12.31.2010

Winter Girl in a Summer World


HorseFeathers


So today's the last day to enter Olivia's contest "Words for Snow," and I decided to enter. The entry can be just about any genre of art, as long as it has something to do about winter. I've written a short story (very short), which I'm going to enter (about 400 words). I call it:

Winter Girl in a Summer World
copyright Melody 2010

Closing her eyes, she could practically smell the cold, crisp iciness of a winter wind. The taste of snowflakes melting like some delicate crisp candy on her tongue was almost tangible; it could only be described as pure crystal. She could almost feel the delightfully soft and crunchy texture of snow between her fingers, reddening her skin and tingling her all the way down to her toes. The purity of the world shone bright in her mind's eye -- ground washed white in a splendor of snowflakes and healed from the burning, harsh flame of fall and the withering overwhelming heat of summer.

Summer.

The word sat in her mouth, waiting for her to embrace it like all others did. But she refused, spitting it out like a rotten apple. Why did her thoughts always have to go back to this? For that matter, why did the world always have to go back to this? Her pale face puckered into a deep grimace, and she opened her ice-blue eyes.

The scene stretched out verdant and brilliant before her, the epitome of a perfect summer's day. The sky hung sultry and sapphire over the brilliant mass of green trees, the mirrored blue of the lake, and the jeweled heads of flowers all shades of the rainbow. Everything was bright, beautiful and lush.

But not to her.

She felt the hate welling up in her again in her. It was so strong she almost sank under the weight of it. All this color, all this noise and rush and heat was too much for her. It hurt her eyes just to look at it. If only she could wish this all away -- make it always winter.

Someone had once asked her why she hated summer so much. "There has to be some kind of explanation for it - I mean nobody hates summer."

She hadn't been able to give a good explanation to the person, not one they would accept, anyways. She tried describing the delights of winter - the sights, smells and sounds that entranced her senses. Or even detailing the dreadfulness of summer - how hot, dreary, loud, and busy it was. But she was greeted only with puzzled looks and blank stares.

The dark-haired girl looked again out into the vivid green. She would never belong in this bright world with its crazy colors, noisy bugs and birds, and myriad of smells to overwhelm the senses. Only when it faded into the soft, dreamy shades of winter was she truly happy.

Her face reflected the creamy white and the pale icy blue of her favorite season... and she closed her eyes. 

(all rights reserved, please do not copy without permission)

12.28.2010

A Story Unfolding

What with Christmas and New Year's, college break and travel plans, friends to see and relatives to remember, I have been busy as all get out.

But somewhere, in the midst of it all, inspiration's spark has been flaming brightly. I am writing as never before... stories, poems, you name it. I very much want to share my work with you all, but I don't want to jeopardize whatever future publishing ability/rights I may have.

However, I have come up with a solution. I will post small excerpts on my blog, and if you would like to read more (which I would love if you did!), you can simply email me (under "Contact Me" up in the header) and I shall send you the link for the story or work-in-progress in a google doc.

I wrote this beginning some time ago, about the time where I was involved a car accident (no one was hurt or anything, thankfully). The idea and memories took a hold of me so powerfully that I had to get it down. Only recently have I looked at it, and picked up my pen again.

You never expect it to happen. Things come up, life continues on, and yet you never expect it to happen.

It was a Monday, the day Yvette and I go to our piano class. I was thinking about my upcoming job interview, and the Bible Study we had that night. I don’t know what she was thinking about. It was silent in the car, but a companionable silence. I remember that she had a slight smile on her face, though her eyes were locked dead ahead as she drove. I looked out the window at the green trees, feeling the slight summer breeze that blew through the space at the top. It was a typical day.

You never expect an accident to happen. You never plan it into your day like you would any other thing: “Dentist Appointment at 2:00 on Wednesday, go to grocery store on Friday, have a car accident Monday at 11:00.” No.

If we knew everything that happened in our day, would we even want to begin? I think not.

Certainly, if I had known about the accident when I woke up that morning, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed with a smile on my face and excitement in my heart. I wouldn’t have planned how Katie and I would do a sleepover that Friday, and how I was going to finally sit down and paint the roses that were wilting on my windowsill. I don’t know what I would have done had I known. Perhaps I would have just killed myself then and there.

The car hit us dead on. I can see it in my mind, clear as day, coming closer and closer and closer. I remember noting that it was a Honda Civic: sleek, classy, bright red. The person was trying to pass a slowpoke in front of them, and misjudged the distance. My sister tried to swerve, tried to scream, tried to do something to save us. And she almost succeeded. She saved me.
copyright Melody 2010

This is my current inspiration, the story that is gripping me heart and soul. I am not sure yet how it shall unfold, but it is taking shape, oh so slowly.

So, feel free to email me if you'd like to come along for the ride. But I warn you... it's not a smooth one.

12.23.2010

Three Things

Number One:

Some of you may know my friend "Robin" from her guest post on my blog. Well, she has now officially entered the blog world as Edith, with her own photography blog titled "Observatory of the Quotidian."I highly recommend that you check it out - her photos are beautiful, her words are well-crafted, and she tells a story like no one else. 


The Observatory


Number Two:

It is of utmost importance that I direct your attention to this post. On it, you will find the most hilarious photos of yours truly, which in my opinion are not something you want to miss. ;)

Number Three:

I would like to have some new "blogolutions" for this year, and I would like your feedback! (This is what I wrote for them last year.) What about my blog would you like to see more of? Any suggestions for new things you'd like me to post about?

I hope you all are having a blessed Christmastime. May God richly bless you with His love and peace in this beautiful season.

12.19.2010

My Quoteable Family

I'm back home for Christmas, and realizing just how much I've missed my family. They're funny, witty, silly, crazy, sweet, kind, loving, and just all-around wonderful. It's hard to imagine how I've spent about three months of this year apart from them.

With all of this fun and humor come many quotes. I'm the type who loves to capture things - make sure that whatever is said, seen, or heard is recorded in some way. So whenever someone says something funny, I love to write it down!

Here is just a small sampling of them so that you get a glimpse of the fantastic fun we have:
"God is the ultimate multitasker." (said by an unknown member of my family)

"Joy is a melody fashioned from sorrow." (said by a good friend)

My brother: "If the most something can do is nothing, then that something is worth nothing. If the least something can do is something, then it is worth something." (try wrapping your brain around that one!)

My brother (on my insistence in writing down everything funny that came out of his mouth): "The dreaded pen to paper... don't write that down!"

Mom: "I think I need more sleep than the average bear."
My brother: "Well, the average bear sleeps all winter!"


I've decided that each week I'm going to post either a quote (by myself, someone I know, or someone famous [or all three XD]), or a thought. I have a lot of small things I think of that don't work well to turn into larger posts, and so this shall be a good way to express them.

I hope you all are having a fun time with your family as well, if you are with them. What are some funny things you've said?

12.13.2010

You Know You're a Music Major if...

In my escapades as a music major, I've come across a number of funny situations that seem to be typical of music majors (at least here at Cedarville). Most of them are quite funny - so I thought I would give you a sampling. ;)

You know you're a music major

...If you compare Beethoven to cheesecake (and Chopin to chocolate!).


...If, in a fire drill, the first thing you grab is your music books and your metronome... not your coat or some other more "useful" thing.

...When you hear people talking about "the cadential six-four", and you know what they're talking about.

...If you dread facing "Pat the Perturbed Primate" and his evil laugh when you are late to theory.

...When you find that you can't listen to Classical music while studying (or doing anything) - it's too distracting! 

...If you listen for the chord progression in songs and predict what the next chord will be.

...If the only song that can consistently get stuck in your head is the polka-dot song  - and people look at you oddly as you sing numbers under your breath. (This one is for you aural skills people!)

...If you would be willing to walk through a blizzard to get to a recital, but not to dinner.

...If most of your day is spent either in a practice room or the music lounge.

Yep, that's us music majors! :)

12.09.2010

Freefall

Sometimes life can feel like this:


Falling, swirling... that feeling of panic and overwhelming fear as your feet get swept out from under you and there's nothing to hold on to... just falling, falling, falling, with everything tumbling down about your head.

It was like that for me the beginning of this week. What with finals coming up, juries to prepare for, papers to write, schedules, gifts, meals, and packing to figure out, life felt like it had just given way beneath me. (Or as one of our chapel speakers said, like a whale exploded.)

But then, something shifted.

It wasn't necessarily that life changed (though some things did get worked out), but that my perspective changed.

I had forgotten what was at the bottom: 


The Almighty and Steadfast hands of God.

Do you ever feel this way - where things tumble down about you with no seeming end in sight?

Even though life might feel like it's in free fall, God is there at the bottom, with his hands cupped, just waiting to catch you and prove once more to you His faithfulness and care.

So instead of being dropped off a cliff, we as Christians have this unshaken assurance that the craziness of our trials and troubles (and life in general) are all held in God's hands. Though it may seem like we can't see how we'll ever be rescued from this terrifying descent, He already has us covered. We'll never completely cave in if we rest in the assurance of His unfailing love. 

That makes life in the midst of craziness seem a lot more manageable.

11.25.2010

Treasures (Guest Post - Emily)

Dear Blog Readers,

Though many of you may only know me as the psycho girl who writes random bedtime stories, I am actually stuck with a brief flash of insight every once and a while. And today, I feel like it’s rather profound.

When I was a little girl, my dad would always find so much joy in my hair. He loved to see it long and I’m pretty sure he shed a tear or two when I got it cut (he still has the 7 or so inches of 5-year-old me’s hair). Though it’s darkened a bit over the years, it is still a great source of love for me and my dad.
Basically, I have fabulous hair.

No, wait! Hear me out.

It’s a dirty, slightly-strawberry blond and it’s thick, soft, luscious, and grows quickly to boot. I know that you’re still trying to click the little red  X and stop listening to this psycho chat about her hair. But I have a point. Although I have this beautiful hair, it isn’t mine. It’s God’s. I’m His little girl, just like I’m still my daddy’s little girl. And while my daddy loves my hair and delights so much in seeing it long spilling down my back, God knows, and I know, that there’s even something better I can do with my hair than let my daddy pet it.

There are so many other little girls out there with daddies who love them like my daddy loves me but not all of them have hair like mine, or, get this, hair at all. So I want to grow out my hair and cut it off and donate it so that another little girl out there can have pretty hair like mine (and so that another daddy out there can delight in his baby girl all the more).

Now, I’m not trying to convince you all that you should grow out your hair and donate it. That’s not my point at all.

Here’s my point.

Don’t miss it now!

What I’m trying to do is use what I have to… Add a smile to the world. I’m trying to take my God-given gifts and use them for a slightly more noble cause than playing up my own assets. While cutting off my hair isn’t exactly a soul earned for Him or a Bible donated or a tithe paid, I feel like it is being one step (out of infinity, I might add) closer to glorifying God with all that I am and all that I do. It’s a gift to a person who lacks what God has given me in spades.

Here’s where I was going with this.

It’s a positive action done in a world of negativity. And that right there is living for Him. And now that I’ve made the descision not only to grow my hair out , but to donate it, I can’t WAIT to see those scissors! I can’t wait to send another ponytail out into the world of wig-makers who make so many more smiles than wigs. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to serve and God is taking this opportunity to touch my heart and ‘serve’ me.

At Cedarville, I’m finding out that living your life for God doesn’t mean you study nursing and then go out to be a missionary nurse or studying Bible to be a pastor or playing the piano beautifully for Church services. It’s more about living out each day, in every way, for a pure purpose. This could look like picking up that random piece of trash you see laying around, dressing modestly, holding the door for someone, smiling at everyone you meet, censoring what kinds of music you listen to. It’s kinda all in the way you live that sometimes touches people the most.

Michael Franzese came to Cedarville and talked about how he first noticed the woman who is now his wife. He told us that she stuck out to them because she didn’t go out and party it up with the rest of the dancers or things like that. He was attracted to this girl because she lived her life differently from the rest.

So. That ties back in with what I was talking about – the whole “it’s kinda all in the way you live that sometimes touches a person.” So whatever you do, piano, art, chemistry, business, athletic training, food service, marketing… Do it all in a way that will please Him. Take the talents and gives He has given you and sail them out into the big, scary world to be a beacon of pure, white, radiant light.

I mention the boats because I once read a quote by William Shedd: “A ship is safest in its harbor, but that's not what ships are made for.” So set your ship out and sail boldly; knowing that all the time God is there to guide it safely wherever its destination may be.

-Emily

11.24.2010

What is your Greatest Treasure?

Thanksgiving is here, and Christmas is around the corner. In this time, people usually try to think about what they're thankful for - about gifts and presents and loved ones.

I've been thinking about this quite a lot recently - especially being at college it seems that all the joys and comforts of home mean more to me than ever. But you know another thing that I've been thinking about?

Treasures.

We all have something we treasure, something so valuable to us that we take every opportunity to admire it and show it off to others. The possession we could never replace, the talent we could never put to waste, the physical feature we could never live without.
 
But you know what? There's another side to these treasures. Each one of them can so easily become more than something valuable - they can become our life.

Welcome to TREASURES, the blog hop with a message. 



From today until November 30th, I will be putting on this blog hop on TREASURES. I would strongly encourage you to think about those things that you value highly, that you would give anything to keep always in your possession - and then think about how you could give them away. It doesn't have to be literally giving them up - perhaps more of a "letting go" in your heart and mind, or perhaps being willing to share them in some way with others.

For the Bible says in Matthew 6:19 that we ought not to "store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." And elsewhere it says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  

So think about this, pray about this, and be sure to link up! :)

Not sure what to post about? Tomorrow I will be posting a guest post from a friend on this very topic.

11.16.2010

Even Through the Raging Sea

"There's a raging sea right in front of me, wants to pull me in, bring me to my knees. So let the waters rise if You want them to, I will follow You, I will follow You." {Click to listen}
When I first heard this song ("Let the Waters Rise" by Mikeschair), it was a hard concept for me to grasp. Why would I pray for God to "let the waters rise if You want them to?" I knew that we ought to pray for what God wants ("Not my will but Yours, Lord"), but when there's something as tumultuous as a raging sea in our path... isn't it okay to pray that He will take it away?

Sometimes the thing God wants us to do is the very thing that we've been avoiding. We're standing there at the edge, looking down at the tumult of wind and spray and waves that look so threatening... and the last thing in our minds is to plunge in. We pray for God to take this impending doom away from us... for Him to "please make everything work out..." yet what if that is not His will? What if His will is instead that we face it and rely on Him for the strength to carry through?

This all really hit home with me this week in one word:
Surrender
I've thought about surrender before, but recently it has not been on my mind in the least. I thought I was doing okay just relying on God for strength to go through each day, much less having to surrender more things to God.

But it's been cropping up everywhere - the sermon at church, chapel speakers speaking about "Surrendered Self-Awareness" and calling God "Lord," and even tonight at my discipleship small group talking about surrendering your gifts and possessions so God can use them. Each time I've heard about it, I feel the barb of conviction pierce a little deeper into my soul.
Am I too happy, God? Too stuck on things going well? 

When is the last time I've prayed for Your Will to be done - no matter if Your will is that my life be turned upside down or that the situation I'm praying about not get better?  

Can I honestly say I will follow You even through the raging sea?
If I said I had this all figured out that would not be true. I'm still working through this, trying to see, trying to trust.

But one thing I do know, and that is that the Bible says to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us... [fixing] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b-2)

I want to follow my Lord's example of perfect sacrifice. He has promised that if I fix my eyes on Him I can run the race well - even through the raging sea.

11.07.2010

You probably need a schedule at college...

my abundant apologies for my lack of posts recently. All of my free time (what little I have of it) has been going towards the making of my CD. Hopefully I will be able to post a little more regularly once that is done!

Here is another turn of the kaleidoscope of college. This time, the dreaded SCHEDULE.

Yep, as I quickly discovered, you must have a schedule when trying to manage all that goes into a college kid's insane day. Thankfully, God has helped me to create one and be disciplined in maintaining it (for the most part).

A typical college day would go something like this:
Wake up at 6-6:30 each morning.
Try to get to breakfast every morning. Some mornings I have them in the dorm because I really want to sleep in or I need to eat up something in my room that might go bad.
Do classes, and fit meals, practicing, and homework around them (in that order).
Practice at least two hours a day (sometimes I can do more).
Get back to the dorm usually after dinner (this varies alot, though).
Do homework/fun stuff until 11-12, when I go to bed.

I'm taking 16 credits this semester, which is slightly on the heavy side of things. My classes are:
Music Theory,
Aural Skills,
Music Philosophy and Aesthetics (a very interesting class!)
Intro to Humanities (another interesting class)
Spiritual Formation
and Choir.

I'm actually not in class a whole lot - about 2-3 hours each day (except for Monday, which is insane - 5 hours). Most of my time actually goes towards doing homework and practicing in rooms like this:


Also, walking to and from my dorm takes up a lot of my time, because it's the furthest one away from everything (and technically could be called "off campus"). It takes me about 5-10 minutes to get to the DMC, which is the building that has the music department (and where I basically live).
This is what I see practically every morning walking to breakfast. The beauty makes up for the cold. ;)


Yes, so that's what my schedule, classes, and days are usually like! Busy, packed, stressful at times, and yet so rewarding. As long as I stay disciplined, I am blessed. And I thank God for every day of it!

Unfortunately, I may disappear again for a little bit, but I have a blog hop-ish thing in the works for when I return!

10.23.2010

Chasing a Feeling

This past week I've been feeling slightly out of sorts and discontented all week. There was nothing really bothering me - I didn't even have that much homework to do - yet there was still those vague clouds on my horizon weighing me down.

For quite a few days I tried to put a finger on it. Was it that I just needed to relax, eat something, take a nap, or talk to a friend or family member? Was it just that I needed a break from the routine - or I was rebelling at the fact that I had to get back into it?

Thursday afternoon, as I was sitting at the piano doodling the things off the top of my head, it came to me.
I was waiting for a feeling.

I was going through life, my routine, schedule, classes, practices, the whole nine yards - just waiting for a feeling. The reason for my dissatisfaction was the fact that I didn't feel right... and somehow, that put a cloud over everything about my day.

I couldn't be satisfied - and all because I didn't have that feeling.

I think you know the feeling I'm talking about. It's when you just feel like everything is alright with the world, the sky is blue and your heart is at peace... no matter what challenges you're facing or problems have arisen. I have had that feeling quite often - and that week it had been missing.

But then I asked myself, should I base my attitude on a mere feeling? Should my not feeling a certain way make my life into only a boring routine? Is a feeling the only thing that can make me truly satisfied?

The answer to that came to me a bit later as I was outside doing homework in the sunshine and wind of a beautiful fall day. I was going about this whole thing wrong. I was chasing a feeling, when really I ought to be chasing God! I was content trying to keep a drop of water in my hands, when really I needed to search for the spring.

Man, that insight was convicting. But it was so wonderful, too. I was able to sit myself right down and have a good long talk with God - just re-focusing and re-orienting myself on Him and His word. And what a difference it has made in my week! Where the beginning of the week I was listless and dull, the end of this week I am excited and full of joy.

So I want to ask you: is there something in your life you're chasing - a feeling, an achievement, the perfect relationship or friendship? Is there something that is becoming to you more of a satisfaction than God? If there is, I urge you, as I am encouraging myself, to turn right around. Orient your gaze on our Savior, the only Source of true Satisfaction. His love is better than life - and more satisfying than any feeling.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13
This is my prayer for you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.

10.18.2010

Let me draw you hither...

I am feeling rather Medieval-ish or perhaps slightly British in my speech tonight, so be-warned and beware. ;)

This shall be a rather short post, as I have only a few items with which I would like to interest you. So here they are, for your perusal:

1. I have written a guest post for Bree from He Designs My Life. The post is on fall, and an analogy I like to draw from it. Head on over there and check it out (and be sure to leave a comment too - it's her birthday month and I know she would love to hear from you)!

2. I now know quite a number of people from college who have blogs. There's my hall-mate Emily who blogs at Emi's Bedtime Stories, my breakfast buddy who goes by Jo March, and just started a blog called Marginalia. And also my friend Violet, who some of you may know from her blog For the Love of Chaos, has started another blog detailing her college adventures and insights. It's called Epic's the Word. :)
I know each of these girls would love it if you checked out their blogs and left them some comments!

3. Remember my CD that I talked about in this post? Yes, it's still in the works, though by now I actually have it quite close to completion (insert screams of excitement and joy here). :D The only slight impediment to the culmination of this project is that I simply cannot make up my mind whether or not to make it be just an mp3 download, or to have it be a CD as well. So, I thought, what are readers for except to give their opinion? ;) Therefore, I have a poll up on the side kindly requesting your opinion on this subject quite near and dear to my heart. ;)

Alrighty, so I think that's probably enough to keep y'all busy for awhile, wot wot! Don't forget to pop by later as I almost have my other college post finished, as well as some pictures for my photography blog.

Cheerio!

10.07.2010

A Small Part of the Kaleidoscope

College is like a huge kaleidoscope - so many different colors, shades, textures, shapes, and the like. So I figured it would be best to answer your questions in a few posts, so you get a few manageable glimpses. (I only wish it could be like that for me!) ;)

First off, the basics. I'm going to Cedarville University (typically referred to as being "in the middle of a cornfield"). Cedarville is a Christian university, and as such, challenges me in my walk with Christ every day. I am so glad I am going to a Christian college instead of a secular one, because the atmosphere here is just so amazing. The people I am surrounded with are all living examples of being on a journey towards Christlikeness. Of course no one is perfect, but I appreciate all the kindnesses: of guys opening the doors for you, random deep theological discussions over lunch, and professors who pray for you and desire you to draw closer to Christ. Everywhere I go, I'm surrounded by something inspiring.

I'm studying music - my degree is in Piano Pedagogy, which basically means I'm studying to be a piano teacher. I love all aspects of music (and hope to be taking a composition class soon!) but I think this degree is the most valuable for me, as I will have a ready-made job all set for me, and also hopefully be able to be a wife and mother like I desire. 

I'm living on campus (almost all of the students do, actually). The dorms are actually pretty decent - they feel small, but I think that has something to do with the fact that we un-bunked our beds. ;) My roommate and I are very compatible - both of us rather quiet and studious. We're also both music majors, which is very cool because we can "talk music" together.

One of the questions asked about how I've been able to transition from being homeschooled to college. Actually, it hasn't been that difficult. Being homeschooled gave me the advantage of being disciplined with my time. (I know just because you're homeschooled doesn't mean you're disciplined, but for the most part I was, which helped.) I think the hardest thing to transition was the constant "on the go" every day. On average, I'm away from the dorm 8am to 4pm each day, which was quite an adjustment for this homebody. ;) But now that I'm getting used to the schedule, it is beginning to feel comfortable (though I still like home best).

Another question was on looking for colleges in high school. Honestly, I didn't really start looking at colleges until I received the legendary piles of mail from colleges after taking the ACT test (I believe that was in my junior year). I evaluated colleges by a few criterion: What were their beliefs? Were they close enough to home? Were they small enough for my liking? Did they have a good music school? Did they have a pedagogy program? (Surprisingly, most colleges don't.) These were just the things I decided I wanted most in a college...  you'll have to come up with your own criteria yourself.

Of course, I also prayed extensively about this. I believe I can honestly say God wants me here at Cedarville. And I am so glad He has placed me here - a place where I can grow, learn, and broaden my understanding of Him and everything He has created.
No matter how crazy the kaleidoscope turns, or how jumbled the pieces of life seem, I am thankful that I can see Him shining through it all.

In my next post, I'll answer your questions that are more along the lines of school and routine. 'Till then, friends! :) 

9.29.2010

Time and Tide Go Washing by...

Starfish (click to listen)

Hearing this song always stirs up deep feelings in me. A sense of peace, longing, lightness, and a sadness which is hard to find the reason for. These feelings are so different, yet they mix around inside me to form something completely new which I have no name for.

Usually when this song comes around on my mp3 player, I skip over it because I just don't want to think about all the memories and nostalgia that comes along with it. But tonight I let it continue. When I hear this song, I always am reminded of my friend who introduced the song to me. We were talking about the song, and she was sharing how she hates the feeling of life flying by. She wishes that she could have the attitude like the song says, "Tide and time go washing by... and you don't even care."

I'm sad when I hear this song, because it reminds me of how far away I am from her (locationally). Reminds me of things I feel that are ending; longings I have that I cannot explain.

Separation. Endings. Longing. All these words are painful. But they're a good kind of pain almost. Like the pain you get when you're getting a massage and the massage therapist is working on a particularily sore or stiff muscle. It hurts, but you know that's only because it's making it better.

Separation hurts, but the reason it hurts is because it's making it better. Do I really believe that? Can I truly say "Yes, this hurts, but I also know that it is serving a better purpose in my life?" Can I actually believe that the sadness I may feel is only temporary, and actually serves to highlight God's glory & meaning for my life?

These are the questions I was asking myself as I was writing this blog post. Thankfully, I was interrupted at this point by the strains of my cell phone's ringtone. It was that very same friend.

God has a way of putting things in your path just exactly when you need them, doesn't he? He guided my friend to call me at just that moment when I was asking myself those questions (and feeling like the only answer I could truly say to them was "no"). He nudged me to be real with her, and then gave her just the right words to say to me.

And you know what I find? It's okay to be sad. God meant for us to feel the pain of separation and loneliness and sorrow and heartache and whatever other pain that's in our life. But there's a purpose for it, and that's what I'm holding on to. How could God use our lives to glorify Him if they were all sunshine and roses? Only in the sorrow and sadness do we have real need to hold on to Him. Only then can we realize full dependence on Him.
And only after the night comes the morning - with the sunshine of overwhelming joy and delight.
This is what I'm holding on to -- no matter how time and tide go washing by.



Just to let you know, I am writing a post answering all of your interesting questions you asked in my last post, but this was just what was on my heart this evening and I thought I would share.

9.24.2010

Don't Think I've Left

...because I haven't!

Yes, I know I've been quite sporadic in my posts (though my awesome guest bloggers certainly made up for it!), and rather distant in my replies & upkeep recently. I'm finally starting to get into a routine here at college, and so for now at least, the phase of guest bloggers and absent Melody is ended. :)

Hopefully I will get a post up soon about how college is treating me and some of the amazing things I've been learning. For now I will just say - God is so good to me through it all! As long as I stay disciplined and focused on Him, He leads my path and guards my way so clearly it's amazing.

I do want to ask you - what questions do you have for me regarding college life? It can be about anything: how the food is, when I get to bed (well.... maybe we'll skip that question), what piano pieces I'm learning... anything you're curious about!

I also want to ask you - how do you all like the new comment system? I really want to know your honest answers, since obviously y'all are the ones using it (or you should be... hint hint). ;) Is it awkward... not as nice... better... or what? Why I originally decided to switch was because I wanted to have a way for people who aren't on blogger to comment. But I'm not so sure if it's worth the switch. So please let me know what you all think!

Also, my blogoversary is in 3 days! I'm really surprised it has come up so quickly - and that my blog has come so far in such a short amount of time! I'm still cooking up what to do for that, so stay tuned. :)

I love you all bunches and am so glad you read my blog. May you all have a blessed day, and be filled to all fullness with Christ.

9.19.2010

Breaking Up (Guest Post)

It happens way too fast and I see it far too often.

One summer afternoon, someone wanted to talk.  So we sat down.  I listened to everything.  It was a story far too familiar. The same guy who had been through ripping apart three girls' hearts had set his attention to the next.  His looks had every girl fall for him.  He covered his facade with a smile. 

"He's different now.. It's not the same.  I think he's serious now.  He did this and this and this.  He calls now. He really cares now".

After our talk and a couple months later, I heard.  She was upset.  There were tears.  He was over.  The "us"  was gone.  And the victim had another heart torn.  

Over the years, I've seen him move on.  I don't see him but once every year around usually.  I was walking with a good friend of mine through the crowds last month.  There he was again.  Surrounded by a group of girls.  He was always flashing another smile.  It made me sick.  

I couldn't believe anyone could be so blind.  How can each one of them give their hearts to a guy would just throw it away?  Could anyone see the stories before?

I felt angry.  I wanted to go over and slug him.   Then.... I realized this is us

We come to God about the world:  "But, God!! It's different now.  It's not the same thing like it was before.  It's fine." We give a speech.  We're ready to defend everything for our heart.

He says, "Listen.  It will tear you up.  Listen to me!  Don't follow your heart! Don't follow the world! This isn't what you want!" 

But, we run after it anyway.  We think we are in love.  We think everything is great.  Then the split happens.  We get hurt.  

We come back with tears. "God, where were you?  Did you care?  Why did this happen?" 

And just as we are sitting there crying - the world is already gone, setting after the next victim.
I'm not just talking about boyfriend-girlfriend split-ups. 

I'm not even talking about the world. 
I'm talking about us. 
Somehow along the way, we kind of forget that our hearts aren't bulletproof.  We somehow think we can be our own heroes.  We fall for the fake smiles of the world.  We jump before we know it.  Then, we get hurt.  It happens so fast. 

We jump and fall before we look.  Then, the fall happens.  We get hurt.  Sometimes, we just get away with some bruises and bumps.  Others come out with broken bones.  Then we wake up and think, "Woah!  Wait a minute..."

So many times, we think we can convince ourselves by saying in our heads, "I don't care.  This won't happen to me."

Then, your heart says, "Well, stupid.  You do care."  

I'm urging you brothers and sisters to guard your hearts.  Don't follow the world.  I'm in the battle with you!  Keep Fighting.  The world is watching. 

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:1-2
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Jessica is the author of this post and from the blog Far From Perfect!  She enjoys photography, writing, spending time with her family and friends, as well as learning more how to serve the LORD of her heart.

9.14.2010

Sing, Praise, and Bless the Lord (Guest Post)

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
~Psalm 96:1-3

A boy sits under a low, scrubby tree during the heat of the day. The sheep he is tending are scattered in the field’s few other patches of shade, lying still and waiting for the heat to break. But the boy is thinking of a very different place. A few hours ago with his sheep he passed through a river valley, where the grass was sweet and the water cool. Seeing his sheep well fed and watered, his heart was moved in praise to God, and out of his spontaneous gratitude he started humming a song. Now, waiting for the heat to pass, he plucks the gut strings on the lyre he made and crafts a hymn about God’s provision for him. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul...

***

I imagined this scene reflecting on David, once a shepherd, later a king, always a poet. In writing Psalm 23 he used his own experience as a shepherd as a metaphor for God’s loving care of him and turned his prayer into a song of praise.

God’s people have always expressed their praise and prayer in song—Moses and his sister Miriam sing of God’s deliverance in Exodus 15; Mary and Zechariah sing of God’s faithfulness in Luke 1; Psalms is a whole book devoted to songs, both of praise and anguish, need and provision.

What is it about singing? Why have God’s people always held it to be important? These are questions I muse often. I don’t have all the answers, only some thoughts, and the experience of singing itself.

First, singing involves the whole person: it's physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. When the Holy Spirit enables us to sing wholeheartedly to God it focuses us on worshiping Him; it helps us toward glorifying Him with our whole selves.

Second, singing usually involves words; it can speak a message, voice a prayer, and proclaim truth. What we may not realize is that singing truthful words impacts us as much as those who hear us.

Third, singing is often (though not always or necessarily) done in company—and when voices are unified it can be a powerful sign of unity of heart and belief. How many different occasions in history can you think of when an oppressed people kindled their hope and rebellion in song? In the same way, singing truth (words from the Bible, for instance) helps bring God's people together.

So today I'm asking: Will you join God’s people and the hosts of angels, and raise your voice in song to God? What do you have to sing to God about?
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. ~Psalm 95:1-7
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Robin sings at home, at church, and in the car (which has seen some truly operatic moments). With the goal of glorifying God in her life, she studies music, the Bible, and writing, and hopes to be a church music director in the future. She believes the making of music offers many opportunities for lifting up the Gospel. She blogs as Edith at Observatory of the Quotidian

9.09.2010

So Much More

I am being challenged and inspired so much in my classes, it's incredible. Though my classes are on many varied subjects (such as Spiritual Formation, Humanities, and Music Philosophy & Aesthetics) they all seem to be pointing to the same thing. I'm learning that there is so much more. So much more of God to experience, comprehend on some level, and praise Him for.

Such is the concept I'm studying in Humanities currently. We're talking about how God is the Creator and Originator of everything - and therefore we who are made in His image are also called to create. What really struck me is the idea that God is on a "higher level" than us - the fact that He is our Creator, and we are the created, living on a lower level of "reality" than Him. (I know this sounds kind of twisted - bear with me a moment and you'll see.)

For example, in my story "Rescue My Heart", I had a character who is an author. I, as the author of the story, knew things that she did not know. Yet she, as an author within the story, knows things that her characters don't know.

This is a beautiful metaphor for how we are in relation to God and to our own creations. Each one is on a different level - but even though we are on a lower level than God, He has designed us to know in a limited sense some of His level of thinking.

Can you see how that would just open up a whole new world? If God is on a higher level than we are, He is like the real thing, and we are like just a shadowy, blurry picture. There's so much more than this world... this life.. this existence. There's a type of beauty I've never experienced, a glory I cannot even fathom, a fulness I cannot even wish for because I can't even begin to understand how I can be filled.

Doesn't this bring you incredible joy as well as incredible longing?

Like I said earlier this evening,
"It's like walking into a sunset - you don't really know what's there, but you know that it's going to be beautiful."

9.06.2010

Take a peek inside your journal (Guest Post)

The time was 1:00 a.m., and I was still sitting on the floor reading over every word I've ever written. Now, this is nearly 10 years worth of journaling, and as I read over all the years past, in the secret place of my heart that was recorded on paper, there was Someone who not only read my heart, but who showed me that He would turn those secret thoughts into treasure.

If you're reading this, then you know that our God knows everything about a person: hearts, minds, dreams, goals, passions. Out of these sacred things we think about, shows a loving God who not only loves, but cares.

Can I tell you something? Some of the writings I wrote in the past made no sense to me, as in, I don't remember certain things laid on my heart, or dreams I had dreamed up that I had recorded on paper. After looking over those writings, I realized that God paid attention to each one, and they came to pass. 

There were times I wrote about needing a friend. A Christian friend I could talk to and get encouragement from. There was a time I wrote about how much I wanted to write (like I am now) for Christ. Times I wrote about dreams and goals (some non-realistic) that I wanted to do one day. Some of the littlest things I had no intention of ever seeing happening. The thing was, I had completely forgotten about those desires.

I cannot say that everything I wanted to happen, happened. I'm saying that God took some insignificant dream, and used it for many ways:

one. He used it to teach me trust;
two. He blessed not only me, but others with it;
three. I was just plain blown away that He cared about those little dreams.

A few days ago while we were at an organic foods market, I was browsing around for a cheap chap stick. I could only find ones that were over $2.00 and I didn't really want to pay that much for one I would probably only use very little of. I prayed about it. It wasn't until the checkout line that I saw a lip balm under $2!

Yes, this story may seem simple and unimportant, but that's beside the point. The point is, that God cares and provides. He may not answer right away; He may not answer a "yes" at all (He does know what's best). But if you look for the little things that He does for you; the simple delights He brings your way; the small wonders, you'll be surprise later of how big they really were.

You're reading from an imperfect sinner when I say that you don't have to be a perfect person to be cared for by a wonderful God. You don't have to be a perfect person to enjoy these things. You just have to be willing to enjoy them.



This 16 year old dreamer lives an imperfect life in an imperfect world with her perfect Daddy who treats her like a princess! Amber loves her new aspiration for inspiration, and simple delights out of everyday life. Nothing brings more joy to her than to be outside when the sun goes down, letting the sweet breezes tickle each strand of hair. You can read Amber's blog, Taking Life One Step At A Time, here!

8.31.2010

A Blessing (Guest Post)

When I was merely 6 or 7 years old, I wanted something... badly.  Remarkably, it wasn't a new barbie, or a playhouse set with a load of toys.  Not even some cute outfits for my numerous dolls.  What I wanted was out of the ordinary in any little girls' dreams.

My desire was simply a loyal human-being, with whom I could walk hand-in-hand as we stroll through our path, leading to Christ.  Someone who I could play with, and trust so I'm positive that none of my (silly) secrets would be spilled.  A family member that will over-look the feuds we gets ourselves into, and give me endless love and vice versa.--no matter what happens.

I just wanted a sister.

Whenever I spotted a fountain, I asked my mom for a coin to throw in, and make a wish.  I still remember fragments of the times I would hold that penny up to my squinting face, and wish extra hard for a sister someday.  At night, as soon as my eye caught the first star, twinkle against the mid-night blue sky, I rehearsed the "Star Light, Star Bright" jingle.  In between all the wishing opportunities I received, I prayed and prayed and prayed.

About four years ago, my mom told me the exciting news...oh, how excited I was!  I was totally overjoyed and ecstatic; I just couldn't believe it.  I think the setting was actually in my elementary school parking lot, as my mom picked me up from an after-school program (therefore, there weren't that many people around).  So unexpected!

On April 26th, 2007 I became a big sister.  It was surely one of the best days of my life, and it's all thanks to God.  He was the almighty who had answered all of my prayers (etc.) and I am immensely grateful to have the extraordinary blessing that was given to me...by Him.  I now have a soul-mate, a soul-sister.  Nothing can replace Tori (which is my little sisters name--short for Victoria), nothing at all.  Although we look nothing alike, we're a part of each other.

Despite the fact that we're about 9 years apart, I can see God through her actions; because like Him, she is always there for me when I need her, and most of the times (when she's not cranky in the morning before her milk) always wants me with her.  This is definitely true because sometimes when I'm due for chores, she quickly clings onto my leg, and yells, "No Alex, don't go!  I love you."   She also might through in "you're my sister, you're my best friend" as an excuse for me not to leave because Tori already knows my weakness.  I can't help her cuteness...because honestly, no one could really help but smile back at my sisters' pleading face.

Tori proudly defends me, and encourages me when I struggle to accomplish a task whenever possible.  She also tries to comfort me when she'll rarely see me crying in worry or sadness...otherwise, she'll cry with me.  When it comes to that point, it almost seems like she's forcing me to stop.  Another sign that God is assuring me everything will fall into place, and that it'll be alright.  I never like to see her cry.

Just last week I had a nightmare about loosing my sister.  I vaguely remember that she had a strange disease of some-sort and was going to pass away soon.  That night, I was sleeping in my parents bed (my dad was working) and when I woke up, frantically sweating with my eyes popped open, I turned to Tori and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek.  I believe that God makes everything happen for a reason, and the nightmare he brought me, was worth the panic.  It made me realize how blessed I am to have a sister...and still have one today.


      "Hi bloggers, I'm Tori.  See you late, bye! (blows a kiss)"


"I love you, Alex"

 
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Alexandra is the author and photographer at Visually Alex.  She enjoys capturing the art and beauty in everyday life with her camera.  The whimsical thoughts she has, lead to her crazy imagination.    
A couple of her ultimate hobbies in life are playing volleyball, and dancing ballet.  She strives to please the Lord with everything she does, in every way she can.

8.28.2010

What is Happiness? (Guest Post)

Happiness. 

I looked it up in the dictionary (which is something I rarely do with a word - so you should be proud of me), and evidently there are three separate definitions for "happiness". The first is Good-fortune, then Pleasurable satisfaction, and finally A state of well-being and contentment.

When I think of happiness - all three "types" rolled into one - the one of the first things that comes to mind is a memory from the last day of school before this past summer.  We had just finished all of our work for the year. My family and I were going out to dinner after my violin recital - a huge weight off of my shoulders.  All of us were laughing, joyful, so happy to be together.  And then, my mom and dad put the cherry on top of our perfect evening - they told us that Mom was expecting our fifth sibling the following February. 

This came as a huge surprise and blessing that we weren't at all expecting.  It seemed that it was God's will for us to have another baby, and we felt so honored.

But it wasn't to be.  It was the Lord's will that we have a fifth child in the family, but not one whom we would meet on earth.  He took Baby E, as I affectionately named our little sibling, up to Heaven in mid-July.  {I posted about it here, and again here, if you're interested.}

This was difficult.  So, so difficult.  I tried to look and think of it in an uplifting sense, but occasionally it was hard to do so. God had taken away something that was important to me.  It was hard to find happiness.   Everything was so far from "fortunate" or "satisfactory."

And yet...I somehow still felt a strange sence of joy.  Deep down, I felt God's love in my heart.  I felt Him telling me that it was okay, that He had a plan, that everything was under HIS control.  And I felt content.  I felt that "state of well-being" from the dictionary.  I felt happy.

In any circumstance, you can find happiness.  Somewhere.  It may not be pleasurable, you may not be feeling fortunate, but you can always find joy.  God's joy.  The beautiful, contenting happiness of His Love.

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Hey, I'm Hannah...a daughter, sister, friend, homeschooler, photographer, blogger, dancer, and princess of Christ. I am constantly finding beauty in the mundane (and the not-so-mundane) and capturing it with my camera.  I'd be blessed if you visited and got to know me - I blog at Hannah's Hangout - The Writings of a Christian Girl as well as at my photography bog, Clicked and Captured.

8.26.2010

Just Do It

The play is entitled "Just Do It" (not endorsed or affiliated in any way with Nike)

The scene opens on a college campus - looking like this:


Enter me: Melody, a shy person by nature. I like to remain quiet and be the one in the background watching people. In recent years I've gotten better with being outgoing, but it still isn't my natural inclination.

Enter college, a daunting, life changing experience.

Let's see how Me and College will interact. Well... for the first couple of days I don't believe we liked each other. We tolerated each other mostly, me feeling sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and yet excited. College feeling... well I can't be totally sure on that one. ;)

But after the first couple of days, my relationship with college began to change me. Or rather - God began to change a lot of things in me because of college. One big thing is in this area of shyness.

I've come up with a new motto for college life. Unfortunately, it's already copyrighted, but I can still use it for personal use, right?
Just do it.
When I know I should introduce myself to someone... just do it.
When I'm walking to classes, head down, and I know I should be smiling and saying hi to people... just do it.
When I'm not sure about classes but don't want to raise my hand and ask... just do it.
When I have to go eat by myself... just do it, and know that the Lord will provide.
When I'm scared I'll look stupid or like I don't know what I'm doing in front of others... just do it, and remember God's opinion is the only one that matters.

I've found that when I just do these things, God always follows through and provides in a new way for me. It has caused me to trust and praise Him so much more than I would have had I not stepped out of my comfort zone.

And guess what? College isn't the huge, scary thing I thought it was! I'm beginning to feel at ease, and perhaps even at home. I love all of the classes I'm taking (seriously - I look forward to each one!), and the professors are amazing (funny, engaging, serious about God's word and how it relates to music). I've met a number of nice girls and guys so far (though no awesome friendships yet - but I know those don't happen overnight).

This is only Act One of the play entitled Just Do It. I would appreciate your prayers as Act Two unfolds before my eyes.

Tune in next time to hear more about...
Piano Pedagogy (my major... and other music-related things)

8.25.2010

Cherishing the Sacred (Guest Post)

Those who excel at the art of sacred living know how to savor the romance of life, the beautiful joy and simplicity of knowing Him and walking in His presence. ~Leslie Ludy

Flicking off the lights, I breathed a sigh of relief. The long, busy day was finally over. Exhausted, I collapsed on to my bed. Bowing my head quickly, I started to pray. Dear God… I paused. Stunned, I realised that that was the first time I had talked to God all day. In fact, I’d skipped devotion that morning, too. And…did I even say a word to my brother the whole day? I couldn’t remember. A wave of bitter disappointment and regret washed over me. Had I allowed a whole day to be consumed with the “urgent” things, entirely crowding out the things that really mattered?

That night I was brought to a realization. My life was centered on pursuing short-term goals and temporary pleasures. While I was never short of things to do, I never felt peace and fulfillment. I was constantly on social networking sites and chatting with friends, yet instead of growing in my relationships, I felt emptiness inside. Though I professed to know Christ, our relationship was suffering through the lack of time I spent with Him. I had exchanged the eternal for the frenzy of the culture. Everything in my life had been reduced to something shallow and worldly.

Christ set us apart through His own blood so we could be His. God says in His Word that we are His holy temple, a sacred sanctuary of purity. I had profaned His temple with so many other things that fought for my attention. Gently, but firmly, He is taking me through a process of purging everything that stands in the way of intimacy with Him. Jesus is now the centre of my life, and I'm beginning to learn about the sacredness of life. Every moment is precious and an opportunity to worship Him. My inner life is valuable to the Lover of my soul, and He cherishes my heart.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. – Psalm 16:11


I have sought my own pleasure because I believed the lie that Satan whispered to me. Jesus Christ is not enough. He can’t satisfy your deepest longings and dreams. But God has promised that there is fullness of joy in His presence and pleasures forevermore at His right hand. And I have tasted enough of this sweet satisfaction and indescribable joy to know that Jesus is enough for me forever.

I will awake each morning in joy
Ready and willing to place everything
On the alter before Him
With an expectant heart
I will look to my Lord for guidance and peace and strength
Throughout the day
I will love what He loves
And hate what He hates
I will fall asleep in His arms
Listening to the gentle, loving song
He sings over me.


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Annie is an Australian girl who writes at Forever Love and Scream the Truth E-Zine. Her name means "grace and favour", and her identity is the daughter of the King of kings, the forever beloved of my Heavenly Bridegroom Jesus Christ. She finds unfathomable joy, peace and fulfilment in His presence daily. She is passionate about His truth, and the grace heals and transforms her life. Her prayer is that her life may be a testimony of Him for His glory.

8.23.2010

More Perfect Than We Can Imagine...

Guest post - Cassie

A year and half ago, in February of 2009, my family decided that the LORD was calling us to adopt an older girl from China and we were all amazingly excited.

After a few weeks everything was going the way it was supposed to be going. We had "found" and be officially matched with a beautiful 13-year-old girl whom we lovingly named 'Christy'.

We seemed to constantly be doing paperwork, going to embassy, praying, or just playing the waiting game which I'm sure that we all know too well. But all the work and wait seemed worth it. Soon Christy was going to be part of our family and we were all excited to bring her home and welcome her into our life.

Then all of our dreams and hopes were shattered. In June of 2009 we received word that a family member had come forward to claim our Christy and we would no longer be permitted to adopt her. I remember all too well the feelings of pain, despair, and helplessness that I felt.

I wrote in my diary:
"I feel like a piece of my heart has been torn out and it been locked away in China."
I cried constantly. I know that this sounds extreme, but, in my heart, Christy was already my sister and I felt as if someone had just taken my sister away from me and I hadn't even had the chance to get to know her yet.

Finally, I decided that enough was enough. I could not allow myself to dwell in my sadness and in my self-pity. I opened my journal and wrote a pretend letter to Christy, just expressing all of my emotion. And then I spent some time in prayer. After that, the LORD began to replace my pain with His perfect peace.

Time passed. Our family still felt like God was calling us to adopt. Even though He had closed the door with Christy, we felt like He had left it ajar just enough to let us know that He wasn't finished leading us to China yet.

Daddy began to put pictures up around the house. Pictures of 12-year-old girls in China, all of whom were without a home or family to call their own. We talked about them all but none of them felt right. Mom and I even said that the pain of losing Christy was still too fresh. None of the other girls felt "right". We wanted to wait.

God had His own plans however because, while Mom was deleting masses of adoption e-mails from her inbox, He allowed one to sneak through. One that told the story of an 12-year-old girl named Yuanyuan. Born blind and an orphan her whole life, Yuanyuan (Her English name is Theresa) had begged and American couple to tell people in America about her so that she could one day have a family. After reading the email, Mom and I looked at each other. "That's my sister." I said.

It's been a year since then and we have constantly been astounded at how incredible God's timing is and how He has been so obviously guiding this adoption with His hand. I could share story after story of how He has worked in our lives through this whole experience... but His love and grace overwhelm me.

I love Theresa more than words can say. She is my sister. I'm in no place to say that she is a more perfect fit for our family than Christy would have been, but God told us. All too clearly. If our adoption with Christy hadn't fallen through, we never would have found Theresa and Mom and Dad wouldn't be in China right now picking her up. She wouldn't be coming home on September 4th. Wow. God is good.

Through the pain of loss and blossoming of a new and better chapter, I have learned to trust God more fully and completely than I ever had before. I have never felt closer to my Father in Heaven than now and I look forward to great anticipation to seeing how this adoption story with end... and how the story of our new life- with a new sister named Theresa- will begin....

(Above are two pictures of Theresa, taken by my parents. Currently they are in China and will be coming home on September 4. I am wildly excited.)



 About the author... 

Cassandra- or 'Cassie' as she is better known- is a 15-year-old girl, set-apart by Jesus Christ who saved her from the bondage of her sin. She loves words, pictures, family, friends, laughing, and life. Read her blog, 'Inside My Mind' and visit her complete profile to learn more about her and visit the adoption section of her blog to read in more detail how the LORD has brought Theresa home to her forever family in America.



8.19.2010

Peace

I've got too many feelings mixed up in my mind. I'm excited, nervous, overwhelmed, numb, responsible, sad, hopeful, teary-eyed, peaceful, joyful, and scared all at once.

But you know what's the most prevalant and powerful feeling? Peace.

I'm leaving for Cedarville tomorrow - yet through all the packing, all the last-minute preparation and worry, I have this overwhelming sense of peace.

Confidence.

This week I said goodbye to two of my closest friends and sisters in the Lord. Yet even though we were sad at the pain of separation, we know that God does have His hands on our lives. And He's got an even greater and more blessed plan for each of us than we can even imagine!

I know the road ahead is going to be tough, challenging, rocky, and overwhelming at times. But I also know it will be exciting, joyful, fulfilling, and blessed beyond belief. For who is my guide, but the Lord Almighty?

"God's got His hand on you so
Don't live life in fear
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here."
~Sidewalk Prophets The Words I Would Say

8.18.2010

I'm Pressing On (Guest Post)

Moving on.

Whatever the situation, it's one of the hardest things we must do. Friendships...ideas...dreams...our memories are steeped in the past while we forget about our lives in the present.

As of last November, I'd moved three times in the past year and a half. With my first move, I missed my old friends desperately and would have given anything to "go back home." And each time I visited my friends and family where I used to live, I got a little more distant, a little more detached--sometimes without my knowing it.

One year ago, all I wanted was to move back to where I used to live. I remember mistakenly wishing that I had never moved to the Midwest.

But I wouldn't trade anything in the whole world for the one year I spent out there. Not another year back in my old home, another year with my old friends, another year anywhere else. Because in each place I've been, God has given me friends and experiences that in my mind are worth far more than any worldly possession.

At the same time, He was slowly prying me apart from my old friends. I think of friendships that were, friendships that used to be so strong, and I want to cry because the girls are so different now, it's like I don't know them. And a part of my mind thinks, If I hadn't moved, if I had stayed here, maybe we would still be friends...I wouldn't have missed out all the things they did together, without me...

Yes, that's true. I'd have an entire year of memories with them, in my old home.

And an entire year in the Midwest wouldn't be in my memory. Those friends, the girls I became so close with, I wouldn't even know. The family vacations, the sleepovers, the youth group meetings, the freezing cold winter (well, that I'm not missing too much), the volleyball practices, the laughter. Something would be missing, a really big something, a huge part of my life.

It take me a long time to realize that that part of my life lives in my memory, but it's not who I am anymore. I love that part of my life... but I can't get it back. Rather, God has put me where I am for a reason.

"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."

You're where you are now because God has planted you there. Yes, maybe you're missing your friends, your old home, your church. But would God have put you there if he didn't have a plan? Would he do anything without a plan? Is missing someone, or something, any reason to not live life fully? (which is something I struggle with hugely, so don't feel alone.)

At times I still regret my leaving. Old friends have grown close to each other while I've grown farther. But, my sisters in Christ, some of the best advice I can offer you, if you have similiar thoughts--move on! Yes, it's difficult, and I know from having done it myself. But there are friends, memories, places to go and things to see where you are right now, and if you sit back in the past and wish for what's gone, you'll miss it on the life God has given you.

Somewhere back there I left my worries all behind
My problems fell out of the back of my mind

We're g
oing and I'm never knowing where we're going
To go back to where I was would just be wrong

I'm pressing on!
--I'm Pressing On by Relient K

Pressing on doesn't mean you have to forget your past. Keep your memories in your heart and don't let go of them...just don't let them blind you to the blessings and friends Jesus is placing in your life right now.

There's something else I've realized only recently--I don't want to go back. Even if I could, I wouldn't. I'm here now with amazing friends and fantastic oppurtunities, and wherever I am, life has to be lived!

So, my sisters, live it. Wherever you are, whatever the situation, whoever and wherever you're missing, live out your life fully for Jesus--with no regrets!



About the author:

My name is Caroline, and with my pen, camera, and Jesus, I intend to live every day to its fullest and honor God through the song that is my life. I have a passion for writing and stories, paired with a huge imagination. Thick novels, rosebuds, the ocean, summertime, raindrops, epic music, and fairytales are just a few of my favorite things. I blog over at A Writer's Life For Me. Thanks for reading, and God bless!

8.16.2010

Learning to Live (Guest Post)

“For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it.” —Ivan Panin

A little girl is on her knees by her bed. It was pitch dark around her, she is scared, but she won't get off her knees. She grips her hands together, as if trying to will herself to be brave by the pain she feels in her hands and her heart.

She bites her lower lip, fear is welling up inside her. It’s so very dark and…she tries switching off her imagination. Right now is not the time to think about monsters under the bed. She has to do this…she has to.

She clinched her eyes shut, rubbing her hands a little bit and blocking out the idea of hands reaching out from under the bed for her. And then she prays and she forgets all about monsters and darkness.

“God, please, I just want one friend. One friend, that’s all I’m asking. Please. I just want someone to love me. I want someone to talk to. I want someone to listen to me when I’m hurting. I’ll give up anything, God. I’ll be anything, I’ll do anything You want me to…Could it be that hard just to give me one friend? In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The little girl dives into bed, covering up with the blankets and thinking miserably about how lonely she feels…in a few moments, she rolls over and falls asleep…

***

That was me, a few years ago. And that didn’t happen just one night, it happened multiple nights. I was a little girl crying out to God for my greatest wish—a best friend. And God didn’t answer my prayer right away. Actually it was two or three years later after I prayed and prayed for a friend that God actually gave me one. At the time God finally blessed me with my best friend, I actually had stopped praying for one because I thought God didn’t want me to have one. I had mistaken God’s “Wait” for “No.”

Patience isn’t my virtue. If I lack anything it probably is patience. I want "Yes" or "No" answers. Telling me to wait is like asking me to go crazy. I live my life flying—I don't have "time" to wait. I’m running around, helping everyone, being everywhere, being everything, and I forget sometimes God just wants me to stand still and wait.

I know you seem to get behind on everything when you step out of the fast lane for a moment. It seems like you feel obsolete, outdated, no longer in the “know”. But sometimes we need to step out of the fast lane. We need to slow down and live.

Because if you didn’t slow down…

…You wouldn’t have seen that butterfly.
…You wouldn’t have felt that raindrop.
…You wouldn’t have said that prayer.
…You wouldn’t have seen that flower.
…You wouldn’t have felt that hand holding yours.
…You wouldn’t have seen that smile.
…You wouldn’t have written that note.
…You wouldn’t have known that love.

I want to fly and soar through life…but I also want to stand still and wait for God’s perfect plan. I have to learn patience…I have to learn to live.

I had given up on a friend…But God hadn’t given up on me.

It’s like what Ivan Panin says. There is beauty, truth, and love to find, we just have to be ready and waiting…and looking.







Awel Prince is the author of Shilah and the aspiring designer of blogs at Inspiré Designs Studio. She has a passion for knowing more of her glorious God and find beauty and meaning in a world satisfied with the mediocre. She is also in the process of writing one of the few true Christain sci-fis while keeping up with friends, family, and life.

8.15.2010

College > Blogging

Remember this little guy from grade school:  >

In my math we called him the "Greater-than Gater," who always faces towards the number or group that's the highest.

Well, I have been thinking and praying long and hard about this, and I've realized that I can't equate college and blogging, I can't add or multiply or subtract them. But obviously one of them should take precidence over the other. That one is college.

So this is what I've decided. For at least the first semester of college, I am going to be doing a little less on my blog. Don't worry - I'm not abandoning you or deleting this blog or anything (heaven forbid!), just trying to budget my time wisely. I want to focus on my studies and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I begin this new phase of life.

I will post one or two times a week (as my schedule allows) to update you all, but I won't be writing the deeper posts I typically do. Thankfully, I have a number of lovely ladies who've agreed to guest post for me these next couple of weeks to "fill in" for those posts. So you will be seeing a mixture of updates from me, and deeper posts from them. (The ones I've received already are amazing, so be prepared to be encouraged, strengthened, and perhaps even cry.)

I love you guys and really appreciate all of the prayers and encouragement you've already given to me about college. This week is going to be the hardest, as I will be leaving on Friday and still have quite a bit to pack and a number of friends to say goodbye to... so I covet your continued prayers.
Thank-you all so very much!

8.13.2010

Truly Blessed

I thank you all so very much for praying for the recording of my CD on Tuesday. The whole day was filled with blessings beyond compare - from the start to the end of the recording session.


Even though at times it got to 87 degrees in the sanctuary (because we couldn't have the A.C. running while recording), God saw us through. Even when we got tired, or frustrated with the squeaky pedal on the piano or our own performance, He strengthened us and helped us be patient and calm. I could tell from the moment we prayed together at the beginning that God had His hand upon the endeavor.

The awesome violinist and singer

Yes, the recording is "less than professional quality" (because it was done in my small church, with the best equipment we had), and I know there are minor mistakes (which only I would catch) in many of the songs. But I also know I serve a great God, who is able to take whatever I create and use it. And I pray that He will multiply my small loves and two fish into enough to feed thousands.
For nothing is impossible with God. ~Luke 1:37


Me - pianist, composer, and background vocals

Here is an excerpt of the prayer I wrote in my journal the day after the recording:

Lord, I praise You, for You alone are good and righteous and there is none other like You. My life's goal is to worship You, and this CD is only just a part of that. 

Thank-you for bringing this dream together - for giving me the talent and the inspiration to write these songs, blessing me with such willing, helpful people to perform and record them, and providing the right equipment and knowledge. You knew how this all was going to happen even when it was just a dream of mine - a castle in the sky. Thank-you, Lord, for working all these things out for Your glory. 

So I ask you - would you join me in continuing to pray for the CD as I prepare it for selling? I know God can and will use this for His glory, if I commit it to Him.
 

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