Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Love My Friends

During a break at a particularly long day at work...

B [while reading the paper]: "We should go to the yarn store, but I didn't bring any money."
Me: "You're reading the article about Stampadoodle [stamp store] but yes, we should."
B: "Oh...but it looks like yarn!" *Points to picture of markers.*

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Of the Father's Love Begotten

Hymn of the Week: Of the Father's Love Begotten
by:
(Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Monday, December 15, 2008

23 Things

I managed to leave this list on my work computer along with the flash drive I’d saved it to, so here’s what I meant to post on Saturday…

Each year around my birthday, I like to make a list of new things I did in my last year of life (yes, I am weird) and seeing that tomorrow is two days ago was my birthday, I thought it a fitting time to make such a list.  So, here are 23 (new) things I did while I was 23. 

1.            Went on my first real date

2.            Entered into a relationship with an amazingly wonderful godly man

3.            Celebrated three months with him (on my birthday, no less!)

4.            Watched the sunset on the beach with said man

5.            Celebrated one year at my job

6.            Experienced the death of my Grandma

7.            Became a church member

8.            Won third place in our bake-off at work

9.            Co-adopted a cat

10.          Was maid of honor for my friend Crystal’s wedding

11.          Hosted a weekend visit with friends from North Carolina and Arizona

12.          Went a real, just-for-fun vacation to California and Arizona

13.          Ran two 5ks

14.          [With my roommates] hosted a game night

15.          Developed a grudge against the state of Iowa for their lack of road signs and my propensity for getting lost

16.          Celebrated being out of college for one year

17.          Discovered the amazingness that is savory scones

18.          Helped plan a party for my church’s third anniversary

19.          Lived with another Elizabeth

20.          Celebrated Thanksgiving with Chris (and our respective families)

21.          Drove over 800 miles in one week while on vacation

22.          Got a digital SLR camera

23.          Learned to knit, not for the first time, but for the first time successfully


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Hymn of the Week: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
from the Liturgy of St. James
(Third Sunday of Advent)

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hymn of the Week: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Hymn of the Week: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
by Joseph Neale
(Second week of Advent)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Refrain

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Refrain

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Refrain

Monday, December 01, 2008

Yummy Alfredo Sauce

Don’t ask how many calories are in this sauce, just enjoy it. ;)

INGREDIENTS (Nutrition)

1/2 cup butter

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 cups milk

6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add cream cheese and garlic powder, stirring with wire whisk until smooth. Add milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out lumps. Stir in Parmesan and pepper. Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency. Sauce will thicken rapidly, thin with milk if cooked too long. Toss with hot pasta to serve.

(Some reviews said you could use skim milk and non-fat cream cheese.  Still, I think I’d only make this about once a year upon seeing how many calories are in a serving.)

(From: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Quick-and-Easy-Alfredo-Sauce/Detail.aspx)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Hymn of the Week: Come, Thou  Long Expected Jesus
by Charles Wesley
(First week of Advent)

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Things for Which I am Thankful

I know I'm a day late, but I was too busy spending yesterday with people I'm thankful for to blog.  So, without even further adieu, here's the incomplete-and-in-no-order list of what I'm thankful for, version 2008:

God
I know it's cliche, but it's true.  Each time I realize the depth of my depravity (which is daily), I'm all the more amazed that He would save me.  His daily grace amazes me.  2008 wasn't the easiest year--specifically, Grandma dying--but He gave His strength and comfort in a myriad of different ways, and for that, I am so incredibly thankful.

Family
They may be crazy, but I love them. :)  I'm thankful that my parents let me come to their house whenever I want and let me bring friends, too (usually to eat their food), especially on holidays.

My man
Being in a relationship for the first time has taught me a LOT (like how incredibly selfish I am), but I am so thankful that God brought me an amazing man that I don't deserve.  It's one more evidence of His grace and how He gives good gifts.  Daily, I am in awe of Chris and the fact that God brought us into each other's lives.

Friends
They've been there for me through the downs of Grandma's death and the excitement of my relationship with Chris.  Plus, the friends I live with put up with me on a daily basis...not an easy thing to do, as I'm sure they'll tell you. ;)

My Church
I am so thankful to be part of a church where the Gospel is faithful proclaimed and lived out day after day.  I'm thankful for a godly pastor who cares about his people, a community group dedicated to Jesus and everyone else at Oikos.

Running
I'm not exactly a runner per se, but I am thankful for a) the ability to run and b) people like my roommates and Chris who got me into it and won't let me stop. :)

Work
I have a good job for a great company and a steady paycheck...not everyone can say that and I'm thankful I can.

I decided to go for the shorter, more in depth list this year, because really, if I was going to list everything I was thankful for, the list would never end.  What about you?  What you thankful for this year?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hymn of the Week: From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee

Hymn of the week: From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee
by Martin Luther

From depths of woe I raise to Thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication;
If Thou iniquities dost mark,
Our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O who shall stand before Thee?

To wash away the crimson stain,
Grace, grace alone availeth;
Our works, alas! are all in vain;
In much the best life faileth:
No man can glory in Thy sight,
All must alike confess Thy might,
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His Word
Upholds my fainting spirit:
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort, and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience.

What though I wait the livelong night,
And till the dawn appeareth,
My heart still trusteth in His might;
It doubteth not nor feareth:
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
And wait till God appeareth.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free.
From all their sin and sorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Beauty of Your Peace

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways!

Reclothe us in our rightful mind;

In purer lives your service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

Drop your still dews of quietness

Till all our strivings cease:

Take from our lives the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of your peace.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

 We’ve started singing this song at my church recently, based on the above hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier.  I ran across the original text during my reading of “Let Me Be a Woman” by Elisabeth Elliot in her chapter on self-discipline (excellent book, by the way) and may end up painting this quote on my wall someday; who knows?

As Christians, our lives are to reflect the glory of God (Col. 3:23, 1 Cor. 10:31), and that includes, as Whittier says, “the beauty of your peace.”  I’ve had some discussions with my roommates on this topic, too, and have realized that this is a heart issue—if we know the beauty of his peace, we will want to reflect that in everything, including, I believe, one’s life, home, schedule and conduct.

This is something I’ve really struggled with simply because it’s not easy.  Things like planning for your week, keeping your house orderly…they all take time, work and discipline.  I have a long, long ways to go (anyone who knows me can attest to this), but I’m convinced it’s worth it.  At least in my case, my soul feels better when my life is organized.   While it’s not always easy or fun to strive for the discipline of order, it’s necessary as I try to show “the beauty of his peace” in my life and home. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Utterly Refreshing Weekend


I'm home from work today, fighting a cold and the chills (currently wrapped in a blanket, wearing socks and sipping peppermint tea, which would be quite lovely if I wasn't sick) so I thought I'd try to rectify what has become a rather boring blog.

This weekend, I headed off to a church women's retreat on a nearby island.  While I was looking forward to it, I was also a bit...weary, to be honest.  October has been an insane month; I was only in town the first weekend of the month, so I was wondering if this retreat would burn me out.  Quite the opposite happened.  I came away feeling refreshed, encouraged and loved.  Because of my traveling this month, I haven't been to my church in awhile, and it was so good to be around those I know and love.  Church family is different than any other group, I've decided.  You don't necessarily choose them (well, you do to some extent, but I think you know what I mean), yet we are called to love them and do life together.

Everything from the games we played to the teaching, singing and free time was wonderful.  I came away feeling ready to face life again (and on the verge of getting sick, but we won't mention that). 

(Photos: Top is from the Pt. Townsend Ferry, bottom the view from the house I stayed in.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Book review: Churched



Despite the fact that my roommate feels comparing Churched to Anne Lamott is quite blasphemous, it was an...interesting...read. Having grown up in a relatively conservative church/family, I knew there were fundamentlists out there, I just didn't know how crazy they were. ;) Sure, some of his experiences are probably exaggerated (whose childhood memories aren't?), but it becomes clear very quickly in the book that what the people of Matthew's church lacked was a proper understanding of the Gospel--they forgot grace. Add in an obsession with hell, the "sin" of having long hair on guys and you have a collection stories that will make you grimace a bit and wish some would actually read the Bible instead of pretending they know what it says.


I've read a few books about growing up in the church--Mark Lowry probably being best-known author/comedian on this topic, and although Churched isn't as funny as Mark, it's not a half-bad read if you're looking for something to make you laugh a little and wince a little more.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Reason for My Absence

I realize my blogging as been light as of late (except for some Hymns of the Week and book reviews).  Sorry about that for those of you who eagerly await my posts (riiiight).  I have been keeping busy with work and church stuff as per usual, but most enjoyably of all, I've been spending time with an amazing man God has brought into my life.  It's been almost a month since the start of our relationship and what a month it has been. :)  I've been grown and challenged (in a good way) and am continually in awe of how God brought us together.  Getting to know him is fun, new and awesome.  Chris is fabulous, and I'm sure that my forthcoming blog will include more of our adventures together.

This Sunday finds me hopping on a plane to be in a wedding, as well as spending some time with extended family and driving across a few states in the Midwest.  Who knows, maybe I will get some blogging fodder from my trip.  Either way, I'll try to be around a little bit more, time and Internet connections permitting.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hymn of the Week: A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A Mighty Fortress is Our God
by Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hymn of the Week: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought

We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought
by Thomas Pollock
(music here)

We have not known Thee as we ought,
Nor learned Thy wisdom, grace and power;
The things of earth have filled our thought,
And trifles of the passing hour.
Lord, give us light Thy truth to see,
And make us wise in knowing Thee.

We have not feared Thee as we ought,
Nor bowed beneath Thine awful eye,
Nor guarded deed and word and thought,
Remembering that God was nigh.
Lord, give us faith to know Thee near,
And grant the grace of holy fear.

We have not loved Thee as we ought,
Nor cared that we are loved by Thee;
Thy presence we have coldly sought,
And feebly longed Thy face to see.
Lord, give a pure and loving heart
To feel and know the love Thou art.

We have not served Thee as we ought,
Alas, the duties left undone,
The work with little fervor wrought,
The battles lost or scarcely won!
Lord, give the zeal, and give the might,
For Thee to toil, for Thee to fight.

When shall we know Thee as we ought,
And fear and love and serve aright?
When shall we, out of trial brought,
Be perfect in the land of light?
Lord, may we day by day prepare
To see Thy face and serve Thee there.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Book Review: The Road to Lost Innocence

Don't read the first 75 pages of this book while eating. That being said, you need to read this book. In The Road to Lost Innocence, Somaly Mam recounts the horrific experience of being sold into prostitution in Cambodia during the 70s and 80s. The stories will make you cringe and tear your heart. You'll get a glimpse not only into Cambodian culture, but also into the often-hushed but ever-so-prevalent sex industry. Somaly doesn't just share her story--she also tells of the other girls and sisters she knows whose lives have also been ruined by the sale of their bodies. The book will turn your stomach, but that's what it's supposed to do. For millions of girls each year, what you'll read isn't just a book, it's their life.

The story doesn't end there, though. Somaly mercifully was able to escape and now helps other girls (of devastatingly young ages) out of the evil that is prostitution. Even though she's not a Christian (but rather a Bhuddist), you can see the mercy of God in her meeting certain people at certain times, Him providing a way of escape, etc. One thing I really appreciated was the description of how they are educating the men to value women. It's not enough to just make prostitution illegal--the root of the problem needs to be delt with. Men need to learn to honor women and not see them as purely physical objects.

I think Christians especially need to be aware of what's happening in this area, as we not only have physical freedom from prostitution, we know the One who offers spiritual freedom as well.

Here's a link where you can buy Somaly's book; the local library system as it as well and I'm willing to loan out my copy. Read it, and let God move your heart for the girls who are lost in this sickening world.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Which She Is Not a Typical Girl

I am very thankful that God made me female and not male.  Generally, I’m a pretty feminine person—I have long hair, wear jewelry and it’s not too rare to see me in a skirt.  There are a few ways, though, in which I buck the trend of being a typical girl.

The stereotype of having a million shoes in a million colors is not something I prescribe to, although I do admit to having several pairs of Old Navy flip-flops in a variety of colors.  I don’t even have the same shirt in four different colors!

The concept of the purse makes me shudder.  Only recently was I given a purse that I like and can almost enjoy carrying around.  Ever since I was of Purse Carrying Age, I’ve found them annoying and tried for a long time to avoid it, but before too long, having to carry keys, a cell phone, wallet and such got to be too much so I succumbed to this phenomenon.

This probably relates to my hippie streak more than anything else, but I don’t use a hair dryer.  Almost ever.   (The times I have, my hair usually gets caught in them, which doesn’t bode well for our relationship).  Hair dryers are incredibly bad for your hair (heat + hair = bad) and they take more time than I’m willing to spend in the mornings (especially when you have a lot of hair).  My coworkers and friends have gotten used to seeing me come to work with wet hair, and I enjoy knowing that I’m not frying my hair every single day.

So no, I'm not a very typical girl in some aspects, but whoever said normal was good? ;)

Monday, September 15, 2008

I heart Charles Spurgeon (pt. 1)

Read this selection from Morning and Evening this morning and I just had to post the whole thing...

"He shall not be afraid of evil tidings."-Psalm 112:7

"Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved his faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?

Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?

Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”--September 15, morning

Hymn of the Week: Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder
by John Newton

1. Let us love and sing and wonder
Let us praise the Savior’s name
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has brought us nigh to God

2. Let us love the Lord Who bought us
Pitied us when enemies
Called us by His grace and taught us
Gave us ears and gave us eyes
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He has washed us with His blood
He presents our souls to God

3. Let us sing though fierce temptation
Threatens hard to bear us down
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqu’ror’s crown
He, Who washed us with His blood,
He, Who washed us with His blood,
He, Who washed us with His blood,
Soon will bring us home to God

4. Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God

5. Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high
Here they trusted Him before us
Now their praises fill the sky
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou art worthy Lamb of God

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Joy in the Mundane

To most people, my life is pretty boring. There's not a whole lot that changes. I'm not using my degree at my job. My life consists primarily of work, church and friends. Most evenings after work are spent at my house, reading, talking with my roommates, running and laughing at our cat. Weekends are filled with church, Bible quizzing, friends and the like.

On the flip side, though, I've found amazing joy in my somewhat mundane life. While my job isn't using my degree, I do work for a great company that cares about its employees. What I do does have some eternal impact. I have fabulous roommates who make me laugh like none other and put up with my craziness by adding lots of their own. The people from my church are amazing and I love getting to know them better. I'm privileged to be coaching a Bible Quizzing team, helping other kids be formed by the Scriptures like I was.

I want to be content in whatever season of life God has placed me; right now, He has me in Bellingham (where I said I'd never move), learning, loving and living. I want to enjoy and thrive in this season, knowing that it's unique and a gift from Him.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hymn of the Week: O Day of Rest and Gladness

O Day of Rest and Gladness
by Christopher Wordsworth

O day of rest and gladness,
O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright:
On Thee, the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
Sing holy, holy, holy, to the great God Triune.

On Thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth;
On Thee, for our salvation,
Christ rose from depths of earth;
On Thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from Heaven,
And thus on Thee, most glorious, a triple light was given.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest,
We reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blessed.
To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son;
The Church her voice upraises
To Thee, blessed Three in One.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hymn of the Week: There's a Wideness in God's Mercy

There's a Wideness in God's Mercy
by Frederick Faber

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.

Oh the mercy of God
Is a raging sea
Flowing down from Heaven
On all who would believe
Administered by faith
In the death Christ the King
Oh the mercy of God,
That saves a wretch like me

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord

Sunday, August 31, 2008

In Which She Becomes Slightly More Hippie

It's already a well documented fact that I have a hippie streak in me--I don't wear shoes, for one, but lately, there have been a few other life choices that are increasing my hippie factor.

Paper towels
I have, for several years now, thought paper towels were, well, a waste. You use them once and then throw them away (or perhaps food recycle). Not too long ago, my roommates and I cut up old sheets and have a rag box to draw from. It works quite well--after once use, simply toss in the hamper, wash and they're ready to go again.

Mayonnaise
I figured that all the preservatives in store-bought mayo can't really be all that good for you, so thanks to the Mennonite cookbook, I made my own! It was a little soupy (must add oil slower next time), but I do intended to try it again. Cheaper than store-bought mayo, too, I believe. And it's just pretty fun to make your own.

Walking/biking
If at all possible, I try to bike or walk instead of drive. It's good for me, and I figure that no one likes breathing emissions from my car. Plus, it's fun--and you can get a lot of quality time with your mp3 player, too!

Shampoo
This one really put me over the edge--I haven't used shampoo on my hair in over a month now. Instead, I'm using a baking soda paste (and was spraying the ends with apple cider vinegar). I did some research online and liked what people said about their hair after using it. Plus, can those chemicals really be that good for you? Shampoo is expensive, too, and I go through it quickly. I haven't quite mastered the art of it, but I think I'm getting there.

Who knows how long I'll keep up all of these things. Hopefully a long time, but maybe I'll end up marrying a man who can't stand homemade mayo or baking soda-ed hair or something equally tragic. ;)

So yeah, I have some hippie/Bellingham/granola/crunchy in me...but that's okay, right?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
by John Newton

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose Word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear!
For a glory and a cov’ring
Showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from our banner
Light by night and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which He gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God.
’Tis His love His people raises,
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, His solemn praises
Each for a thank offering brings.

Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy Name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thank you, thank you, thank you

I know the Internet is a cold and impersonal medium to communicate something like this, (please forgive me), but thank you, friends, for all the love and care you showed my family in the passing of my Grandma. Your e-mails, phone calls, hugs, texts...everything were so very much appreciated. It was hard saying goodbye to Grandma, but she is with Jesus now, and though we're still sad, knowing that does make it easier (at least from my perspective).

Our time in South Dakota was good...not always easy, but good. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins were able to be there (this was the first time in a long time...last year at Grandpa and Grandma's 60th anniversary, one cousin and her husband were missing because she'd just had a baby). There were lots of times of laughter mixed in with the tears. Monday afternoon, we had a time of sharing stories about Grandma. I got to learn a lot of things I didn't know about her, and it was really enjoyable. It raised a few questions (exactly how many times did she have rheumatic fever?) but it was still fun nonetheless.

Tuesday was the graveside burial and memorial service. Like I said, those were rough (watching my Grandpa say goodbye was absolutely heartbreaking), but through it all, I had this underlying knowledge that Grandma was with Jesus; the body I was looking at was just that--a body. Her soul is free.

I could go on about the stories of God's grace throughout the whole process--the nurse in the park (next to my Grandparent's house) who started CPR right away, my mom's cousin who was also at the park and stayed with my Grandpa...really, you don't have to look too deep to see that He was there during the events that took place. Even in something as sad as death, He's there. And that, through all the sadness and mourning, gives me peace and joy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hymn of the Week: How Firm a Foundation

How Firm a Foundation
Author Unsure

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Grandma

Written August 14th 2008

This afternoon I got the call I knew would eventually come but had been dreading. It was my mom, and right away, I knew something was wrong. “Grandma?” I guessed, as I pulled over on the side of the road. Tears started streaming down my face as she confirmed my fears—Grandma had died. Quietly, on the back deck in a small Midwest town while shucking corn, Anabel Larson went to be with Jesus.

A loving and faithful wife, mother, grandma and great-grandma said goodbye to pain and suffering. In one sense, it’s a relief to know she’s no longer in pain, but in another, more real sense, the void grows bigger each time I realize she’s gone. She won’t be there for my wedding and my kids won’t know this amazing woman (though I’m determined to name one of my daughters after her). Instead, they’ll know her through stories—stories of the food, the Golden Book collection, the red barns and red ball guns her kids and grandkids grew up on. She’ll live on through recipes I’ve gotten from her and when I have my kids memorize Psalm 23, I’ll tell them how much she loved it.

I’ve inherited a lot of things from Grandma—the love of a bargain, the inability to resist a garage sale, some teacups, recipes and a sewing machine. But what I remember best and am most thankful for is the godly heritage of a woman who selflessly and tirelessly served others, loved her family and loved the Lord most of all. In the grand scheme of things, one person may not seem like a big deal, but together with Grandpa, Grandma had an influence that has and I am convinced will continue to span the globe from here to eternity.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hymn of the Week: His Love Can Never Fail

His Love Can Never Fail
by E.S. Hall

I do not ask to see the way
My feet will have to tread;
But only that my soul may feed
Upon the living Bread.’
Tis better far that I should walk
By faith close to His side;
I may not know the way I go,
But oh, I know my Guide.

His love can never fail,
His love can never fail,
My soul is satisfied to know
His love can never fail.

And if my feet would go astray,
They cannot, for I know
That Jesus guides my falt’ring steps,
As joyfully I go.
And tho’ I may not see His face,
My faith is strong and clear,
That in each hour of sore distress
My Savior will be near.

I will not fear, tho’ darkness come
Abroad o’er all the land,
If I may only feel the touch
Of His own loving hand.
And tho’ I tremble when I think
How weak I am, and frail,
My soul is satisfied to know
His love can never fail.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
by Charles Wesley

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Good Works Are, Well...Good

I've been thinking lately about the proper place of good works in the life of a Christian. Clearly, we are not saved by them (Titus 3:5-6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23, etc)--it is the grace of God alone that saves us. However, I think a lot of Christian miss the place of works post-salvation. Right after we are told "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast," we are also told in the very next verse "for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Emphasis added.) We're created for good works! How grateful I am that we are saved from the endless cycle of works for the joy of doing good works unto God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

Good works are utterly important in our Christian life, but they become so after salvation, not before. Galatians 5:22-23 lists nine traits that should be evident in the lives of all who profess Christ--love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Do these have anything to do with saving us? By no means, but they are ways the world knows we belong to Jesus. "By this, all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another," John 13:35 tells us. Instead of viewing good works as burdensome, we who belong to Christ should find joy in doing them--it's our calling, joy and honor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No, I haven't gone corporate

But I am pretty excited about this nifty thing called RefTagger I just installed. It's from that one company I've spent some time with. Now, instead of having to link each Bible verse I cite to biblegateway.com, you, dear reader, can simply hover your mouse over the verse and the text will appear. If you install it on your own blog, you can customize your preferred Bible translation as well as a host of other options. Behold!

1 Peter 2:9
Acts 20:24
Micah 6:8

I've been meaning to install this for awhile, but just got around to it today. More info is available on the Logos blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hymn of the Week: There is a Fountain

There is a Fountain
by William Cowper

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy power to save
I'll sing Thy power to save, I'll sing Thy power to save
Then in a nobler, sweeter song I'll sing Thy power to save.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No, I haven't forgotten about my blog...

...I've just been busy with friends who came to visit (from the other side of the country, no less!). A post shall (hopefully) soon appear detailing our wonderful weekend. It really was a fabulous time full of laughter, memories, inside jokes and more laughter. I'm thankful God has blessed me with such great friends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

by Henry Lyte

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Confessions of a Hymn Nerd

I’m a hymn nerd. I’ll admit it; give me “Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee” or “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” over “Everlasting God” and others like it any day. While I didn’t grow up primarily with hymns, I did have some exposure to them throughout my childhood, and for that I am grateful. College deepened my love of these songs (more on that later), and now, a year after graduation, I’m an all-out nerd. :)

If this was a college paper, I’d be defining my terms right about now, but since it’s not, I’m going to assume that “hymn” is a fairly well-known term to anyone reading this. In general, I mean older songs with several verses, not a lot of repetition, etc. Also, I don’t think that all contemporary praise and worship songs are horrible—there are a few I like (albeit very few), such as “In Christ Alone” and “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” (which some would consider modern hymns).

What I appreciate the most about hymns is their depth—you won’t find anything like it in most modern praise and worship songs. They focus on a variety of topics, from confession (“O Thou That Hearst When Sinners Cry”) to praise (“Great is Thy Faithfulness”) to celebrating what God has done in the past (“For All the Saints”). I could go on and on citing favorite lines and hymns, but I won’t. ;) Additionally, hymns have an eternal perspective—take for example these last verses of a few hymns…

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then a new this song we’ll sing,
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Man of Sorrows

When clothed in His brightness,
transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation,
His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
He Hideth My Soul

And when, redeemed from sin and hell,
With all the ransomed throng I dwell,
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.
With Broken Heart and Contrite Sigh

It’s something I’ve noticed over and over again, especially in the last verses of hymns—they focus on the eternal. This world is not the forever home of Christians, and it does us good to think in way.

Another thing I appreciate about hymns is that you won’t see a lot of lines starting with “I” or “me,” especially when compared with most modern praise and worship songs. Here are some more examples…

Mighty God! while angels bless thee,
May a mortal sing thy name?
Lord of men, as well as angels!
Thou art every creature’s theme:
Ancient of eternal days!
Sounded through the wide creation,
Be thy just and endless praise.
Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee

Come, Christians, join to sing
Alleluia! Amen!
Loud praise to Christ our King
Alleluia! Amen!
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice:
Alleluia! Amen!
Come, Christians Join to Sing

All praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of wonder, power and love,
The God of our salvation;
With healing balm my soul he fills,
The God who every sorrow stills:
To God all praise and Glory
All Praise to God Who Reigns Above

I used to think I was pretty well versed in hymns. They certainly weren’t rare in the churches we attended growing up, and our college chapel sung them frequently. Then I started attending a church that sings primarily (though not exclusively) hymns where my repertoire expanded astronomically and I’m so glad it has. From the more common hymns I either sung growing up (such as “Be Thou My Vision” or “My Jesus, I Love Thee”) to ones I didn’t know but probably should have (“He Hideth My Soul,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”) to others I’d never heard before (“O Thou That Hear'st When Sinners Cry,” “All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord”), I love the depth and tradition to the songs we sing. I love knowing that I sing songs Christians have for hundreds of years…seriously, how many of the popular church songs that were around 10 years ago are still being sung now? Songs such as “Shout to the Lord,” and “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” weren’t necessarily bad, but I can’t remember the last time I heard them sung in church. In Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon, he occasionally quotes hymns, and I love it when I recognize them—how cool is it that my church sings some of the same songs as Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, etc.?

I’m even convinced that hymns are more intellectually stimulating. Let me explain—as a part of my interpreting classes, we interpreted our school’s thrice weekly chapel, including the songs. While songs are (usually) more fun than speaking, they are often really boring or really hard. As I would go through my songs and prepare my interpretation, I began to realize just how repetitive modern praise songs are. They either say the same thing over and over, only using different words, or simply repeat the same phrases over and over. Hymns, while much more challenging to interpret (what, exactly, is the “potentate of time*”?) they were much more interesting and thought-provoking. 1 Corinthians 14:15 says “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” As someone who grew up in the church, I (along with several others I know) find the richness and depth of hymns more challenging and intellectually stimulating.

Resources

Flipping through hymnbooks is fun, but for those who don’t have one, go online. Thanks to public domain, most hymns are old enough that they can be shared without worrying about copyright issues. The best online resource is CyberHymnal. I use this site primarily for the lyrics as their MIDI files aren’t the highest quality (and I tend to know different melodies for the hymns). Another good resource is Indelible Grace’s Online Hymnal. Meant to be used in churches/group gatherings, it has samples of songs, overheads, chord charts and sheet music all free of charge. You can also order cds of the songs, done by various and sundry artists such as Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Andrew Osenga, Matthew Perryman Jones and others.

*po•ten•tate \ˈpō-tən-ˌtāt\ n
15c : ruler, sovereign broadly : one who wields great power or sway

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave, and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish ev’ry fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and heav’n are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Saviour, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate, and friends may shun me;
Show thy face, and all is bright.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”;
I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
all must work for good to me

Soul then know thy full salvation;
rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station
something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee;
Think what Father’s smile is thine;
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
child of heaven, canst thou repine?

Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith and winged by pray’r;
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee,
God’s own hand will guide thee there.
Soon shall close they earthly mission,
Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and pray’r to praise.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hymn of the Week: Man of Sorrows

I'm preparing a post on hymns, but since it's not quite ready I thought I'd go ahead and start what I hope will be a regular feature: Hymn of the Week.

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

by Philip Bliss

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wedneday evenings

Wednesday evenings around here were a bit different as of late...my roommates and I would pile into my car and head off to Pete and Cheryl's for a class/study on, all of things, marriage. Both my roommates are in relationships, yet I, the single one, initiated our house going to the class. Why? Well, I want to be married someday--I'd wager most people do--and I figure that starting to prepare now, as a single girl, is a good thing to do. It's helping me to think about what kind of wife I want to be and how I can get there, even now. It's living like I plan to get married (as Candice Watters alluded to in "Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen). Is it weird? Yes. I got some pretty strange responses when I would tell people of my Wednesday night plans, but that's okay. Hopefully, attending a marriage class as a single will show my husband how I've been preparing for our life together, even while I didn't have a boyfriend, and how seriously I take the role of being a wife.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book review: With Endless Sight

I can't say no to a free book. Call it a genetic defect (or character trait), but my love of reading and of a bargain beg me to say yes when a free book is offered. That's how I ended up reading "With Endless Sight," by Allison Pittman. Here's the summary...

Born into a life of privilege, fourteen-year-old Belinda never questions her security, even as she leaves Illinois with her family to discover new adventures in the Oregon Territory. But when disaster falls, Belinda is left wounded, weak, and alone. Her faith in God gives her the only strength she knows in a harsh new world.

Belinda’s journey takes her to a snow-covered mining camp and a red-roofed brothel in the Wyoming mountains, but not before she must spend a lonely winter with the man who took away the life she knew. Throughout the grief and hope of a strange land, Belinda must decide if her faith is big enough to allow her to forgive.

The satisfying conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series, With Endless Sight offers a rich story of family, new beginnings, and the freedom that grace can bring.

Brilliant literature? No, but if you're looking for some light, easy, "beach reading" (as some call it), this book is an enjoyable read that will entertain you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Internet and You

I've been thinking recently about our attention spans and how the Internet affects them. A recent article in Atlantic Monthly asks [rightfully so] "Is Google Making us Stupid?" and the Boundless Line blog talked about the article as well.

Without going into great detail [mostly because I'm at work and want to be home soon!], I think it's sadly true. Between the Internet where everything is just a click away, [gotta have instant gratification, right?] as well as short conversations on instant messaging and facebook, we've gotten used to having a conversation in snippets and having everything at our fingertips. At my workplace, we use instant messaging as a form of communication in the office, and without a doubt, the older people are, the longer their instant messages are. They're used to writing something with more than two lines, while the rest of us can't help but send four message with one sentence each. Heaven forbid we keep the other person waiting to know each and every thought!

In an attempt to reverse what could become a real problem, I'm trying to read more and be on the Internet less [an unstable Internet connections does wonders for this!].

There are some other avenues I'd like to explore--how t.v. fits into this, as well as the length of sermons in today's church [random, I know] but that's all I have for now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Evening

Someday I'll post something besides quotes from Morning and Evening, but they're just so good. Here is yesterday morning's thought.

“The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
— Psalm 126:3

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, “I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. He hath brought me up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. The Lord hath done great things for me, whereof I am glad.” Such an abstract of experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Saviour, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us “out into a wealthy place.” The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, “He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Evening again

Another quote from Morning and Evening, sans any babbling from me:

A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Irony of the Day

This e-mail about a Father's Day contest landed in my inbox today:

"Every Friday throughout the month of June, first-place winners in each category will get a TiVo® box with a year of service! With TiVo®, you can enjoy the TV shows you want when you want, plus TiVo® gives you an opportunity to screen and select programming for your children as well."

Who are the fine folks giving away TiVo? That's right...Focus on the Family! Oh, the irony.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

He IS good

From last night’s reading of Morning and Evening

He is indeed my Master in both senses, a ruling Master and a teaching Master. I delight to run upon his errands, and to sit at his feet. I am both his servant and his disciple, and count it my highest honour to own the double character.

In my experience, I have found him good, so good, indeed, that all the good I have has come to me through him. He was good to me when I was dead in sin, for he raised me by his Spirit’s power; he has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. When he teaches me as my Rabbi, he is unspeakably good, his doctrine is divine, his manner is condescending, his spirit is gentleness itself.

Condescending is normally seen as a negative thing, but how glorious it is when a holy and righteous God condescends to us! He owes us nothing, yet sent His Son “to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10) all because He loves us.

Over on his blog, Jacob also reflected on the goodness of God in Psalm 23…

Looking back over the course of the Christian's life, the regular blessings of God should cause you to look to the future with the firm conviction that the very same God will continue to bless you and supply your needs, all the days of your life.

As C.S. Lewis put it in one of my favorite quotes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, “He is not safe, but he is good.” He is good, friends. I certainly don’t know why, for I in no way deserve or can earn His goodness, yet He heaps it on me “all the days of my life.” (Ps. 23:6)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Holy Food

One of the blogs I regularly read, Girl Talk, recently ran a series of tributes to Grandmothers. Sadly, I didn't get one sent in before the deadline, but as I read the tributes sent in by readers, I was struck by a common theme running through the notes: food. Here are some quotes...

"She is an EXCELLENT cook!! I can remember countless meals that she created for our family. We looked like a Norman Rockwell painting as we sat around her table, eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, peanut beans, and homemade apple pie. Spending the night at Granny's farm, meant waking up to fried eggs, sausage, bacon, and biscuits. She would cook a meal for seven, and then clean up after us and she never had a dishwasher!She would do this joyfully!! I have never heard Granny complain about any household chore."

"She made her delicious meals from scratch, and one of my fondest memories is of watching her roll out and cut homemade noodles on the kitchen table. She made biscuits, mashed potatoes, roast and homemade gravy . . . you name it, she made it - all on that one little table. "

"When a chapter or two had been read, we'd go into the kitchen and I'd help Grandmommy make dinner. The meal was always well planned, balancing vegetables and salad with some type of starch and meat. My two favorites were her sweet and sour meatballs and her chicken divan and biscuits with honey. I'd cut up the vegetables and sprinkle them on top of the salads, always in individual bowls, while we talked about life."

My own personal memories of my grandmothers include food as well. At my grandparent's 60th anniversary celebration last summer, the grandkids got to share some memories, and my grandma's cooking was a popular theme in our tributes. Could it be that there is something holy about this seemingly common act of eating?

Without going into a long theological discourse, meals are all throughout the Bible--not the least of which is the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. We are that "Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life." Simple things in life, the taste of fresh strawberries, a good meal shared with friends are all examples of common grace and are only a small forshadowing of the Meal we will share in God's Kingdom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Link time

Here are some links that have caught my eye lately.

Doxology and Theology--Mark Bertrand blogged about a quote I've seen attributed to Gordon Fee, and it's a good one.

$200 at monergism.com!--You should all sign up for the givewawy, and use my referral number, 70848. If I win, I'll buy you at least one thing. I promise.

Word of the Day, theology style--I love words, so the invention of the Word of the Day e-mail feature has been great. Recently, I came across this blog, which puts a theological twist on daily words. It's a good way to expand your theological vocab. And I feel smart when I already know the word they feature.

Movies better than Books--Fredrica Matthews-Green goes out on a limb to suggest that Prince Caspian the movie was better than the book. While that particular tome has not been my favorite of the series, I did feel the movie left out some important pieces from the book. She has a list of books that were better movies near the end of the article and makes some rather daring suggestions.

The Shack--Tim Challies posts an extended review of The Shack. I haven't read the whole review, but the portion I did see looked good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I (literally) stand corrected

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the flip-flop. In some areas of the world, it's considered a summer only shoe, but here in the beautiful PNW, you can (and I do) wear them all year long. Old Navy flip-flops have been my footwear of choice (except for that wonderful pair that I lost at a mosque, which is actually a pretty funny story). Last year, near the end of summer, however, I managed to break my brown ones on the way back from church. Nevertheless, I still had my trusty black ones (in addition to some other fun, more summery colors). Until a few weeks ago, that is, when I ruined them by taking a walk on gravel. Don't do that, kids.

I had bought a few pairs last year in order to enhance the color scheme of my shoes, but Old Navy changed the design, and not for the better. The straps from last year's curve in at an odd angle, making your feet hurt, no matter how often you wear them, at least until callouses have formed.

This year, they once again debuted a new line with some texture on the part where your foot lies. I was heartbroken the first time I went into Old Navy this spring and wanted to buy some brown ones--the new style couldn't possibly be comfortable...could it? Deciding that it was better to find an alternative, I left the store and proceeded to wear my green flip-flops with everything. Now, green is a great color, but match with everything it does not. Plus, I couldn't bring myself to wear yellow during December. After about a month of wearing green all the time, I sucked it up, went back to Old Navy yesterday and purchased a pair of brown and a pair of black flip-flops.

They are wonderful. Maybe it's because they're new that they feel so thick, but the painful strap line is gone and the texture feels great, too. My feet are happy, friends.

Moral of the story? Don't judge a shoe by its look.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tips on memorizing

Scripture memory has been a fairly active part of my life since the age of 3, especially from 7th-12th grades as I was involved in Bible Quizzing as well as Awana. Here are some tips I’ve gleaned during my years as a quizzer…

Memory tricks
When memorizing lists, find the acronym. This one is best explained by example. Take, for instance, Colossians 3:8, “But now, you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.” Notice…
Anger
Rage
Malice
Slander
[and filthy language]

So, according to that verse, get rid of your ARMS and lips. :)

Another example is Philippians 2…in the latter part of that chapter, Paul talks a lot about sending Timothy to Philippi. He pretty much says the same thing over and over but in different ways. Confusing to be sure, but you can remember verse 23, “I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.” “Me” rhymes with 23, so you know those two are linked together.

Multitasking
This tip, given to me by Juliann, has been invaluable. Print out the passage or verses you are working on, laminate it (either with contact paper or the sticky 8 ½ x 11 sheets you can buy), and stick it on the shower wall. Presto! Memorizing while you clean yourself. It’s a good way to use your shower time, though I will warn you that your showers may start to get longer and longer…

Motions
We used this a lot with kids at camp last summer (and I sometimes sign to myself while memorizing)—making motions can help you learn the words, especially if you’re a kinesthetic learner. I tend to walk and flail when I memorize. No joke—it wasn’t until 11th grade that I could sit down/be still while I memorized. The motions don't have to make sense to anyone but you.

Music
[This is unintentionally being an alliterative post] A mom from my church sets her son’s memory verses to music. A few weeks ago, he (at at 2) sang upwards of 15 Bible verses. My sister learns her AWANA verses by song, and I’d wager most of us have learned several verses that way in church songs.

When I start to memorize, I usually take a chunk, repeat it, take another chunk, etc., but these are the ways I learn verses that take a little more effort. There are several other tips, such as flashcards, memorizing with a friend, etc., but these are some of things I have found most helpful in my quest to hide God’s Word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

What about you, reader[s]? Any ideas to share?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hymnodic Ponderings

Select verses from some hymns that have been running through my head as of late...

From All Praise to God Who Reigns Above

All praise to God, who reigns above, the God of all creation
The God of wonders, pow’r and love, the God of our salvation!
With healing balm my soul he fills, the God who every sorrow stills.

To God all praise and glory!
To God all praise and glory!
To God all praise and glory!

I cried to him in time of need; Lord God, O hear my calling!
For death he gave me life in-deed and kept my feet from falling.
For this my thanks shall endless be; O thank him thank our God with me.

And from Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vacation Recap

[Written a week ago] I'm sitting here in the San Diego Airport, wishing that I didn't have to board a plane back to reality. Friends, I had such a good vacation! As I told Katey, it was almost like three mini-vacations in one.--Phoenix, girl time in San Diego and then East and West (Katey and Liz) time. Here's a (not-so) quick rundown...

Wednesday: Arrived in Phoenix--I was able to get on an earlier flight in Las Vegas AND had a full row to myself on both flights--that never happens! Wednesday night, Amanda and I went for a walk (planned to hike a "mountain," but didn't quite find the path) and had dinner at Sonic (a treat since we don't have it in the PNW). After that, we went to Awana, as per her usual Wednesday night. I enjoyed it, even though I didn't know any of the kids. I was actually surprised at how quickly I felt comfortable; I guess 20 years of involvement in Awana will do that to you.

Thursday: After sleeping in (which is anything past 6 am), I hung around Amanda's house (well, her aunt and uncle's) while I waited for Jacob. We'd made plans to hike Camelback Mountain, and to go to In-N-Out. We had a good time; both Jacob (and Amanda) are very adequate tour guides and were full of information about Phoenix. After lunch, we hit a used bookstore where I got all 7 Narnia books, 2 Dr. Seuss books and one called "How To Create Your Own Flawless Universe." (It's a pretty great book.) There was also the playing of the "Guy Love" song, but we won't dwell on that, now will we? :) I got back to Amanda's about 15 minutes before she got off home. Our plans were to pick up a pizza and hike North Mountain to watch the sunset, the same place she got engaged a few weeks ago. We did that and it was beautiful.

Friday: I had another relaxing morning and this time joined Jacob in the early afternoon for time at a coffeeshop. It was fun to hang out for awhile and get caught up on stuff on the Internet. Amanda picked me up from the coffeeshop and we hit the road for San Diego! I took over the wheel in Yuma, and would like the world to know that I only had to turn around once when trying to find Katey's house...a true miracle, friends.

Saturday: Let girl time commence! There was a plethora of laughter, sign language, shopping, pictures and memories made. Our plans to hit up the beach were halted by "cold" weather (in the 60s) and a severe lack of sun. Nevertheless, we made the most of our time with some shopping and ended Saturday with a true girls' night--cookie dough, popcorn and "The Notebook."

Sunday: We slept in and went to a 12 pm service at The Rock Church, where Miles McPherson is the pastor. After that, we had pizza for lunch--we tried one kind that had pears on it, and it was delicious! Christie left from the restaurant and then Katey, Amanda and I went back to Katey's so Amanda could pack. After she left, Katey and I watched "Little Women" while giving each other head massages. Heaven on earth, truly...

Monday: I enjoyed time outside with my Bible and journal while Katey was at work, though she came home not feeling the best in the afternoon. She eventually felt better, so we put on pretty dresses, got In-N-Out (again!) and ate it while watching the sunset at the beach. We even saw dolphins!

Tuesday: Katey had graciously taken the afternoon off work, so after she finished her morning appointment, we put on fun skirts and went to Balboa Park. Saw The Globe Theater, got ice cream, saw lots of fun art and watched an IMAX movie on the Grand Canyon/the Colorado River. That night, we went out for dinner and walked out to a pier to watch the sunset.

And there you have it...there are 250+ photos documenting the trip; I meant to include them in the post, but that isn't going to happen, so they'll be separate. A HUGE thank you to my Southwest friends for making the trip such a fun time!