Friday, February 27, 2009
I have the bestest brother. =) He saw me on Sunday, yet he still took the time to send a card my way. He's been doing this all semester, and it has been such an encouragement! It has been a hard semester for a variety of reasons, yet Elijah has always been there for me. And they're not just any generic cards. They're beautiful cards that appeal to my feminine nature, with lovely colors, sweet messages, and handwritten greetings and Bible verses from my brother. Thank you Elijah - so much! And thank you to all my other family and dear friends who have also sent so much encouragement my way!
Is there someone in your life that you know needs encouragement? Take a minute and send some there way, be it in the form of an email, phone call, long letter, or sweet card. It can mean so much.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
We enjoyed eating at the Jerusalem Cafe. Daddy was happy that I found something out-of-the-ordinary, as I usually pick more ordinary (and less expensive!) restaurants. But, he graciously treated us here, and the food was quite delicious.
We then headed back to campus, where I played in the orchestra concert. We played music from 7 popular movies that each had in some way a redeeming Christian value or message. The music was a lot of fun to rehearse and perform!
Miriam stayed the night with Mary-Khris and I, and it was fun to spend time with her and catch up in conversation. It was wonderful to be able to just be together - I miss her so much! It was fun that Mary-Khris and her got to know each other as well, for they each had heard a lot about the other! =)
Elijah didn't actually arrive until late Saturday night because his car broke down on his way over from his college. It was disappointing to not have him here for as long as we planned, but I'm glad his car got fixed and he learned some lessons through it all.
They all went to church with me and then out for lunch. We the early afternoon talking. It was so encouraging to have them here!
We also walked to the house of one of my professors from last semester. It was a lovely, albeit somewhat cold day, and we had a good visit.
They left around 4 p.m., for we all had things we needed to do to prepare for the week ahead. Although it was a short visit, I'm so blessed that they took the time to come! I look forward to seeing them again during spring break in a mere 2 1/2 weeks!
Monday, February 23, 2009
The Summer I'll Never Forget
I am a musician. More specifically, I play the piano and flute, both of
We were playing around and somehow, in the process, my right-hand thumb was bent backwards. Yes, it hurt, but I didn't think too much about it since this had happened before and quickly healed the following day. But after a couple of weeks the considerable pain in my thumb had spread to my entire hand. I am right-handed, so up to this point I had continued using my hands in every usual way (handwriting, typing, piano and flute practice, etc.). Unfortunately, this only served to delay the healing process. I decided to wear a wrist brace for a while, taking it off only to practice piano and write, and see if that would help. I can't stand anything that restricts my body movement, so the brace quickly became an annoyance and I rarely wore it. The pain moved to my wrist, and it became difficult to play the piano or to write for even a few minutes.
"Don't run from the truth, 'cause you can't get away. Just face it and you'll be okay."
I finally decided to see a chiropractor and find out exactly what was wrong with my hand. When the doctor gave me my verdict, all I could do was sit there and shake my head, wondering why I had been handed this sentence. As it turned out, during the friendly wrestling, my whole hand had been pushed back on my wrist and arm, seriously spraining my wrist. This is one of the nightmares of any musician, but especially so of a pianist. I was told by my teacher that practicing was out of the question. Lessons were stopped, and I had to wear the brace at all times. Double sentence! I was doomed to inactivity. Here is this unfeeling, restrictive article and it has the nerve to keep me from doing what I want to do! Irrational thoughts began to contend with my usually even-keeled nature. "What if I can't perform in the music festival?" and "What if I have to stop playing for years?" and "I'll never be able to have my senior recital!" I wanted to scream and hit something, but that was out of the question. No use further injuring myself. Outwardly, I was the calm and in-control Miriam, but inside I was seething.
As a month went by and the wrist brace was still my constant companion, I started to show my impatience. I tried to wait out the dry spell, but it stretched out and started to become a drought. Imagine being a writer and all of the sudden, there is no inspiration, nothing to draw ideas from, nothing whatsoever. That's what I was feeling as I would walk past my beloved instrument. Mentally, my hands would reach out and I would play in my mind, but it wasn't the same at all. I would walk away feeling empty and unsatisfied.
"Make peace with God and make peace with yourself, 'cause in the end there's nobody else."
After what seemed like months of this torture, I was told I could take off the hated brace and resume practicing at a slow pace. I was ecstatic. I walked to my piano and I sat on the bench. I reached out my arms and ran my hands over the glossy keys. And then...I began to play. The music poured over me, refreshing and reviving me after a two-month long drought. I just couldn't get enough.
They say a picture's worth a thousand words, but if that's true, then a line of music is worth two thousand. In those moments, I realized that this was what I wanted to use my life for; I wanted to use my music to help others, especially through their hard times. As I played, I wondered why I had ever despaired. God has a reason and purpose for the events that happen in our lives. He always does. The difficult times can shape our future and how we respond to these "trials" can determine how we will live for God.
I learned many lessons during that summer that I pray will never be forgotten. I thank God more than ever for the music He has put in my soul and may I always use it to praise Him.
"Turn up the music, turn it up loud. Take a few chances, let it all out. You won't regret it, looking back from where you have been. 'Cause it's not who you knew, and it's not what you did, it's how you live.
The song quoted in-between paragraphs is How You Live by Point of Grace.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Don't know if I can face
the day ahead.
Shower and dress,
Think through my list.
Pull up the shades,
See morning mist.
Ask God for strength,
And He hears my cry.
His peace overwhelms me
As I gaze at the sky.
He brings me...
Strength with the sunrise,
Each passing day.
Light for the journey,
When I can't see the way.
He sends hope every morning
In the sun's bright red rays.
Strength with the sunrise -
And life each new day.
Sit down with my Bible,
Glean from His Word
Courage and insight
As my soul is stirred.
Time spent in prayer
Leaves my soul refreshed.
His abundant grace floods me...
I truly am blessed.
There still seems to be
So much to do,
But in God's great strength
I will make it through.
For He brings...
Strength with the sunrise,
Each passing day.
Light for the journey,
When I can't see the way.
He sends hope every morning
In the sun's bright red rays.
Strength with the sunrise -
And life each new day.
February 17th, 2009~
The sunrise never fails to encourage me. This poem was inspired by the two sunrises pictured in this post that I was able to witness Monday and Tuesday morning. God even gave me a tune to put the chorus to. Maybe someday I'll be able to turn the rest of it into a song...
Of course, there's nothing "magical" about a sunrise. There was no visible sunrise this morning, watch as I might, yet God still gave me strength and joy. However, there is definitely something special about a sunrise. It's a visible reminder that God's mercies are indeed new each morning.
As you've probably noticed by the lack of posting on here, these last two weeks have been quite busy ones. Through it all, however, God's grace has been more than sufficient. I have felt the lack of sleep, but the beautiful view of the sun rising outside of my window has helped me remember to put my focus on my Lord each day. Our God is so Awesome!
What are things that encourage you in the Lord each day?
Friday, February 13, 2009
Another thing I have always wanted to be is a wife and a mother. I've sometimes wished the time would go by faster so that I could be old enough and ready to marry and have children. After all, it has always been my childhood dream. But for now, that dream must wait. I am in a season of life with many opportunities and freedoms that I won't have when I have a husband and children to care for. Yes, I still long to get married, and I do look forward to the responsibilities it will entail, but I am learning to be content and make the most of the season I am in right now.
Time passes by quickly. We must enjoy the youth God has given us while we have it.
I was reminded of this in a very visual way as I attempted to learn to age my face in stage makeup class.
First, I had to age my face 10 years. Although not much really changes in 10 years, skin doesn't always stay so even and smooth as it is now, and a few wrinkles begin to show.
Then I had to age my face 30 years. Because it is makeup for the stage, we do have to go a little more dramatic than how things look in real life, and these pictures makes me look a bit older than the ages I was aiming for! But, as I studied to see where wrinkles would show up, applied the makeup to try to show them, and then really looked at myself in the mirror, I realized how much of my youth I take for granted.
Don't get me wrong. I think wrinkles are beautiful in the faces of those who have lived long and productive lives. I look at pictures of my grandmother and her face covered in a thousand little wrinkles, and I think it is one of the most beautiful faces I know. She has lived a long life of service to the Lord, and it shows on her face. As a culture, we place too much value on the fleeting looks of youth, spending so much time trying to hide the aging that naturally comes with time. The marks of age are a testament to God's grace.
But, I must admit, I was glad to wash my face and "become young" again. =) One day, Lord willing, I will be older and have tell-tale signs of age on my face. One day, by God's grace, I will have children and grandchildren. My skin won't be as smooth; wrinkles and shadows will show up in places that for now are smooth and light. But that time is not now. For now, I am enjoying the youth and health God has allowed me to have, and trying to serve Him in my youth in the position He's placed me.
We must live one day at a time, praising God in the place and position He has us in right now. While preparing for the future, we should embrace the present and live life to its fullest for God's glory.
"Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. . . . Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them'" - Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:1
"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." - Proverbs 31:30
Thursday, February 12, 2009
For the dance, we were all supposed to dress up like a character from a Disney movie. It was fun to see all the different characters that showed up, from lions to sea creatures. Mary-Khris and I weren't quite sure what to dress up as. We wanted to go as people from the same movie if we could. So, we headed over to the theatre costume shop and ended up finding costumes that were somewhat Narnian in apprearance.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Read the whole article here.
George’s music, as well as his family’s lifestyle, is the subject of a recently released DVD from Franklin Springs Family Media. The 90-minute documentary, “Pull Up a Chair,” features a 30-minute segment of five days in the family’s life as they travel from Colorado to Kansas, followed by an hour of George performing in concert.
The film presents both the joys and disadvantages of life on the road.
. . .
“My goal in all this is really quite simple,” George said. “I want to encourage folks to come in contact with the scriptures.
“Certainly, I want people to come in contact with Christ, but I’m not an evangelist. To be honest, the whole aspect of faith for me comes with hindsight. When I look back I realize how much I can trust that God is going to take care of us.
“Sometimes I worry, that’s just who I am. But I do trust that God is in control, so I take the next step to the next gig, and we trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to.
It's encouraging to read testimonies of how other believers are following the Lord as He leads. Each one of is led on a slightly different path, and it's beautiful to see the diversity of how people are using their gifts to glorify the Lord.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Days are tiring. I didn't get as much done over the weekend as I had hoped. I'm learning that I can survive on 6 1/2 - 7 hours of sleep a night, though it's not ideal. Classes and practicing from 8 a.m. to 4, 5, or 6 p.m. each day (with an hour or two break in the middle for lunch) leaves the evenings for homework, and it can be exhausting to do it day after day. Add to that a show this week that I'm on box office crew for, and a few evening hours this week are taken up.
However, God gives strength for each new day. Even when going to bed late, I can't forsake the early morning time to seek Him in the mornings. Without theses devotions and quietness in prayer and in His Word, I truly wouldn't be able to get through.
This morning my roommate and I were able to witness a beautiful reminder of the joy and mercy that God brings new each morning. Mary-Khris opened the shades around 6:30 a.m. to witness a beautiful sight in the dawn sky.
It was absolutely beautiful, so I had to grab my camera and take some pictures. It lasted only for a few minutes and then faded away.
Such a small thing, yet such a poignant reminder of God's faithfulness. It's left me with more strength for the day and the busy week ahead.
~ Lamentations 3:22-23
This is my last year of high school and I've been rather busy (no, I'm not trying to make excuses). I'm reviewing U.S. Government, so that I'll be more prepared for the CLEP test I'm taking Friday, the 27th. I'm also finishing up a World History textbook and I plan to CLEP that subject as well. I'm also taking an English Comp. 1 course at a nearby college as a dual-enrolled student.
Near the beginning of January, I went to Judson College for a music scholarship audition. I had a great time looking around the campus and had a wonderful audition. It helped to have the many prayers of friends with me that day. I had already been accepted into the school and was also given scholarship funds. It seems like I'll be heading to Marion, Alabama this fall.
At one time, I was determined I would never go to college. But, it was for the wrong reasons. Everywhere around me, friends were saying that I should go and it seemed strange to them that I didn't really want to. Well, I had determined I wasn't going anywhere just because people thought I should. I decided I would only go if I wanted to and if God wanted me to (notice the order that was in), so I felt pretty secure in my decision. It was just that...my decision, not God's. Last fall, I felt the Lord slowly changing my heart and turning me in the direction that He wanted me to go. I felt led to apply to Judson (it helped that my choir director is the choral director at this college and had been recruiting me for quite some time), so we set up the audition day and I really had a good time seeing the college. It's a small campus in an almost invisible town, but I love the smallness of the school. Judson is only 2 1/2 hours away from home, so even though I'll be staying on campus, I won't be too far from home.
I'll try to keep you all up to date as I move towards graduation and take this new step in my life.
I hope everyone has a great week!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
As girls, we often dwell on this fact and long for the day when our name will be changed. Too quickly we try out the last name of a young man we are interested in, seeing how it will sound with our first name. We catch ourselves and remember that nothing has happened yet, but we still look forward to the day when our name will change, when we will willingly belong to one man.
Having one's name changed is an exciting thing when you realize that by doing so you will be spending the rest of your life with this man. In the throes of love, nothing could seem better. Yet with it there also comes a responsibility. Now, the things you do will not only reflect on yourself, but also on your husband. You are one with him, and your actions will be seen as an extension of his.
As maidens we can wait and wish for this day when our name will legally be changed, but we have an exciting thing to reflect on now. If we are saved, our name has already been changed. We are no longer a child of the world, but are a child of God. We bear the name of Christ. Everywhere we go, as we call ourselves Christians, we are reflecting on the character and nature of Christ.
We are no longer our own. We are His. We are His ambassadors. The things that we do are seen as an extension of our Savior. We will forever bear His Name.
Wow. This is an amazing blessing, and yet a sobering responsibility. We must prayerfully consider our actions and ask our Father if we are living lives that accurately reflect Him. Are we distorting His character or defaming His Name? We must ask Him to reveal these things to us, and then truly repent.
We are amazingly blessed to be able to bear the Name of Christ. It shows that we belong to Him forever. But as we live each day, calling ourselves Christians, we must pray that our lives glorify Christ's Name and point those around us not to ourselves, but to Him. What does it matter if people don't remember our earthly name? If through our actions they remember the Name of Christ, our lives will have been well lived.
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him." - 1 John 3:1
"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 5:20
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." - Colossians 3:17
Monday, February 02, 2009
Completed this Month:
- The Courtship of Sarah McLean by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Castleberry - Miriam was kind enough to lend me these books by the Castleberrys, and I thoroughly enjoyed them! They were also hard to put down - I stayed up rather late a few nights finishing them, but they were short enough that it wasn't too late. Anyways, this was a sweet story about the oldest daughter of a large family, and how she learns to wait and trust God for a husband in His timing. It was somewhat simply written, but the message was beautiful, and I enjoyed the discussion of the character we should strive to build and wait for in a spouse, while at the same time emphasizing that no one will be perfect.
- Jeff McLean: His Courtship by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Castleberry - This second book focused on the second oldest child in the McLean family, 23-year-old Jeff. It shows how he prepares himself faithfully for the responsibilities of a family, and how he looks for a wife when he feels that God lets him know that it is the right time, with the guidance and insight of his parents. This book went in-depth on the Biblical way a wife of noble character should be, as well as a how a Godly husband should be, and it encouraged me to focus on those characteristics. The story was sweet and encouraging and God-honoring in it all.
- Journey of the Heart: The Story of Janet McLean - by Jeannie M. Castleberry - This was the third book in the series, written about the third child in the McLean family, Janet. The Castleberry's 23-year-old (at the time) wrote the book, weaving in her own heart's journey to finding contentment in singleness. It didn't have the "they married and lived happily ever after" ending that we delight in so much, but it shows a poignant journey of learning to trust and delight in the Lord. I highly recommend this to any unmarried young woman - you will connect with Janet's longings and struggles! All of these books are very wholesome and suitable for all ages.
- Esther Reid's Awakening by Isabella MacDonald Alden - This was a sweet book from the 1860s. The writer, using the pen name of "Pansy" used her gift of writing to urge good morals and Christian commitment through stories. This story was well written, and really causes one to think. It is about Esther Reid, and how for many years she was a Christian in name only, but after realizing her own apathy and truly repenting and following wholeheartedly after God, she tries to use her station as a daughter and sister to turn others to the Lord. It is sad, but very thought-provoking.
- Fireproof by Eric Wilson - Based on the movie script by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, this book was exciting and touching. It follows the movie really closely, but also has added scenes and snippets of detail or conversations.
- Some Through the Fire by Jeri Massi - This is the first book in the 2-part Valkyries series, and Jubilee and I both enjoyed reading the books lent to us by the Harts. This story follows Tracey Jacamuzzi as she comes to saving faith in Christ after years of being raised in an uncommited Catholic family. She is a tough girl that makes many mistakes after being saved, but it shows how she is slowly refined to become more and more like Christ. She is sent to a Catholic boarding school by her parents who aren't getting along, and she goes through many trials there. This book covers her Freshman and Sophmore year.
- All Through the Blood by Jeri Massi - The second book in the Valkyries Series, this book covers Tracey's Junior and Senior year at the Catholic boarding school. She makes many mistakes, yet continues to learn more about the Lord through her friendship with a Protestant woman, Maddie Murdoch, who becomes a loving mother-figure to the lonely girl. This book truly shows that sanctification is a slow process, but that if we seek God, He is faithful to lead us in His ways and love us unconditionally. Some of the topics covered are mature, so I wouldn't recommend this series to those under 13.
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood compiled by John Piper and Wayne Grudem - This is an excellent resource containing many essays on the topic of what it means to be a true man or woman according to the Bible. I ordered it back in September, and have enjoyed reading it as I had the time. Each chapter gave me a lot to think about, and reaffirmed many things I already knew or had learned. I really enjoyed how the book stressed all the crucial differences between men and women, and showed how together we can glorify God. The message contained may cause some to react in horror that anyone could think that way and others to wish the book had gone deeper in some respects, but it's bound to make you think.
- The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin - Jubilee got my name for our family Christmas gift exchange and bought me the 10th-anniversary edition of the A&E "Pride and Prejudice," complete with the DVD and this book. I enjoyed reading about all of the behind-the-scenes work that went into the making of this fun film!
- Valley of Vision compiled by Arthur Bennet - This book is a compilation of prayers written by the Puritans and organized into specific categories. I usually read one each day at the end of my devotional time, and it really helped me to focus my mind on the Lord and think and pray about things I wouldn't normally remember to. Praying through these prayers from people long ago really helped me learn to pray more deeply, feel my own sin more accutely, and stand more in awe of our Heavenly Father.
- Conscience on Stage by Harold Ehrensperger - For my Theatre Minisistry Administration class, we are required to read a few books from a list my professor has compiled. This is the first one I chose, and it was a really good compilation from a church that began to integrate theatre/drama into their church's ministry in the 1940s. It was a pioneering effort, with there not being many churches doing such things at the time, and I enjoyed how careful they were to look at the reasons for theatre in the church, what it should look like, and the high quality it should be done it. The book examines the roles of everyone involved from the director, actors, to the support group. It emphasized organization as the key to making things work well, as well as making sure that the theatrical added and did not detract from the overall worship experience. Although some of the compilations are slightly outdated, I found it really interesting and informational!
- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
- For the Love of God Volume 1: A daily companion for discovering the riches of God's Word by D.A. Carson
- A Return to Christian Culture by Richard S. Taylor
Completed this Month:
- Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright - This was a reread and I liked it even better than the last time I read it. It challenges the way I think and is just very well written.
- Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy - I was read this and immediately started it over so that I could mark all the places that stuck out to me. This is a wonderful book and I recommend it to any young woman over the age of 13 (a parent might want to read it first if the girl is younger).
- The Shadow Women by Angela Elwell Hunt - This is an excellent book centering on the lives of the three women most involved in the life of Moses. His sister Miriam, the Egyptian princess who pulled him from the river, and his wife Zipporah. The story line kept right in line with the Bible and basically the only thing added was dialogue. Very well written.
- A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmicheal by Elisabeth Eliot
- Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,
exalted for You, or brought low for You.
Let me be full, or let me be empty.
Let me have all things, or let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, Blessed and Glorious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am Yours. So be it.
And this commitment now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.