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Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Love Story Long Awaited

Hello, all!
The story I'm about to tell has been much requested, and there are many of you I've never given the detailed version to, so brace yourselves. ;) In my last post, I mentioned a special young man that had entered my life. His name is Luke, and this is the story of how we met. :)

In order to tell that, I have to back up around 4 years, to 2013. That year, my parents took a trip out to Missouri for a conference. While there, my mom met a young lady named Bethany, and they totally hit it off. My mom has 8 kids, and doesn't normally keep in close touch with people, because life is just crazy...but for some reason, (which I can now see was God's hand :), she and Beth kept in contact pretty regularly over the next 3 years. I always enjoyed hearing about her family and how things were going, but never really talked with Bethany myself. 

In our hectic and long drawn out shuffle of moving from Omak to Wenatchee, they lost touch for over a year. Fast forward to August of last year (2017). One evening, my mom was on the Bible app, and it "randomly" popped up with a name--Bethany is on this app, would you like to connect with her? My mom promptly emailed her and did some catching up. 

She remembered that Bethany had a brother, and asked right out if he was still single. ;P Subtle, mom. Thanks. ;D Anyway, Bethany informed her that he was, and of all things, my DAD totally jumped on the wagon and started immediately trying to initiate us getting to know each other better! Both Luke and I were completely uninterested at this point. We had both only recently come to the point of being completely and fully surrendered to being single, for the rest of our lives if that's what God's will was! And now, all of a sudden, we were supposed to start getting to know this perfect stranger?! Literally all I knew about Luke at this stage of the game was his name. That's IT. But, we both agreed to pray about it for two weeks. At the end of that time, it didn't seem like there was a neon YES in the sky, but there also weren't any red flags. Reluctantly, we started emailing.

We did a few "hello, my name is" type emails, but after that it felt so awkward, at least for me. I didn't know where to go from there. Luke's dad suggested that we could write actual paper letters, which I was very much in favor of. For some reason, it's a lot easier for me to express myself with a pen and paper than in an email. 

After about 3 letters, my interest level had spiked by approximately 100%. ;P I wanted him to visit. Very much so. ;) I'll never forget getting the email from my dad while I was at work that Luke was actually going to come!! On December 29, 2017, my dad went and picked him up from the airport, and we met for the first time at my workplace. Over the next few days, I pretty much lost my heart to him. ;) I didn't mean for it to happen, but it just did! I felt completely at home and comfortable around him almost immediately, which is not a typical thing, even for mostly extroverted me. We had the time of our lives.

Luke and my dad left on the same day...Luke to go back home, and my dad to fly down to Jamaica for a week to teach some classes. That was honestly one of the longest weeks of my life. ;) A few days after my dad got home though, Luke made it official, and our relationship really began! :)

We talked via Marco Polo pretty exclusively at first. After a while, we started using FaceTime as well, and although they aren't NEARLY as nice as talking in person, I am incredibly grateful for technology like this that allowed us to get to know each other!

I realize I'm rambling here...I'll speed things up. In April, my entire family took a three week trip, driving down to MO for the missions conference at Luke's church. Yet again, I had an absolutely amazing time, and was more sure than ever that I really, REALLY liked this guy. ;) 

A month later, at the beginning of May, Luke flew out for 4 days and surprised me. It was the most awesome surprise I couldn't believe he'd pulled it off!! Obviously, lots of help was involved from family on both sides in order to keep it a secret. ;) Saying goodbye at the airport at the end of that visit was one of the hardest things I have ever done. 

And then, I booked a ticket to fly out there on July 4, only a month ago. I got in on a Wednesday afternoon, and on Friday, Luke and I went to a place called Hahatonka State Park with his mom and one of his sisters. All day, we wandered around the beautiful trails and hills, just enjoying the day (though it was pretty hot ;P).

Eventually, we made our way down to a beautiful spot down by the water. I took my shoes off and waded a bit, and when I came back up on the bank, Luke suggested we take a picture. We stood together and his mom started videoing, unbeknownst to me. ;) Before I knew it, Luke was down on one knee, asking me if I would be his wife. I was SO utterly overwhelmed and overjoyed!!! When I got my breath back, I said YES! (I actually said it 5 or 6 times, I think. ;) He put the most lovely ring I'd ever seen on my finger, and I haven't really left Cloud 9 since. 

For the first time in my life, I was quite literally speechless. For about 45 minutes, all I could do was grin from ear to ear, with absolutely nothing coherent to say. ;P A while later, as we sat together at the place where he'd proposed, he turned to me and said, "Well? Are we going to jump in?" Ha. Are we going to jump in, indeed. You all know me, adventure calls, I answer. ;D We went up the trail a little ways to an outcropping that hung over some of the bluest (and I soon found out, some of the coldest) water I'd ever seen. On the count of three, we jumped, and it turned out it was deeper than either of us expected...and WOW it was so cold! :D It was the most awesome spontaneous memory, though, I am SO glad we did it. It just made the day that much more spectacular. :) 

The next few days were some of the happiest in my life. I don't know why, but I didn't realize how much our relationship would shift after we were officially engaged. I always kind of assumed it would be pretty much the same as it was before (which was awesome). Not so. For one thing, we had waited until after we were engaged to exchange those incredibly amazing words, "I love you". I had thought those words about a billion times. ;) Being able to finally say them freely was the most wonderful thing EVER. :D I think I've said them approximately innumerable times since. ;) 

The wedding is set for October 12, just over 90 days from when he first asked me! :) We have a wedding website that you can find at this link. We were able to meet up with my sweet friend Kimberly before I left Missouri, and she took some lovely engagement pictures for us. :)

I can't even begin to express how grateful I am that God has blessed me with this relationship. Luke is so much more amazing than I ever could have imagined. Without getting too mushy, (haha! ;) I will say that he has loved me infinitely more than I ever thought anyone but The Lord could or would love me! He is incredibly strong, loyal, encouraging, hilarious, and downright crazy handsome. ;) Over this relationship, he has become my best friend, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with him! <3 

May I offer the encouragement that the right man is so completely worth waiting for. If you are wondering why God is taking so long to bring someone into your life, please take seems long (believe me, I know!), but it is SO worthwhile! :) Keep up the good work in the meantime, you won't regret it!

Without further ado, I am giving the "floor" to Luke, who will close out this rather lengthy post. ;) Thanks for sticking it through! :D


Well, this seems like a bad start to happily ever after - we aren't even married yet and she's already telling me, "You're on the floor."  ;P  But to the topic at hand: I'm no author, but I'll attempt to give the flip-side of the story Mykaela just told by giving a glimpse of things from my perspective.  I'll start from the point where Mrs. McDowell reestablished communication with my sister.  The first time I can remember ever hearing anything about Mykaela went something like this...

Beth (my sister): "Hey Luke, do you remember Mrs. McDowell, the missionary wife I used to email?"

Me: "Yeah, I think so..."

Beth: "Well, we started talking again on the Bible app, and she just asked me if you were still single."

Me: (cringes) "Oh. Great."

Yup.  That's about how it went.  But before you judge me too harshly, let me give some context to the situation.  1)  I was 24 at the time,  2) I was not married,  3) I had a number of friends who had been... shall we say, "zealously concerned" about eliminating point number 2 for a few years by then.  You get the idea.  In short, I was NOT particularly excited about what this development might imply.  Like MK said, I had fairly recently reached the point in my walk with God where I was perfectly happy to stay single for the rest of my life if He so desired (yes, it took me awhile to get there, unfortunately), and I didn't want to lose the simple peace that I had by getting caught up in the possibility of a relationship.  Honestly, I just wanted to ignore the entire thing.  The next day, her dad called.

Over the next few weeks, I prayed quite a lot, did a fair amount of internet stalking (how else was I supposed to find anything out about a girl who lived 2,000 miles away?), and Mykaela and I exchanged several emails and letters.  Eventually, though I was still hesitant to begin a relationship, I came to the belief that God was telling me that I needed to go up to WA for a visit.  So off I went, hesitant, but cautiously hopeful as well.

It didn't take long for me to realize just how awesome this girl was.  By the end of the visit, I was smitten.  After a couple of weeks spent in prayer, I was confident that a relationship was part of God's will.  I'll never forget making the call to Bro. McDowell to officially start things off!  I was grinning ear to ear!

In interest of keeping this as short as I can, I'll skip ahead to July 6th.  I WAS SO NERVOUS!!!  I mean, I was pretty sure she would say, "Yes," but there was still a little voice in my head saying, "What if she doesn't?"  But she did! :D  Best.  Day.  Ever!  (Shortly to be superseded by October 12th)  ;)  There are no words to describe a blessing like Mykaela.  I do NOT deserve the attention, much less love, of this amazing girl!  (No, MK, you can't delete that because it is true - you said I could write whatever I wanted).  God has been so good!  And let me reiterate what Mykaela said earlier: wait on God.  It will be worth it - far more than you can possibly imagine!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Hi Everyone!
Today is a day off work for me, and I decided what better time to write a post for my blog readers that have probably kind of forgotten about my existence? :D Today's post is based on my notes from a few weeks ago...I have recently been filling in teaching Children's Bible Study (Sunday School) at my church. We have about 10 kids on average, all children of the church members, so the majority of the older ones are saved and can listen on a functional level. The little ones, not quite so much. ;) Having a mixed age class has been a bit of a challenge, but it's really fun to try to teach deeper concepts for the older ones, but using language that the littles can understand. :) 

I am teaching the class along with another lady, and we've been going through Phillipians 4:8 and the things we should be focusing and dwelling on throughout the day. Each 'whatsoever'...true, honest, just, pure, etc. has been our "word of the week" and the central point of that week's lesson.

It was my turn to teach, and I got the word focus "Praiseworthy". (...and if there be any praise, think on these things.) By definition, it means deserving of approval or admiration, exemplary, or commendable. As I studied this word, one person in the Bible stuck out to me the most as being a praiseworthy person, and that was Joseph. He lived up to this character trait in so many ways! Here are a few thoughts I had in relation to Joseph's life.

1. He had an Obedient Spirit.
Genesis 37:13, "And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I."

Joseph was faithful to obey his father without murmuring or dispute. Even though he and his older brothers had a pretty poor relationship, and they made no secret of their disdain for him, he didn't drag his feet and balk against his father's request. He may not have felt like doing the task, but he did it with a willing spirit, as indicated by his response of "Here am I."

2. He had a faithful Servant's Heart.
Genesis 39:1-6 "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured."

Joseph was sold into bondage by his own brothers. These were his immediate family! Of all the people in his life, he should have been able to trust them, but no...they sold him. How much hurt must he have had to overcome in God's strength! It is clear, however, that Joseph did not become bitter and hardened by this massive trial in his life. He didn't have a "poor me, my brothers are such jerks, my life is horrible" attitude. Instead, he served humbly and faithfully in the house of the man he was sold to. This reminds me of the little girl in the story of Naaman. Instead of doing as little as possible and rebelling under these hard circumstances, Joseph and the little girl both served their masters to the best of their abilities. This passage says that God specifically had His hand of blessing on Joseph. God does not specially bless people who are not walking in His will. Obviously, Joseph must have been walking with The Lord with all his heart and striving to please Him. Because of this, God even blessed Joseph's unsaved master! How interesting to note that when our lives are aligned with God's Word and we are walking by His side, He can not only bless us greatly, but those around us as well! Sometimes, our testimony can even be used of God to bring others to salvation. It is both exciting and sobering to come to the realization of how much our actions and spiritual walk can affect the people we are in contact with.

3. He resisted temptation and sin with all his might.
Genesis 39:9-10 "There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her."

Joseph was 100% determined and purposed that his life would stay pure and holy in the sight of God. Even when temptation quite literally came knocking at his door, day after day after day, he refused to be worn down by it. He didn't weaken and begin to compromise as some would have easily been tempted to do, but instead grew even firmer in his refusal to sin. Even to the point of physically removing himself from the situation with all haste, he was willing to go to great lengths to protect his heart, soul, and body from evil. How vehement are we in fighting against the daily temptations we face? Personally, I know there are areas in my life that I have weakened on over time, simply due to the continual nature of the temptation. It is so easy to become complacent or uncaring about certain sins because I see them so. much. And yet, that's when it becomes even more important to fight against them! How will others be affected by my testimony if I become complacent about wrong? 

4. He truly cared for others above himself.
Genesis 40:6-7 "And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?"

We know the story; Joseph was falsely accused by the evil woman who had tried and failed to seduce him, and was now rotting in prison for an indefinite amount of time. At this point, I think most of us would have thrown in the towel, so to speak! What possible purpose could God have in the seemingly endless string of injustices he was having to endure? And yet, even now, in the darkest time of all, Joseph's attitude and integrity were such that he was placed in a position of authority within the prison. God had not forgotten him, but was setting the stage for great and mighty things. We can see that now, reading these passages from Genesis, but Joseph was in the middle of it. He didn't know the end result, or what God was doing, and yet he still remained submitted to whatever God's will was. 

He performed his duties in the prison well, and we can see from this passage that he truly cared about those under his jurisdiction. He could have done the bare minimum, delivering food to the prisoners and whatever else he was called on to do, speaking as little as possible. Instead, he chose to engage and show compassion on these men when he saw that they were distressed about something. He empathized with them, and sought out whether or not he could help in any way. This is such an amazing display of a Christlike attitude! This is part of the reason I love this story so much...Joseph's life is such a strong example to me! How often do I rush through my duties and the demands of life without taking the time or effort involved to truly care about others? I can see them, but do I actually see them? Do I look at them through Christ's eyes, searching out the hurt and showing compassion? 

5. He was humble and gave glory to God for his gifts.
Genesis 41:15-16 "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."

By this time, two years later, the butler had finally remembered him, and Joseph had been brought before Pharaoh to interpret a dream. This is a fairly impressive gift to have...obviously there was no one else in the kingdom able to do the task. Joseph could have become self focused and puffed up with pride over this God-given ability, but instead, he deflected the glory and honor back to The One who had bestowed it. His heart was humble and focused on the right thing--The Lord and his walk with Him.

6. He held no bitterness, and forgave freely.
Genesis 50:19-20 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Even after all the evil they had done to him, Joseph didn't hold a grudge against his brothers. He didn't seek revenge, though as the second most powerful man in the world at that time, he could have done so with a snap of his fingers. His kindness and grace to them was evident to all involved. He fully lived up to the verse that commands us to love our enemies! His view of all that had occurred was not skewed by his personal feelings or emotions...he acknowledged the fact that every circumstance in his life was orchestrated by the mighty hand of God, for a very special purpose. 

In all of these areas and more, Joseph's actions, words, and attitudes were praiseworthy and righteous. How praiseworthy are my day to day actions and interactions? Referring back to Phillipians 4:8, God's Word tells us that we should be dwelling on the things that are praiseworthy. There's another thought. Do I look for the good in what others are doing and focus on that? Or am I picking apart their lives, thinking and speaking about the bad, not seeing the beam in my own eye, so to speak? May I grow daily more and more like Christ in my own life, and look for the praiseworthy in the lives of others!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fun Post: A Day in the Life Tag

I am alive. I shall not attempt to apologize for my absence of nearly fifty-six days. In the time since I posted last, a lot has happened, including but not limited to, an absolutely incredible three week road trip out to Missouri with my entire family (minus one), a new job completely different than anything I've done before (in foodservice, no less ;P), and, most importantly to me at least, the continuance of a very special relationship. ;) Yes, as some of you may not be aware of, I am courting. And it's amazing. ;) But I shall valiantly refrain from going on about it, because once I start I don't know if I could stop, which I'm sure no one would enjoy too much. ;D Haha! I will simply say that God's leading and direction in this has been precious to see, and I am so excited to see how He continues to work! And also that Luke is an incredible guy. :)

Today I'm going to do a post I was tagged for by Grace over at Grace Notes! She tagged me forever ago, and I took the pictures for this post fairly soon after she did so, but never took the time to sit down and get them all together. :) The idea is to take 10 pictures of a normal day. Since my work is not full time, all of these things don't happen every day, but these are the activities I typically spend time at. :) Hope you enjoy! 

If I'm going to be at home for a while before work, or if I have the day off, I will start the day with coffee in one of my many, many favorite mugs. ;P For me, coffee is not fuel that I guzzle, (since caffeine doesn't do much for me energy wise). It's more of a treat that I enjoy sipping on. Also I'm really picky about it. ;P I pretty much only drink espresso type drinks. Strong, sweet and creamy. ;) 

Hand lettering is definitely a huge part of my everyday life. I started lettering around 3 years ago, but kind of fell out of it for a while. Now I'm more into it than ever, and spend much of my free time doing that. It's so relaxing and satisfying, somehow! :)

I work at Costco for the sample company, CDS. I enjoy a lot of aspects of the job, though it does have its downsides, for sure. One thing I enjoy is being able to answer people's questions about where things are located (which I'm not technically required to know, since I don't work FOR Costco, just AT Costco.) Still, it's fun to me to try to memorize where everything is so I can answer questions. ;) Also, I've grown a lot better at cooking very quickly and in a small space. Sometimes now in my own kitchen I find myself using like a 3 foot square of countertop to cook on. ;D One other fun thing about the job is people watching. You wouldn't believe the types of things you notice when you are yourself a fairly unobserved and unnoticed person standing off to the side. ;)

This is an odd pic, I know, but I spend a pretty decent percentage of my free time each day on either this app or Facetime. ;) No particular reason. Not like I'm talking to anyone special or anything. Ahem. ;)

It's a rare day indeed when I don't spend at least some time playing piano. Music is so special to me and one of my favorite things to invest time in. :)

Hanging out with my crazy family is also special to me. Being the oldest of 8 kids comes with its own fun adventures and challenges. It's awesome though. ;) 

In case you needed a demonstration of the last statement I made, here is a picture of Kourage giving Miriam a "ride". Also known as dragging her around the house as she latches onto his ankle. Not weird at all. ;)

Cooking for a large family is also its own type of interesting. We have one recipe that we make on a regular basis that has 18 eggs in it. Another one takes nearly 12 cups of flour total. Yeah, we go through a lot of baking ingredients. Heh.

I enjoy taking pictures with my phone, and usually end up taking at least a couple of them every day. I'm certainly not anything like a professional photographer, but I like playing around with it. :) Editing is fun, too. I usually do that with two different apps: Afterlight 2 (It costs around $3...totally worth it), and Snapseed. (Free!) 

This playlist on Spotify is one that I fall asleep to every night. I typically don't go to bed until well after midnight, unfortunately. ;P I'm at my most creative at night, for that's when I do a lot of my hand lettering, writing, and other creative endeavors.

Well, there you have it! 10 photos of some of my most common activities. :) I would like to tag Sarah over at Dreams in Alaska. Sorry, I'm supposed to tag more people, but I don't follow that many blogs! :'D If you would like to do this, consider yourself officially tagged. ;) I hope you guys enjoyed this glimpse into my life! I hope to be more faithful in posting things on here, but I know better than to promise anything. Life happens. :) Thank you all for your understanding!! (Looking at you, Jenny! ;) Hope you all have a lovely week.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Cry for Growth

Prone to wander and to stray,
Prone to slowly drift away.
Though my heart so longs to be
Nearer, Oh, my God, to Thee.
So foolish and unwise am I,
Oh, Saviour, do not pass me by!

Please guide me home
And wash me clean
Of sins that only You have seen.
And though I stumble and fail again,
Please let Your grace to me extend.

Lead me on to higher ground,
For through Your love,
I'm heaven bound.
Please help me now oh, Lord, I pray,
To walk your perfect, narrow way.

And when at last, Your face I see,
May the past hold no regrets for me.
May I give my all,
Surrender to You,
And trust that you will see me through.

I know Your love will hold me fast,
For on You all my cares I'll cast.
I love You, Lord, and though I'm weak,
In You I find the strength I seek.

I praise Your name for all You've done,
For in Your Cross my victory is won.
And when I stand before the Son,
I pray I'll hear, "My child, well done."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hallway Complacency

Psalm 27:11a "Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path..."

Psalm 31:3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.

"Earth to Mykaela, Earth to Mykaela, come in Mykaela."

"Mykaela to Earth, I am alive and have no explanations for my absence. Over and out."


I have not posted a thing on this blog since over a month ago, and I'm feeling a bit bad about that. ;P My humblest apologies to anyone who happens to still be waiting for signs of life from my corner of the universe. ;)

Anyway, today's post is about something that God has been teaching me lately through several different circumstances. 

I'm sure you have heard this popular phrase at least once: "Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway." It's a good thought. However, I could never have guessed that sometimes, the hallway can be pretty nice...and that I would become complacently happy just sitting there. 

Don't get me wrong, this quote is supposed to encourage contentment, which I totally agree with! However, there is a big difference between contentment and complacency. Contentment says, "I will find joy wherever God has me at the moment, and if and when the time comes where He changes those circumstances, I will follow that leading and find joy in the next situation!" Complacency, on the other hand, says, "This is really nice here. I think I'll just settle right in, get myself some lemonade, and put down some roots. God had better not move me from here, because I like this situation just fine!"

Sometimes, it is easy to sink into this attitude, especially if you've been working on and praying for contentment for a long time, and God has finally taught you that difficult lesson. And yet, it is so important to be able to find joy in wherever God is leading you! Sometimes, when He starts opening doors, even to something good, it can be hard to follow and walk through those doors, because new openings mean change. As I discussed in my last post, change is hard for me, as I think it is for many of us ladies! For me, sometimes I'll see a new opportunity for growth and development open up, and even as I KNOW that it would be a good thing, I resist...simply because I'm happy with the hallway. But wouldn't you know it? God usually doesn't let me stay there too long when He is leading me elsewhere. ;) Also, true to His longsuffering kindness to me, that new door is always, always for the better. It leads places I never could have imagined from my little waiting chair in the hall. 

I feel like this post is a little incoherent, but I just want to challenge you today...if God is leading you to pursue new or scary challenges, go for it! You only live one life, the best thing you can do is live it for The Lord! And you never know just how many beautiful, amazing things God will show you through that step of faith. <3

Saturday, January 20, 2018

When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll

Hey everyone!
I hope your new year is going splendidly so far...mine certainly is! :) A few weeks ago, a friend from a church I really love asked if I could write a post for their ladies' newsletter. I was thrilled for the opportunity! If you have time, you should definitely check it out online at Grace and Honor...they have articles for women of all ages and stages of life. I've really enjoyed reading them! I wanted to include the post that I wrote on my blog as well, so here it is. ;)

Do you ever face something in life that looms over your heart like a black cloud? Perhaps it's a tough decision that you desperately need wisdom in. Maybe a time of grief or pain over losing someone you love, or sorrow over family and friends that have turned away from following God. It could be a time of upheaval or change...we ladies sure do love change, right?


For me, change is a struggle. I know that God is at work, and that everything will turn out for His glory if I am following His will. But when I am here and now, in the thick of it, change is hard. Life can be challenging and scary at times. It is not fun to go through trials, to make difficult choices, or to have someone dear to me pass on to be with The Lord.

Sometimes, when facing these looming issues, it's so much easier to be brave and strong during the day. There are things to do, places to go, people to see. It's not hard to keep myself distracted.

And then comes the night. Stillness closes around me, and with it, the difficult thoughts I've managed to push away all through the day. Fear knocks hard at the door, demanding entrance into my mind. After all, just look at how big and scary this thing is! The weariness of the day tugs at me. Tears begin as a dull ache deep inside--yet another obstacle to grapple with. Sleep won't come, not yet. A choice faces me, and I have to decide which path to take.

From all around, my thoughts are crying at me to follow them. "Break down, have a good cry! Overthink this situation! It's natural that you should worry about this, it's a big deal!" Their clamor can almost drown out the still, small voice of The Spirit.

Praise God, in His mercy He pulls me back from the path of my own fearful thoughts! If I make the choice to pause and listen, He brings dear, familiar words back to my mind, words I memorized long ago... "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10) "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Pet. 5:7) The echoes of His voice grow stronger. "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." (Deu. 31:6) "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Is. 41:10)

His precious promises flow over me in a healing flood. The sinful thoughts, full of worry and care, are completely crushed by the weight of God's perfect, eternal love for me. As I seek His face, He is so faithful to bring comfort and peace!

When I can't rise, He lifts me up.

When I am grieving, He comforts me.

When I am afraid, He calms my heart.

When I sin, He convicts and cleanses me.

When I'm confused, He gives me light and wisdom.

When I cry out to Him, He hears me.

When I am overwhelmed, He strengthens me.

When I feel lost, He brings me home.

"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine."

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

His strength, not mine. His robes of righteousness, not mine. His thoughts, His plans, His ways.

Not mine. Never mine.

In His presence is fulness of joy, and the emptiness of grief has no place. In the palm of His hand is perfect peace, and turmoil no longer tears at my heart. In His Word I find the wisdom and strength I need, and confusion disappears. At His throne of grace I am accepted through the blood of His dear Son, and rejection by people here on earth is irrelevant. In His embrace is deepest comfort, and the ache of tears fades away.

His plans for me are just, holy, and right. I don't need to know what the path looks like around the bend, because my Lord is holding my hand and asking me to simply take the next step. As my Shepherd, He knows exactly which steps I need to take as He grows me and draws me nearer to Himself. In the darkness and unknowns, He shows me treasures and reveals His perfect holiness. He goes before me, leading the way.

Tomorrow may hold blue skies or gray, rough roads or easy. That's in His hands.

But tonight, I will take a breath, give this to God, and go to sleep.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2018 Here We Come!

Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Happy New Year!!!
Thank you thank you to all of you awesome people for bearing with me as I went MIA for such long stretches! :D What an amazing year 2017 has been. Looking in the archives on this post, where I looked back on 2016, and this one, where I set new goals for 2017, it is such a blessing to see all the ways God has worked. 

I want to quickly go through my goals from this past year, since a lot of you helped keep me accountable for them! ;) 

1. Learn Something New
Well, I definitely accomplished this one! I switched jobs, from the library (which I'd done for three years and knew well), to a Sew and Vac store, which is extremely different from anything I've ever done before. Every day I am finding new things I'm still ignorant about at work! ;P Also, I picked up watercolor painting as a hobby. I'm still at a super beginner level, but I love doing it! New mediums for hand lettering are always nice. ;)

2. Read through God's Word at least twice.
I sort of did this...I went through the whole Bible in 90 days, and I went through the New Testament at least 3 times, and the Psalms many times. So while I didn't get the whole Bible done twice, I definitely kept busy on it, which is always worthwhile. :)

3. Save money when I can.
I did ok with this one, but the missions trip made a large dent in my savings. ;) Which was absolutely 100% worth every cent, so I have no regrets. 

4. Maintain my weight.  
This stayed pretty consistent through the year, and I kept very active, so yay! :)

5. Pick up a new instrument. 
I didn't get around to this one, sadly. :( I couldn't find the right instrument for the right price. I still want to do this soon!

6. Build up my hope chest as I'm able.
This did not happen at all. :/

7. Pray much more. 
While I have SO far to go in this area, I definitely did grow in prayer this last year, with The Lord's help.

8. Write out my songs. 
This didn't happen either!! :'( Ugh...

9. Witness verbally more.
This went up and down...I did better sometimes, and other times I failed completely. Still working on it!

10. Start each day out with gratitude.
I didn't keep the gratitude jars going, but I kept on doing my daily journal of my favorite part of the day. :) God is so good!

This year I was able to fly across the globe to Fiji and Samoa, meeting so many precious friends through the miles. I also grew older relationships...Abby Geist and I spent the entire three weeks of the trip in each other's company 24/7--and didn't hate each other afterwards. ;D My awesome friend Kimberly left to live in Taiwan for 6 months, meaning that our communication was slowed considerably. :( That turned out with one happy consequence...Janan, a dear friend of Kimberly's that I hadn't gotten very close to yet, was able to talk with me a lot more, since neither of us could chat with K as much as normal! ;P As a result, our friendship grew greatly, and I am so very blessed by her. :) I was able to go to Jenny's graduation, which was awesome, as well as spend a day with her family at a lovely cabin in the woods, just before Christmas! I am deeply grateful to God for all of my sweet friends, too numerous to mention here, who love me for my weird crazy self, and don't judge me TOO harshly. ;D

Like I said above, I swapped jobs, which was a bit of a scary decision. I don't sew, and all I know about vacuums is that they suck. (Sorry, bad pun there. ;) However, I have some awesome coworkers who are so gracious to put up with me and teach me all the things I am confused on. Which is a lot. I'm enjoying learning a new line of work, though. :)

One exciting thing that has happened this year is that we have set up a plan for teaching a Bible institute in Jamaica! My dad is heading down there today, actually, and every other month someone from Bible Baptist will be heading down for a week to teach another seminar. We are thrilled that God has opened this opportunity! Jamaica is steeped in doctrinal confusion, and the churches there are in desperate need of good Biblical training. Please pray for these efforts!

My goals for the upcoming year overlap a bit with last year's goals, so I won't expound too much on them, but simply list them out as I wrote them on a slip of paper in the early morning on New Year's Day. :)

  • Read God's Word at least 3 times.
  • Memorize 12 chapters of Scripture-one per month, perhaps?
  • Be very careful about saving money.
  • Pray for at least 30 minutes per day, growing that throughout the year. If I don't set specific goals on this, it tends to slip, sadly. :'(
  • Write for at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Learn a new skill (trying again with the instrument idea, but it might end up being a language or something. ;)
  • Spend less time on my phone.
  • Cook on a much more regular basis. I bake ALL the time, but I don't make "actual food" as much as I should. ;P
I am praying that God will grow me throughout this year, prepare me for whatever comes next in my life, and teach me to live to the fullest every day that He gifts me with. Praise The Lord that He gives second (and third and fourth and fiftieth) chances, because I am so flawed! I know I'm going to mess up and miss some of these goals, but God willing I will strive towards them! :) 

What are some of your goals for this year? Do you like setting goals at all? Let me know in the comments, and as always...THANK YOU for taking the time to read my humble little blog!! :) You all mean so much to me. God bless you!