Monday, June 28, 2010

Walking with God

Midnight is my walking companion. Almost without fail, he's there waiting for me the minute I step out the door. He grins (well, as much as a dog can grin) and wags his tail, "Walk with me?" Most of the time I'm happy to go along. However, sometimes I have excuses.

"Sorry, Midnight, I can't go now. You see, I don't usually walk on Saturdays. Besides, I slept in today, and it's so hot now. I'm only outside because I'm on my way to the guest house to take a shower. You see, our water heater's broken and dad's not home to fix it..." Midnight doesn't understand. His tail droops when I go inside the door, and he wanders off elsewhere.

The next day, I have a similar excuse. He bounds over when I walk out the door, but again, I tell him that I don't usually walk on weekends. I'm only out this Sunday because I happened to wake up before my alarm and decided to pick blueberries. He starts off eagerly each time I move a little down the row of bushes, looking back to see if I'm following him up the road.

Even on weekdays I sometimes have excuses. "It's too hot now; I slept past my alarm." "Sorry, Midnight, this day is just too busy. Tomorrow, okay?" I give him an extra moment of petting, as if that will make up for it. The amazing thing is, he keeps coming back morning after morning, not discouraged by the days that I miss.

Other days are like today; good temperature and the perfect time to walk, an energizing start to a productive day. I walk out the door, my verse binder and letters to mail in hand, and he bounds over with the wagging invitation. "Yes, Midnight, let's go!"

As I walked this morning, I thought about how my excuses to Midnight are similar to the excuses we sometimes give God. "Sorry, Lord, I know I'm not spending much time with You this morning, but you see, today's really busy; I've got to start on my overflowing to-do list." Or how about this one: "I don't remember turning my alarm off; I slept too late. I'll read a chapter and pray a few sentences, but I've got to hurry through." Other times, it has to do with the day: "I know it's Sunday, but I'll spend more time with You in church later. Right now I've got to get dressed and make myself presentable to..." what? Meet with God or impress others?

Yet, God is ever faithful. He's always there even when we ignore Him. He never leaves or forsakes us, but His Spirit is grieved when we won't take time to truly spend with Him, to get to know Him, to walk with Him down the path He's given us.

It's my prayer that I won't be full of excuses when it comes to spending time with my Savior. Each day is a new adventure of learning and growing in Him. And, I look forward to continuing my morning walks as well. For though I'm walking with my dog, it's also a time to walk with God. Down the dirt road and back, I memorize His Word, talk to my Faithful Friend, and enjoy the beauty of His creation.

These walks are something I won't forget.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Days

Summer days seem to fly by. There's quite a bit to do, but time to relax as well...

Like playing games over lunch with Jubilee; Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride are our favorites right now.

Or calling up Elijah because I feel lonely, and spending 45 minutes wandering around outside so that I can get reception on my cell phone. At least summer evenings are much cooler and more bearable than summer days! And big brothers that care are one of the best things in the world.

Life has recently has had a lot to do with email... Emailing to set up the schedule for "Life in 10 Minutes," and then making a flier and emailing out invitations. Or making audition forms, a production calender, production guidelines and character and job descriptions, and then emailing out audition reminders for "The Cord of Courage." Emailing friends, emailing church bulletin announcements, emailing thoughts for a book study, emailing scripts for proofreading... What would I do without email?

But then I get tired of the computer. I breathe a sigh of relief when I turn it off each night. Because too much of it is taxing; there's life outside the screen, after all.

Sometimes my life feels like one big planning session after another. But if I didn't plan things, they wouldn't get done... and though the planning is exhausting, life would be pretty boring without it.

There's so much to write and type, that I don't feel like writing in my journal or typing up a blog post. But, they both got done today, rambling thought they are; that gives a sense of accomplishment.

Cleaning floors and working up a sweat; cooking supper and enjoying corn on the cob; shredding zucchinni and making delicious, moist bread; teaching students and then spending time talking with friends late in the evening; taking a minute to just sit and reflect... life is full right now, but it is good. God gives grace for each new day.

And the best day of the week is tomorrow! I hope you all have a restful Sunday, and that you have the opportunity to worship the Lord, hear good teaching, and fellowship with the Body of Christ.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Purity for purity's sake?

Ben at In All Purity has written a great post on purity that I encourage you to all read. It's called Would You Marry a Sinner?

When we're committed to living a life of purity, often people have questions about whether we'd even consider someone who hasn't kept the same standards of purity. However, as Ben points out, we're all sinners. Our future spouse will be a sinner.

He also clearly communicated the reasons we have for purity:
"You and I have a reason for purity that the world often doesn’t have. We have a purpose and a reason for making this sacrifice! It’s a reason that makes all the difference. The reason is this: purity is not about purity. Purity is about love! Purity is something that doesn’t have much value unless you have love as the reason for it. The reason I stay pure is because I love my future wife enough to stay pure for her."
Read the whole post here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's the Little Things

It's the little things in life that bring joy. Tonight, I'm thankful for...

*Morning walks along our winding dirt road.
*A well-written story.
*Shade in our valley.
*Ballet students who want to learn.
*Little girls and their look of delight over a sparkly crown.
*Air conditioning in the car when the temperature outside reads 100 degrees.
*Peaches on sale.

*The snap of a home-grown green bean.
*The ability and resources to create a feast of homemade goodness.
*Pictures of flowers when the heat has made most wither.
*Games with my sister (even when she beats me!).
*Friends who care.
*God's faithfulness every day.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Can you offer hope?

Julie from Maine recently sent me an email asking for advice. She was also interested to see if any of you had advice or encouragement to give her. She's had a hard time finding true Christian fellowship in her area. Below is a portion of what she wrote:

"My question is this - I was not raised with any sort of faith, quite the opposite in fact. My parents are very bitter ex-Catholics. None of my friends go to church and most are athiests or believe in a "higher power". I have tried to go to many different churches throughout my state, and have had one very negative experience after another. The last church I attended turned out to be a cult. I'm just about ready to throw in the towel because if this is what belief does to people, I'm not interested. However, online I see little glimpses of hope, you and other bloggers. What advice would you have for me at this point?"

In another email, she further explained the experiences she's had at churches she's gone too, and none of them were good, ranging from a liberal pastor, to one just wanting to pressure her into membership to help his numbers grow, to a church split, to another steeped in legalism and extra-Biblical rules.

I've emailed her to encourage her to keep looking, giving her some recommendation of church denominations that I've experienced or heard of as being solid. However, it's hard to recommend one when each local church is different. Do any of you live in Maine? What church would you recommend?

I've been inspired by how she's holding on to faith, even when she's not supported by family or friends. I've tried to encourage her as best I can, but I've not experienced what she's going through, so it can be hard to relate or know what to say. Have any of you been in a similar situation? What advice/encouragement can you give her?

I know Julie would appreciate any comments you have. Let's also be praying that God will bring her into a supportive, Bible-believing church soon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 22 -- Flying Home

Tuesday, June 8th:

We woke up at 5:30 this morning to quickly get ready to head to the airport. After our sad goodbyes, we were dropped off. Jen flew out at 7:30 and we finally boarded at 10:15 am. This was Miriam's first time flying and she has now discovered that she loves the experience.

Miriam's view from the window upon leaving Idaho.

We had a brief layover in Denver, CO (another new state for Miriam!), and then flew into Atlanta, GA, where Miriam's mom picked us up. We drove to their house, then Anna's mom picked her up to bring her home.

It's been an amazing trip together; we've made lasting memories during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's gone quickly (where did 3 weeks go?), but it's good to be home again, much as we miss our friends. Life is starting to get back to normal (whatever that is!), and it's time to prepare for upcoming summer opportunities in Alabama!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Day 21 - Downtown Boise

Monday, June 7th:

On the steps of the Idaho state Capitol

We enjoyed looking around inside the capitol; we all found the marble pillars breathtaking!

We brought lunch to the Julia Davis Park, ate it surrounded by hungry geese, and then went to the Rose Garden.

The roses - of so many color combinations - were absolutely beautiful!

We walked along the Boise River, taking a break to sit and talk in the shade while numbing our feet in the water.

We then drove to the old train debot, and had fun taking pictures on the railroad tracks.

We had to get a picture in our matching sisters aprons. We didn't cook together while we were here - the kitchen was small, and Ella and her mom fed us delicious meals they prepared, but we all enjoy cooking!

Day 20 - Table Rock

Sunday, June 6th:

The breathtaking sunset from Table Rock

After church in the morning, going out to eat, and more scrapbooking, we took a short hike around nine o'clock. We love the fact that it's still light at ten out here in the West.

A cross overlooks the city of Boise
Another shot of the gorgeous sunset.
A rainbow that we happened to see just as we were about to leave

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Day 19 - Scrapbooking and Cake!

Saturday, June 5th:

We decided which pictures to print on Friday night, uploaded them to Walmart's 1-hour photo, and picked them up Saturday morning. We spent most of the afternoon scrapbooking; Ella generously let us use her neat supplies.

It's great to get most of the trip's memories preserved now rather than try when we get home!

Anna and Jennifer - twins from Alabama and Nebraska; 19 years, 11 months old today. We celebrated our 20th birthday a month early since we were together!

Gabrielle made the most amazingly delicious triple-layer chocolate cake! It was very rich but so so good! Jennifer's comment: "If I don't wake up in the morning, you'll know why... I died happy." :)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Day 18 - Shopping!

Friday, June 4th:

We had a fun day going to the mall and trying on dresses - some we liked and would consider wearing (were it not for the price tag!) and others ones we would never be caught dead in! :) Even better, we first got a free donut at Krispy Kream for "national donut day" and also got coffee for some; a strawberry-creme for Anna, the non-coffee drinker.

Fun in formals!

We all ended up buying at least one thing, though. :) Anna couldn't resist this dress; more expensive than any she usually buys, but it was a great sale, and her favorite colors!

Miriam didn't get this dress, but we really liked the style! She did end up buying a dress at Ross, but we neglected to get pictures of it.

We spent nearly 4 hours having fun with clothes; it was fun being out with good girlfriends for the day!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Day 17 - JoAnn's Iris Garden

Thursday, June 3rd:

We wore the matching skirts Anna had made for a dance production.

A kind lady took this picture for us. Otherwise, we're getting pretty good at timed pictures. =)

Flowers and fun poses.

Having some fun with different angles.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Day 15 - Kathryn Albertson Park

After sharing nachos for lunch, watching a movie, and getting shakes from Sonic (buy 1 get 1 free!), we went for a walk in a park downtown Boise.

It was so beautiful!

We had fun trying to get timed pictures to turn out right of the four of us. =)

It continues to be a wonderful time with the four of us together! It is a true blessing to have this opportunity.