Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed this Month:
  • North and South by Elizabeth Glaskell - If you're looking for a good, clean, classic novel, this is one for you! Having enjoyed the movie, I noticed it in the college bookstore, and just had to get it. After telling Miriam I'd bought it, she reminded me that I'd already read it, and had in fact written a post about it. I'd completely forgotten - how embarrassing! I did remember more once I started reading it, and I really enjoyed it this second time through. It took me a month to complete, however, not because it wasn't interesting, but because I didn't have much free time to read outside of homework!
  • God's Gift to Women by Eric Ludy - This book I read in August, but as it was a birthday gift for my brother Elijah, I couldn't review it lest he figured out what I was getting him! =) So, yes, the book is actually written for guys, but I enjoyed reading it and getting a few pointers on how men think and how to interact with and support them. If you're looking for a gift for your brother or guy friend, this book is a good one!
Currently Reading:
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller (The college Sunday school class is going through this one)
  • Valley of Vision compiled by Arthur Bennet
  • And once again, many many things for homework!


Miriam's Books


Completed this Month:

  • The Zion Chronicles by Brock and Bodie Thoene - I always enjoy reading anything to do with history and these books were rich with historical events interwoven with fiction. The events in this series centers around the Jews and Arabs in post-WWII Palestine.
  • The Zion Covenant by Brock and Bodie Thoene - This series actually comes before the Zion Chronicles and was just as good. World War II is just around the corner and everyone watches in horror as Hitler's evil plans fall into place. The last couple of books also deal with pre-WWII Palestine. An excellent series. I also found out that 2 or 3 more books were written much later on and were also good. I hope to read them eventually.
  • Life on the Edge by James Dobson - A must read for anybody, in my opinion. Centered on an audience of ages 16-26, Dobson is very honest on many subjects that come across our paths today in this sinful world. It's hard to give a short summary, but I highly recommend this.
  • Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott - Always a favorite. I pick up something new everytime I read this book. The joys and sorrows of four young sisters as they grow are so well written. I'm a Jo myself, but each of the girls' have something that I can relate to.
  • Not My Will by Francena H. Arnold - Another favorite read of mine. A willful young woman is brought up by her aunt and learns to deceive her through highschool, something she regrets later. Her aunt dies and Eleanor goes to college. She meets a young man and they marry, with Eleanor ignoring a twist in her aunt's will that would have changed many events afterward thrown into action. After two years of marriage her husband is killed in an accident with no one ever knowing they were married. After a near mental collapse, she ends up running to her husband's family which takes her in. She comes to know the Lord in the way her husband did and sets about righting her wrongs.
  • The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke - Emily is a young woman who is called by the Lord to the ministry. She is placed in a small town that hesitates to accept a preacher, much less a woman, at first, but the people slowly warm to her. She works hard and the Lord rewards her kind and forgiving spirit.
  • Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques - A book from the Redwall series. They are written for a young audience, but my dad still enjoys reading them. The talking animals are hilarious and the plots are well written. If you need a fun and relaxing read, these are great.

Currently Reading:

  • Marlfox by Brian Jacques
  • Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally
  • American Government by CliffNotes

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fireproof

Our family enjoyed seeing Flywheel, the first film from Sherwood Pictures a few years ago, borrowing it from a friend who had a relative who had been in the movie. The story was great, and the film was greatly enjoyed and re-watched a few times over the years. When Facing the Giants came out, I went the opening night and saw it multiple times after, once more in theaters and many times on DVD. Again, it was a wonderful story with a powerful message. As soon as I heard about Fireproof many months ago, I was really excited, and couldn't wait to go see it. I wasn't disappointed - the films from Sherwood Pictures have just gotten better as time goes on!

As the date - September 26th - for the release of Fireproof grew closer, I was a bit chagrined to realize that I'd be at college when it came out, and wouldn't have the opportunity to see it with my family. But, I invited a friend to go along with me last night, and we had a wonderful time!

I don't want to go into too much detail and therefore spoil the movie for anyone, but I will say the film is touching, romantic, hilarious, and suspenseful, and all done in a very tasteful and God-honoring way. It deals with hard issues - divorce, "trash online", and temptations to be unfaithful in marriage, but it is dealt with without showing things in detail. How refreshing to be able to leave the movie theater feeling in no way defiled by what was shown onscreen. And, a testament to how the filmmakers and actors honored God is in the way they showed the romantic scene in which Caleb and Catherine finally reconcile, and the characters kiss. However, Kirk Cameron, who plays Caleb has made a commitment to never kiss anyone besides his real wife, even as an actor in movies. (There's a great report and video to watch here about that.) So, in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage, the scene where they kiss is shot in silhouette, and Kirk Cameron's real wife is dressed like the actress that plays Catherine, so that Kirk Cameron is actually kissing his real wife. It's touching and inspiring to see how he has stood firm through 17 years of marriage and show business!

In this world where divorce and marital infidelity are rampant, this movie is especially needed. It presents a refreshing view of someone who doesn't just throw in the towel and call it quits when things get hard. Through the counsel of his dad and a book called "The Love Dare," Caleb works to win back the heart of his wife and gain her respect. In the process, he finds the Lord and learns that in order to really love his wife, He must first love God. The movie also presents a realistic view of marriage. In most films, if a husband and wife gets back together, it's usually an overnight, suddenly-we're-in-love-again moment. Fireproof, however, shows the hardships, as Caleb's efforts are rejected again and again by his wife. Ultimately, when he has done all that he can do, he has to leave it in God's hands, and wait for His timing.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be in suspense, you'll feel inspired. I highly recommend that you go and see Fireproof! Because of the content involved, though it doesn't show things, it does deal with hard issues, parents should use their discretion about showing it to children. I probably wouldn't recommend it to those under 12 or 13. (Plugged in Online has a great review, though it may spoil some things if you read it before you see it!)

This movie has the potential to change lives and turn marriages around. The money spent on a ticket and the time spent watching this movie is definitely worth it!

fireproofbanner

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Resting in God's Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:22-23 are verses I've been familiar with for quite a while. I memorized them through Memlok, and have been comforted by them time and again. Those two verses aren't the only good ones in Lamentations 3, however! The morning during devotions, I was struck by the verses before and after them:

"Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness.

I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.'

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him,

to the one who seeks Him;

it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke

while he is young."
~Lamentations 3:21-27


We don't always have the answers, but it is good to wait for the Lord. Each day, we need to remind ourselves of God's faithfulness, His great love, and His unfailing compassion. We must call it to mind, and speak to ourselves of God's salvation. It is great indeed.

There will be times of testing - we're not promised a care-free life. But, these times of testing teach lessons that will prepare us for all of life. It is even good for us to bear the yoke in our youth, for it reminds us again that we can't do things on our own; it is only through God's strength alone. We can never be reminded enough of our Father's unfailing love.

Whether your day is busy or tranquil, rest in God's faithfulness, today and every day. Our God is Faithful!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Delighting in God's Word

As a Theatre Ministries major, I am required to write 2 devotionals per semester for the theatre department's weekly publication, "The Cue". Below is what I wrote for last Friday's devotional.

How is your devotional life going? Is reading the Bible an integral part of your day, or is it merely once-in-a-while, only occurring when you happen to have extra time?

Psalm 119 has always been an encouraging and challenging chapter for me. It gives us many reasons to study God's Word: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word." (verse 9) "Righteous are You, O LORD, and Your Laws are right. The Statutes You have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy." (verses 137-138) I think we would all agree that reading and studying the Bible is important. We all know that it's a good thing to do, and that it's something we should make time for.

But how many of us can say with the Psalmist: "I delight in Your Commands because I love them." (verse 47)? Can we truly declare, "The Law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold" (verse 72)? Can we honestly exclaim, "Oh, how I love Your Law! I meditate on it all day long!" (verse 97)?

If we are feeling a lack of motivation to study the Bible, we can pray the words of this Psalm: "Turn my heart towards Your Statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word." (verses 37-38) "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law." (verse 18)

As a busy college student, there are many demands made for our time. Classes, homework, rehearsals, and friends occupy the day, and often we get way too little sleep at night. However, we must not neglect reading, studying, and memorizing the Word of God. It gives us encouragement, motivation, and the right attitude we need to face each day.

If you don't already, purpose to set aside a specific time each day to really study the Bible. It may mean getting up a little earlier to have that quiet time in the morning, or setting aside a break between classes to have devotions, or staying up just a little later or not staying out as late with friends so that you can read and meditate on God's Word before bed.

This time of our lives can be one of the richest for learning and growing in our spiritual life. Let us pray that we may be able to say: "I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word." (verse 16)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Just 15 Minutes


Today's "Daily Disciplines" post isn't about a specific discipline, but it's about how to implement many of the disciplines that we've talked about and more. If you're struggling with consistently doing something, one idea would be to lay aside a small amount of time each day to do that task, starting small and perhaps building up as you maintain consistency. Many daily disciplines really don't take that much time, when it comes down to actually doing them!

After the post on exercise last week, I really wanted to implement a specific time each day to stretch and practice different exercises or dance steps that needed work. I had often wanted to before, but simply never got around to it, because I didn't have the 30 minutes to an hour I thought I should spend on it. So, I decided to take just 15 minutes out of each day, and work from there. So far, it's gone really well! It's easy to fit 15 minutes of exercise in my room into my afternoons, and I enjoy the energy exercise gives in the midst of otherwise sleepy-feeling afternoons of homework.

Another plus is that these 15 minute increments give me time to listen to music, something I'd really begun to miss. At home, I'd listen to classical or praise CDs or the radio while doing chores, cooking, driving from place to place, or playing games with family. Here at college, I was finding that I'd go for days without turning anything on, and my spirits were beginning to suffer as a result. I prefer absolute quiet when I study or read, and I rarely drive anywhere except for church on Sundays, so there weren't many times I could listen to music. So, I take 15 minutes and turn on an uplifting CD and enjoy listening to the beautiful music and praising God from my heart as I do plies, crunches, turn-out exercises, or stretches. And, at the end, I let myself just move, forgetting anything rehearsed, and simply praising God with dance. It encourages my spirit, and helps me accomplish needed exercises!

What about you? Is there something you are wanting to discipline yourself to do, but haven't been able to? Consider taking just 15 minutes and committing to doing it each day. Consider sharing what you want to do as well, for it's easier to do something when you've told others that you plan to do it. =)

In the comment section, please share if you feel led:
  • What can you take 15 minutes and commit to doing each day?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Elijah!

Yesterday at 4:35 p.m., I left Jackson and drove to Longview, Texas. Today at 2:10 p.m., I left Texas and drove back to college here in Mississippi. What would induce me to do such a whirlwind trip? The love of my brother...


Today my older brother Elijah turned 20 years old. As with his past two birthdays, I packaged up a birthday present and sent it off earlier this week, sad at the thought of not being able to celebrate with him. The thought of going to see him never crossed my mind, until I received an email from my mom on Thursday, asking if I'd like to drive and see Elijah for his birthday, since it was on a Saturday. I emailed back and told her that I couldn't, as I was required to be at "strike" (taking down the set) on Saturday night following the last "Ecclesiastes" performance. But as the day wore on, I thought about how I would like to see Elijah, and that 4 1/2 hours of driving each way wasn't too bad... After my last class I called my Mom and we began to make plans.

Since Elijah has never been given a surprise birthday party, I decided that I wanted to show up expectantly. I got in contact with a girl who also goes to LeTourneau, and she graciously met me on the campus last night to show me where Elijah's apartment was, and let me stay overnight with her.

I arrived on the campus of LeTourneau University around 9 p.m. on Friday, after 4 1/2 hours of straight driving. I couldn't wait to see Elijah's face when I walked in, and I wasn't disappointed! It was such a joy to see his look of astonishment and be able to say, "Happy early birthday!" =)


We talked and played "Boggle" that night; we went out for breakfast this morning; we drove around and planned what we'd do to celebrate; then we went bowling with 4 of his friends from college. We enjoyed the cake I'd bought from Walmart (I wanted to make one, but didn't have time!) and went out for lunch.


Too soon, I had to leave again... He had a meeting he had to go to, and I had to drive back in time for "strike." The drive back was harder than the drive there; I began missing him again soon after I left. But, I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with him, celebrating his "golden birthday" as he turned 20 on September 20th. These are memories we won't forget.

I love you, Elijah! Hope this year is the best one yet! Can you believe that we're so old?? :-)

My Busy Life

Though I know that I don't post very often, please don't expect to see much of anything from me for the next month and a half. With my schoolwork, tests that I have coming up, and a brother's wedding to prepare for, I have just a little too much on my plate right now. I'm making the bridesmaids dresses and right now, I'm wondering what little spirit of insanity took hold of me when I agreed to this. But, once we have the fabric cut out, I know it will go quickly. Just pray that I won't lose it somewhere along the road. =)
Disclaimer: I have no control over the quantities of coffee that will be consumed over the next 6 weeks.

Today is Joel's tool party (bachelor party) and so us girls must make ourselves scarce for the evening. Our plans aren't for sure yet, so I have no idea what we're doing.

God bless everyone!

Miriam Rebekah

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Look Up!

The past few days have felt truly like fall, with cool undertones and just the feel of autumn in the air. I've actually had to wear a jacket outside in the morning and evening! It's a lovely time of year.

Today was absolutely perfect. I walked along in the cool breeze, and looked up at the sky, spontaneously singing "God of Wonders" because I simply couldn't hold it in. God's creation is amazing!

The sky is especially wondrous - it's like God's tapestry for His masterpieces. Sunsets and sunrises are my favorite things, but I also like the beautiful clear blue, fluffy white clouds, or even dark clouds before a storm. Too often, I get caught up in the cares of the day, and walk around with my eyes toward the ground. But when I look up... Wow. It often takes my breath away to see how the greatness of our God displayed!

Truly, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where there voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4)

There is beauty all around us, from the lush green grass to the rippling water. But we must not forget to look up and see the majestic displays God has created in the skies. Don't forget - look up - and praise our Awesome God.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Exercise

We all know that getting our bodies moving is a good thing. After all, exercise burns calories, builds, muscle, and helps strengthen our bodies and make them healthy. As I've learned about the human body in Biomechanics, our teacher has stressed how we must use our muscles and exercise them to keep them in shape. When you don't use things in the body, they often deteriorate.

Having a daily routine can be very helpful to maintain consistent exercise. I must admit, however, that I've never really had one. At home, I tried on-and-off to walk first thing in the morning, but when it got too cold or too hot, or I ran into too many spiderwebs, getting them all over my face, I often just let it slack. Plus, although I felt great as soon as I got out and walked in the crisp morning air, motivating myself to leave my nice warm room was really hard. I also tried running after going to a camp where we had to run every morning, but that quickly fizzled.

Most of my exercise comes in different forms throughout the day, and for now, that has worked pretty well for me. Dance has always been a big part of my exercise, for you develop flexibility, muscle, and burn energy all while learning to be graceful and do different moves. I assure you, dancing does make you sweat and wear you out sometimes! I would also go on walks during different parts of the day (going to get the mail, 10 minutes away down our dirt road, was always fun), do a dance or conditioning DVD at home, or try to dance in my room (though this was always hard - not enough space!), or just do daily active chores, which give you some exercise, but not enough. Impromptu bike rides, hikes, or games outside with siblings also helped keep me active, though there were often too many days when I would just stay inside most of the day.

This semester, I get a workout every weekday morning, which has been really nice. It helps me wake up and face the day with energy! Yes, the weird and nice thing about exercise is that it often leaves you more energized than you were before! On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have Biomechanics at 8 a.m., and as part of learning about the human body, we really work it, stretching, doing cardio, pilates, or a combination of a bunch of different things. It's been fun (while hard) to do all the different exercises and stretches, and the motivation to keep going helps by having a lot of others in the class. Typically, the workout lasts 20-30 minutes, with continuous movement. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 to 9:15 a.m. I have ballet class. We don't move as continuously as the workouts in Biomechanics, but we certainly work our bodies!

The nice thing about having classes in a lot of different buildings throughout the day and having to walk to wherever I want to go (to eat, see friends, mail something, and so on) is that I get a lot of walking done throught the day! It feels wonderful to walk and be out among God's creation, even if just for a few minutes at a time. And although I know that continuous exercise is usually best, the 5-10 minutes of walking at a time many times during the day is really nice. I usually set a pretty brisk pace, unless I'm walking and talking with someone else - which is fun too. =)

It's been hard to motivate myself to exercise on my own - it's always easier with other people. I would like to get into a habit of doing stretches and other things in my room on a daily basis, but so far haven't disciplined myself to do it. I would be curious to hear about all of your exercise disciplines, however! Maybe they will give me some ideas. =)

If you would, please answer all, any, or none of the following questions:
  • Do you have a consistent exercise schedule? If so, what is it?
  • What motivates you to exercise?
  • How do you set aside time in the day to exercies (e.g. early morning, afternoon, evening)?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

He is Faithful

"For the Word of the LORD is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love."
~ Psalm 33:4-5

Picture taken on an early morning walk on Friday, August 15th, to say "goodbye" to the land around my home in Alabama.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night Blues

It's another Friday night. And once again, I'm alone. I'm missing someone, and this feeling of loneliness always increases on Friday nights. But, how can I miss someone I've never even met? For, the one I miss is someone I've most likely not even met, but someone I hope to spend most of my life with. That person would be my future husband, whomever God has decided he will be.

I get these feelings other times of the week too, but on Friday evening they seem to be the worst. Maybe it's because Friday is the traditional night for couples to go on dates; maybe it's just because I'm tired from a long week. Whatever the reason, these feelings come, and I'm left with a choice.

I could indulge in a private little pity party, bemoaning the fact that I'm alone. Or, I can focus on others - praying for my future husband, spending time encouraging other people around me, or just thanking God for the things He has blessed me with. I can waste time as I consider my lonely state, or I can use my time wisely, working to get things done. After all, there's homework to do!

There's always a feeling of restlessness on Fridays. The week is over, and the weekend is ahead. At home, being with family helped these feelings of restlessness and loneliness lessen, but they would still be there, tugging at my heart. Tonight I'll probably go to the college luau and be with friends, and that will help some, but I still feel a longing...

Why do I spend these times alone? Why don't I go out and look for a significant other to spend these evenings with? Why? Because I don't want to, for I'm saving myself for one. One day, Lord willing, there will be someone to spend each Friday evening with, a special someone, and it will be all worth it. These Friday night blues will be gone, as I talk and laugh and be with the one God has planned for me.

For now, I am content to wait. Even on Fridays.

Edited to add: Please understand - I know things won't be perfect, and every Friday night of marriage won't be all sweet and wonderful. Marriage is hard work. But, I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember to Enjoy God's Creation!

The weather is beautiful right now, and I am praising God for the opportunity to enjoy His creation. It still gets rather hot in the afternoons, but the other times of day are usually pretty pleasant, especially when a gentle breeze blows by. There have been frequent rain showers, and I've gotten wet through (an umbrella doesn't do much good when the rain blows sideways!), but even then I see God's majesty in the storms.

I get plenty of opportunity to savor the beauty God has made each day, as I walk to classes, the cafeteria, and wherever else I may have to go. I enjoy the walks, for it gives me great exercise after sitting in classes, and the chance to savor the quiet and thank God for the day, or talk with others as we go to or from class.

There are also speakers placed throughout the above walkway that pipe out classical music continuously. Someone aptly named the round, green speakers, "the singing mushrooms." =) The music is pretty and relaxing as you walk by or enjoy sitting beneath the magnificent trees.

The Belhaven Campus is very beautiful, and I am blessed to be able to enjoy it. There is a fountain outside of the cafeteria, a pavilion-type place with fountains shooting out of the pavement, and fountains in the lake outside my dorm. It's lovely to see and hear the water at different times of the day!

My favorite place to sit and do homework or write letters are the rocking chairs outside of the student center. It's a much more pleasant atmosphere to work in, for I get "cabin fever" if I stay inside the dorm room too long. The background noise is perfect - water splashing from the fountains, birds singing, and gentle breezes blowing by. Though it can sometimes be more distracting as people walk by, for the most part it is quiet and easy to study, and the cheerful "hellos" from friends as they walk by are encouraging.

So what are you doing to enjoy God's creation? Don't stay inside all day - get out and enjoy it! Even if it's just sitting still and working on other things, the outside atmosphere can make the work a lot more enjoyable. And in all you do, remember to praise God for the amazing things He has done and continues to do in our world.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Symbols of Purity


In today's post-modern world, purity is not often looked upon as something to be valued, especially among secular society. Though we may be looked down upon or ridiculed for naivety, purity is something we must hold onto. Some look at it as restricting, but I think that it is actually freeing. It leaves with a feeling of cleanliness and right standing before God, and not feeling dirty or used.

When you see impurity all around you, it can get discouraging. Often it can be helpful to have something as a symbol of your commitment, a symbol of purity. These symbols will vary from person to person, so it's important to find something that has special value and meaning to you. A friend of mine has a hope chest as her symbol; I have a purity ring as mine; and I've heard of others having special lockets or other jewelery. Of course, these things aren't necessary, and there's nothing "magical" about them, but having them to remind you of your commitment can be encouraging.

Do you have something special to you in this way? For over a year, I've had a purity ring, a gift from my brother and sister-in-law, and it has become very special to me. Each time I catch a glimpse of it, I am reminded of my commitment to remain pure for my future husband. The simple gold heart with the diamond enclosed is a symbol to me of my heart, and how I am guarding it for my "Dearest." Each time I am tempted to give into despair and wonder if I'll ever get married, the diamond sparkles, and I'm reminded that the waiting will all be worth it one day.

Wearing it every minute of the day (except when kneading bread or doing other messy things!) also reminds me to pray for my future husband. I pray that he will keep walking God's path steadfastly, and will pursue purity. I also pray that God will prepare us and make us ready for each other, bringing us together in God's perfect timing.

When I received the ring in June 2007, I wore it on my left hand, for that is where purity rings are traditionally worn. I thought of it as saving the space for my wedding ring. While I don't think it's wrong to wear it on the left hand, after some discussion with my family, in May 2008, I switched to wearing the ring on my right hand. My family thought it best that it didn't look as though I were engaged, and thus not confuse people. At first, I thought it would be nice to "scare off" guys who weren't ready for commitment, but then I realized that if young men thought I was engaged by seeing the ring, the truly honorable ones most likely wouldn't even think of pursing me. It also will relieve awkwardness if/when I court from people assuming we're engaged by seeing a ring on my finger, and will help not confuse little girls who have been taught not to wear rings on that finger unless you're married. Plus, as I saw the excitement my sister displayed when she got engaged, and how she showed off her ring, I'm think it will be special to have my engagement ring be the first to wear on that special finger.

Don't think that I am condemning wearing a purity ring on your left hand, however! I'm just sharing what led me to my conclusion, and am following the advice of my family. It will be different for each person - there's no law about purity rings. =)

The color white has also always been symbolic to me of purity. What girl hasn't dreamed of the day when she'll walk down the aisle in a white dress, pure and radiant for her husband? White flowers have always been special to me as well, especially white roses, which have become my favorite flower. Seeing them always reminds me to be like a pure and spotless rose, fragrantly sharing God's love, bright and white in a world of darkness.

What about you? Do you have any "symbols of purity" that are meaningful to you?

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word."
- Psalm 119:9

Monday, September 08, 2008

To My Dear Friend

Dear Anna Naomi,

I never cease thanking God for giving me the privilege of having you as a friend. Not just a friend, but also a confidante, role model, and a godly example to me. The many things we have done together have only served to make our friendship stronger. How many best friends can boast of never having had a quarrel? =)


You are a blessing to all those around you, including myself. Watching our stories unfold side by side has been amazing. What started out as the first few letters of our lives on a blank page became lines, and then paragraphs, and has now become pages and pages that we will look back on and remember. We'll remember the times we laughed, the times we cried and mourned together, the times we celebrated our friendship, and the times that are even now happening and becoming written in our books.


Anna, I've never expected you to be more than you can be, but you are so much more than even you know. I can't think of anyone who has known you and not been touched or blessed in some way. You are truly a Maiden of Worth. Your inner beauty shines out for all to see, even to those who don't know you in person. Your gracious walk, gentle manner and sweet speech are beautiful to watch. You've changed my life in so many ways and all for the better (definitely!). I will always think of your more as my sister than my best friend.


Love,

Miriam Rebekah

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Weekend in Alabama

On Friday, I went home for the weekend. I went to my morning classes, then Elijah picked me up at 11 a.m. and I drove home as he worked on homework. I skipped my two afternoon classes, for getting home for my sister Miriam's wedding rehearsal was more important. After all, it only happens once!

The rehearsal went well, and it was wonderful to see family again. The rehearsal dinner was also a lot of fun, the food John's family prepared was delicious, and the pictures and toasts produced a lot of laughter and memories. Seeing siblings, niblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, many of whom I hadn't seen in a while, was such a blessing.

The whole weekend seeing family and friends was so wonderful. I filled up on the joy of holding babies, for there was always at least one around to hold. =) Just catching up and being with everyone was nice.

The wedding was beautiful! I will share pictures when I get them or someone else posts them online, but I didn't really take many of my own. The ceremony went smoothly, Miriam was a beautiful bride, John a handsome groom, and the bridesmaids and flower girls made their dresses look stunning!

I did take a few pictures at the wedding reception, which was a lot of fun in itself! The above picture is of my newest niece, Bethany Dawn Lofgren, born on August 15th, 2008. It was great to see Luke and Michele's family, and they bravely traveled all the way from Arkansas with 5 children, including their 3-week-old little one. It was wonderful to be able to meet Bethany for the first time - she's such a darling!

Danielle, age 9, finally has a little sister! Here she is modeling the dress I made her for her birthday in May.

Over Labor Day weekend, I made Bethany a dress to match Danielle's out of the leftover fabric. I had just enough to make this tiny dress, which was so cute! It was fun to see the sisters matching together - so sweet!

Of course, spending time with Miriam Rebekah was another one of the highlights. I certainly miss her when I'm away at college!

All-in-all, the weekend was wonderful. It was good to be home, though the time flew by far too quickly. It's been full and a whirlwind, as has left me quite tired. Now, it's time to do homework and prepare for another week.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Embroidered Towels

When shopping for my dorm room, I decided to buy towels that I could embroider. Yes, it does take time to embroider, and perhaps my time would be better spent on other things rather than towels, but it's the little things that give me joy. I knew that I'd be seeing the towels every day, and it would be a little homey and feminine touch that I could add to my room.

I worked on embroidering the towels while I sewed with Jubilee, watched DVDs, listened to the radio or a CD, or just enjoyed the silence. I got the border patterns out of a embroidery book I have, and the butterfly pattern off of another Bible verse pattern I'd embroidered. It was fun to pick all the different pretty designs, patterns, and colors to use!

The first bath towel, hand towel, and wash cloth I completed before I left for college. I had fun stitching a garden on the snowy white cotton.

The towels weren't actually made for cross stitching - they're just regular ones I found at Walmart! However, the band with ridges makes a very nice place to embroider, though it is a bit harder to make even stitches since it doesn't come with nice, evenly spaced holes. So, my tape measure was invaluable!

I had one extra bath towel to use for messier things or going places, but I didn't want to just leave it bare, so I embroidered my name in the corner. Now I'll always be able to tell which one is mine. =)

These last ones took a bit longer to complete. I finished the wash cloth and began the hand towel before I left, but didn't have time to finish it all. So, I've worked on them in the spare moments I've had since getting to college, and finally finished the bath towel on Monday.

I enjoyed doing the same pattern but different colors on each towel. It makes them match, but still be unique!

So, when you calculate how many times I'll use these towels and the happiness I get when I sew the lovely embroidery, the time spent making them was definitely worth it!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Siblings: Younger Brothers

If you have younger siblings, in particular, brothers, then you've probably wondered more than once, like me, what in the world God was thinking. =) The times that I have wanted scream and pull my hair out have been many. I used to ask God if He had accidentally put me in the wrong family (I was much younger!) but God doesn't make mistakes. So now I ask if it's His way of forcing me to learn patience, a virtue that I am considerably lacking in. =) But then there are times when I am thankful to have my two younger brothers around. So, what can we do to build better relationships with our younger brothers? As I am still working on this, we can learn together.

Encourage Them

Most boys are always trying to act tough and if they have older brothers, then they will try and measure up to them and earn their approval. Sometimes, they will take on a project that may be a bit too much for them, but we shouldn't discourage them in the attempt. As sisters, we need encourage our younger brothers in their aspirations. If they succeed, then they deserve to be praised and if they fail, we need to be there to console them and to encourage them to try again. It can be anything from admiring their handiwork to commenting on how strong they are (they love that!), but the comments will always be appreciated even if it's not shown.

They Get Older

As our younger brothers get older, they will look more and more to us for affirmation in other areas. If we think badly of them and verbally express that, they will begin to think that other girls will think the same of them, causing them to be reluctant to make friendships with other girls. This can cause problems later on for them, so a lot depends on the way we treat our young brothers. That being said, we should be careful not to run them down and if they need corrected, we should correct in love.

I'm the sister of five brothers and I still don't consider myself an expert. I continue to learn new things about brothers all the time.

Do you have any younger brothers?

Can you add any advice or recommendations that come from your own personal experience?

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Guarding Against Pride


This daily discipline isn't one you'd often think of, but it's a crucial one to be putting into practice every day. When you work hard and try to live a diligent and disciplined life, it's easy to get prideful when you look around and see others that don't seem to be trying as hard. But we must remember 2 Corinthians 10:12 -
"We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise."
We shouldn't be looking around at others and measuring how "good" we are compared with them. Our eyes should be on Jesus, and we should strive to the live the life He has called us to, not judging those around us.

Whenever I'm tempted to look down on others, I remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14 -
"To some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank You that I am not like other men - robbers evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get."

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
We may not think we're like the Pharisee, but what if we changed his prayer a little bit? What if instead it were:
"God, I thank you that I'm not like these other lazy, rebellious teenagers. I get up early and read my Bible every morning. I do my chores cheerfully, keep my room clean, and have memorized large amounts of Your Word."
Okay, so I doubt any of us would really pray like that. But have you examined your attitude lately? All of the things mentioned are good things - they're things we've been focusing on doing better over the past few months. However, they can become self-righteous things that displease God if we do them in the wrong attitude.

Why do we do these things? Is it because we want to look good, or because we want to bring glory to God? We should rise early so that we can make the most of the day and have time to do what God wants us to do, not so that we can be seen as someone oh-so-disciplined. We should go to bed on time not to boast about how wise we are, but instead to take care of the body God has given us and thus not be tired when doing the things He's call us to. We should have daily devotions and memorize Scripture not so we can become pious know-it-alls, but so that we can get to know God better and praise Him. We should use our time wisely on the computer, keep a clean room and cheerfully do chores so that we can glorify Him by making the most of the opportunities He gives us, not so that we can be proud in how "good" and "self-disciplined" we are.

We must not lose focus or become self-focused in the things we do. Our focus should be on our wonderful Savior, and we should be awed by the grace He gives us to live each day. We should work to live a disciplined life, but it should be all for His glory, not our own. We should remember that, apart from Him and the strength He gives, we couldn't do anything.
"Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." (2 Corinthians 3:5)
If you would, please answer any, all or none of these questions:
  • Do you struggle with pride?
  • What things help you focus on God and not yourself?
  • Can you think of any other verses to remind ourselves of if we're tempted to become proud?