Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I would like to introduce you all to one of my favorite sites and a great resource for teen writers. This is the official introduction video and it explains a good deal of what it's all about. My favorite thing about this place? The acceptance. The do hard things attitude. No one is told they aren't good enough. I will sum it up with a comment I left on the site just a few days ago:

"This community has most definitely impacted me! It has provided me with a fresh desire and passion for picking up my pen, and has given me hope that it is possible for teens to write well and be successful in their endeavors. And not only that, but I have been introduced to the first adult that is willing to take his time to mold and shape teenagers into great writers.
So many times I’ve been discouraged by adults who don’t think I’m very good, because, well, I’m a teen! They point out my errors, and instead of helping me find the solution they walk away, leaving me puzzled. That doesn’t happen here! Everyone gathers together, lovingly tears the given work apart and gently builds it into something far stronger and better. No one is slandered, put down, or humiliated here. It warms my heart and brightens my smile to see what goes on here at CalebBreakey.com. My only regret is that I didn’t jump in sooner, when I had the chance!

I can’t wait to see how this community grows and changes. This has the potential to change not only how the world views teen writers, but how they view themselves. I am so thankful for Caleb and all the other members of this community, and everyone who is yet to come!"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If I Could Write a Life Back...

I'm a writer. It's something I have always loved to do, always plan to do, and can never not do. But as a writer, I am the one that holds the power. I have control, I hold the fate of all my characters, and I hold the course of events in my hands. I can choose what I want to happen. I hold life in my grasp. But in reality, it doesn't work like that. I hold no control over the happenings of any lives but my own. I may have influence in the lives of others, but not control. Truly, only God does.

And it is this lack of control and the ability to alter the course of events and change a person and tweak a happening to suit what I think should happen and to go along the course of my plans for the story that can sometimes become frustrating and sad. In the world of writing, I hold the position of God. My characters (assume with me for a moment that they are real people) have to rely and trust that I know the end of the story. I know how it will all turn out. So if I allow one character to die, it is because I have chosen it for the good of the story. But as a writer I hold the power to write that life back, as well.

As a child of God, the situation has me as the character and Him as the writer. I am thankful He is the all seeing, all powerful, perfect, and perfectly just writer. As His creation, his character, it is my job to trust and believe that He knows the end of the story; that He knows why things had to be the way they are. We all know that sin has made it so death is imminent. God does hold the power to write a life back, but most often, death stays death in His story. (Get it, His story- History? Hehe, I like that. Anyway, let us continue).

This weekend my faith and trust in the Author of our lives was once again put to the test. A wonderful man of God and loving husband and father was taken from us on Saturday evening. At first I could not believe it. I had seen a miracle done in this very man's life. How could God perform such a miracle then so quickly take him away? A couple years ago Mr. Bryan got sick with the whooping cough. He continued on with life as normal, until he contracted pneumonia as a result of the whooping cough. At that point he landed in the hospital due to the severity of it. However, he contracted another illness (of which I do not know the name) on top of the pneumonia. One that was predicted to kill him slowly. Paralysis set slowly in, finally coming to the point of complete and total paralysis. He could not move at all by himself, and at one point (for a few days only, thankfully) he couldn't even breathe on his own. It was a trying time for his entire family, his wife stayed by his side constantly, his oldest son, Darian (16 at the time) became the main supporter of the family, finding rides to work and working as hard as he could.

However, many people were there to support and help the family during the whole deal. We all prayed without ceasing that God would spare his life. And we were all so thrilled when we heard that not only was he past the danger point, he was walking again! Within six to eight months he had made a full, total recovery, blowing everyone away. I could never say his name without someone saying "Isn't it amazing the miracle God has done?" Talk about a testimony! He went back to work and normal life, took on coaching the homeschool high school football team that his son played on, and got back into the social events and swing of life. I saw him just a couple weeks ago at the playoffs, and he was doing so amazingly well. Which is why it comes as a total shock to every single one of us. He suddenly stopped breathing on Saturday night, and they were not able to revive him. He went to be with his Creator then.

It was Sunday morning, as we were all getting ready for church that we heard from a pastor friend of ours what had happened. My first reaction was to question God "God, how in the world could this happen? You took Ryan from us, you took Daniel from us, why Mr. Duncan?" (for more on that see here). It was hard! All I could think about were little Hepzibah and Hadassah, their little ones, now growing up without a daddy. I couldn't understand it. But then putting it in perspective, this is what sin has done for us. This was the misdeed done in the beginning of the story that is played out through the rest. It's the necessary ending to the story. Every story must have an end. Thankfully every ending story leaves an impression on the reader. A legacy to leave with those that observe the story.

I shared the news with a friend, who's first response (the same one he shared with me when Ryan and Daniel passed away.... some things never change ;) ) was "Why is everybody dying?". I knew the answer, and he knew the answer, but sometimes it's hard to accept it. Everyone has an end to their story, and it comes at just the right point, whether we think so or not.

Seeing as life has been a heavy flurry of events, this is probably muddled and not well written out, but now you all know that a family needs your prayers. Badly. Please keep the Duncan family in your prayers as they make it through this hard time in their lives. :)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo and Blogging.

So as some of you may know, NaNoWriMo has begun. If you don't know what that is.... well think 30 days of total insanity, all stemmed by the crazy goal of writing a novel (of at least, at least, 50,000 words), drinking lots of caffeine, writing your heart and soul out, losing sleep (for me, anyway), and writing like... a ton... oh wait, did I already mention the writing?

So... I know I don't post on here a ton anyway, but I've been stressing over the last few days over blogging and doing NaNoWriMo. The thought I was putting into what I would write on the blog is taking away from NaNo. I, unfortunately, cannot let that happen. November will already be a busy month for me, writing aside, and I need to be ahead of my goal- not behind. Therefore, for the month of November I will not be blogging. However, I put a handy-dandy NaNoWriMo calendar so that all you people can see my progress. Orange days I didn't do so good with my word count goal, green days I did good, really green days I did awesome, and really orange (or maybe red) I did really bad. It also tells you my current word count (as I update it).

So I will (hopefully) be back in December, and I want to know what you guys want me to write about when I return. If you guys think of something (that is reasonable) that you would like to see me write about, questions you want me to answer, etc, I will choose some of them to put here on the blog. All in December. Did I stress that part?

Thank you guys so much for your patience with me as is, I hope you guys will be as gracious during this next month! Happy shoving-yourself-in-a-hole-and-writing-like-a-madman!!!


Monday, October 25, 2010

I stared out the window absent-mindedly; a blank, vacant look probably clothed my face. My mouth may have been open... I do that sometimes. I think I start to say something and I never do. You may as well have hung a neon, flashing sign over my head, that said "Kaitland is a looney!". I'd probably never notice anyways.

I was immersed (quite literally) in the task at hand. The vicious bubbles spun from Dawn dishwashing soap clung to my arms, all the way up to my elbows. A rag hung limp in my hands, being sort of rubbed, sort of flopped against whatever dish I was holding. My phone sat on the the window sill, playing assorted contemporary Christian songs, compliments of Pandora.

All this to get to the main point. A song came on. "True Love" by Phil Wickham. As it began to play I listened. But it wasn't long before I tuned out. I began remembering a verse. At the time I didn't know the exact reference (it's John 15:13, in case you were wondering). I just remember thinking "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." When I was younger I thought I knew what that meant. Death, of course. Jesus died, and so we must be willing to die. I thought "Of course I would die for a friend! After all, I know I'm saved, but I don't know that they are." And only recently (the past year or so) have I begun to realize that that verse doesn't specify how we are to give up our lives. It dawned on me that giving our lives doesn't simply mean ending it to save another. That's giving our deaths. Giving our lives is so much more. Our life is each second that we are breathing and our heart is beating. There are two ways to give that up. We substitute someone else's for our own (i.e. taking death for another), or we give of those seconds to others. We give the life that God has given us, and rather than stealing it for our own selfish motives and purposes, we freely give of it to those that ask it of us. For if we leave this life having lived for ourselves, we take nothing but our souls with us, and we leave nothing behind. We take our life with us. But if we leave this life having acquiesced to the wishes of others, and giving them love by giving them our lives, we take love with us. The hearts of those we gave our lives to. We leave having left smiles and tears, memories and laughter, love and heartache. We leave a life behind.

As I thought on all of this, I decided to think of love in its true form- God. I then thought of God manifested as man- Jesus. It began to click in my somewhat slow, thick head, that love had lived among us. He had shown everyday what I was just now finding out. I had always thought that his legacy of love was his death. But I was wrong. It was his life. It was the constant giving of himself to his disciples and followers. Never was he angered by their questions and requests for miracles. He gave his life over to them. He gladly instructed them and spent time with him. It wasn't about what was on his agenda. He made his life about the very people who put the nails in his hand. And he knew it. He knew as he spoke to them what they were going to do. But despite that knowledge, he instructed them anyway.

So I realized that every time I see a face running to me, asking me to come see this, or please do that, to sigh and say "I have a life to live, too!" is such a waste of the love that I have, through God's presence in me. I saw that I was, in truth, sinning, to put myself before others, because the Bible commands us to do just the opposite of that. That isn't to say that we can never again do what we need/want to do. But if it isn't the priority, we shouldn't make it. People will remember the giving of yourself to them far more than the day to day minutae of life. And so I will close with a verse from the chorus of the song "Legacy" by Nicole Nordemann.

I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough?
In Christ and Of Christ,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I was praying one day- frustrated, exhausted, pleading with God for a magic fix-it potion.The cause- my family relationships. They aren't bad- they definitely don't rival most family relationships across America- but that doesn't make them good. By God's standards they are far from their proper place. So here I stood, washing dishes and pouring out my "Why does so and so do this?" and "Why can't they just do it right, God?" or "God, they can't treat me like that! How am I supposed to keep being nice if they are going to have no respect?!" "God, why can't I just have a chummy relationship with them all!!!". I ranted and I raved. I continued on. And He listened. When I was done and I stood quietly, washing a plate, rinsing a cup. And it came. In the silence He spoke to my heart.

When I was younger I never looked towards the future. All I could think of was "What can I do now?" The farthest I ever looked was three years at the most. And when I looked ahead I didn't see how I would stand with people. All I could see was what I would be doing. Would I be able to drive? What kind of car would I have? Would I be married? (I wanted to be married at 16). Would I be rich? These were the only things I looked to the (near) future for. Never once did I think of what my future relationships would be like. I never saw then the damage done now. Now I look and see, instead, a long road of building, and repairing the little I do have of many and most of my relationships. But really, it's deeper than that. God revealed to me the true root. It wasn't my actions or words, my tone or my choices. While each of those affected my relationships, those were not and are not the root. The root laid in the fact that my walk with my Savior wasn't where it needed to be.

Something that I have not grasped until recently was what a walk with my Savior meant. I was so caught up in thinking that walking with him meant a long list of do's and don'ts and can's and can'ts. I preferred just believing in Him. That's all a saving faith was anyway, right? I was too overwhelmed by my definition of the narrow path, that I gave up. I stopped reading my Bible. I couldn't understand it anyway. I only prayed when I needed something. I could spend all day praying, at any rate. My view point was so wrong. So I played the good girl. My life was a hollographic image- turn it one way and everyone could see my good girl image. I went to church, I carried my Bible around, I sang beautiful, encouraging worship songs, I talked the talk, but when you turned the image the other way... I wasn't walking the walk. The other side reflected... well, what the first side reflected. Me. But in a different light. This was the selfish me. This is where I gave up Bible reading for fiction reading, and I spent my prayer time talking on the phone. This is the side that I wrote only my fiction works, rather than what God was putting on my heart to write. That side... that side was my side.

But God wasn't finished with me. Isn't that the most beautiful thing? Even when I was a hopeless case, He still kept peeling. He peeled away slowly, layer by layer. The bitterness, the stress, the fear, the confusion. He peeled away the sorrow, the pain, the stubborness, and the lies. He worked year, after year, using different people and things. Slowly and gently, but persistently. And finally, a month or so ago, the light broke through. I could see the painful truths that I had been previously blind to. The first being that my definitions of walking with Christ and a saving faith were wrong. Very wrong. Faith and love are not exuberating emotions that must be felt in order to want to do what God asks of you. Faith and love are commitment. It's a commitment to do what God asks no matter what. Even when you don't feel like it. And the end result is always the same. You don't feel like it in the beginning, but you are stronger and full of joy at the end. Never does God leave you empty upon seeking Him. Never. I realized that it's the effort God wants. He wants you to read His word whether you understand or not. He wants to reveal it to you. He's not asking you to read ten chapters a day if you can't. He's asking you to read. One chapter, if that's all you can handle. I realized that praying isn't some religious chant or monotone talk time. It's a conversation. Sometimes one sided, but never alone. Quiet prayer time is good, yes, but God likes to hear you all day. Not just during prayer time. He doesn't mind having His hypothetical ear talked off!

I thought I was good to go. I now knew what walking with Him meant. But it still wasn't the end. (There never really is an end until death). Now He was showing me a new level. Showing me that I was still in the beginning of the road with Him. I needed to start walking. I needed to catch up. And He showed me that until I learned how to love Him- how to love love itself- I couldn't know how to love anyone else. I couldn't show them what I didn't know. He showed me that if I get it right with Him, other things begin to fall into place. It reaches out and touches those daily things. Once I put my focus and attention on the root, once I watered it and carefully tended it, allowing it to grow and multiply, then I could finally begin to see the fruit on the branches. Fruit doesn't grow on dead branches. The branches need to root to be alive and thriving. I was so focused on tending the dead branches of my life I had forgotten to care for my root. For my beginning. My lifeline. My Savior.

It's been a hard lesson to learn. It took 18 years to learn it. I still am only beginning to put it into action. In some areas it may take another 18 years before I reap what I am trying to put into effect now. But God is so good! He is gracious and merciful, loving and kind, He never lets us go! And by His grace, and with His strength, I will continue to grow; continue to walk with my Savior. For it is by grace that we are saved. It's His gift to us. For that I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where, oh where, has Kaitland gone?

^That is something you might be wondering. If not, then, *sniff* that's okay... doesn't bother me none. ;P

If ya'll (you all, whatever) would like to know, I have been busy with lots of new things, and old things, and old things that are seemingly being added to, making them new(er). Now I do the family grocery shopping, still do my regular chores, teach little kids, run the family chauffer service, and still try and make time to read and try (very desperately) to write. Guess what? I have been working on a blog post that I will post whenever I get it finished. I got a whole paragraph done.... and it only took me three days!!! Between all of the above listed things I will be considering and, based upon the answer, possibly looking for, finding, and working a job. :) I'm going to be up to my NECK! But that's okay... I have Jesus, right? Right.

So, to update ya'll on some things, we went to visit my grandparents last weekend.... most amazing weekend of my life. (Seriously). Also, God's been teaching me some things, which is contributing a lot to my absence from that somewhat familiar, can't put a name to the face.... oh yeah, internet. I want to get back to writing for my blogs... I love to write and I want to share it all with you guys, but my God and my family come first and foremost! I want to make sure that I am practicing what I preach and that I am growing in my walk with God and letting it touch the other areas of my life. I need to get this right and I need to get it right now. Not later. Now. This is where I draw the line to "I'm fixin' to". So as much as I love you guys, posts will be sporadic. But hopefully a blessing. Hopefully showing where my heart is and in what state it lies, and hopefully it will be a good state. I do love your comments, though.... I do like talking to you guys, and I do want to be back at it soon!!!

Love in Christ Jesus,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Before the original sin man was designed to be in a relationship with God. He freely walked with God and there was nothing holding him from that relationship. But after the fall of man, things changed. Man was then shackled in the strong bonds of sin, ruled by Satan, frowned upon by God. Man's purpose went unfilled, time after time after time. But God never stopped loving His creation. He promised to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). And as I read in Joel I see God's declaration of mercy to us.

"Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with
fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your
garments." Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who
knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a
grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?

Joel 2: 12-14

Here it is we see that God does not care about outward displays of repentence (rending your garments) as much as the inward display (rending our hearts). There is something about laying ourselves open and vulnerable before Him that not only pleases Him, but touches us, changes us, improves us. When we lay our hearts- bare, bruised, and bleeding- before Him, He is "softened". It's like when a child comes hurting to their father... they've done something wrong, but they are torn by it. They are sorrowful and repentant. It touches the very heart of the father as they look at this child, coming to them in humility and admitting they need help.

There is something so powerful about laying ourselves down completely before God. We then allow Him to take control and do a work in us. In the beginning of that passage He says "Yet even now". Yet even in our wrongdoing... even when we are reaping the consequences of what we've sown, He will still receive us, for He is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love". This isn't to say that we can then do whatever we please, so long as we come at the end of the day and lay ourselves before Him. Rather, truly laying ourselves before Him- open, vulnerable, and in all humility- will result in a true transformation of the heart. Don't think you can fake humility with God, He is God. The same God that read the hearts of the Pharisees while He was manifest here on earth. He can read your heart, too.

Now for some (if you are anything like me) humility is hard. It's a struggle, not only being humble, but knowing if you are truly humble, or whether you are putting on a disguise. And so for me, because it is so difficult, I have to rely on God to help me open my eyes in this area. I might pray "God, please humble my heart. Show me the humility of Christ and help me apply that in my own life. If there is any pride in me, please remove it now." And generally once I've prayed I can either sigh in gratefulness at God's work, or I can uneasily know that I will need to take some steps to remove the pride still there. But once the pride is gone, you can then easily move on. You can rely more fully on God. You can come to God and say "God I don't deserve your mercy and grace, but that You would give it to me is more than I can express. That You would lay down all of You for my soul, is too beautiful, holy, and loving than I can fathom." When you accept the pardon God is offering here you can return to the original design of man and God walking together in a relationship with one another.

Another thing I'd like to point out, is that God isn't asking here. He's commanding. He's declaring. He's decreeing. The consequence of not obeying this command is simple- Hell, eternal condemnation, the bondage to sin forever. Because while God is a God of grace and mercy to those that humble themselves before Him and accept the pardon, He is also a God of justice and righteousness.

But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice,and the Holy God shows himself holy
in righteousness

Isaiah 5: 16

So yes, God loves grace and mercy, but for those who don't obey, He, being a righteous and just God must punish them. It doesn't make Him mean, cruel, or indifferent. It exalts Him and shows His holiness. For in all things God can be glorified. If not now, then later. In the end all things shall point to God.

Return to God... He cares. He cares enough to give up the one thing that was hardest to give. His perfect and holy Son. He loved each person that much. And as my favorite line in the movie Flywheel goes "Now you go get right with God before I get you right with Him."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In a world of love found, love lost, love hurt, and love broken, it's so hard to find pure, undefiled love. And I mean all types of love- family love, friendly love, romantic love. In part it is how we view love. How you view something is very, very important in the direction you go with it.

Suppose with me, for a moment, that you had a silver, slightly rusted spyglass (telescope for you modern type people) and the lens was distorted. It appeared that the island was to the right of you, but in reality, it was to the left. So you, trusting in your distorted view of the landscape, headed your ship off to the right. You continue on... you are suffering damage to your ship, for where you believed you saw an island, there was, in place, a patch of sharp rocks and reefs.

Growing weary, you become lonely, and you are tired of never finding the paradise you thought you saw coming. You continue, though. You don't stop a minute to think that you should check your spyglass for defects. But one day... one day you think it's worth a try. So you look. And you see a bubble in the glass. Well gosh gollee! You think of all the time you wasted on this defective navigation device. You sigh. (Go ahead, you can sigh). You're ready to give up... it seems so easy to just move on... forget the island.... die alone.

But wait! A dove comes- a pretty, pure, white, gentle dove. In its small talons it carries a velvet bag (just imagine, okay?). You laugh, because it really is corny that a dove would fly to you with a velvet bag in its talons, but you think "What does it matter? Anything is better than nothing." You take the velvet bag and open it. Inside is a new looking glass. You sigh. Will this one work any better? How can you know?

You stretch it to its full length, carefully inspecting it for flaws. It appears to have none. It's perfect. Solid gold. A breath of hope escapes your lips. What can you lose? Slowly bringing it to your eye you scan the horizon. There it is! Your paradise! It's a southwest direction now... you've got a little backtracking to do. But it's there! You can make it, there's hope now. You have a clear view of the island.

Suppose now, that you had had the gold looking glass from the beginning. Would you have been as likely to hit the rocks? Of course not! Now suppose with me again, that the silver spyglass was the world's definition of love, and the gold spyglass was God's. Who's view would you trust more? Speaking for myself, I'd pick God's!

To accurately understand what it is that is causing the missteps or the right hits, you have to understand the indiviual views of love- the world's and God's. The world's definition of love is as follows: "a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person". It is also defined as "a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection". So to love in the eyes of the world revolves around you. How you feel. It's all about the moment. Are you passionate about your husband when he comes home from work tired? Are you affectionate towards your wife when she nags you yet again? When your brother is annoying you do you feel warm and personal with him? Are you deeply affectionate towards your parents when they punish you? Probably not...

The world is based off of feelings. If you don't feel it, it can't be real! So many times we don't feel like doing things, but we have to do them anyway. Why is it not this way with love? When you don't make your job on time on a regular basis, whether you feel like it or not, you lose it. Why is it that love should be any different? If you don't continue to love, regardless of whether or not you feel like it, will your love not be lost?

This is such a distorted, broken view! Just think of it... a husband saying to his wife, "I don't feel passionate about you anymore, so I'm looking elsewhere." Or a father saying to his child, "I don't feel that we have an emotional connection, so I am going to let you live your own life, and I'll live mine." What if the sister said to the brother, "I don't feel that we have any affection towards each other, so I say we forget the other exists." Perhaps that seems dramatic, but it happens, and more often now, than ever before!

What is it that has changed? Well, numero uno (number one, for the unSpanish speakers), the connection of love and commitment has been lost. As we will see later on, commitment is a great part of love. Today commitment is at a low ebb. You can take what you want and don't have to worry about those said "strings attached". You can take a heart, shake a heart, and break a heart, and move on as if you were sliding down the back of a greased pig. But hey! It's all part of the game. It's understood. Nothing lasts, right? It's all for the here and now. What a desolate view! It's a view of "I'll take what I can get, and take the better things as they come along". I'll call it the pinata syndrome... it's a break the paper heart, grab all the candy you can get type deal. How... desperate!

So we've seen the view of the world... the pinata syndrome. But how does God define love? Well according to His spoken word, love is "patient, kind, not envious, nor boastful, not arrogant, nor rude; doesn't insist on it's own way, not irritable or resentful; does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

So love in God's definition is not about us. It's about the other person. It's about what you can do for them. Not what you can get out of them, and how you can wring all you possibly can from their heart before moving on to the next pinata. When the husband comes home from work.... it's kind. When the wife is nagging again... it's patient. When the brother is annoying you again, it's not irritable or resentful. When the parent disciplines you, it does not rejoice at the wrongdoing, but it rejoices with the truth. Love bears the burdens of the other, it hopes with and in the other, and it endures all things.

Love is tough. It's work. But the rewards.... are amazing. The rewards are eternal. Sure... love hurts. Even when we are doing it God's way, sometimes, it hurts. When the spouse/parent leaves you. Imagine how hard it is to love them! And yet, God doesn't ask us. He says to love our enemies. Love the one's that hurt us the most. Why? Because Jesus did. So yes, God's love hurts, too, but the difference between this hurt, and the afore mentioned hurt, is that one leaves you torn, desperate, and with no alternative... this hurt gives you hope. It gives you the hope of a Savior, the hope of a coming salvation, the hope of a God who is love, even when you don't think you can take that next step. The hurt from this love reaps rewards eternal... it is the complete opposite of anything the world can ever offer. It's filled with grace and mercy.

But God's love doesn't always hurt.... sure it's hard, but it's fulfilling, too. It's courageous, selfless, astounding, and captivating. It changes lives, and knits hearts together, rather than tearing them apart. It glues the broken hearts back together, and gives you strength and energy when things get hard. It thrives in tough spots and stays steady through the calm. God's love is not possible by man's power alone. Thats what is so unique about it. The world's love puts power in the hands of the man, but God's love puts man in the hands of power. It's not about how you feel at the time. It's active. It's something you do. It's a workout. But because you are so in shape, you can stay strong. You can stay on course. You can head towards the calmer waters when the storms arise.

God's love see's that love is commiting. It's saying, "I will love this person, whether I feel like it or not. I will choose to love them."I don't think that it's possible to have love without commitment. God commits to us, and we commit to Him, too. Without a commitment we are not His. It's simple. And God sticks to what He says. He does not forsake His word. It should be the same for how we love others.

The other difference between the different views on love is the strength by which each stems from. Love in the view of the world is all about the strength of the man/woman and his/her feelings. Love in the view of God is that God gives us strength by which we love. It is not about us... it's always about Him, it's always about the other person. It is never about us.

The Bible says that in our power things are impossible, but with the power of God all things are possible. We cannot love correctly in our own power. That is the beauty of it... we have to rely, trust, and commit on others to love properly. It's so beautiful when it's not about us! When we can trust and rely on the almighty God rather than our constantly fluxuating feelings, then there is so much more stability and fulfillment!

So in closing, I say, that you have to decide for yourself what looking glass you choose. No one can pick for you. It is your decision, and it is an action you must put it into play. You can get by with the first, and deal with what comes, or you can work for the second and enjoy eternal reward. It's an important choice. One you need to make now, and stick with forever.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Live Simply

So to follow up on "Just Simply Live", I'd like to share my thoughts on just living simply. Because while life is more complicated than "simply living", it is important to live simply. When we make it complicated, complications arise (quite obviously).

Oftentimes we get so caught up in things, and time, and what we can do to occupy that time. We prioritize things in the order of significance that feels right for us at the time. Mowing the lawn before family time (after all, family time can be anytime), PTA meetings before picnics, and errands and chores before Saturday relaxing. While it is all well and good to have these things, we cannot let them take over our lives. If every waking minute is spent doing something active, we will wear out quickly. There has to be some pattern to the chaos; some time to take off. We have to take those sweet, happy, silly, and sad moments of life, and make the most of them. Rather than rushing through everything you do, (here it comes) take time to smell the roses. In other words, TAKE A BREAK. Take it a bit slower (us Southerners are real good at that), and enjoy what you do. The Bible says to pray without ceasing. Do it! Pray as you go about what you do. Sometimes there will be rushing, sometimes you will need to hurry up and get somewhere or do something, and that's okay! But it is still good to take some time to slow down.

When we are still and quiet we can hear the handiwork of God, in the wind, in the chirping of the crickets, in the whisper of little children in their homemade living room fort. We can see His creation in the little tiny veins of the leaves of towering oaks, redwoods, sequoias, and in the uniquely marvelous color of a person's eyes. We can feel it in the warmth of the sun (it's amazing that something that far away can provide light and extreme heat as it does!), and in the soft fur of a kitten or a bunny rabbit. We smell His love when we breath in the fresh breeze of the country, or the smooth scent of a freshly blossomed flower. Have you ever thought of the majesty of God as you eat fresh fruit, or catch a snowflake on your tongue? He made it all! But if we don't stop to hear, see, feel, smell, and taste, how can we truly appreciate the beauty, the complexity, the wonder of God's creation? Sometimes we are more blessed by stopping to thank the God who created these things than by rushing to the fourth mid week church service. Perhaps it's not as productive in tangible things, but by taking that time to praise Him for His creation, you are glorifying Him by your praise and satisfaction with the wonder of His work.

Sometimes we are so focused on what we are going to do next we haphazardly do what we are doing at the moment. It affects our entire attitude and life. You might be spending your whole Bible reading focused on how you have to go grocery shopping, to work, to school, etc. How can you then take away anything beneficial other than a "refresher" of sorts? We need to focus on the task at hand, but above all focus on Jesus Christ. Jesus never rushed. He never hurried. He took things one at a time, and thus many opportunities that potentially could have been missed had he been on any agenda but the Father's. Strive to have his attitude when the little child stops you in the middle of washing dishes to ask you a hard question (in the child's eyes). Don't push them off for later. When you see the elderly woman struggling with her groceries, offer to help her and don't worry about how you'll be a few minutes late getting home to get dinner started. Live your life with the same simplicity and willingness that Jesus Christ did.

So, in concluding I will say that while it is true that life is somewhat complicated, and that we can't just "live", we do need to make sure that the complication isn't ruling our lives. We need to maintain a correct focus and make sure that our priorities are lining up with what the Father wants of us and asks of us. In doing so we can avoid a lot of stress and discontentment. We can have that sense of fullness and satisfaction in knowing that our lives really aren't our own, but are subject to the will of the Father, and therefore much more productive than by our own sense of priority and importance.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A fellow Rebelutionary, Holly Hutcheson, and I were discussing the Attic topics on the Rebelution forums, which then led to a concern that branched out into other areas of our lives. We were noticing a distinct pattern and trend that was somewhat hard to detect, though it was before our very faces. We talked for a while on it, and came up with this story to present it to you. We hope that it accurately portrays what we are seeing, though in metaphorical light.

The Path

She tossed and turned. A frown pulled at the corners of her lips, her brow creased with anxiety. She teetered between deep sleep and seeming consciousness. One moment she knew she was in her bed, the next she found herself in a strange dark place.

Where am I? She groped through the dark. She knew there had to be a way out. What is this? Is that a light? How do I get out of here?! She slowly groped towards the pinpoint of light. She was drawn to it; she instinctively knew it was her only way out. She felt herself growing closer… she began to run towards it, clawing for the light. It was what she wanted more than anything else; she knew it. There it was. She grasped at it, tumbling forward into the darkness, but landing in the light.

It was dim, but to her weak eyes it was painful. She scrambled to her feet. Before her lay a wooded forest; it stretched for miles. Running straight and true through the middle was a narrow path. On either side, it was mud and quick sand. What do I do from here? Where do I go? She need not ask. She knew she was to walk the path ahead. She knew the light was her salvation.

Looking over her shoulder at the pitch black cave behind her, she wanted it more than anything. She ran towards it at a sprint, the light around her growing. A mile down the path she slowed to a jog, slowly bringing herself to a walk. She was weakening. The light was growing brighter, hurting her eyes as she went. She stopped. Turning around she stared at what was behind. It was a mountain with a large black cave, its mouth staring ominously at her. That was what she had escaped from. She was awed. What was that? Did something just move? Her breathe caught in her throat. She saw it emerge from the trees.

It was a black, hooded figure; burly and tough, it began grabbing and clawing inches from her throat. The light. I need the light. It was a fleeting thought, but she turned and ran, stumbling as she did, towards the light. The trees. I can lose it in the trees. I’ll hide until it passes. She stepped off the path, mud oozing up to her ankles. She grabbed onto a tree and held onto it until she saw it disappear on the other side. Pulling her feet out of the sticky mud, she stepped back onto the path.

She walked briskly along, still heading towards the light. Did I hear something? Where is it? Should I go back into the trees? Maybe if I work through the trees it won’t catch up to me. She stared at them, pondering the wisdom of such a thought. It made sense. She side-stepped into the trees again and began making her way forward. Progress was hindered; she wasn’t making good time. Her feet were sticking in the mud, each step a laborious trial. But I’m safe here. I’m avoiding the figure and making progress. I’m doing well. She couldn’t see a burly shadow behind her, following her, and content to let her try to reach the light by this route. With a little guidance, she’d never make it there.

She peered over her shoulder. Nothing. She forged ahead, her breathing becoming slow and heavy. She rested herself behind some trees more than others. They were comforting. She was escaping the black-hooded figure; she was forging ahead. It was time to gain some more ground. She headed towards the path. I was farther from it than I thought. The light… it’s hurting my eyes. Her eyes readjusted. She was on the path again. She turned.

The mountain was farther away, but she still had miles to go. She was weakened from the strain of drudging through the muddy woods. She attempted to jog, but was slowed to a walk. She looked yet again over her shoulder. There he was. Again. He was farther away this time, but she was still horrified at this thing, this monstrosity. Diving into the trees, she broke into the equivalent of a run, sloshing through the mud and clinging to the trees. She didn’t pay as much attention to where she was going; all she wanted was distance from this hooded figure. It was getting darker; the figure was getting closer.

The farther and faster she ran, the closer it got. The path, the path- The light! He’s scared of the light! Making her way back as deftly as she could, she arduously moved closer and closer. The path came into view. She saw light, and welcomed it, though it hurt. It took time; her eyes didn’t adjust so quickly, but she needed to move towards the light; she was nearing the end. She could feel it. Just a mile farther; then a half mile.

She looked over her shoulder; there it was, far behind her. Her feet grew stronger. She began to run. There it was; the edge of the forest, more beautiful than her mind could have dreamed. She finally passed the last tree, her feet bringing her to a stop in an open field. She had reached the light. There was no darkness. Looking down, where her dirty, mud splattered clothes should have been, she was clothed in white. She was safe. The race had been run.

She shot up in bed, gasping for air, groping in the dark. She wanted to write it all down; she wanted to forget nothing she had seen. She knew what it meant. She was sorry. She never realized it. The light of truth was hurting her eyes. She prayed. I’m sorry, God. I see it now. I thought I was doing right. I thought you wanted me to focus on the trees. I thought I could stay away from sin by focusing on escaping it. I know now… I need the light. I need you.


Hopefully this clearly illustrated for you what we are seeing. We feel that it is possible to become so focused on how to do this, or what not to do in that, that we lose focus on what really matters- Jesus Christ, the Cross, the sacrifice. As we grow closer in a relationship with Him, the rest will fall into place. As we continue to fall more in love with your Saviour, all the questions on how to do this, or how to handly that will be answered.

Some questions for ya’ll:

How do the trees (our thoughts and actions that are not necessarily bad) help, but also hinder our progress towards the Light?

Do you think it is possible to become so focused on avoiding sin that we lose our true focus (Jesus Christ)? Why or why not?

What should be our primary motivation for staying focused on the Light and remaining on the path first and foremost?

Friday, August 13, 2010

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.

This is the chorus of the song by Casting Crowns "Who am I?". I thought it was a beautiful song, based of a verse that is very close to the one this blog is based off of. The passage it is derived from is found in James, and I find it to be an amazing piece of Scripture. This song captures the amazement I feel when I think about the fact that the very God who spoke the earth into existence also loves me enough to count every hair on my head! He knows everything. He knows how many freckles I have, He knows what I like, He knows what I don't like, He knows what things and words will speak to me the most. He knows everything about me. Who am I to deserve that? I deserve naught but Hell, but the hands of God, those awesome, inspiring, nail-pierced hands, caught me when I fell. And they gently molded me more and more in the image of my Savior. And they still are. And they still will.

This wonder never ceases to amaze me. I don't think that any words that I could write, nor amount of words that I could write, could accurately describe just how... glorious God is. How just, how merciful, how forgiving, how loving, how caring, how jealous, how humble, how majestic He is! God is worthy of everything, all the glory. He's above all things. But He calls us His own. How humbling, and awesome is that? When I picture it in my head.... I see myself bowing my head before Him, the gratitude showing itself in the form of tears wetting my face. Because truly I cannot sum up in words what it means to me. God took me from the hands of death and offered me a life I do not deserve. Who am I?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I thought today I might share with ya'll something I wrote in August of last year. I found it to be a neat reminder to myself, and hopefully it would bless ya'll too! :)

This was something I wrote a few days ago for a bible study type thing. Thought you guys might like it. The challenge was to thank God for something He provides everyday. We had to write about it, and this is the end result. Here goes:

Well, God provides food and water and shelter everyday. He provides comfort and refuge and the Holy Spirit. He gives us hope and a future and opportunities to change our lives and the lives of others for better or worse. Hopefully it’s always for the better. I was just thinking today, what have I done to help advance the kingdom of God? My answer was… nothing. I have “given” my life to God, and yet I held back the most important part. My time. I was giving God my burdens, my hopes, my dreams, my struggles, and yet I would not give Him my time. It’s seems so easy, but it’s not. It’s a hard thing to do. Your time is truly everything. How you spend your time determines who you are from a human point of view. If you are spending your time learning and reading, trying to educate yourself all the more, you will be viewed as smart. If you are always spending your time arguing with your siblings and watching T.V., you will be viewed as a lazy troublemaker. Someone who spends their time ministering to the needy, taking the few seconds to hold open a door, talking to the lonely, caring for the elderly, will be viewed as a kind person who is really something special.

People can see Jesus in someone. He is very evident in our lives, even if we aren’t doing everything we can do for Him. A minute wasted is a minute that you will NEVER see again. Imagine if you counted up all of the minutes you have wasted in your life. How many days would it equal? How many years? When I think about it that way it makes me want to get up and do something. It doesn’t have to be big. Even giving one of my brothers or sisters a cup of water, or rubbing their back. Maybe praying for my mom or dad. Anything. Less is sometimes more. We don’t have to overdue it, that will take away from our efforts. We just need to take the oppurtunities that God presents us. I was just watching the movie Robots and the catch phrase is “See a need, fill a need”. That is EXACTLY what we need to be doing. I remember once, there was an old man that was walking out of Publix at the same time as my mom and I were going in, and he was having trouble getting out the door. I went and held the door for him and he smiled and his face just lit up. He was probably living alone and all he needed to brighten his day was a little bit of caring from someone. These are the things that God would have us do. Some of us will go on to bigger things, though, and that’s good. Just make sure that you are following God, not asking Him to follow you. I guess my point is that God DOES provide for us everyday, my question is, what are we doing to show Him we’re thankful?


Monday, July 19, 2010

NEXT- Day 1

So day one was a pretty neat day! I flew out at 7:20 and landed 'round about 9:45-10 AM. Met up with Justin on the first day and we headed to the Hilton and dropped luggage off. It was awesome getting to stop and have friendly chats with the NEXT greeters and just peruse a bit while waiting for the rest of the group.
The other group drove in about 5:00 PM or so, and we all got checked in and made the introductions and all.

The first session was at 7:45 PM and it was done by Joshua Harris.

*runs to get notes*

This was really some good stuff. Josh spoke to us about our need as Christians to build a firm foundation on which we can build as Christians. He pointed out that while passion is good, and doctrine is good, neither one can stand alone as a firm foundation. You have to have both. You have to have a firm knowledge of good doctrine, but a passion for the Lord Jesus Christ, too.

He spoke of how the churched kids of today can do such a good job of "pushing the Jesus button". You press it, and voila! Instant perfect child who knows all the right answers and never fails to give them. How many of us are like that?

One of my favorite quotes by Harris from that session- "Jesus loves to save religious hypocrites."

*ahem* Just a note to my readers, I had all the below typed out and nicely done, had clicked "Publish Post" and promptly received an error message, and lost the rest. *gasp* (yes, you may *gasp* with me.) It was like someone or something didn't want me to post this. :P Too bad for them... I will persist!

"Doctrine isn't an end in itself- it helps us."

" Remember that there isn't a thing that Jesus takes from Himself. He gives us Himself. There is only Jesus Himself."

"Movements of men, methods, and I will fail, but Jesus will never fail!"

"A real, saving relationship with Jesus Christ necessarily involves doctrine."

"You can't know Jesus without the Bible shaping and teaching you about Him."

"Doctrine not only tells us what God has done, but explains what it is that God is doing."

"Doctrine is the setting forth of what's been done, but also the explaination of it."

"Doctrine is not separate, it's at the heart."

"Knowing right doctrine is not enough, we have to put it into practice."

"We shouldn't feel safe and secure if the truth and knowledge isn't applied."

Then Josh, Justin, and I went to Community Groups. Community Groups were amazing! They began with prayer, then fun, then we would be assigned our Bible reading, then break off into our small groups. In our small groups we read, discussed what we read, and asked each other 'getting to know you' questions. It was a great time of fellowship and learning!

So that is the first day... the second day will be coming soon as I can get it done! :D


Monday, July 12, 2010

When Life Gets Busy.

So... I haven't posted in waaaaay too long. *blushes* Sorry...

Life has gotten busy. I won't deny that I've pushed my poor, dear blog to the back burner. But lately the blessings around home have been so great, that I must admit it's been worth the time away. I hope to become a little more organized, making Monday or Tuesday nights my "blog night". I really am dreadfully, terribly sorry that I have not remained faithful in what I have said I was going to do. I keep coming with good intentions, but am not delivering. :(

Hopefully that will be fixed! I will attempt to finally finish my NEXT post on Day 1, then I shall try to recall the other 4 days. I will then attempt to finish my follow up post to "Just Simply Live". I will then post a couple other posts I've had on my mind! :D

If ya'll never even get to reading this due to the fact you've stopped stopping by due to the fact I haven't posted in so long, then so be it. It's my fault. I'm sorry. But for all ya'll that are faithful and will read this, and will forgive me and let me post my new posts (I'm warning ya, you may only get one or two a week) then I do so love ya'll! Ya'll are awesome! :D

I am so thankful for all the readers of this blog, and I do so hope that God blesses you all greatly today, tomorrow, and forever!


Friday, June 4, 2010

NEXT was amazing.... Just thought I would get that out of the way. ;)
But really, honestly, it was. Everything about it (save the walking in the heat). Now I am ever so behind in blogging. I mean, I am really behind. And to put all of NEXT in one blog post is an abusurd idea! Therefore I shall blog about it bit by bit, session by session, day by day. I will recall what I can and relay that here, to you. So beginning tomorrow (ever so hopefully) I shall recall day one: Friday, May 28th, for you, my friends, and go one from there! :D

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I heart.... wait, what?!

Every girl talks about it. Yep. Every. Single. One. Every girl dreams about it. Yep. Every. Single. One. Every girl... yeah, yeah, moving on. I am sure you saw this and you thought "Ooh, here we go! *rubs hands together vigorously* Won't this be interesting???" Or (if you're a guy [and some girls, too]) "Oh brother, here we go again.... another one of those love filled, gushy mushy, why I love so and so posts. This is so not worth my time to read." Okay, well, both thoughts were right (except the one about the 'not worth your time', but I'll let you decide that if you can get through this whole thing).

Love is such a sought after thing. Love drives people to do things they would never have considered doing had it not been because of love. People are crazy for and about love, and many will do anything to get it. In today's culture it's longed for, craved, sought after, given freely, and taken of freely. Today love has become a hurt as well as a good and perfect gift from above. You can hurt people with the very same think you seek after yourself. Love has become selfish. Love is about you. It's about me. It's about what we want. Not what they want. Not what He wants. I know for me, love is something I thrive on. Most people do. And everyone has a love of their life. I'd like to tell you about mine. Please don't leave yet. I am so serious he's the most awesome guy you will ever meet. Seriously. I am sure you hear it all the time. But I. Am. Serious. (I have got to stop that). I'd like to give you a little info before I introduce him. Some of you already know him, so no yelling out his name till the end, cause I want to give everyone a fair chance. So I will tell you about him, and you can guess, and Timothy, Sam, and Justin, don't kill me yet, you'll like him, I promise.

The guy I have chosen to give my heart to is Godly. Very Godly. I mean, you guys will never meet a Godlier guy than this one. (I am serious). He's strong. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. He is just amazingly strong. He is humble. He has confidence in who he is, but he is humble. He never exalts himself unduly. He puts others first, and has a passion for the lost, lonely, poor, hurting, and the children. He has a heart of gold. The guy I love is gentle. He's strong enough to hurt you, but gentle enough to restrain himself from doing so. He is not only gentle in touch, but in word and deed, as well. The guy I love is so unselfish! He would do anything for me. Anything that wasn't bad for me, anyway. He freely gives me his love and doesn't ask for anything back, but how can I do anything else but give it back? He puts me and my life first. Before his own. I could cry at the ways he has done so. My guy is persistent. He doesn't just let things drop. Nope. If he wants me to do something he doesn't let it go. He keeps asking. Gently, of course, but he's persistent. He always finishes a job, doesn't put things aside. The guy I love is smart. Really smart. I mean, really, really smart. The guy I love is pure. He kept himself that way especially for me. The guy I love would lay his life down for me. And did. The guy I love is Jesus. The absolute, without a doubt, most definite, positive, concrete, unquestionable, BEST GUY IN THE WORLD!!!

So yeah, now are ya'll happy, Timothy, Sam, and Justin? You already know him, so no worries there. But to get to my point, because I feel like I am rambling. My point is that love today is lost. The kind of love that Jesus is, and was, and always will be, is dying. The unselfish love that we choose to give to others is not as common. The kind of love that would make you lay down your life to save those you love (and I am talking even brotherly, sisterly, neighborly love) is not as common. It's much rarer thing. Love is all about feelings now. Well what about when you don't 'feel' like loving Jesus? What do you do then? Love is a choice. For the good and the bad, whether it suits our fancy or not, love isn't about us. We have to choose to love others for them. Not for us. Not because it benefits us. But because it benefits them. In the same way that Jesus loves us for our benefit. The same way that every second of Jesus' life was lived for us. Everything he did, from birth to death, was for us. If only we would be like that. The world would be a much better place.

P. S. I will be posting a Part 2 to "Just simply Live" sometime during the week. =)

P. S. S. Timothy, Sam, and Justin. Ya'll are awesome! ;)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Just Simply Live

Just simply live.... can we do that? Can we just simply live? Can we live to live, and nothing more. Or could it be that there must always be something to live for?

"Where there is no vision, the people perish", so the Bible tells us. But a vision is just a dream, right? Well, Easton's 1897 Bible dictionary describes it as "a vivid apparition, not a dream". Dictionary.com describes an apparition to be "an act of appearing: manifestation". And it describes manifestation as "a materialized form of a spirit." So this makes me think... Jesus Christ was the manifestation of the the Son in the Holy Trinity. So that would mean that Jesus is an apparition, which would mean that Jesus is a vision, which would mean that Proverbs 29:18 could read "Where there is no Jesus, the people perish".

This goes so much deeper than just our earthly lives. Can we simply live? I believe the answer is no. Living is not simple. The Bible says in Galations 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...". The third definition of crucified is to "subue (passion, sin, etc.)". So we must be subdued to live? What kind of living is that? The best kind! It would seem so contradictory, but it's the best freedom you can have! And then to think that we are able to live eternally. We are able to live almost forever (not completely forever, because we do have a starting point and God does not), our minds cannot even fathom that! If we are able to live forever, how can we just simply live? How can we live eternally and just simply live?

We have to live for something! And we have to live for it with all that we are! We live for Christ or we live for Satan, we live for Heaven for we live for Hell. The question is who and what are we going to live for. The question is: Will you just simpy live?

Something to think on....

What do you guys think? Is this true? Why or why not?