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Posts Tagged ‘thanks’

I’m sitting here in a little coffee shop in downtown Safety Harbor with my boyfriend, looking out the window at the still-lighted trees and watching all the passers-by in the fading twilight hours of a rainy Florida day. I felt inspired to write what I have been thinking about; how two souls, with two very different personalities, can come to be one.

The Bible says in Mark 10, “…at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” While we all know that this passage, in its most basic form, refers to the sexual (and also emotional) union of a husband and wife, I think there is certainly more to it. In our society, where we spend so much time with our significant other before marriage, we become far more connected and “one” with each other before marriage. The time we spend together, talking, praying, attending church, snuggling, kissing, etc. brings us close together and helps us to form a very unique and tight bond, that we will never have with another person. This is one of the reasons why we are told to guard our hearts above all else, because our heart is the wellspring of our life, everything we do is affected by it. (Proverbs 4:23)We must be careful that we don’t become too emotionally attached before we are married to our sweetheart.

While we need to be careful how close we get, I have been realizing how wonderful it is to have that person to connect to, and how wonderful our differences are. My boyfriend and I are very different in many ways; we have differing backgrounds, tastes, preferences, mannerisms, dispositions, and ways of analyzing things. As we go through our lives together I realize that, because of this, life can be twice as beautiful and twice as sweet. I get to see beautiful things and hear wonderful music through two sets of eyes, and two pairs of ears. Things that I may notice and appreciate in a passage from a book or a portion of a sermon may be different from things that my boyfriend notices, and we both benefit from these insights. When we eat together, we try different things that may be unusual to us, and we often share the meals we eat; this makes the world so much more delicious and twice as sweet. We learn new traditions and share our unique cultural heritages–the world is twice as colorful. Through two pairs of eyes, two minds, and two hearts we experience the world together as one, and it is so much more sweet, and beautiful, than it would be alone.

Two souls, two eyes,

One heart, one mind.

Beating, blinking,

Loving, thinking.

Sharing all the earth,

Sorrow and mirth.

Two hearts, four eyes,

One love, one life.

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“for love of You
i’m a sky on fire
for love of You
i come alive
it’s Your Sacred Heart within me beating
Your voice within me singing
(out for love of You)
it’s all for you”

It’s amazing to see what we will do for the love of our most beloved one. A popular country song by Faith Hill says, “I’d go and capture the moon/That’s what I would do/Just to hear you say that you love me.” It a beautiful sentiment, and it touches my heart deeply; there are days when I cannot listen to that song without crying, because I love Justin so much. In every love song there is an echo of God’s love for all of us; every precious promise to always be there, each tear shed for a loved one in pain, and every heartbeat that longs to be near the one it loves. This is how Christ feels about us. How deep the father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would send his only son to make a wretch his treasure. If only we could love Him as much as he loves us.

It’s astonishing to me to see what I do to show my love for my sweetheart, and sometimes it’s things that I do that help me love him, even if he doesn’t see it. I try to maintain a good appearance, and attitude, and do things that will bring joy to him. I have been on a diet and exercising, to lose some weight and be healthier in general. Before I go to see him I make sure that I am wearing something cute, and that my hair and makeup look good; I particularly try to wear things that he has said that he finds attractive, and I avoid wearing things that he dislikes. I always try to keep a positive attitude and be cheerful for him, particularly when he’s down. I try to encourage him daily, telling him the sweet and uplifting things that every man likes to hear their woman say. I pray for him; for his specific needs, for me to be the best girlfriend I can be, and for our relationship to honor God. I study the Bible, and try to develop good womanly skills like cooking, sewing, encouraging, and making my home a welcoming and peaceful place. I also try never to say or think anything that will tear us apart…many women get into the habit of bashing their sweethearts to their friends, in public, or mentally, and then they become bitter and stop treating their husbands/boyfriends right. Justin deserves better than that; all our men do.I thank God for Justin every day, and that in itself is a form of blessing. When I worship and praise the Lord, I also think of Justin, and I praise God for the wonderfulness that He has brought to me in our relationship. 🙂

Justin is a very busy guy, he does a lot with school, work, and the musical he’s working on, in addition to spending time with me. I know that simple things can bring pleasure, so I try to do things like bring him dinner at school (sometimes I get to stay and eat dinner with him), bring snacks when I know he has late night ahead, run errands for him, and sometimes I’ll leave a frosty (his favorite treat) in the fridge at his work so he can find a yummy surprise when he goes in to an overnight shift. When I see him and I know he’s had a long day, I make sure I: let him take a nap, cook dinner for him, give him a massage, talk to him, and let him pick what we do that night (movie, puzzle, video games, etc.). I try to do things in my life that will honor him: not get too close to other guys, do things that will help ME love him more, etc. Communication is very important too; I wish I could have him close to me always, or at least be able to talk to him whenever I wanted (I am very sad when I don’t hear from him all day). Sometimes I leave him letters at school, and messages on facebook, to encourage him and help him through the day. I always try to tell him what’s on my mind, to help me think clearly, and to keep him from having to guess at what I need in the relationship (boys aren’t always good at that. lol.). On those days when I do get to see him I am so excited I can barely contain myself; when we’re finally together I don’t want to let him out of my sight!

If we do all these things for a flawed human being, doesn’t God deserve even more? What if we thought so much about what God was going to see us wearing? Would he see an attractive and modest girl who wants to look her best and protect the eyes of the men around her? Would he see women and men who want to take care of their temple (their body)? What if we desired to be in contact with Him daily; if going a few hours without talking to Him would bring us as much sadness as not talking to our sweetheart does? Maybe we wouldn’t be able to sleep until we said goodnight, or couldn’t make a major decision without talking to Him first. Or perhaps we would change how we talked (and thought) about God and about other people; we would keep a closer watch on our words and keep profanity and perversity from our lips. Would we make everything an offering to him? Our time, our money, our talent? Would we share the things God has given us with others, as we do with our lovers, or would we keep every good thing for ourselves? It would be wonderful if we were always excited to be close to Him, if we would hate to be away from Him. Imagine if we loved God as much as we loved our sweethearts; the world would be a better place. Just a thought on the parallels of love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17b-19

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My boyfriend Justin is so wonderful, do you want to know why?

Justin is sweet, romantic, and dorky. He whispers sweet nothings in my ears and tells me cute things. Justin is a very handsome man, tall and slender, with beautifully sad green eyes. He leaves me sweet texts and messages on facebook, tells me I’m beautiful, and he picks flowers for me for no particular reason. 🙂 One of the first sweet messages he sent me, while he was working overnight security: “Good morning fair maiden. I kept watch over your kingdom during the night, now the day is yours and I must rest. Go forth and bless the land with your grace.” *sigh*

He is very protective of me, and is always wary when it comes to other guys. I really appreciate his protectiveness and slight jealousy over my attention; it makes me feel valued. I feel safe when I am with him, when I’m wrapped in his arms…there is no place I like to be better than snuggled up close to him, safe and warm. ^.^

He is a strong Christian and desires to please God with his actions. He is also a prayer; he always prays before meals and he often prays with me. He also prays for me when I am not there, and I really like that a lot. He is trustworthy and honest, a man of his word. I have no fear when I talk to him; when I ask if something is wrong (or whatever) I don’t have to worry that he is holding something back from me; if there is something he needs in our relationship that he isn’t getting, he tells me. I also know that I can trust him around other women…he keeps his mind clean, and doesn’t even pay attention to anyone else. Communication is highly important in a relationship, and I think that we communicate very well. If there is something bothering one of us, we can talk about it easily. Whatever it is, we’re comfortable discussing it because we want to keep our relationship healthy. I think it is very refreshing to have someone who can be so honest and open with me. We are also going to start doing devotionals together soon; just another step to keep our relationship strong and God-centered. 🙂

Something fun about Justin is that he is Jewish, or as he would say, “Jew-‘ish’.” He uses random Yiddish phrases fairly often and it makes me giggle. He is very funny! He likes puns a lot and will often go off on a long string of them. He is a drama kid, does some amusing impressions, and frequently writes comedy with his roommate. The two of them are hilarious together!

A neat thing is that he also likes the Medieval and Renaissance time periods; we actually met at a Ren Faire (through a friend), and have been back several times together. Of course we went in costume! I wore a medieval dress and he wore his kilt! 😀 (The first text he sent me was a picture he took while in Ireland…we want to go there someday together.) When we visited his family up north over Christmas break he showed me his sword collection, and we brought back his little gaming figures that he had painted; he did a nice job on them. They are from Lord of the Rings! He really likes LotR, and Princess Bride, and things like that. We often use quotes from our favorite fantasy epics and science fiction shows. We both enjoy sci-fi television shows; we watch an episode of Stargate every time we get a chance. (I haven’t seen very many of them, so we’re working our way through the seasons.) Next up: Star Trek!

Something that really makes Justin stand out from other guys is his sensitivity to my needs and desires. He is always checking on me to make sure that I am ok, that I have what I need in our relationship, and that I am provided for in the ways that make me happy. He often buys gasoline for me, goes places with me when he’s had little sleep, helps me eat healthier food, and makes sure that he has paid enough attention to me. On those days when I’ve overtired or feeling hormonal he takes very good care of me too! He knows how to calm me down when I’m stressed out, and can always cheer me up when I’m feeling sad. And when past memories make me emo, or I’m bothered by some guy, he is very understanding and patient with me.)He always knows the right thing to say, and his hugs and nuzzles make everything better! ^.^ He is also very observant of things that I need or want. For my birthday he bought me a wooden pennywhistle. I had mentioned once somewhere in the beginning of our friendship that I would like to have one someday, and he got it for me! 😀 For Christmas he bought the third book in the Eragon books, and also got me some plastic eld ears. I know it’s silly, but I thought it was cute!

It’s rare these days to find a guy as responsible and hard working as my love is. He works long hours overnight doing security at his school, and has worked twenty-four hour shifts before, just so he could have off to go somewhere with me. He always takes pride in his grades, and works hard to make sure that he gets all his school work done and makes good grades in his classes. He keeps a schedule, and doesn’t just do things willy-nilly and irresponsibly like many college guys do. And even when he has a lot of work to do, he still makes time for me to meet my needs as well. He’s amazing!

I really appreciate that Justin is also very willing to do things that I ask him to do; like sing, or cook. He’s not a musician (I am a music education major) but he has a nice voice, and he likes Renaissance/Folk music almost as much as I do. I’ve asked him to sing more often, because I like it, and so he does. 🙂 I also think it is a good thing that he learn how to cook, and he agrees that it is a necessary skill, so he always helps me in the kitchen and is very willing to learn how to cook yummy food, so that someday in the future (if we marry) he will be able to take care of me and of any children we might have. Lately I’ve been trying to lose some weight and get in shape; a few times a week I go walking/jogging with some friends in the morning. Justin often goes with me because he is very supportive of anything I really want to do; he’s always been that way. He is encouraging in my efforts to be healthy, he supports my work as a composer, and keeps me from feeling too down when music stuff at school is irritating. He attends church, family gatherings, and random events that I ask him to go to. He comes to church picnics, my sibling’s concerts, and whatever it is that I ask him to go to. He’s so wonderful!

It makes me happy too that he gets along with my family. He and my father have theological and intellectual conversations, and my siblings always jump on him and give him a big hug when they see him. It is reassuring to know that my family really likes him. I think if I don’t marry him that my dad just might! He enjoys spending time with them I think, and I feel comfortable enough to leave him alone with my family. Hehe. 🙂

I know it’s silly, but I like the fact that he is nerdy, and very intelligent. We find sci-fi to watch, video games to play, and nerdy things to download. He is very good with computers and internet stuff, and is so very smart. We discuss interesting hypotheses about things and have fun being dorky together. We also talk about theology and history and music. It’s nice to have someone smart to talk to who is always willing to listen to whatever silly thing you have to say.

You may have heard of the book, The Five Love Languages, by Chapman. It’s a really interesting read. There are five main love languages, and if you can figure out which ones you and your friends identify with most it is very helpful. Justin and I share the same top three love languages, though we all use all five of them; quality time, physical affection, and words of affirmation. He is very good about spending time with me, telling me things that make me feel loved, and he is very affectionate. He is so sweet and tender, sometimes just a kiss on the cheek can make me melt. :’)

Justin is such an amazing boyfriend, and is my best friend. I love him so very much! We are coming up on our eleven month-a-versary in a few day, and I hope that we can be together for many years to come. He is such a precious gift from God. Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us together. Thank you, Justin, my handsome sweet prince, for being so wonderful to me. I love you!

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“What you have made me see,” answered the Lady, “is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before–that the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit that you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished–if it were possible to wish–you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.”     –from C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra

Perelandra

This is too often true in our lives, particularly my own. We set out to obtain something that we desire…a particular school, a mate, a job, etc., and the one we receive is not what we were looking for in the first place. Often we are so caught up in thinking of the joy we expected to find, that we cannot enjoy what we are given, and so make the blessing we have been given taste insipid by thinking of the other.

Recent developments in my life that pertain to this concept, and that others may relate to as well, include my job, school, and my relationships.  I needed a job in early May, and was disappointed that I couldn’t find one after sending in dozens of applications. I finally got a job, much later than I expected but still in the nick of time, at Sam Ash Music. I quite enjoy working there, and there are some slight irritants in scheduling that I’d hoped to avoid, but this is the good I have been given. As far as schooling is concerned…I was uncertain of what to do with my life, wanting to do something great…but also wanting to have a very family oriented life. Where am I now? I am transferring to USF in the fall as a music education major. I didn’t particularly want to do either, because I didn’t want to go with the flow and do what every other music student in the area does…major in music education at USF. But God has worked it all out in such a way that this will be the perfect set up for me.

By far the biggest example in my life of expecting one joy and receiving another is also one most people could relate to…relationships. I’ve always had an idea in my head of the kind of person I’d like to be with. Since my experience in the romance department was limited (i.e., no official relationship ever), I didn’t know quite what to expect.  As I met people through the years (I quite enjoy making new friends), my ideas of what I wanted in a future husband changed a little with each serious interest, as usually happens. I eventually found someone who was very much like me in personality and values. He is a strong Christian, talented, a good man, and someone I might consider spending my life with. I prayed often about him and the potential for relationship with him, as well as conferring with trusted counselors, getting to know his friends and family (I’d be doing that anyway though, because he is still a very good friend) and other such things. In the end, however, he was not interested, for whatever reason. I was alright with that at first, because interest can develop as the friendship progresses, and I was very much looking forward to continuing the friendship without any of that awkwardness between us. All was well until Justin came along. lol. One joy was expected and another given. Justin and my other friend get along quite well, and are very much alike in personality, as well as in some mannerisms. But their differences are great when you compare them in context of relationship potential, and what I had been expecting from someone I was interested in. I was in great turmoil between the two; both wonderful men, one I had been praying about for almost a year who was not interested, and the other newcomer who was interested and already quite devoted to winning my heart. I realized during all of this that I may be ruining what should have been a blessing (Justin’s appearance in my life), by focusing on the good thing that I had been looking for initially. (And I actually thought of this quote at the time.) Now I am happily in a relationship with Justin, and the other guy is still a close friend, and like a brother to me. As my relationship with Justin progresses I discover many things about him that make this relationship better in the long run than the other would have been. Had I continued to focus on the good thing that I had initially wanted, instead of accepting the blessing that God was trying to give me, I would never have discovered these things, and would not have found my sweetheart. ^.^ One joy was expected and another was given.

I encourage you, my friends, don’t ignore the blessings that God sends your way by focusing on the things that you haven’t gotten. Sometimes things happen for a reason, such as losing a friendship or not getting something you sincerely desired, but God wants to bless us abundantly, all things will work out for good in His plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The choice is yours, my friends…you could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other; or you can accept the joy that you are given, rather than focus on the good expected.

Be blessed.

Lewis, C.S.. Perelandra. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1965. Print.

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On a crowded street in the downtown area of some large and busy city stood a little girl, dressed in a bright yellow dress. She stands, unmoving, amidst the ever moving crowd of tall men in dark suits, on their way to somewhere important. No one notices her, for she is just a little girl, insignificant, with yellow ribbons in her golden hair. In her hand she carries a large wooden box, holding it close to herself. This is a very special box, for in it she keeps her heart. She has journeyed downtown today on a mission: to find someone who will take care of her heart. The time had come when she could no longer care for it alone. She needed help, and hoped to find that help soon. Gathering her courage she walked in front of a tall man in a blue suit, who looked less important than the rest. She offered up her box with a shy smile. To her surprise, the man didn’t even see her, and kept on walking. Disappointed, the young girl tried again, this time with a man in a brown suit who looked less busy than the rest. She ran up to him, struggling to keep pace with his fast stride. She stopped in front of him. With a big grin on her face she proudly showed him her box. The man pushed her roughly aside, nearly causing her to drop her precious burden. The child began to worry, and tried offering her box to first one man, and then to another, and another. Frantically running around the mass of somber men on that busy downtown street. She began to despair; no one wanted her heart.

A short time later she saw a man in a grey suit walking toward her in the crowd, his suit is stained. He seemed friendly and less rude than the rest, so she decided to try again. She timidly walked up to the man, and shyly offered him her box. To her great surprise, the man smiled and took the box from her outstretched arms. Oh what joy! Someone who wanted her heart had finally come. The two clasped hands and walked happily down the street together. At first the young lady didn’t ask any questions of her friend, but finally she decided to speak to him about how to care for her heart. She opened her mouth to speak, but the words were empty, her voice was not heard. He didn’t seem to mind, he just whispered sweet nothings in her ear and held her close. She tried again, this time more forcefully, to talk about what needed to be done to care for her heart. The man in the stained grey suit didn’t hear a word, for he didn’t truly know how to protect and nurture her heart. He realized that she would not settle for less than the best care, which he was not willing to put forth the effort to give. After walking only a few blocks together down the busy street, the man roughly grabbed the special box, held it high in the air and threw it to the ground where it, and its contents, were dashed to pieces. He quickly vanished into the crowd.

The little girl was devastated. She sank to the ground, her blue eyes filling with tears as she surveyed the damage. The wooden box lay shattered in a bloody mess on the ground. She sobbed as her trembling hands tried to pick up the pieces…there were so many. The men were still hurrying by, barely making an effort to avoid stepping on her broken heart. She cried uncontrollably as slowly she found one small piece at a time. She put the largest of these in the front pocket of her now bloodstained yellow dress, to keep it safe. She sat there through the night, weeping, too broken to move; afraid to leave her heart alone in it’s unprotected state.

As morning came and the sun rose, there was no hope for the sad, lonely girl. She had not stopped crying since the night before, and no one had come to help her. She had long since given up on picking up the pieces, which still lay spread on the ground before her. A single tear rolled silently down her cheek. As she sat staring into the emptyness she felt a gentle touch on her shoulder. It was a man, dressed in a white suit. He had kind eyes and a reassuring smile. “My child, why are you crying?” He asked. She kept her eyes lowered, ashamed, unable to meet his gaze. The kind man gently placed his hand under her chin and raised her head up, looking into her fearful eyes and again asking, “Dear child, why do you cry?” The little girl swallowed, and attempted to speak, but no words would come, only a rush of silent tears. The man patiently asked a third time, “My precious one, what is the cause of your sadness?”

Finally the little girl found her voice, “I cry because my heart is broken, and there is no one to fix it.” The tears flowed freely. She expected the man to ignore her, but he just wrapped his strong arms around her and held her tightly as she wept. When her sobs finally quieted, she pulled back and looked at him, shocked to find that the kind man was also crying. Wiping a tear from the tip of her nose, He spoke, “I’m sorry, my child, that this hurt had to happen, but I can fix your broken heart, if you will give it to me.” The girl was uncertain, but he was so gentle, and seemed to genuinely care for her, and for her heart. “I will help you to pick up the pieces,” he said. The sad girl tearfully nodded and the two slowly began to gather up the pieces together. He took a white silk cloth from his suit and gently placed the little bits of her heart on it, careful to remove the splinters that had come from the wooden box.

They worked side by side, quietly picking up the pieces and putting them back together. The man was silent, and peaceful, and took great care in his work. The girl enjoyed being in his presence; it was very comforting to be near him. The task took them most of the day, and when it was nearly finished the man spoke, “Dear one, there is still a piece missing.” The little girl looked at him, and shook her head. She knew that there was still one part left in the pocket of her dress, but she didn’t think he’d want that one, and she didn’t want to give it to him. The gentle man gave her a knowing look, “My beloved, I have to have all the pieces of your heart to mend it.” She reluctantly reached into her pocket and took out the last lonely piece and handed it to him. He gently placed the final piece on the cloth with the rest of her heart, leaned down, and breathed on it. The pieces began to melt together, slowly becoming one, as if they’d never seen hardship. The little girl was distressed, but she trusted this man, and when his work was done, her heart was like new. “It is finished,” he said. She reached down to pick up her heart, but he stayed her hand. “Wait,” he said. He walked a few feet away and returned carrying an alabaster box. “Place your precious heart in here, dear one, it has my Name on it. Your heart will be safe if you give it to me.” She bent down and picked up the white silk cloth and gently placed it in His alabaster box, her eyes smiling with gratitude.

The young girl was very happy that her heart was now whole, though she was uncertain of what to do next. She looked at her companion inquiringly; he already knew what was on her mind. “Come, walk with me down the street,” he said. “I will guide your steps so that you will not stumble and damage your priceless treasure.” She nodded and they started walking through the crowd together. As they continued on their way, several men turned their hungry eyes in the girl’s direction, glaring at the strong man who walked with her and carried her young heart under one protective arm. Frightened, the little girl took her companion’s hand, clinging to him tightly. She worriedly looked up into his clear eyes, and he laughed, “Do not be afraid, they cannot harm you, as long as you walk with me. The box has my Name on it, they cannot take your heart without my permission.” She was relieved, but still a question remained. He knew. “I will help you,” he said, “to find someone to give your heart to, but you must trust me to show him to you.” She nodded and they walked on silently as before, no longer heeding the furtive glances from the crowd. After a few minutes the man asked, “Would you like to carry your heart for a while?” The little girl replied with a shy smile, “No thank you, I know now that I cannot take care of it by myself. It’s safest when it’s in your hands.” He smiled a kind and gentle smile, which she returned. The little girl knew that her heart would be protected, and that she would never again be alone. And so they walked, hand in hand, in companionable silence down the still crowded street.

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This year has been quite an interesting one for me, though it shouldn’t come as a surprise, my college life has been one big adventure so far. I’ve had many things happen to me this past year, a lot of them very good, and some of them very very bad…

I’ve had my heart broken, my trust betrayed, my kindness and friendship taken advantage of. I’ve been disappointed, in myself and others. I gave my heart to someone who couldn’t take care of it. I’ve lost friends, and discovered that people who I thought were my friends, really weren’t. I’ve been lied to and manipulated, by those I loved dearly. I’ve been taken for granted. I’ve watched my friends argue and fight and end their friendships. School has been intense too. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I thought God wanted me in music, but I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve discovered new depths to my fear of being alone. I’ve been to two funerals in the past four months, and they were only two weeks apart. One of them was a young man who I never really knew, but the legacy that he left with my friends is a testament to the wonderful man that he was. I will miss him, because he so strongly affected my friends. The second was one of my dad’s old friends. He was my parent’s best man, he went to college and later taught school with my dad (they even had the same laugh), he was one of my teachers in middle school, and eventually taught at my high school. I attended both his wedding, and his funeral. I’ve seen my father’s health deteriorating, and know that finances in the family are not good.

BUT.

I’ve also been in love, which is a wonder in itself. I’ve known the joy of being close to someone, of being held in the arms of a man who loved me…who would kiss me softly and tell me that everything’s going to be ok.  I’ve made friends who think I’m amazing, who tell me I’m beautiful, and I know they love me and will be there if ever I need them. I’ve gotten closer to my girl friends…mostly Deanna, Erin, Kat, and Heather. I never thought that Kat and I would be that close, but I am so very glad we are. I’ve had friends comfort me when I was down and hurting, when I wasn’t able to be strong anymore. I’ve met some wonderful Christian guys in this past year, like Tom, Brian, and Ben…guys I can talk to who will encourage me to Christ…I am very thankful for them. I’ve gotten closer to some of my older friends…Travis, Justin, Jennifer F., and a few others. I’ve made random friends out of the blue, who I feel like I can truly trust…like Kristen. I’ve seen other friendships grow and blossom, people I introduced to each other becoming good friends. I’ve been to one wedding, seen multiple engagements, and have weddings to look forward to in the near future. I’ve seen children growing up and laughing. I have friends who have gotten married, and I see their love for each other grow; I see their children being born. My sister and I are getting closer. Actually becoming what sisters should be. We have had a couple “girl talks” and  I am excited for the time when we can really be friends and trust each other…we’ve NEVER gotten along in the past. My father’s health may not be the best…but he’s ALIVE. And the doctors often tell him that he shouldn’t be. My brother is growing up and doing great things, and I am so proud of him.

My life is changing…my thoughts and emotions are being rearranged. My hopes, desires, and dreams are not the same as they once were. The way I view people and the world is getting scrambled. How I interact, how I love, how I care for others…it’s all changing. My future is uncertain, this is true, but it’s also true that GOD IS IN CONTROL. He’s changing me, molding me…the things that happen all have a purpose. If I’ve lost or gained friendships, it’s happened for a reason. All the hurt and frustration that I’ve gone through, though less than some, will teach me things that I need to know. I’m learning how to trust again. I’m learning how to show love, and be vulnerable. God is good. I don’t know what exactly he’s doing, but I do know that he is good, and only wants good for my future. I may have to go through some things before reaching the mountaintop…but I know that I am not alone as I walk through the valley. Thank you Jesus for your great grace and mercy…and love. I thank you Jesus for your love.

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Oh Jesus…what terrible pain you suffered on my behalf. I am not worthy of such love, but you give it to me anyway, without asking anything of me but a heart devoted to loving and serving you. Help me in my doubt, Lord, let me not just go through the motions. Be real to me, Father, and let me see you more clearly day by day. You, the perfect child of Heaven, laid down your life for me, a wretched sinner…you loved me so much that you died so you could spend eternity with me. Me! Thank you Jesus! Oh thank you Lord. Beautiful, wonderful savior. Holy God! I thank you. You are so precious. We can never truly comprehend what you did for us on that dark day in Calvary so long ago, you didn’t deserve it, but you took our punishment so that we might live with you forever. You conquered sin and death to rescue our souls! What a terrible, beautiful night. Thank you Jesus. Amen!

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:57)

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flowed
For you and for me and for all

CHORUS:
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

On the hillside, you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that poured
From our blessed Savior’s side

CHORUS

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

CHORUS:
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

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