slave... our little brother is the most annoying person on earth... our dad doesn't like us... we just did something so stupid we're going to feel guilty the rest of our lives... you can put just about anything in here! even the passing of the health care bill...]

can be accepted, even embraced by me, and I can do what Joseph did and allow it to refine me and teach me how to serve God better, or I can do what, say, Esau did, and refuse to be who He wants me to be.

It's actually kind of exciting when you think about it that way...

Something that I see as a hindrance, painful, irritating, even a tragedy in my life, could be exactly what God is going to use to prepare me for something so big I can't even imagine it right now.

Praise Him.

Seek Him.

Serve Him.

Glorify Him!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever, ‘twixt that darkness and that light.

Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet ‘tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.

Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old system and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne-
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

Once to every man and nation,
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood,
For the good or evil side,
Some great cause,
Some great decision,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever,
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And `tis prosp`rous to be just;
Then it is the brave man who chooses
While the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.
I love this song.... It was my favorite for a while, probably partially because of the melody (O, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus has the same one). I was even going to write a novel using it, even though the story-line I had did not really have anything to do with these words. :)
iIteresting how the verses have changed... I read somewhere that it was actually written to protest the war over Texas, because the author was afraid that adding the territory would merely enlarge the slavery area.

What's your favorite song?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today was beautiful.

Back with my family (most of whom are currently sick... I'm beginning to sense a pattern here: I come down here = they're sick. :) No, it's not that bad, just seems like it sometimes) :), I decided to walk the perimeter of our property.

I haven't done that in ages...

Everything was so - vibrant.

the bright blue sky

the soft tan/brown leaves

the sharp scratch of the branches as I tried to run through the woods

the light green moss

the deep red sumac

the echoing shriek of peacocks in spring

the thick-bladed golden grass in the field

the dark green pine trees

the slight slipping of mud underfoot

the glint of new grass showing through the dried stalks

the strange feeling of half-running/half-walking/half-jumping (notice: I'm not very good with fractions) through a mass of gopher hills

the delicious warmth of the sun

I have heard people disagree that Heaven could possibly be a city paved with gold, and argue over what we will do in such a place. Think about that though. Surely the One who has created an earth that, after 6,000-10,000 years of sin and sin's destruction, is still able to amaze and inspire us with its beauty, and the One who created us to delight and enjoy color, sensation, beauty, and life, is able to do the same in Heaven.

But what is Heaven?
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3

Knowing Him is life eternal, and should be what our life here is about. Being abandoned to Christ... having everything be about knowing and making known our Savior.

I know this, and I believe it.

But so often I fail to live it.

I know there is a great and gloriously vibrant and beautifully colorful life just under the surface.

But I am so busy enjoying the chill sparkle of a clear, starkly black-and-white winter day, that I forget that there is more.

I am content to play in the snow, enjoying myself very much, thank you. Never mind that soon I'll be freezing wet, and have accomplished nothing.

It's in the summer that we can actually do things, can actually plant and care for gardens, cause them to bear fruit. It is in the summer that the sun shines most brightly and we feel it the most.

What would I rather have than closeness with Christ and an absolute abandonment to His will for me?


Yet every moment other things call to me, attract me, distract me, pull me from Him.

That is one reason why we need to spend time with other Christians... especially those who are farther along than we are: to remind us of our goal, our aim, what is ahead of us. This is also why spending time in God's Word is so important. We need to remember what our life here is about, so that we can truly live.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why I Love Stories

I was five months old the day I gave my mother her first gray hair. Sure, I had already kept her on bed-rest for most of her pregnancy, been the reason for her first C-section, and pitched off a table and landed on my head before then, but that day was different. That was when my mom walked in the room and I said, “Hi.”
Since that time I have loved words – their sound, their meaning, how they fit together and become something more than themselves. I was the two-year-old making my mom write down what happened when we went on a walk that day. I was the eleven-year-old who took a week (maybe two) to read Lord of the Rings. I am now the senior in high school who will read three novels in almost as many hours and then explain the plot of all three to anyone who happens to be around. (Usually no one, because I finished the last one at 2am. Too bad.)
I think the reason that I, and everyone else I know, enjoy stories, is because it is how we were created – to know that there is an Author with a plot for our lives. Story-telling is an unsurpassed approach to sharing truth. Although some people may not recognize the importance of telling stories or doubt their own ability to tell a story, it is one of the easiest ways to communicate with others. We remember what we learn through stories, and they can be used to illustrate and explain difficult subjects. God Himself speaks to us through stories in the Bible. A skill that almost everyone can learn, story-telling is a way that we can glorify God. Even simple stories can teach and bless others.
Those who hear a story will remember it much better than those who hear an explanation of facts or theories. I have learned a great number of historical dates and facts and eventually forgotten them. What I remember about history are things like Ethan Allan waking the British commander and announcing that the fort was surrounded, or Teddy Roosevelt learning to be a cowboy and losing his glasses, because these were part of a story. I had to read Across Five Aprils before I could remember the dates of the Civil War.
Not only are stories memorable, they can be used to illustrate intangible things. My mom once used a story about a little boy and his neighbor’s dog to explain false positives and true negatives in a statistics class. It helped her learn it, and she got an A. Any message can be part of a story, but the story itself needs to stand alone. A book by one of my favorite authors, Regina Doman, deals with homosexuality. Knowing people who struggled with that issue, she determined to give them a tool with which to fight it. She didn’t write an essay on “The Bible Says Homosexuality is bad”. She wrote a novel about a young Catholic man who doubted himself, doubted his manhood, and learned not to doubt his God. The book never preached; it simply told the story of a boy following after God who, though wounded by the evil of the world, was willing to fight for the God who called him. It was beautiful.
Stories can also make difficult concepts easier to understand. This is why Jesus taught in parables. To those who hated Him, they were merely foolish stories. To his disciples, however, they explained the truths of God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ used stories to illustrate truths because it worked. Had He merely said, “Even though you have rejected God and a relationship with Him, He still loves you and wants you to come back to Him,” would we have understood it quite so well? Instead, we have the well-known story of the Prodigal Son to help us see our need and God’s forgiveness. King David was able to see his sin only after a prophet explained his adultery using a story about a little lamb. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, our Creator teaches us through stories, which suggests that we learn better with stories.
It is easier to share truth with stories as well, because stories are so effective and influential. Because of this, stories surround us, and every day we are bombarded with the stories in movies, books, and magazines, and on the radio, TV, and internet. Advertisers, lobbyists, advocates, and even lawyers use stories to make their point. Psychological studies have shown that when people’s emotions are engaged, as in a story, their behavior changes more than when they are simply given information or data. A story can affect those who hear it long after it is over.
Because stories are so effective and their messages can often be subtle, some people object to them. Recently I got some new novels from the library. They were exciting and even brilliantly written, but after breathlessly finishing them, I realized that the main characters were pantheistic lying thieves. In the context of the story they were also delightfully kind and funny. Stories like these do not show a Biblical view of the world; however, even from them I was able to learn things that helped me understand others and could benefit me as a Christian. As long as we are aware that others often wish to influence us with their stories, we will not be as vulnerable to any negative influences in them.
Certain people feel that they cannot tell stories because they are not gifted story-tellers. However, novel-writing has been called a craft instead of an art. As a craft, it can be learned, and I think the same goes for story-telling. The stories can be simple. The other day I told someone about Kim Meeder and how she and her husband created Crystal Peaks Ranch out of an old open pit mine, a bunch of half dead trees that they got for free, and a herd of abused horses. Today their ranch is a haven where, as their website says, “broken children, horses, and families could find hope within the healing circle of unconditional love.” When I finished, he looked at me and said, “That just made my whole day, hearing about something like that.” Just telling about a small answer to prayer could help another person more than one might imagine. It does not need to take much thought or preparation. Nor do the stories need an obvious moral or point. In fact, it is better if they do not, since no one likes to be “preached at”, even through stories.
Of course, it is true that when and how stories are told is important. Those who object to story-telling probably have someone in the back of their mind who feels obligated to pull out, “When I was in graduate school…” every time they think of it. This is a misuse of storytelling, though, not a reason to dislike it. It is possible to learn to incorporate stories into conversations in a fun and interesting way.
Certain people might think other methods of communicating truth more important. This is true in some circumstances. There is a time and a place for everything, and sometimes there is nothing appropriate to say, let alone a story that needs to be told. Stories can, however, be used in most situations.
Besides the fact that there are certain ways and times for story-telling, it is also true that some people love stories more than others. This does not mean, however, that stories are not useful for all kinds of people. There are audiences for both O. Henry and for Leo Tolstoy. Those who are “cut-to-the-point” type of people can simply use a different technique. Even those who appreciate using statistics and graphs when learning can still benefit from stories. In fact, I have seen news article entitled “Every Graph Tells a Story” and “How to Tell a Story with Your Data.” A well placed story can help anyone.
When properly used, story-telling has been shown to make an effective impression on listeners. Telling stories is the perfect way to communicate truth in a memorable, uncomplicated, and easy-to-learn way. Story-telling is a craft that almost everyone can learn, and even the simplest of stories can brighten someone’s day. Many people are telling stories the way they see the world, with chaos and evil exalted. We can counter this by taking people’s love for stories and showing them how God meant it to be used. Simply by using stories in our conversations with others, we can share what God has been teaching us, explain what He has done for us, and encourage people in their walk with Him, communicating truth in the best of ways.
Yes, that was long. And yes, it was an essay I wrote for school. And, to be perfectly honest, I was more like 8 months old when I broke my head. But I had fun writing it and needed something to post, so.... ;D If you actually read it all and have any thoughts on story-telling, please let me know! :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The nauseating smell of an electrical fire fills the house... my brother rushes to turn out the lights in the kitchen, where something is snapping, popping, and crackling. He waits upstairs in the dark until we return. My grandma and I come in late, talking and laughing, and flip on the lights. When no explosion happens, my brother comes down and tells us about the sounds and smells that are long since gone. We look at each other. Huh. Well, everything seems fine now.

It's not until we go to make raspberry shakes the next evening that we notice the freezer is not cold. We turn the temperature up and shrug. My grandparents go to bed. Close to midnight, my brother comes up to where I am still reading. "This ice-cream is foam." After all this time the freezer should certainly be colder... I go investigate. Together we end up taking meat out to the outdoor freezer, putting milk out on the porch, filling a little cooler... I knew I should have just gone to sleep.

This morning my grandpa called the company. They can be here by Wednesday, at which time they can order any parts we need, and we might actually be able to use the fridge/freezer within, what, the next two weeks? Not good.

Anyway, he called somebody else, and they came right out and fixed the starter immediately, which is the part that fried the night we were gone. Most of this is more or less true (sorry, I write fiction best. I mean, I don't think my brother was waiting upstairs for the electricity to blow up...), :) and it made me think of something. :)

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matthew 5:13

Salt is a preservative, like the refrigerator. When it doesn't work, it's annoying, a pain in the neck, and worse than useless, because you think it's there doing something and it's not. Our job is be salt in this earth, and I think we've all heard that explained in some sermon or another. But I thought it was interesting that when the starter broke, the fridge didn't work. I never really realized a starter was needed to keep something running. Guess it is.

We are "started" by the salvation given us by Christ Jesus, but without Him, we can do absolutely nothing as salt/refrigerator. Unless we keep that "starter" fresh in our minds, continually before us, we will not run as we should. Thankfully, it we let it slip and stop working as a result, He is only a call away, and He will immediately fix us when we ask Him.
I hope you are working well today!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Well, after sending in my applications to colleges, I decided I was going to take a lesson from Abraham's servant. If the college accepted me and gave me a scholarship (Here is water for you and I'll water your camels too), I would know God wanted me to go there.
So far, my first choice college has promised me $13,000!
The other college I applied to never even got back to me.
I absolutely love knowing that Someone is orchestrating my life. It's awesome.
:D :D :D

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:5

I have always loved this verse. It is so beautifully descriptive and so clearly direct in explaining who Jesus Christ is and how we can have fellowship with God. While looking up verses about God and truth, however, I realized I'd never understood the amazingness of this verse.

"I am the Truth."

I always thought of it as truth, Jesus is the maker of truth, He is true, He is trustworthy because He is truth, etc. But "God, that cannot lie" is a different verse. This word truth does not mean simply the opposite of lie. One of its meaning is truth, as opposite falsehood, error or insincerity.

But this word also means


truth, as opposite types, emblems or shadows

the reality clearly lying before our eyes as opposite a mere appearance without reality

the unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance

the manifestation or veritable essence of matter

the reality pertaining to an appearance

Jesus Christ is the unveiled reality of our God. He is the manifestation, the essence of matter, of what is real. We look around; it appears we have a Creator. Jesus Christ is the reality pertaining to that appearance. There is nothing more real than Him. What we see is merely a shadow of what there truly is around us. By knowing Him, we can... become real. Through Him, we can approach the Father.



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