Whatever Lies Ahead

The unknown can be a scary thing.

It is human nature to be frightened of things out of our control. When things are sliding out of reach, we do everything in our power to take control of the situation, to “make it right.”

Just after Christmas, I had all these plans for January. I was going to get up early, exercise more, study more, etc. but things definitely did not go as I planned. Every couple of weeks, I’d give myself a little pep-talk. “Okay, tomorrow is a new week, start it off right.” But this week, what happened? I got sick. It snowed. My dad stayed home from work. I was a bundled-up, shivering little ball of headaches and fevers, so naturally I did not do school. My plans fell apart.

My pastor quoted something in a sermon recently, and I cannot remember what it was from, nor can I remember the exact wording, but it went something like this: “It is not wrong to make plans. Make plans that are God-focused, and be willing for them to change according to His will. Write your plans in pencil, as it were.”

We are called not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in God to provide and care for you during whatever lies ahead. We can be secure in the knowledge that He made us and takes care of us, and knows what lies ahead. He’s known since before we were born. He’s always known.

There are going to be days where things don’t go as planned. There are going to be times where you don’t know what lies ahead. It may seem scary, but “With God behind us, and His arms around us, we can face whatever lies ahead.” 

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‘Tis the season

I cannot wait for this Christmas break. After a long and tiring semester, this is really my chance to wind down.

I’m looking forward to relatives, brunches, presents, food, and just good ‘ole rest and relaxation.

The whole Christmas season is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love the scented candles, decorating, baking, wrapping gifts, making cards, sitting down with a cup of coffee and a good book, etc.

But I’ve been thinking lately. You know what happens: we go around, singing about cheer, talking about giving things away, thinking about the look on someone’s face when they open gifts. But do we really make an effort to make someone else’s day? Sure, we give people presents. But do we really go and look for ways to give to other people, or are we so involved in making sure everything that affects us is perfect so we can have a life of ease?

A couple mornings ago, some of my siblings and I decided to get some breakfast at McDonalds. Now, this doesn’t happen very often, but it was a nice treat. While contemplating what to order, an old man wearing a cap that said: “Vietnam Veteran” came up to us and said,

“I’m paying for everything this morning, so order what you want, and it’s on me. I got a raise!” He grinned with whatever teeth he had left and wanted us a $20 bill. Then, as he walked over to his table, we thanked him, then watched as he sat down by himself and drank his coffee.

We ordered our food, used his money, then proceeded to give  him the change. (or at least try to) He insisted that we keep it, and told us it was his pleasure.

We got home, ate our food, and told our mom what happened. When our dad got home for lunch, we told him also. He said something that didn’t even cross my mind.

“You should give the change to somebody in need. Somebody who needs it more than you do.”

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So much of this season is focused on ourselves. What I want for Christmas. Which decorations put up. Me this, me that. 

While I was thinking about what would like, he was thinking about what others would like. While I was trying to decide how to spend my money, he was making sure we had money to spend.

If a total stranger can show us that he cares, shouldn’t we do the same for our own families?

The Lord has been showing me lately, that the world indeed does not revolve around me. Whether it’s by sitting in an uncomfortable position so my little sister can sleep soundly in the car, or when I spend much of my long-saved money on Christmas presents.

Every day, more and more things happen that make it obvious that I am not the center of everyone’s attention.

Like earlier, I saw a homeless man on the side of the road. It was cold, and he didn’t have very warm clothes. Was he more needy than I? Of course. Did I do anything about it? No.

People like this are everywhere I look. I seem to notice them more and more.

Not everyone has a merry Christmas. Not everyone can afford a Christmas tree, or even a warm house for the winter. Not everyone has family that loves them.

So this Christmas, try not to think about yourself more than others. Maybe go visit elderly people at your Church. Maybe put a few dollars in the Salvation Army bucket you saw at the grocery store. Maybe give a coat to the cold man on the side of the street. There are so many opportunities to show Christ’s love and to make someone else’s day.

What are you looking forward to this Christmas?

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Excuses, excuses, excuses…

So here I am. Sitting on my bed with the sniffles and a sore throat. If I could, I would demonstrate how similar my voice sounds to a frog’s. I would show you the stack of schoolwork I didn’t do because I feel like dirt. I would bring to your attention how busy my week has been, thus exhausting me. I would probably sneeze a few times, just for emphasis.

You may be asking yourself: “What in the world is the point of all this?”

Well, friend, I always find myself making excuses for why I don’t do things. “Oh, I was gone all morning and I’m super tired. I think I’ll take a nap instead of finishing my art project.” “I really don’t feel well. I don’t think I should do math with no grey blood cells.” “I’m coughing every few seconds and am totally miserable. I really think I should just lay back, sip a hot beverage, and try to get rest. After all,  rest, of course, is how you recover.”

Now you may be saying to yourself: “Those all seem like perfectly alright explanations as to why you didn’t get any work done. I mean, would want to do school while sick?”

Exactly my point.

Everybody, everyday, everything, just excuses, excuses, excuses. After all, it’s a perfectly normal thing to do, isn’t it? Of course there is a logical explanation as to why everything happens.

I find myself making excuse after excuse, day after day, week after week. If I kept a tally of all the excuses I make, it would truly be a scary sight.

The question is, why?

Why? Why make excuses when you could have just worked hard and done your work in the first place? Why procrastinate when you could finish your math lesson, or finish that English test, or study your Latin vocabulary?

When you can get things done and finish, why not?

Think about it. (I do seem to say that a lot, don’t I?)

A good friend/mentor taught me this phrase:

Excellence in all things, and all things to the Glory of God. 

If I was truly doing all things to the glory of God, wouldn’t it only be logical to do my best? Shouldn’t we give our best to God?

Whether it’s in school, chores, activities, or whatever, we should all give our best to God. Don’t do it to be popular, get rewarded, or even to feel good at the end of the day. Because when it’s all said and done, it’s only God’s opinion that matters.

Do your best in all things. Strive to finish well. And give glory to God.

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The Lighthouse

I don’t know about you, but the holidays are some of the only times I see certain family members. It’s at those times that I have a chance to show the gospel to those who are in the dark. I know not all of my relatives are saved and that they need light somewhere. My relatives need to see a burning flame in the darkness they are surrounded by so very often.

Many in the world have heard the story of the bible and the preaching of others and yet are not saved. Many fall prey to the Evil One lurking like a snake in the world as they get older. They’ve heard the ongoing dirge of Christians pleading for them to see the light. They look in disgust at us. We look weird perhaps, with our different ways, but that’s how it should be.

We should look different from those in the darkness, maybe showing them that we are not the same as they are. It’s hard to act godly sometimes, though. When my little brother goes around the house asking people to cut his apple for him, and I refuse, I’m not going “Sure! I’d be happy to!” when he does that, I’m almost praying that I would not have to. Thing is, if my relatives were there and I said “Sure! I’d be happy to!” that probably would have stuck out. They may have been thinking “Wow, that’s unusual.”

Girls, now, when you’re around so many non-believers you want them to look at you and say “She looks different.” Because it shines a light into their dark lives.

You want to be a lighthouse in the darkness. What’s a lighthouse for? A lighthouse is typically on a bay so that lost boats can see it and find their way home or so that they know that they know that there is danger at this bay. In this case it’s the former: you should be a lighthouse cutting through the darkness and bringing people home. You are a light cutting through the darkness to the lost traveler. Now’s your chance to show people the light. Will you?

Karen SignaturePartial Credit goes to Anna Elizabeth for the idea to use the lighthouse analogy. ;)

Day of Thanks days 3 and 4

So far, I’ve not been very good at this daily posting thing, but hopefully I’ll do better in the future.

So Mondays are very busy and tiring for me. I’m gone from 7 o’clock in the morning to 2 o’clock in the afternoon, then leave at 3:45 and get back at 8 o’clock at night. As you may have already guessed, I don’t really have much free time on these days. -.-

Anyway, I really struggle with being thankful on Mondays. In fact, when I get home, I’m usually complaining. Yes, complaining. Not talking about how I learned in class. Not thanking my parents for driving me. Not even thanking God for the opportunity to be with my friends all day.

Reality check: Even days when you are really tired and think that the day is a total wreck, you still have a lot to be thankful for.

  1. Chocolate
  2. Having a mom who is willing to drive you to classes at 7 o’clock in the morning
  3. Yummy things to keep me going
  4. The ability to learn
  5.  Those little things
  6. Music!
  7. Air conditioning when the car has been sitting in the sun
  8. A best choir in the world
  9. Socks
  10. A father who works every day so I can eat, have clothes, etc.

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Day of Thanks 2

It is now the second day of my little challenge to myself. I never really thought about how hard it was to consciously sit down and thank God for things. It’s a daily struggle that I didn’t even think about.

Have you thanked God today?

  1. Thanksgiving lunches (where you get leftovers to eat on for days)
  2. The ability to even breathe
  3. The freedom to worship freely
  4. Warm socks
  5. An older sister that I can talk to about almost anything.
  6. Fall weather
  7. Books
  8. My Bible
  9. Having a roof over my head
  10. Being able to write fiction

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Give Thanks!

With Thanksgiving fast on approach, I figured this was the proper time to talk about what I’m thankful for.

Now, the list could go on for miles if I really thought about it, but do I? Do I spend time being thankful every day? If I truly sat down, each day, and thanked God for all He has given each day by name, it would take all day.

So my goal is to think of ten things each day (until Thanksgiving) to be thankful for. Would you like to join me? If I miss a day, I will post the proper amount the next day.

Day 1:

  1. Family
  2. A roof over my head
  3. Food and drink
  4. God’s amazing grace
  5. Books
  6. Music
  7. The freedom to homeschool
  8. The beautiful fall colors
  9. Clothing
  10. Church

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I was a wandering sheep (verse of the week)

In church this Sunday, we sang the hymn I Was a Wandering Sheep. This song really struck me. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since then. My pastor completed his series on Psalm 119 this morning, and has mentioned several times that the Psalm shows us what true piety is. Throughout the Psalm, the psalmist gives us a good example to follow. In the first below, he says that he does not forget the Lord’s commandments. Do we forget them?

I do.

Every day.

Psalm 119:176

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.”

We are like sheep. We have gone astray so many more times than we can count. (Isaiah 53:6) So many times on a day to day basis do I find myself needing to course correct.

Here are the first two verses.

1 I was a wandering sheep,
I did not love the fold;
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice,
I would not be controlled.
I was a wayward child,
I did not love my home;
I did not love my Father’s voice,
I loved afar to roam.

2 The Shepherd sought His sheep,
The Father sought His child;
They followed me o’er vale and hill,
O’er deserts waste and wild:
They found me nigh to death,
Famished and faint and lone;
They bound me with the bands of love,
They saved the wandering one.

This song hit a little too close to home for me, you know? So often I find myself straying, not wanting to be controlled. Loving sin and roaming from the fold of God…

The first verse left a bad taste in my mouth. Because, let’s be honest, nobody likes being convicted.

Then this song finishes the story. 

 Jesus my Shepherd is;
‘Twas He that loved my soul,
‘Twas He that washed me in His blood,
‘Twas He that made me whole;
‘Twas He that sought the lost,
That found the wandering sheep,
‘Twas He that brought me to the fold,
‘Tis He that still doth keep.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…”

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Whom shall I fear?

My my. It has been a while since I’ve done anything remotely productive here. 

Anyway

I figured I share something I’ve learned lately. 
(Seems logical, I suppose)

Anyway

It’s common knowledge that through Christ, death and the devil have power over us no longer. Paul boldly announces this in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

So it is true. If Christ is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8) 

Sadly, this truth is lost to me in many ways, but my failure is most prominent when I lie down to sleep. 

The devil cannot have victory over me. But he robs me of peace. 

In the dark, my imagination goes wild.
Any image can be used against me. I wimp out, turning every doll in the room so its eyes cannot see. I move anything and everything that resembles any shape that frightens me. 

I could go into much greater detail, but I won’t dwell on it. Simply put, it’s ridiculous. It’s childish. It’s embarrassing. It comes and goes in phases, and I hate it.

This week has been one of those times. It began with a strange dream about one of my images that frightens me. A few odd things later, and I was left fearing the fear I knew would try to overwhelm me once again.

And once again, I was instead overwhelmed by my God. 

I’m not a fan of popular worship songs. They always seem shallow and repetitive, all with the same message, designed to instill the same gushy feeling in the throngs that sing along.

Apparently, though, a simple worship song that suddenly was stuck in my head was all I needed to pound the truth into me. 

“I know who goes before me.
I know who stands behind.
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

“The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine.
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.”

And only one other line really applied.

“And nothing formed against me shall stand.”

Victory over my fears is only possible through Christ.
Not by pretending I’m not a wimp.
Not by running around in a panic.

Truly, Christ’s power and goodness shines all the brighter in the darkness of my weakness.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) 

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