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. 😉

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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My Only Comfort

After a few busy weeks, I log into my WordPress account and look at my dashboard. I immediately notice that it’s been 4 weeks since anything was posted, and that got me thinking: “What am I going to write about?!”

Then it hit me

The only reason I can think, breath, or do anything, is because I have an almighty God.

I have a God who is all powerful, non-changing, everlasting, awesome, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. My All in All.

Without Him, I have nothing. Did you get that? Nothing. 

He is my only comfort in life and death.

(To quote the Heidelberg Catechism)

Q 1: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. Who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the Devil. And so preserves me, that without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all this must be subservient to my Salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of Eternal Life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to life unto Him.”

We saw this often at my church as a congregation, but I never really think about it’s meaning. Think about it: “without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head“. God knows how many hairs we have on our heads. He knows our fears, our doubts our worries. He know how I’ll do on my math test, how many hours I’ll sleep tonight, and just… everything.

“Man’s chief end is glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” (Shorter Catechism Q/A #1)

God deserves to be glorified. More than anything else, He totally deserves our hearts, full attention, and praise. We are to meditate on Him day and night, pray constantly, lean on Him.

And the truth is, He loves it when we pray to Him. He loves to hear our voices lifted up in song. He loves it when we cling to Him, because He truly is all we have. Because during hard times, the only thing that will truly and completely comfort us, is God.

 

 

Jesus is my only comfort in life and death. What’s yours?

 

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Verse of the Week: 8-11-13

Earlier today, I talked with some young kids (preschool-ish) at my church about fear in Sunday School. We drew pictures of what scared us, and talked about how God gives us courage to face our fear, and how He will always strengthen us and help us do what’s right, even when afraid. Many of them were scared of the same things, like the dark. I’ll be honest, I’m terrified of the dark, or, I guess a more accurate way to put it is that I’m afraid of what might be hiding in the dark.

This afternoon, I was thinking about how easy it would be not to be afraid if I memorized more scripture. That way, I could say the verse(s) while in fear. God promises that he will never leave us or forsake us, and the scripture is full of encouraging and powerful verses that have helped so many people while in fear.

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

Excerpts from Psalm 91

“He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  . . .For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. . . . “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;   I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”

What strengthens you when you are afraid? What are you afraid of? How does God help you face your fear?

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Verse of the Week: 7-28-13

Psalm 15

Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?

A Psalm of David.

“15 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.”

((English Standard Version (ESV)))
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