Sep 30, 2016

Farewell September

What a month.  September was full of ups and downs, busyness and school, smiles and tears.  However, I can say that I learned so much this month.  ♥ 

 Looking back, it might seem that we didn't do anything... but school.  School has to count for something though.  That was my September life... school, school, school.  But it's fall!  Horray for that!  =)

Adventures in Life:

  • Precious Kalem went to be in Jesus' arms forever. ♥
  • Two siblings and I went with some friends to watch a play called Street Robber about the life of George Müller, one of the most devoted prayer-warriors of all time.  =)
  • A lot of birthdays... =)
  • Autumn began!  Fall weather is here!  Crisp breezes, cool air, dropping temperature, colorful leaves, pumpkins... *happy sigh*
  • I survived school for another month!  Woot!  =P
  • We got to spend last Sunday swimming in the lake with some great friends!  What a way to end summer! =D
  • Decluttering!  Yes, we spent the month downsizing a lot!  It feels so good to have an organized house.  =)
  • I had my first discussion post!  Thank you to everyone who participated in it!  Wow...I was just blown away by all of your impacting and convicting answers. =)  I know I won't look at books the same way again. ;)
  • Coming up in family is moving!  I would appreciate prayers that everything goes smoothly...and for all of our sad goodbyes. =(

Books I Read:  8

  • The Golden Dagger by Ed Dunlop
  • Return of the Dagger by Ed Dunlop
  • The Isle of Dragons by Ed Dunlop
  • Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
  • Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy
  • Taking the High Places by Terry Snow and Jemimah Wright
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov

My Favorite(s):
All the books by Ed Dunlop have been a personal favorite for years. =)  As for non-fiction, I found Set Apart Femininity a very convicting and inspirational read.  I could really relate with the topics the author covered.  It is an amazing and challenging read for any (and every!) young woman who wants to grow in their relationship with God.

My Least Favorite(s):
The Lady with the Little Dog was a completely inappropriate read.  The whole story is based off of two married people having an affair and being unfaithful to their spouses.  It was horrible.  (I only read it for a college I had to finish it) =P  Heart of Darkness was another tedious read that didn't make any sense.  The author rambled quite a bit.  After reading the whole book, I still feel like I missed the plot.  Or was there a plot in the first place?  I'm not sure.

My New Creations:

With the craziness of life, I didn't get much writing or editing done. =(  Even finding the time to write here on my blog was hard.  However, I did start the editing process on Emblem of Hope! I hope to be able to spend more editing time this next month, if school permits. =)

Blog Friends:

From Apples of Gold by Jessica

From Faith Warrior Films by Josiah

From Becoming Lost by Hannah

Blog Posts:
Here are the archives!

What was your September like?  How's school going for you?  Comment below!

Sep 27, 2016

Why Everyone Needs a Little Brother (or two)

Today, on a very rare occasion, I decided to take advantage of the splendid, chilly weather and go running.  *gasp*  Me?  Running?  hehe.  Like I said, it was a rare occasion.  After I pulled on my running shoes, I went out to ask which of my 8 siblings would want to accompany me.  Sadly, three of them were busy building a sheep-house, while the others were feasting on Mom's delicious taquitos.  None of them wanted to go tire themselves out with me.  (whaaat?)  None of them, that is, except my youngest, 5 1/2 year old, golden-haired, little brother.  We gasped, panted, and tried to convince each other that we didn't need to take a break as we raced down our country road.  As we neared the quarter-mile mark, his little tongue came out as he strained forward, always making me laugh.  To make a long story short, he made my running "trial" enjoyable, full of silly faces and giggles.

Afterwards, he decided to come with me as I went outside to be by myself and pray about what I should write in this blog post.  As I tried to be still and speak to God, he comes up and pokes me in the side saying, "I was praying.  I prayed about poking you!"  In the end, I decided to write about how awesome little brothers are.

Everyone needs a little brother.  (or two, or three, or more)

Just in case you didn't already know, little brothers never stop making silly faces (see above), trying to tickle you, poke you, scare you, and do everything they can to get your attention and love.  If you're being pulled down by the cares of the world, they show you the bright side of life by just being themselves.  They are always willing to play on the piano for you (which may sound more like banging on the piano) or take you out on one of their adventures.  Ultimately, they make the world brighter, funnier, and so much more fun.

Can you imagine having a quiet house?  A house void of any human laugh, cry, or speechI sure can't.  How dreary and lonesome it must be, hearing your own voice echo against the bare walls!  If you have little brothers, there is no need to fear a quiet home!  Their singing, music making, wrestling, screaming, banging, and thousands of other "little boy" sounds ring throughout every room.  Every. single. room.  I promise that if you have little brothers, there will be no lack of noise.  =)

When I cook, I am NEVER lacking a partner.  No way!  I always have an olive chopping, dough mixing, egg cracking, ingredient getting, little boy by my side, wearing a slightly too-large apron.  Instead of laboring by myself in the kitchen, I have an adorable helper who never stops chattering away while we work together.  It makes the task that much more enjoyable.  Aaaand we can both lick out the bowl and taste the results together.  ♥

Little brothers LOVE hugs (depending on their unique personalities, of course). ;) They need a hug in the morning after they wake up.  They need one after they fall off their bike and scrape their knees.  They need one while you curl up on the couch and read a book to them.  They need one before bedtime.  They need one in the middle of the night when they're scared.  If that's not enough, they also need some in between!  =)  Yes, there is NO lack of hugs in this house.

The list could go on and on.  There is always someone wanting to play checkers, have a tea party, sit on your lap, tell stories, go on a walk, play in the rain, catch lightning bugs, and paint a picture with you.  You'll never be lonely.  Little brothers are pretty amazing.  =)  I hope you think so too.

Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

Do you have a little brother?  What are your favorite things to do with him?  Comment below!

Sep 23, 2016

The Pray for People and Country Tag

Wow!!  I was tagged to do a praying post!  A tag to encourage people to pray more?  No way!  This makes me incredibly excited. =)  Thank you so much, Rebekah Ashleigh!  Whoever started this tag had a wonderful idea.


The Rules:

– Thank the blogger who tagged you. 
– Copy and paste the rules.
– Pledge to pray for one person and one country or city every day for two weeks. 
– Tag two bloggers. 
– Have fun!

#1 - One Person:  I'm going to be praying for my dad who has a busy schedule right now as we are building a new house and getting ready to move in soon and the stress that comes with that.  ♥  Love you daddy!

#2 - One Country or City:  I'm going to disobey this rule. =P  Instead of picking a country, I want to pray for the members of ISIS.  They need Jesus.  =(

I tag...

If you also want to participate in this tag, I would love if you let me know in the comments! =)

Sep 20, 2016

Bookish Thoughts || Discussion

"What are your favorite fiction books that have really impacted you?"

I stared at the email, thinking, pondering.  My eyes scanned over the question again.  What is a fiction book that has really impacted me?  The question caught me off-guard.  Impacted me?  When does a book actually change your life?  Aren't books for relaxing and enjoying yourself?

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

I've heard so many times that movies are a waste of our time.  Video games are a waste of our time.  The internet is a waste of our time.  Worrying is a waste of our time.  The list goes on and on.

It seems like anything you do that fails to inform, uplift, or bring you closer to your friends/family in some way is useless and time wasting.  But there's one thing that no one mentions...


As my friend threw the question at me, it got me thinking.  Already God had put this thought on my heart, but now I was forced to dig deeper.  

How many books have actually made a difference in my life?  As I sat down to think about the question, I was shocked.  I could only think of THREE books that had impacted me.  Three.

I have read hundreds - maybe thousands - of books.  From easy reads like Charlotte's Web to never-ending novels like The Scarlet Letter, I've spend days of my life just sitting on the couch with a book in hand.  But for some reason, no one ever told me that I could be wasting my time.  I was learning, right?  I was learning vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and how to create my own stories.  Doesn't that prove that reading is a good usage of my time?

What if those hours were wasted?

No, I can't say that reading is worthless.  Books can do incredible things!  Several ones in particular have pointed me towards Jesus, encouraged me, and shown me Biblical truth.  They have change my life for the better.  Helped me love Jesus more.  Shown me areas where I could pray and ask for a heart more like His.  Books also DO teach you how to become a better writer.  You can gain knowledge from the authors who have gone before you!  You can learn how to create unique characters and fast-paced plots.  I am very thankful for my childhood of reading and pouring over written words.

But I realized that so many of the books that I have read were truly a waste of my time.  They didn't change my life.  They didn't point me to Jesus.  They were only there to fill my time and provide entertainment.

Think of books like Little House on the Prairie.  I really enjoyed those books as a young reader.  They threw me into the pioneering days with Indians, covered wagons, and simple, humble people searching for a home.  But did those books change my life?  Other than teaching me about history, did I gain anything from reading them?

I've noticed that so many others are under the same impression.  We have to read books to fit in.  We don't want to be the odd ball that only reads Christian books.  We want our Goodreads to constantly be updated with our newest updates.  We want our peers to see all the awesome books we are reading.  We want to impress them.  And, after all, reading is fun!

Perhaps you haven't been convicted of this.  That's fine!  If this is not a struggle that you experience, I congratulate you. =)  But I think that we, as Christians, should take the time to examine our books and reading life.

Are the books we read glorifying to God?Could the time we spend reading be used in a better way?Is reading becoming our idol?Is it pulling us away from the real world around us, our family, or God?Are we choosing books that will impact us and point us towards our Savior?Do the books we read show sin as being "okay" and "acceptable?"

I don't have all the answers. As I think and pray through this in my own life, I would love to start a discussion in the comments.  I would be delighted if some of you would share what God has been showing you in this area.  In the process, we could all get to know one another and share what He has been showing us.

Here are some discussion starters, but ultimately please share what God has put on your heart.

What is your take on reading?  Is it a good usage of your time?  Overall, should we be spending hours every day on this pastime?

What are your standards on books?  What factors immediately make you put a book down?  Have you ever been "forced" to read an ungodly book, such as for school?  How do you honor God in your reading?

I encourage you to comment on one another's thoughts as well. =)  This is supposed to be both fun and encouraging!

Sep 13, 2016

♥ Kalem ♥

"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb...
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them."

—Psalm 139:13,16

Those words never affected me as much as they did last Tuesday when I read them through my tears.  Over and over.  In Your book they all were written...when as yet there were none of them.  None of them.  None of them.

While you were reading my post about the Life of Jesus Christ, thinking how strong I was, how life seemed to be so perfect for me, I felt torn in two. It was first time I had ever experienced loss.

Living on a farm, I've gone through the deaths of many beloved pets.  Day-old lambs and goats who died in the midst of the frozen snow before we knew they existed.  Long-time dogs who were older than I was; companions who had only one desire - to be caressed, loved, and petted.  So many other dear animals have been taken away from us.  It's just a fact of life.

But when it's a person—a real human being—the loss is so much deeper.

Last Tuesday, God chose to take my unborn sibling, Kalem, into heaven to live with Him forever in a place with no tears, no pain, and no fear.  Our 61-day old baby was miscarried before we ever had the chance to see him.

It was hard.  It was painful.  It was emotionally draining.  That day, it was all I could do to keep the tears at bay and try to be strong.  I felt so empty.  How can you love someone you've never seen, never even spoken to?  How can they break your heart so?

But even during the loss, I learned so, so much.  And now, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have traded Kalem's short life for anything.  The tears of joy, the smiles, the long nights spent dreaming about was worth the pain of losing him.  Kalem’s short life brought so much joy into mine and into many others around me.

This post isn't about me.  It isn't about last Tuesday.  No, what I really want is just to share what I learned through this trial.  The things God showed me.  I can only hope that if you are going through a similar valley, these thoughts will encourage you to press on.  No matter how painful, heartbreaking, or devastating it might feel.

This is what I learned.  This is what Kalem's short life taught me.

He is always with us.  Always.  As I sat with my Bible after receiving the news, one verse stood out in particular to me.
"Jesus wept."—John 11:35

This is the shortest and probably one of the least appreciated passages in the Bible.  Jesus wept.  He cried.  He felt pain deep inside of Him and had to let it out.  He knows what it feels like to lose someone close to your heart.  He knows what it feels like to have tears pour down your cheeks.  He understands.  He is always with us.  Let Jesus carry that burden.  Sometimes, it's just too heavy to carry yourself. 

This verse also shows another truth:  it's okay to mourn.  In fact, it's good for us.  Sometimes, we just need to let our feelings out and be weak, vulnerable, and open.  Even the strongest person goes through hard times.  It's okay.
I can't even begin to say how priceless the treasure of friends and family is.  Everyone was always there for me.  Loving, encouraging, praying...the list goes on and on.  I got so many emails, so much love, that I was overwhelmed by the great blessing of friendship.  They sent me uplifting songs.  I received dozens of Bible verses showing God's deep love.  They cried with me.

If you are going through a hard time, don't let it get between you and those you love.  Instead be open.  Share your pain.  If they are true friends, they won't be upset that you are a "real person with real troubles."  Instead, they will love you and walk with you through the valleys.
I know that millions of families have experienced the loss of an unborn child.  Even so, it doesn't seem to make the pain lessen.  But as you go through the trial, remember that you are not alone.  Ever.  People have been where you are.  They know what it feels like.  Jesus knows what it feels like.  Don't push away from them.  Extend your arms around them.  Be willing to accept their love, prayers, and encouragement.

Don't hang onto the pain. Let it go and embrace Jesus' love. Push on, even when the future looks bleak. Even when the storm seems to drown out the sound of His voice, press on. Keep your eyes fixed on the heavenly prize. Yes, you may have lost someone you love. But they are now in Jesus' arms. Forever. You will see them again.

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
—Hebrews 13:5
"I have loved you with an everlasting love."
—Jeremiah 31:3
"Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
—Joshua 1:9
"Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
—Romans 8:38-39

As one of my favorite songs says,

"So you think He don't know what He's doing
You think He ain't by your side
Well, God knows when you're broken
And He's loving you, He's holding you
So, so tight
So let the rain fall, He'll be standing there
Getting wet with you
You might get cold but you won't be there alone "
—Mandisa Leave it in the Valley

I hope these thoughts helped you to realize the immense love God has for you.  I hope now you will be able to honestly say, 
"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 
—Job 1:21

We are all human, and we will all go through difficult circumstances.  We will all be weak and vulnerable at times.  Instead of falling apart, why don't we stand up with each other and encourage, uplift, and love?  Why don't we turn our eyes to Jesus, the Giver of all peace?

Are you going through a hard time?  Remember that He won't ever let you down.  Ever.  And that's a promise.

Have you been through a valley, or are you in one right now?  How can I be your friend and pray for you?  Comment Below!

Sep 6, 2016

The Life of Jesus Christ

Hello once again, dear readers!

Today I am posting something different from anything I've posted before.  I took an online college class titled, "Men of the Bible" this summer.  One of my assignments was to write an essay on the life of Jesus.  How does one even begin to do that?!  Needless to say, I greatly surpassed the minimum length of 250 words. =)  I am going to share my long essay with you, hoping that it helps you to see our Savior in a new way.  Know that I could never put everything Jesus did into words.  This is just an attempt at giving you a glimpse into His miraculous life.  To get a full story please read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  If you haven't done so, then you have to take the time to read these books.  If you don't have your own Bible, there are free ones online.  I recommend using Bible Gateway.

Now buckle up and read further about the life of the Son of God.

"Let there be." With three words, galaxies whirled into existence. Beings were created out of nothing. The earth was formed; oceans and seas, deserts and forests, flowers and trees, were spoken into life. Everything was created with three words. "Let there be." It was a command, but not only a command. It was a plan, a promise, a hope, and a future.

The same One who spoke the world into creation loves us. He had a perfect plan for our existence. If we obey and love Him, we live in joy, harmony, and peace. But we did not. Our world turned into an ugly mess of sin, pain, and sorrow. We abandoned the One who loved us. Yet God did not abandon us. He had a plan. He would send His Son to rescue us. Jesus left His heavenly throne to live in poverty and pain. Throughout the Old Testament, God made hundreds of promises, pointing to the future. Prophets, kings, and captives wrote of God's words promising a future deliverer. And one day, the words came true.

Jesus came to the earth on His mission. He was born as a newborn babe into the deepest poverty. Welcoming their Child into the world, His mother gave birth to Him in a dingy stable. Jesus grew up knowing what pain felt like. He too felt sorrow. Yet in all He did, He never sinned.

Then it was time. Jesus was baptized and began His ministry. But a great trial came before He started His work. Satan, the arch enemy of God, tried to bribe Jesus into sin. Mocking and twisting God's words, Satan's gave his most powerful arguments. Even so, he failed miserably. Jesus cast him out of His presence declaring, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only!" (Matthew 4:10) Overcoming the temptations, Jesus entered His ministry to save the world.

While on the earth, Jesus showed love to all around Him. He healed the sick. He gave vision to the blind. He made the mute speak. He cast out demons. More than all that, He loved the unlovable and touched the untouchable. Never showing partiality to man or women, rich or poor, Jesus cared for all and showed His love deeply. He preached, taught, and told stories to everyone, telling them of the Truth that would set them free. Some rejected Him. Some mocked Him. Some hated Him. But everyone could tell that He was different.

Jesus picked twelve disciples to work alongside Him. They learned from His words. They were the ones who would carry on His message for the entire world to hear. His time was limited.

Jesus knew that His ultimate victory was yet to come. After years of showing God's love, healing hurt lives, and proclaiming deliverance, it was time. Jesus willingly let the "religious leaders" capture Him. They were so full of pride and self-righteousness that they failed to see what true religion was—an act of Love. They beat the God they claimed to serve. They spat in His face. In the end, they gave Him the most painful death of all—nailing Him to a cross to hang in utter misery. He was lifted into the sky as a "warning to others." They failed to see the greater purpose.

Jesus died to save the world from its sin. Every man and women, boy and girl, is guilty. We have all fallen short of perfection. Lying, stealing, taking the Lord's name in vain, hating, and coveting, none are without guilt. Jesus took all of that sin on His own shoulders. The weight of it bore down so painfully that Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) He was the perfect sacrifice. Without blemish, Jesus died to save us—us who are so unworthy.

The story did not end there. Three days after Jesus died He was raised from the dead! He overcame death in a powerful victory. His resurrection showed that He was no ordinary man. As the Son of God, He was stronger than death. Overcoming it, He ultimately showed His divinity and power.

Before Jesus left to go back to heaven, He gave His disciples a command. "Go into all the world," He said, "and preach the Gospel to all creation."

This was God's ultimate plan. He loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to rescue us. Now we have a Way to deliverance. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, thus allowing us a way to salvation.

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

"Turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus." (Acts 20:21)

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Jesus, the Light of the world, the perfect sacrifice, and the One who was slain, came to the earth to save us. Full of love and tender compassion, He came to save that which was lost. He changed the world for eternity. Because of all that Jesus did, we can now be saved. Therefore, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31)