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Friday, March 31, 2017

Fun Post: March Favorites

Hello, everyone!
Sorry I've been a bit uncharacteristically quiet in the blogging world lately! :) I may be even more silent in April, just as a warning. ;P I have a ton of fun stuff coming up! Here are some of the things I've been enjoying this month!

Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. This is a reread for me (perhaps I should say a re-re-re-re-reread? :P) I think I have read it around 6 or 7 times since I discovered it a couple years ago. It's that good of a book. While I definitely don't agree with all of Rivers' doctrine, for the most part this is an extremely gripping and beautiful read, with a really sweet message. It focuses a lot on more mature issues such as abortion vs. pro-life, etc., so I would recommend it for older readers (13+). 

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. I would say caution with this book. It is a heartbreaking account of one girl's journey through being taken from her homeland into slavery, and eventual escape to freedom. While it was an interesting read, it has some mature content, and I was saddened by the author's obvious non-Christian viewpoint. I wish that someone with a godly worldview could write a similar story through the lenses of God's Word. :( Wouldn't recommend this one.

Thankful for...
My dad's very successful and spiritually profitable trip to Jamaica for a week!! He and the other men that went with him were able to witness to hundreds, made some very good contacts, encouraged and taught the local pastors, and saw at least 1 soul saved! Others are still being worked with, so please pray about that! We are so thankful for our opportunity to reach Jamaica through our ministry to the workers in the orchards here. For 5 seasons, we have held services and Bible Classes with these men, and finally Papa and Bro. Chris were able to visit!! And the timing couldn't have been more perfect...God had been working for years to orchestrate the details of this trip perfectly. So amazing how He works! 

Enjoying my first...
Ice skating experience! Would you believe that I am getting on towards 21 years old and had never gone ice skating before this past month? ;P Since I used to rollerblade a lot (before I broke my ankle), the motion was easy for me to grasp quickly. I only fell twice or maybe three times, and none were serious, just a temporary loss of balance. ;) A quick gravity check, so to speak. Anyway, I would definitely go again! I am not anything like graceful or adept at it, but I did really enjoy the movement and the smoothness of the ice. Super cool to try a new adventure! :)

Returning to...
My mountain for the first time this season!!!! This past week the snow was finally melted enough that my mom and I were able to climb Saddlerock again. I have missed doing that so much during the winter! The feeling of reaching the peak again is so energizing. And the cool thing about climbing? You get all the hard work over with at the beginning. ;P It's all downhill after that! (literally.) :D

Looking forward to...
Vacation, as I mentioned in last month's favorites. We are leaving in 2 days, and I am sooo excited for the time of recharging. :) Right after we get back, my dad's 3 siblings and his mom are coming for a week's visit! His brother and sisters have not been out to the West Coast since my parents' wedding almost 22 years ago. So's high time for a visit. ;P We are very happy about the fact that we can spend some time with them. Cue the late night Shoot games! ;D (If you don't know what Shoot is, you obviously have never hung out with my family for more than about 30 minutes. Haha! It's a game played with Rook cards that we are pretty crazy about. :)

My spring wardrobe. I'm pushing the season a bit, as Spring is still very much in it's trying-to-get-there stages. I've spent a couple Sundays at church shivering and cursing my outfit choices. But hey, that's part of every season change, right?? ;P You pull out the scarves and boots on the first 55 degree day of autumn, and dump them on the first 55 degree day of "spring". At least I do. ;) 

"Planet Earth II". Oh my WORD you guys!!!!! This is a documentary type movie made by BBC, and it is absolutely....indescribable. Seriously, I don't even know where to start on how astounding this is. The filming, the music, the narration; everything about it is absolutely spectacular. There are so many creatures and plants that I've never even heard of, and they are brought up close and personal in the most sharp, clear, stunning videography I've ever seen. While there is a small amount of evolution/climate change garbage, it really is pretty minimal. Don't let the word "documentary" scare you away...this is a must-watch. It will make your jaw drop at the wonder of God's creation! I have watched the first three episodes so far, and can't wait to finish it. If you live in my area, you can get it from the should totally check it out! :)

Loving the little things...
Such as naps. They are so awesome for powering back up after a long morning. I find that 26 minutes (also known as a NASA nap ;) is perfect for me to wake up rested. Also loving a new clay mug I got for 99 cents at Goodwill, lovely for drinking Aeropress and warming my hands on. Sparkling Lemon Bai drinks. Flowered lace black flats. My bluetooth speaker that I can listen to in the shower. Taking pictures with little Miriam. Texting ridiculous pictures to certain friends of mine. Pictures such as me drowning my sorrows in a can of whipped cream, or making a face like one of the Whoville city council members on Horton Hears a Who. Hahaha! Nothing too crazy, you know, just very me. ;P 

Well, that's a wrap for this month, folks! What have you been loving about the month of March? I hope April is even better! :) Have an amazing week!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Touch of Faith

Mark 5:24-34 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

Twelve Years. Twelve years she had suffered this sickness, this plague that drained her strength, resources, and courage. The doctors had tried everything. Treatments of the era included horrible potions with anything from fly dung to human remains in them, as well as 'cures' such as breathing sulfur and pitch smoke for long periods of time. Whether or not this woman tried these things, we don't know--however, she had "suffered many things of many physicians". So whatever cures she had tried were painful and difficult. And expensive. She had literally impoverished herself in hopes of relief...and still she continued to grow worse. Without money, nothing more could be done. 

In Leviticus the Bible talks about how a woman with this type of ailment was to be handled--it was very similar to a leper. Not only was she herself unclean, but anyone who touched her was as well. Even more specifically, if she touched something, no one else could touch that thing without becoming ritually unclean. If she had a house at all, no one would dare to enter it. When she went out, she would be shunned and avoided religiously. If she accidentally defiled someone or something, there would be angry and hurtful words, I'm sure. 

For twelve years she was alone with her pain. Friends and family had long ago moved on with their lives without her. She had no property or savings to at least buy what comfort she could...she had spent everything. Despair had closed in around her.

And then she heard of Jesus.

Maybe some neighbors were talking outside her door one day. Maybe she was carefully slipping through the marketplace and overheard a snatch of conversation. Perhaps, (and I like to imagine that this was the case), some remaining friend remembered her pain and misery, and risked taking a trip to her house to tell her! Whatever the case, she heard of this prophet, this man who many said was the very Son of God--the promised Messiah. And even though she had suffered so much at the hands of the doctors, and given up hope that they could help her, somehow she knew that this was different. Hope flooded her heart--and not just hope, but certainty. She believed with all her heart that Jesus could heal her! Perhaps she knew the prophecies of the Scriptures, and the stories of Jesus confirmed in her heart the belief that He truly was the Messiah. He was her only hope!

She set out to find Jesus. It wasn't hard to do, as half the surrounding country was pressing in on Him from all directions. Can you imagine how much faith it took for her to enter that crowd? For twelve years, she had avoided all human contact...and she was going to step into a throng of humanity and push through it in order to get to Christ. If there were any in the crowd who knew her, they may have even shouted or thrown stones at her. She was so determined, that none of it mattered--she HAD to snatch this one chance given to her! When she finally reached Him, she had no thought of speaking to Him. Why would the Son of God want to talk to an unclean woman like her? She simply wanted to touch the very edge of His clothes; and in her heart, she knew that would be enough. That He was able to heal her with one touch. 

Her world stood still for a moment. The shouts and cries of the people around her became a muted rumble. She could see his mantle ahead, and her hand as she reached as far as she could through the teeming bodies around her. With the tips of her fingers, she brushed the fabric's edge. And in that instant, her life was irrevocably changed. The throbbing pain had filled her body for so long that she couldn't remember what it was to be free of it...and suddenly she was. It vanished in a single moment. Her heart suddenly felt light and free, and bursting with joy and relief--the plague was gone!

And then through the crowd she heard His voice. Somehow she knew that it was Jesus, and He was speaking to her. The thought of going to Him in front of this crowd and telling Him what she had done made her heart thump and her mouth go dry. Had she stolen her healing? Would He take it away? Trembling, she weakly made her way to the break in the crowd where He stood. Falling to her knees before Him, the words poured out. All the hurt and fear, brokenness and heartbreak, that had been bottled up for years. And Jesus understood. With one word, He pronounced His immeasurable love and grace to her. Daughter. She looked into His eyes, and the ancient wisdom and love she saw there forever changed her. "Go in peace," He said, and she felt as if nothing but peace could ever enter her heart again! Through faith in the Messiah, she was not only set free from the physical pain that had darkened her life, but Oh, so much more--she was eternally redeemed. The light of Christ's perfect compassion had reached even her...a poor, lowly, and unclean woman. 

I want to draw a parallel with this story. Before coming to Christ, are we not all like this woman? Sick with sin and guilt, unclean in the eyes of God, destined for an eternity of suffering. We have nothing. We try so many things for relief: entertainment, sensual pleasure, wealth, friends...and yet none of it can fix our core problem of sin. In fact, we only grow worse and worse, sinking deeper and deeper. The way of the transgressor is hard; even though we might pretend to have perfect lives, (even deceiving our own selves many times), there is an utter emptiness deep within that never goes away. 

And then, somehow, we hear of One called Jesus. Maybe we've heard the story hundreds of times, and it suddenly hits us. Maybe it's the first time we've ever been told. But in that moment, we have a decision to make that will forever change us. Do we reach out in faith for the hem of Christ's garment, knowing we have no power to heal ourselves? Or do we turn away, putting it off for another day--even though that day very well may never come? If we choose to trust Christ, all it takes is one simple act of crying out to Him. He asks for nothing in return. In fact, if we try to offer payment, it simply shows that we still don't understand His grace. There were many others in the crowd that touched Jesus that day. Just look at the disciples' response to His question, "Who touched me?". What was different about this woman's touch? It was a touch of faith. A touch of desperation. She knew that if Christ couldn't save her, no one else could. And in His infinite mercy, He DID save her!! And He can save us as well. 

I find it fascinating that in the entire New Testament, this is the only time when Jesus Christ bestows the term "Daughter" on a specific person. Look it up, and see if you can find another instance...I couldn't. This fact is so precious to me. The term "daughter" speaks volumes of the love and compassion that He had for her. I believe there must have been a specific reason that He said that to her. After so many years of being rejected, He was showing her that her faith was accepted before God. She was adopted into His family. She was loved. I am loved. You are loved.  

If you are reading this and have never come to Christ for salvation, I want to plead with you to let go of whatever is holding you back and come to Him. The Bible says that whoever comes to Him, He will in NO WISE (never ever!) cast out. He is waiting for you to reach out to Him in faith. He wants to save you. Please, don't keep looking for healing in other places. Come to the One who is able to save to the uttermost. One act of faith is all it takes. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

10 years ago...

Psalm 40:2-3 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Today is a very special day for me. 10 years ago on March 14, 2007, my life changed. And I don't mean just a little entire world was overturned and put back together again. It was the day that I let go of all my stupid, selfish pride, and asked God to save my soul. And He did!!! You can read the whole story in more detail here. Today I would like to take a moment to thank The Lord for all the incredible things He has done in my life since that day. 

  • He gave me an eternal home in Heaven. It is 100% assured to me that when I die, there is a place for me in His Kingdom. (1 John 5:13) What a promise! 
  • He made me His child. (Gal. 4:5) Even if I lost everything and everyone that is dear to me tomorrow, I would never be alone. I have a Father in heaven that loves me more than anyone on this earth ever could!
  • He has continually grown me since that day in 2007. Though I am so, so far from perfect, and I still make mistakes day after day...I can look back over the path of these 10 years and see how each and every trial and triumph has worked out for His glory in my life. I would not be who I am today without those things that He has brought me through!
  • He has never forsaken me. Though there have been times that He has seemed far away due to my own sin and foolish choices, He has never left me. He is always there to pick me up when I fall, to forgive my sin, to guide me when I face tough decisions, and to chasten me when I stray from Him. 
  • He has showered me with SO many material blessings. From my family to a warm house to live in, to clothes on my back, a church home, money in my bank account, and food on my table...He has blessed me much more than I could ever deserve!!!
I don't know where I would be if I hadn't made the choice to follow Christ starting 10 years ago. I frankly don't even like to think about it--life without God's saving grace would not be a life at all! My entire outlook on everything; finances, friends, relationships...everything is seen through different glasses. I am no longer a ship without an anchor. I am under the hand of the Captain who spoke the wind and seas into existence. I'm not wandering lost in the wilderness; I am safe in the fold of The Great Shepherd. I'm no longer fighting on the losing side, in bondage to sin. I joined the army of the King of Kings, who gave His own life to set me free. I have a new name, a new family, a new song of praise to Him. I am a new creature. So while today marks an anniversary, I don't ever want to stop praising my God for His love for me, any day of the year. I want to keep growing in my love and service to Him so that whether I live another 10 years or another 100 years, I can stand before The Lord and hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!"

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fun Post: February Favorites

Happy March, everyone!
This year is flying by already. Funny story about the month of little brother Kebron was talking a while back about how his friend Elliot's birthday is in "stomp". It took us forever to figure out that stomp and march had blended in his then-5-year-old mind to mean the same thing. January, February, Stomp, April...sounds right! ;P Anyway, here are some February favorites! I've been:

Pearl in the Sand, by Tessa Afshar. This is obviously a re-read for me, it's one of my favorite books. ;) I think this is my 3rd time reading it since a couple years ago when I first discovered it. 

The Silent Songbird, by Melanie Dickerson. I wouldn't really recommend this one...I don't know. While not being bad per se, it was quite a shallow/unprofitable book. This has been my impression of Melanie Dickerson across the board pretty much, unfortunately. :/ I read one or two of her books in the past, and kind of forgot what my overall thoughts were, so I had hoped this one was better...meh. Not really. Interesting, but a fluff read, if you know what I mean. ;)

My racquetball skills. I mentioned in last month's favorites post that I had been playing a lot; still doing that. I am slowly, slowly seeing improvement, which is encouraging. Sort of. ;P It's still not happening quite as fast as I would like it to, but I'm trying. :'D I'm really hooked on the game. :)

My friend Jenny in Stehekin! It was super fun to finally be able to take the trek up there. It is only available by plane or a two hour boat ride, part of the reason I didn't go sooner. ;P I had a really good time exploring and hiking around with Jenny, as well as postholing. :D In case you don't know what that means, (I didn't till I went), it's when there is a ton of snow (there's over 5 feet in Stehekin still right now), and there is a crust on top. You can walk on top of the crust, sometimes. When it breaks and you sink in up to your hip, that's postholing. Haha!! It's quite...interesting. You can see some pictures of the area here. It's SOOO gorgeous!!

Looking forward to...
Our family vacation to Sunriver, Oregon in April. It's going to be incredibly fun and special. (I know because this is our 5th or 6th time going since my childhood and it always is. ;) The only bummer is that my next brother down, Micah, can't come because of work. :'(

Thankful for...
Our "new" family car!! It's a 1999 actually, but it's new to us. ;) And because it's Mercedes-Benz, it has TONS of really cool features that lots of newer cars don't even have! It was such a blessing the way God worked it out for us to get it. We had been praying about getting a vehicle for many months, and it finally worked out perfectly! God is good. <3 Also thanking Him for tax returns, Godly friends, adventures and late night talks, and homemade ice cream with from-scratch hot fudge sauce. Yum. :D

Sense and Sensibility. So so sweet. :)

Spring in the air!! For the first time in 3 solid months, we actually are seeing bare ground instead of white. I really enjoy the snow, but once it gets all gray and filthy from passing cars, hard and icy, does get a little bit less appealing. ;) So I'm not protesting the approach of warmer weather. I can't wait to start climbing my mountain again!! Saddlerock is calling me... :)

What are some of your favorites from this month?? Any special plans for spring break? Have a great week, everyone! :) Love,