Friday, July 24, 2015

the harvest

"If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here...Why then are we here?
...The answer is this-- they are here that they may "live unto the Lord," and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as heralds..."
-Morning and Evening by C. H. Spurgeon: June 10th

These words have lingered in my mind since I read them two weeks ago.

If sharing the good news with others is the only real reason I still walk this earth, what am I dawdling for?

If my first calling (the continuous prerequisite being to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength) is to go into the world and preach the good news, why do I shirk away and avoid those conversations? Put it off and do other things?


Another thought of mine has been paralleling our relationship with God with a person you're in love with.

When someone becomes your world, you're always talking about them, are you not? You just want to gush and tell people how great they are and the things they've done for you and what you love about them.

Granted, some personalities aren't inclined to do this without prompting, but anyone who's ever loved someone knows what this is like.  You're just so in love with them that is spills over and everyone who knows you knows; and it's probably what you're most known for.

If the active verb of a prerequisite to my first calling is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, why am I not so in love with Him that the words spill out and I have to share? Why do I get scared and nervous if He comes up in conversation? Am I ashamed of Him?

Anyone who's truly loved someone knows that they are the person you are least ashamed to be associated with and speak about.


After this, a Sunday morning brought about a sermon in which, paraphrasing here, I was reminded that God does not need any of us to accomplish His will. He can lead a person to salvation without you. He can work miracles without you. He can part the sea without you.

He can grow seeds and change hearts without you.

Do you know what this means?

This means that you are to be salt, an accent to a dish, and light, a tool to see. Not the dish or the thing to see.

It means that you can plant a seed or till soil, but you do not make the plant grow.

It means that the salvation of another soul is not your responsibility. 

Here, I believe, is the fatal flaw of today's "evangelism." We are so eager to give the truth and prove we are right and get everyone saved this very instant, that we make the mistake of thinking it is our responsibility to make sure the person we are sharing with accepts Christ.

There is an urgency, maybe even a panicked urgency, and lack of love that marks how many share Jesus with others, and it does nothing for the unsaved soul.

Brothers and sisters, the great commission says to go out into the world and preach the good news, not fulfill a monthly quota of people you've gotten to pray the prayer.

It is only Jesus who opens eyes and changes hearts. You are only commanded to love Him and share His love with others. And as St. Francis of Assisi says:

"Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words."


Over the last few weeks I have been in the process of refreshing my relationship with Jesus. I am praying more, reading and studying His word more; putting effort into actively loving Him.

I have been mulling over all these things in my mind and looking for opportunity to share with people. I've been meditating on the commandment to love.


I have been working at an arts camp for the past two weeks, filled with kids from 3 years old to 18.
Lots of people from different backgrounds, lots of different ideas.

I don't even know how it happened, but on Wednesday during lunch I ended up having a conversation with two other college helpers who believe very different and very relative things about various controversial matters. I shared what the Bible says, why God says those matters wrong, why Jesus had to die, why evil exists and what Jesus has done about it.

And you know what? At not one time did I say, "You're wrong. I'm right. You're going to hell."

I shared truth unapologetically and without ever prefacing a statement with "This is just what I think."
But I also listened. I didn't stop being friendly and being kind and gentle with this person. I never once got in her face. I affirmed what was right. I asked questions. I was able to laugh and be pleasant and act like me in a conversation even though the matters were so serious and I was sharing truth in a very clear way. We never once got heated.
Neither was she at any point moved and asking what she should do to be saved.

But she heard truth, and I behaved in love.


I've had another girl at camp on my mind all week. She's a smart, deep thinker for thirteen, has seen her share of life, and is articulate and has common sense. But hearing many conversations as she and her friends hung out around my area, I knew she didn't know the real Jesus. She'd been on my heart and I was contemplating starting a conversation at some point.

 Last night I picked up my brother from a high school bible study. As we drove home I asked him and his friend what the teaching was about.

"It was about how we should share God's love and truth with others, and not keep it for ourselves."

Allllrighty then.

I knew what I was going to have to do today.

During lunch while her friends were doing something else I asked if I could tell her something.

I shared about God and the garden of Eden and why Jesus came to die. I explained how salvation works and what hell is like. I explained how Jesus' death and resurrection works and how this life is the only shot we get at accepting His gift.

I also listened to her ideas and when her other friend arrived I listened to her and answered her questions.

And I very, very gently, in a heartbroken tone, looked a fourteen year old girl in the eye and affirmed that I was implying that she would go to hell when she died if she didn't accept Jesus' gift.

What I didn't do was comment on her shirt that I thought was way too short. What I didn't do was comment on how certain books or tv shows she likes are probably not good. What I didn't do was tell her that her ideas were stupid.
What I didn't do was try to change her.

What I did do was have a normal conversation, the kind where you listen and then you talk and then you listen again...about extraordinary things.

We parted with a hug and as friends. I know she heard me and she knows I heard her.

After that, I shared more with another young girl who thought that she was too old to start believing in God and Christianity. We talked for awhile. It was a normal conversation about extraordinary things. But we were human; we paused to laugh and we were real and we were genuine. It was no debate, it was no heated argument. I shared, she shared. I listened and she listened. I was able to give a fully comprehensive and articulate, uncompromising gospel message without someone feeling hurt and trampled on.

I learned a lot of things.

You must be filled up to pour out.

You must be in love to speak truth in love.

You are not responsible for anyone's salvation.


And may we all grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we abound in love for Him, for each other, and for the lost strangers and friends around us.

Monday, June 29, 2015

i weep

i weep for the disintegration of our nation

i weep for the lies humanity has bought

i weep for the fallen state of this world


i weep for every battle i have not yet fought

i weep for every chance that awaits me
to stumble and fall and turn to evil

i weep for the weakness of my flesh

i weep for my stubborn flesh


i weep for the grace and mercy of my Lord

i weep for the realization of His strength

i weep for gratefulness that He is the rock of my salvation


i weep for every day there is left to endure

before we are to meet our Beloved in the clouds

indeed, verily, i weep

Friday, June 26, 2015

a moment

We all have our quirks and little hobbies. Some of you paint in your free time, others go for walks or run. Still others enjoy making things beautiful with decorations, or writing poetry. The outlets people have for themselves and things we do for enjoyment are endless.

For myself, I enjoy figuring out the chords to songs I enjoy singing and playing them on our family piano. I plunk out a chorus or two quite often, sometimes as an emotional outlet, sometimes just for the enjoyment of making music.

Last week, I was delighted to open my email and see the announcement for Nate Ruess' (frontman for the band "fun.") first solo album. I downloaded it mere hours later and have been listening to it nonstop. I love his artistry, and the raw emotion and the stories told in the words, his voice, and the music as a whole.

I had taken a particular liking to one of the songs, called "Moment", and had been singing the chorus quietly to myself for a few days. This led to, earlier this week, plunking out the melody on our piano and subsequently finding the chords and singing a bit of it before I had to leave for a physical therapy appointment.

The sweet, amazing lady who helps my mom clean our house was downstairs at the time too. Normally I don't sing or play music candidly around other people, but I had ten minutes to kill and I didn't think much of it.

The chorus, which kills me, goes like this:

Well I'm fine,
I just need a moment
I'm alright,
Right here on the floor
Well I'm fine,
I just need a moment
to cry

I played this little bit over and over, committing the chords to memory as I figured them out. After a while, I realized I may have been playing for longer than ten minutes, and turned around.

My mom's cleaning lady helper was standing there video recording me with tears in her eyes. Amidst my shocked, stuttering queries, she said to me,

"That's it. I've been looking for those words for a few weeks. I'm fine, but I just need a moment."

She proceeded to share something really personal in her life with me, and it astonished me to see someone so moved and allowed a release from something I had thought nothing of.

I share this with all of you to say one thing:

The Lord uses you wherever you are. He uses the big things and the small things. He can even minister to another soul through your idle tinkling on the piano, singing a song that struck your fancy.
He will use you in ways you had no idea He will.

Don't despise the little things you do, your little quirks or hobbies or interests. You have no idea how those things will bless another or reach into their soul.

Just keep on keeping on.

He gave you the talents, gifts, skills, and interests that He did for a reason.

Keep on walking with Him and being who He made you, and don't despise the little things that may seem useless or petty.

You might just be the reason for a grand moment in another.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

We Are Cinderella (Not Exactly a Movie Review)

*general spoiler warning*

I surprised my sister and a good friend at the movie theater tonight after a long and tiring day between general fatigue and a shift at work. Afterwards we ran and hopped and skipped together in the rain, and I full on waltzed through an empty parking garage at 11pm.

We saw Cinderella. I did much more than see a movie, so I'll get the review portion of this post out of the way, in brief.

Costumes, casting, set design, and music were absolutely lovely. There were nods to the beloved animated film throughout, but the movie was both it's own thing and a heartfelt re-imagining of the cartoon. It did not stray too far; rather, it delved deeper. Everything was absolutely beautiful - I was gasping and gaping like a wide-eyed child. Especially with the fairy godmother's magic, I felt a certain reverence ("Don't mess this up!" I'm sure someone somewhere hissed to another during production). I can only imagine how much Helena Bonham Carter enjoyed her role (especially that goodie in the credits), and Cate Blanchett was blatantly enjoying herself, it seemed to me; wicked stepmother is a far cry from Galadriel and the other more dignified roles we associate her with; she played it magnificently.
And yes, I thought Prince Kit was cute. Moving on.

Midway through the film, my mind split off into two veins: one on marriage, and one on marriage.
Let me explain.


Many people are so occupied with gender roles, and breaking them, feminism (the definition of that depends on who you talk to), equality, the works. Some elements, I'm sure, are good. But I feel that many viewpoints (such as calling gentlemanly behavior sexism) go against the biblical "gender roles" and God's perfect will.

Why must the man lead? Why must the woman be submissive? Why are the women pretty and the men strong in such fairytales as this one that I was watching?

As Ella and the Prince performed that breathtakingly beautiful first dance, I answered my own questions. Marriage is, first and foremost, a reflection of Christ's, God's, relationship with us, the church. We are His precious, adorned, beautiful bride, and He is our strong and all-capable head and treasurer.

The godly woman who does the hard thing in submitting to her husband's lead is not squelching the female voice or throwing away the opportunity to prove a point, because life is not about the here and now. Life is about bringing God glory, walking in His ways, because it is He we shall come face to face with when we die.  She is being obedient to God; in that obedience, her relationship with God is strengthened (not to mention her marriage, too). And if you don't believe that everything in life is meant to bring us into a closer walk with Christ, I don't know what to tell you.

What God shows us in the Bible of Christ and the Church is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and if the Prince and Ella in this movie gave even the barest hint of the loveliness that we are to be when the Lord comes again, we have much to look forward to.

Which brings me to....

Marriage, regarding the bride of Christ
We are Cinderella.
She is taught to believe in courage, and in being kind; in the power of kindness.
We are taught to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in His sovereignty, to accept salvation.
She spends her whole life practicing that which she is taught.
We ought to be spending out lives practicing what our Lord teaches us in His word.
As she cultivated kindness, we ought to be cultivating it, along with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

At times, the wicked seem to be better off. Because of our moral uprightness, we suffer. Our kindness and gentleness makes us vulnerable. In our lack of selfishness, we are taken advantage of; because of our love, we experience pain. We are mocked and mistreated and humiliated and made to endure hardship.
Here, the wicked can seem to have a better face than we do.

But who was it, who saw us in our lowliness? Even while we were yet sinners?
None less than a Prince. He who has a throne, and will reign forever and ever.
He spotted us in our humble place among the ashes, even before we knew who He was, and He desired us and pursued us, made a way for us to be with Him.

The wicked, they have their season, their pleasure.
But he, she, who keeps to the Father's word, who believes, who practices what they have been taught - what of them?

Why, they will get to marry the King.

In an advantage over dear Cinderella, we know our ending. We know the answer.
Will He take us as we are?
More than that, He already has, and paid a dear price to have us.

If Cinderella could be so kind and so long suffering out of love for her dead parents, with no foreseeable end, how much more so should we endure and act on that which we have been taught, which we believe, knowing there is such a prize, such a magnificent wedding, such glory ahead?

That question is one for each of us to answer ourselves. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Travels of 2014: Kurdistan, Part 3

November - Iraq: Day Two

The very important question in the van on the way to the hospital was what the hashtag of our trip should be. Which is hilarious because only one of the six of us even have a twitter account. It was a debate that lasted for days, but it was agreed that Jeff, Tim, and I were the #AllTheFun portion of the team. The reason was twofold: one, none of us had medical degrees (still don't), which led to two, we got to do something outside the hospital while our good doctors were stuck inside all day!

We left Dr. Kirk, Allison, and Anita at the hospital and went to the KSC headquarters. We were ushered to an office with a large desk, wood floors, and couches on both sides of the room. One of the administrators came in and made pleasant small talk with us at one point, but it was about 45 minutes before we left. In that time, they brought us my favorite Kurdish tea yet. They're all the same basic idea: extremely strong black tea with sugar, but each maker's tea tasted different, and the tea made by a lady at the KSC office was my favorite. I remember telling her "Good morning" in Kurdish, and upon finding out she's Persian, said "Merci" for the tea. 

Soon after we climbed into a van that was followed by one or two others, loaded with large cardboard boxes. They are filled with clothing for refugee families who have fled here from conflict-torn cities like Mosul, and our task of the day is to deliver the boxes to local churches where the refugees are staying. Our guide and translator for the majority of the day was a smart young woman named Nawras in her mid-twenties who worked for KSC. Her English made me slightly embarrassed for even attempting Kurdish because she was so fluent, but we all enjoyed her company very much. She was kind enough to answer all of our questions and tell us about the city as we drove through various parts, and brought some well-timed humor. (I asked if there were many road accidents considering the....adventurous and flexible nature of the drivers. I then said I hadn't seen one since we arrived, and her response was, "Would you like to see one?")

We pulled into a cobblestoned alley flanked by two tan-stoned buildings. The wall on the right gives way to a long arch of a doorway, the doorway to a church, and there is a grass-covered courtyard beyond it. The other three walls supported two floors of rooms. Tim walked in and a handful of children flocked to him, and within seconds there were enough of them that he backed out into the alley to make room for those bringing in boxes. Tim is truly something of a pied piper, because in a blink the number of children around him did something like quadruple - or more.

Eventually we were ushered into the courtyard with the gaggle of kids, and my eyes bugged seeing the throng surrounding our balloonologist. There were toddling little ones to youngsters taller than myself, and parents holding babies, too. I can't decide if a crowd of people all talking at once is less or more chaotic if you can't understand the majority of what is being said. At any rate, seeing as Tim was swamped, I laughingly remarked on how his hands were full. He returned by telling me he had a second pump, if I'd like to start making balloons too. I'd never made a balloon animal in my life, but there was no way I could say no.

In Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, in a church housing refugees, and I'm holding a brightly colored pump about to make an inflated animal out of a green balloon. I had many an incredulous private laugh. 

I made a balloon animal alongside him while he made one, then he moved a distance away, talking half of the crowd with him. I stood on one of the stepping stones that lined the courtyard so I could feel slightly taller than the adolescents who stood eye to eye with me. 

"Animal? Flower?" These words, a few of them know. 

"He wants an elephant."

"And he wants a bicycle."

I'd made only one balloon animal in my life and I was being asked to make an elephant and a bicycle. 

Let's just say I did my best. 

Jeff, Tim, and I were having so much fun with the kids that we didn't realize the trucks were getting packed up and leaving. The van that we arrived in was the last to leave, as the kids didn't want the novelty balloon man to leave. 

But with a few parting tokens, we climbed into the van and drove off to the next mini adventure of the day. 

(to be continued)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Travels of 2014: Kurdistan, Part 2

November - Iraq: Day One Continued

It is Saturday afternoon and I am halfway across the world from my family, my home, and my country. It is a beautiful, sunny day, and while tired and still dealing with vertigo if I stay still for too long, I'm excited to go to the hospital and meet people and feel this new city, this new place, beneath my feet. 

"Baeyani bash!" I tell the clerk at the front desk. "Good morning" in Sorani Kurdish, which I had devoted some time to learning before the trip (made easy because I have a Kurdish classmate and a Kurdish coworker). Some of the others found a bread shop down the street, and the workers were kind enough to give them five loaves for free because they hadn't had a chance to convert their Turkish currency, and the bills they had were very large. Flatbread with some cheese that Anita brought in her luggage is breakfast, then the KSC drivers who picked us up only hours before pulled up in front of the hotel to take us to the hospital. There are two hospitals across the street from each other -- one is a children's hospital and the other is for all ages and where our doctors will perform catheterizations later on in the week. 

We walk up two flights of stairs, the walls decorated with faded images of childhood icons like Spongebob and Minnie Mouse, and are shown an office at the end of the hall where Dr. Kirk and the others are going to do screenings for the rest of the day. The hall outside isn't exactly bare, but the florescent lights sap a bit of cheer from linoleum-floored space. Dr. Kirk, Allison, and Anita  get set up in the office, and I go out with Jeff and Renas to run a few errands in town. I snap a photo of the street and get more of my U.S. cash converted to the Iraqi dinar.  

I've brought my violin, and when we get back to the hospital, the 3rd floor hall is full with families. Some will wait for hours - practically the whole day, in fact. I stand next to the wall at the end of a row of chairs, take out my violin, and play a few songs that I know well. After a while I catch the eye of a little girl who's watching me, and I hold out my violin to her. It is incredibly difficult trying to demonstrate how to play a very technical instrument without speaking the language, but I try, eventually poking my head into the screening room for some translation help.

"Betchenago shanebikra" I say, gesturing with my hand. "Hold it with your chin and shoulder." She eeks out a note and I grin excitedly and say "Bash! Zohr jwan!" enthusiastically, as I've done so often before when I've let kids try out my instrument, only I've never told them it's good and sounds beautiful in Kurdish before. 

Pretty soon there's a small line of children, and I pass my violin around. It's likely the first time they've ever seen let alone played a violin, and I feel like a celebrity as the parents have us pose for picture after picture. Later on while I was playing, some of the parents even recorded some video on their smartphone or tablet. (Something else that surprised and amused me: nigh everyone had such advanced technology -- more advanced than my four year old phone and six, or more, year old laptop. It was something I hadn't expected.)

When there is a English and Kurdish speaking person around, I leap at the opportunity to converse and shamelessly use them as translator as I mingle and try to get to know the many families waiting in that hallway. By now the hall is filled with colorful balloon animals and hats courtesy of Tim, our balloonologist, and we have to keep a sharp eye out for the rainbow-colored soft plastic soccer ball that Jeff purchased and is kicking around with the children. What could be a hushed and painfully boring place looks more like a child's birthday party. 

The day ends around 6pm if my memory serves; we are driven back to the hotel and have some down time before we meet on the top floor for dinner.

This hotel restaurant provided the greatest unanswered question of the trip. 

On the back wall there was a large TV screen, and as we talked, conversation gradually continued to drift to the subjects on the screen. I shall endeavor to describe: there was a bright green stage and backdrop and there was an Muslim man standing in a corner singing or chanting. There were also two women completely covered in black robes -- couldn't even see their faces, with a bright green headband that went around. They were bowing or doing some sort of dance. At some point of the headbands got taken off. We persisted in speculating, though our only conclusion was, "It's unclear." We asked one of the restaurant staff what was going on, but he didn't understand us and our gesturing to the TV, as was made clear when he changed the channel and instead of dancing black-robed women we were treated to an elephant with a paintbrush painting on an easel in the African savannah. 

I guess we'll never know. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Travels of 2014: Kurdistan, Pt. 1

Dang, this year ended with a blast. 

During the last two months I've made two trips, my first international and my first alone. They were both amazing and so, so special in their own ways. 

So to conclude 2014, I'm starting a journal-like narrative of my recent travels: a testament to how good God is, and this splendid world He has created. 

November - Iraq: Day One

 I step off the plane that took me from the Portland International Airport to Washington, D.C., and sigh in relief as I see a tall, light-haired figure, inches over 6 feet, standing by the gate. It's Dr. Kirk, the pediatric cardiologist who has let me join this missions trip to Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan region, Iraq, and my biggest concern about this trip was finding him before making the connection to Munich. My first international flight. He's upgraded to business class, so I  sit in economy with a space between myself and the lady sharing the center row of seats. It is a huge flight: two aisles, seven seats to a row in total. I record a sound clip of the German being spoken on the PA system and send it to my best friend before the plane begins to taxi. 

"Au revoir," I whisper to the ground as the plane lifts me off the surface of the continental U.S., not to return to it for over a week. The flight is long, eight hours, and I read letters from my best friend, eat, and doze intermittently for the first six, resisting the glowing interactive screen on the back of the seat in front of me until the final lap, choosing to watch Million Dollar Arm,  which was a suitable choice considering the common theme of different cultures.  

I know airports aren't supposed to count, but I would like it to be known that the first country I have visited outside the United States is lovely Germany. 

There is just time to visit the bathroom, freshen up, and stuff the front page of some local newspapers into my luggage before the flight to Istanbul. It's a smaller plane and a shorter flight; and I find myself seated next to a middle-aged couple. This is being a flight out of Europe, I knew there was a large chance I could practice my mid-201-level French on the flight. "Est-ce que vous parlez le français?" I venture to the wife, who is closest to me. I struck gold: they are from France and on their way to Istanbul for a short vacation with some of their children.

International flights are the best, by the by. You get fed a decent meal on those, and the coffee is perfectly timed. 

Customs was long and tiring, just all of the walking really, but the online visitor's visa I printed out beforehand made it a little bit easier. First stamp in my passport: Istanbul, Turkey. 

Dr. Kirk and I met up with a missionary who has been living there for about three years, if my memory serves. We go down into the city and talk over lunch and tea at a café, sitting at a table along the side of the street, across from the building. The owner kept drifting over to talk because the missionary with us is fluent in Turkish, and Kurdish. After we eat, Dr. Kirk and I walk down through the streets to the Hagia Sofia. Dr. Kirk tells me some about the history of the church, and I get to see the beginning of the restoration of the original mosaics that were covered over by the Muslims previously. 

Funny thing, there are roasted chestnut vendors on nearly every street corner, and by the end of the day I was singing the "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" line from the Christmas song every time we passed one. 

After the Hagia Sofia, we walked down to the spice market, where I buy cumin and mint and other spices and teas for my mother and friends back home. By then it's getting dark, and we take the metro back to the airport and wait out the evening in the United Airlines lounge courtesy of Dr. Kirk's frequent flyer status. 


They have a row of computers and free wifi, and I send a few emails, thankful I can considering I didn't bring my laptop, not expecting to be somewhere with an internet connection the entire trip. I had, however, fully developed jet-lag induced vertigo by this point, and a gigantic desktop screen combined with a Turkish keyboard made it extremely hard to concentrate. The only solution was walking, for me. Once I stopped walking I felt like I was in a turbulent airplane. Something like having sea legs on land, I imagine. 

We met up with the rest of the team about an hour before our flight took off. Anita, Allison, Jeff, and Tim were the other members I had not yet traveled with, and while they were all old enough to at least be my parents, some even grandparents, I liked them all at once and could tell they were a great group of people to be around: funny, full of energy, and joy and sweetness that comes from Christ. 

The flight mainly consisted of Kurdish men, likely coming home to aid the fighting. It was quite hilarious - once the plane touched the ground, as it was still taxiing down the runway towards the gate, all of the Kurds were up out of their seats getting their luggage down from the overhead compartments. The rest of us exchanged amused glances, waiting for a disastrous accident. It thankfully never came, and we all made it through security and customs safely. It's 3:30am on Saturday morning, local time. 

We spend some time waiting for the checked baggage to arrive. Jeff and Allison share clementines from Ethiopia while we wait. I was already totally warmed up to all of them, including Anita whom I was to share a room with, but when Jeff pulled a large luggage off the carousel and said "It's full of lemon heads," I was sold. I'm sure laughter at that unholy hour was something the airport staff was not accustomed to. 

As we exit the baggage claim I see a young lady likely in her early twenties holding a piece of paper that says "Dr. Kirk Milhoan." I stop and let her know this is the group. Her name is Renas and she works for the organization in Kurdistan that invited the team out here. There are two vans that we load our luggage into and take us to the hotel. 

I had no idea what to expect. And apparently, on the last trip the accommodations weren't exactly the best. However, we were all pleasantly surprised, slightly shocked maybe, to see our rooms at the Areen Hotel. The one Anita and I shared had two twin size beds and a queen between, a clean and Western style bathroom, a flat screen T.V., and a one wall that was a huge window offering a view of the city from our fourth floor vantage point. It was lovely. 

We were not expected anywhere until 11am or noon. Once we got settled Anita went to sleep, and I stayed up recording the journey up until that point in a navy-blue travel journal, custom made for me by a dear friend. It was about 6am when I finally drifted off, and I got to watch the light begin to creep up over the hills and touch the skyscrapers. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faith Strings

Every week at the start of my violin lesson, I listen to my teacher play an 'A' on the keyboard while I draw my bow across my corresponding string, turning the tuning peg this way and that until the notes match. Then 'D', then 'G', then 'E', finally playing them all together and nodding in satisfaction when they all sound together in harmony. It's a small, very simple act, but I do it every week before lesson, every day before I practice. Why? The rest of the time I spend playing would be a waste if I did not.

Because of temperature and moisture changes in the air, the wood of my instruments expands or shrinks a little bit depending on the environment. I'd have to stop breathing and keep away from anyone else who did to keep my violin from doing this. With every slight expansion or shrinking, the strings are pulled out of their correct tuning, and it is my job to re-right them.

What would happen if I didn't? Anyone with a decent ear would be in pain, including myself, if I failed to make sure my strings are in tune. I could play a scale and all my fingers would be in the correct places, but since the string isn't tuned to the right note, none of my fingers will yield the right notes either. I could try and correct my fingers to the untuned string, but that would be even more labor intensive, groping my way up and down the strings, hunting for the right notes, with no logical pattern or method at all. The intervals would be all wrong.

I could play an originally beautiful sonata without a note being in place. What should sound like singing would sound like a sick and dying animal.

I could do everything else I know to do, but if my strings aren't tuned, it's all in vain. What should be music is a disaster.

For followers of Christ, reading our Bibles and prayer is our daily tuning. We could have a fruitful devotional time on Monday and be in a great place, but if we neglect it on Tuesday and Wednesday, we get to Thursday wondering why our words are the painful, ungentle scraping sounds of complaining or accusation or unkindness. We may not stop and take the time to worship the Lord and then wonder why certain tasks in the day that used to be easy feel so overwhelming and impossible. We meditate on things other than God's Word and His promises and then try to bless others: in vain, it becomes apparent, eventually.

If I can't expect to make beautiful music without first tuning my violin to the correct notes, why do we think we can go about our days and do the Lord's work without first tuning ourselves to Him? Re-aligning our hearts, readjusting our perspective.

We are each a player in the symphony that God is conducting. It would be silly if musicians insisted on trying to play their parts without playing attention to the conductor, or without fixing their strings. They understand that to be in harmony they must continually go back and tune, go back and re-tune, go back and re-tune again. So must we, and it is not a bad thing.

Getting out of tune is nothing to feel guilty about! My instrument exists in a world where heat and cold and moisture tug and pull at it. Should it or I beat ourselves up for getting out of tune? No. I simply ask for the correct note and make it right. Likewise, we are souls in a world where sin still exists and the things of this world are constantly yanking at us and trying to pull us down. We grow weary, we lose perspective, we get off track. It's not the end of the world -- you just have to get back in tune.

Such a little thing, yet so crucial. I may know all the right notes, but if I haven't changed the tone of my string, that knowledge doesn't do a thing. Just because you've read that verse before or you've heard that story or lesson a thousand times doesn't mean it's not useful to you.

You and I are earthen vessels that must make themselves ready for the service of our Maker. Musicians in a vast piece that only the Great Conductor understand in totality, this side of heaven. So don't neglect meeting God in a quiet place daily; reading His Word, praising His name, being reminded of heaven and of the work God is doing. Don't frustrate yourself by trying to play in this spiritual symphony with an untuned soul. Don't overestimate your instrument and and assume you can keep going and going without the strings pulling out of place. And don't be discouraged when you know you're out of tune -- just crack open your Bible and find the right notes to sing again.

It is the little, faithful actions that set the foundation for beautiful sounds that minister and bless us, those around us, and He who sits on the throne.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Security of Insecurity

I can definitely say I took internet culture's (namely, the fandom/fangirl world's) cues in this, but in myself, personally, I've seen an over-glorification of insecurities. Awkwardness, faults, things we're not good at or afraid of.

There's an overall flavor of "this is who I am, deal with it, we're making insecurity cool so we can feel accepted in them."

While accepting people the way they are and loving them isn't wrong at all, there's a false sense of security that comes in embracing insecurities and things we're afraid of.

I might be alone in this. *shrug*

But I know I've become secure in my insecurities. They are the things that I have let define me. They are the things that I let dictate how I live. They are the things I have used as a shield, an excuse, a safe place. An excuse so I don't have to face those problems, those issues, those things I should grow in. An excuse for going my merry way and doing what I want.

In some ways, I've let my insecurities take the place of character traits.

The way I'm terrified of interacting with people my own age. Honestly, nothing more scary than a roomful of other teenagers I'm expected to interact and fit in with.

The way I get self conscious about the way I look, different than lots of the people around me.

The way talking to boys makes me really nervous, by and large. I avoid that one at all costs. Or try to.

The way I feel really socially awkward and don't like to get out and meet new people and do things in groups and be adventurous.

The way I don't like certain unknowns, or the pressures of peer groups, or being in different societal groups.

The way I, bizarrely, paradoxically so, am afraid of being different.

These are things I have let define me, in some ways. They are things I have accepted as fact.

And you know what?
That comes back to bite you.

Because as much as you can find security in embracing your weaknesses, at the time you hate them. Again, maybe this is all just me.

But I can get insanely jealous of my friends who hang out with others their own age. And have fun doing things in groups; social events and other things. Have normal guy friends, or even boyfriends. Do things that are totally unique and beautiful and have confidence in themselves - not by being stuck up, but unapologetically being who God has made them to be.

And sometimes I can take that jealousy and hurt and turmoil of emotions and keep them inside. Leave them to simmer and grapple with them privately.

But sometimes, those friends are too close for me to do that.

And what are my insecurities that I burrow in and hate doing then?

They're coming out, at my friends, and instead of hurting only myself, I'm hurting a dear friend because I'm insecure and jealous of what they do. 

It's entirely unfair that I am mad at them for having more confidence than I do.

It's also entirely unfair that I am maintaining my insecurities instead of daring to grow out of them. Daring to see past my issues. Daring to get over myself and change the things I don't like about myself.
Daring to grow up and mature and be a better person instead of envying those who don't struggle in the ways I do.

I've gotten some glimpses of the ways my insecurities could hurt other people.

And my walls I hide in aren't worth doing damage to my friends. It isn't worth breeding jealousy and envy and discontentment in myself.

So, with the Lord's help, I'm going to try and do a very scary thing.

Actually find some confidence and stop using my fears and weaknesses as excuses.
Stop lying to myself. Stop exaggerating my bad qualities and dismissing my good ones.
Show grace and love to myself the way I show them to other people. Love myself as a child of God the way I know I want to show that love to everyone else.
Resist the lies of the enemy and lift my eyes to Heaven when I feel downtrodden.
Be selfless. Stop selfishly wallowing in the ugly familiarity of insecurities I've exalted. Stop giving the enemy footholds, leaving myself wide open for discouragement, discontentment, jealousy, depression, paralyzing bitterness. Selfishness is idolatry too.

My Heavenly Father is right there ready and able to help me mature and grow. He's right there to do it in me - I can't do it myself. I need His help, I need His steady hand, His steadfast love.

"This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." 1 John 5:14-15

I want love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

I want to look beyond myself.

I want to love others unconditionally.

I want to die to self.

I want to be secure in the Rock of my Salvation, not my insecurities.

I'm confident He hears that prayer.

And I'm encouraged that one day, I'll be better. And even now, I'm learning.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Abiding, which also includes home decor.

"We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."

There's a picture in our downstairs bathroom of grapes on a vine. Beneath, it has the verse "I am the vine and ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit."

And for as long as I've regarded that framed text on the wall, my idea of abiding has just been....being. Like a plant growing, I suppose. Not very interesting. Not very vivid. Just being.

The verse up there in italics was the subject of a bible study last week. As a group, we sort of discussed what abiding (among other things in this verse and the surrounding ones) meant. Our pastor, whose house we were at, used his house as an illustration: he abides there: it shelters him from the elements, there's food in the fridge for him...

My brain took off from there. I glanced around the cozy family room we were in. This is his house. The furniture is arranged the way he wants it. The walls are the color he wanted them. This home is accommodated to suit him; the longer he and his family have lived here, the more it has become theirs. 

You can tell one lived-in house from another.

When one first moves into a place, it has considerably less personality, less markedness of the people that inhabit it, than it will even a few months, and certainly a few years, down the road.

Our living room may have been mostly devoid of furniture in the first two years we lived in it; but sixteen years later there are pictures of my family all across the walls, well-loved furniture that has been moved and moved again, books and pens scattered around, and today's mail on a bench near the door. There's no doubt whose house this is.

So too, when the Lord moves into the house that is you: the longer He abides there, the more things are going to get scooted around and rearranged to suit Him. The walls are probably going to get a different color scheme than the one you picked out. He's going to rearrange the furniture, or maybe even buy a new couch. He's going to hang pictures on the walls that please Him. And maybe a wall or two is gonna get knocked down and the entire kitchen remodeled.

And you know what?

The finished product is going to be more beautiful, more healthy, more peaceful, more joyful, and more satisfying than anything you could have dreamed up while picturing your dream house.

But you have to let Him call the shots. Don't argue about the color of the front door or the spacing of the couches or the type of sink He's putting in. He's better at this "making all things new" thing than you are.

That means you're going to hear things like this.

Hey, that dream you've been holding on to? It's going to go tonight. It's keeping you from me.

The way you color your words doesn't exactly reflect me. Let's repaint the way you speak.

You keep tripping on that stumbling block in the middle of the floor. I know it's going to take some tugging and pulling, but let's move that. Right out the door. 

You're hiding behind this wall. I'm going to knock it down over the weekend. 

That sculpture you're really proud of in the entryway? Your pride is keeping you from being useful. I'm going to take your accomplishment off its pedestal. 

It's not fun. It's not pretty. It's hard work.

But you're also going to hear things like this.

This space seems quite empty. I'm going to bring you friends brighter than the prettiest flowers to fill it up.

Your kitchen shelves are looking scarce. Open my Word - there's a storehouse there to sustain you. 

Here's some ministry and blessed times and memories and family to decorate the front of the fridge with. 

I have this fresh coat of paint. It's beautiful, and after I scrub your stained and scraped walls clean, I'm going to give them a completely new look. You're going to love it. 


There's something absolutely charming about a very lived-in house filled with people that love Jesus. There's something peaceful about it. Something fruitful. Something satisfying.

There's something absolutely charming about a person in whom God lives; someone who loves Jesus. There's peace. Fruit. Satisfaction.

Abiding isn't static. Every day your house, your bedroom, your closet, becomes more and more yours as you live life. Your intricacies fill them; no one knows your house better than you do.

God abiding in you, you abiding in God: they are not unmoving statements. It is Him living every day in you and making you more like Him. It is you getting to know Him, better and better, like knowing the way to the kitchen even when the lights are off.

Every day that you walk with God, be encouraged: you're getting more and more lived-in. He is abiding, being, living in you. Making you, you earthen vessel, you mortal temple, His habitation.

You've been His since the day He bought you and put His name on the title deed, and every day that ownership becomes more and more clear.

He is your God. And you are His delight.

And He that has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. I promise.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Back To Screenwriting

Five years is too long to go without making a movie.

So, this summer, Lord willing, I'm going to throw together my first real short. It's an adaptation of a work of fiction by a beloved author: G. K. Chesterton.

And I can't try to sound serious and professional anymore I'm eating tater tots as I type this for crying out loud.

Ok so I adapted the first chapter of The Man Who Was Thursday by good old G. K. into a short film set in the present time while still preserving the early-1900s air. Visually, it will look almost as if the characters are rehearsing a period play in full costume in a contemporary cafe. It's going to be so weird I can't WAIT.

Almost all of the dialogue is straight out of the chapter. I think it would make an intriguing short, and it's a way to personally celebrate an author I have recently been delighting in, from taking notes on Heretics late at night to doing dramatic play readings with friends over skype.

Want a preview? Ok here's a preview.

Do you guys understand that this means?I'll have something serious to blog about all summer! If it happens! And I think it's gonna happen. Alright. Update over. I'm going to go finish my tater tots now.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dietrich and Luther

I'm in the middle of reading The Cost Of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I read this section this morning in the car before my math class, and I was so stirred that I wanted to share it with all of you, as well.

This section came on a small discourse on monasticism, but the emphasis that hit me was God's overturning of Luther's world, more than once, and how delightful it is, how glorious, when God shatters our worlds and pulls out from under us everything we stand on, and leaves us no alternative but His grace.

"By and large, the fatal error of monasticism lay not so much in its rigorism (though even here there was a good deal of misunderstanding of the precise content of the will of Jesus) as in the extent to which it departed from genuine Christianity by setting up itself as the individual achievement of a select few, and so claiming a special merit of its own. When the Reformation came, the providence of God raised Martin Luther to restore the gospel of pure, costly grace. Luther passed through the cloister; he was a monk, and all this was part of the divine plan. Luther had left all to follow Christ on the path of absolute obedience. He had renounced the world in order to live the Christian life. He had learnt obedience to Christ and to his Church, because only he who is obedient can believe. The call to the cloister demanded of Luther the complete surrender of his life. But God shattered all his hopes. He showed him through Scripture that the following of Christ is not the achievement or merit of a select few, but the divine command to all Christians without distinction. (...) The bottom having thus been knocked out of religious life, Luther laid hold upon grace. Just as the whole world of monasticism was crashing about him in ruins, he saw God in Christ stretching forth his hand to save. He grasped that hand in faith, believing that "after all, nothing we can do is of any avail, however good a life we live." The grace which gave itself to him was a costly grace, and it shattered his whole existence. Once more he must leave his nets and follow. The first time was when he entered the monastery, when he had left everything behind except his pious self. This time even that was taken from him. He obeyed the call, not through any merit of his own, but simply through the grace of God. Luther did not hear the word: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolation of forgiveness." No, Luther had to leave the cloister and go back to the world, not because the world in itself was good and holy, but because even the cloister was only part of the world."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Epic Music II by Jonathan Maiocco - Review

It is my pleasure and honor to have been given this album of music a pre-release listen, and a review. If you do not already know who Jonathan Maiocco is, do yourself a favor and acquaint yourself.

This album was sheer pleasure to listen to. Jon pointed out in a recent blog that the track titles spell out, by looking at the first letter of each, "To the great I AM." And indeed, Jon's music here is, and always has been, sounds of praise to our Creator.

I'm going to briefly splurge on each track, in order. Here we go:

The Greatest Story Never Told
This is a strong opening to the album: sweeping scope, momentum that gathers with a slow grandeur and leads to a fast-paced, high-combat air almost halfway through. The string lines about a minute to the end make one want to sing, or shout and charge into the fray with weapon held high.
The last minute felt to me like the tatters and tears after the bloody climax of an epic tale - as if all the glory was whisked away and you are left with but a single word, a fading image. It's gorgeous, epic, and tender at the end.

Yeah, have I mentioned this album is writing fodder? If you need an auditory writing prompt, something to kick that writing brain into gear, look no further. 

Organ Donor
The title is quite clever, as I realized. A blazing organ theme comes in at about two minutes - it has a whiff of steampunk and is high-energy. Like the track before, it has a simple ending that is not anticlimactic in the slightest.
What I love, always, is Jon's ability to paint a story with sounds. And that, in the end, the story is different for everyone that listens. It sparks the imagination and is gripping.

Thirteenth Hour
This one begins with a mesmerizing ticking and has strong use of percussion, strings, and vocals. Again, fast-paced like the steady, dramatic countdown of a story's time clock. A track that's easy to get lost in (in the best of ways), and in my opinion, it's only fault is being too short. The best songs always are. This is why the repeat button was invented.
Again, excellent writing fodder. The mastery of it is that the sounds are not overwhelming, the drama not overdone - it is perfectly balanced to strike one's emotions and imagination in a tasteful manner.

Hope In Our Midst
This is one of my favorites. It's fit to make your heart soar. The spirit of high adventure at its finest - pure, bold, untainted; perfection contained in just over three minutes. It whispers to you to seek out the unknown, to brave an adventure. To find courage. This one leaves me breathless and near tears. I am not in the year 2014 when I listen to it. This song is like the best kinds of books. You can be anywhere or be anyone when you are in it.

Extra Celestial
This one begins tender and vulnerable coupled with a sense of wonder. Possibly the most grand of the album and an easy favorite. The scope and depth is astounding and I wish I could stay in it forever. It is, indeed, heavenly, though it carries a serious gravity about it as well. Both beautiful and solemn, to me at least.

Gun Control
Someone decided to have major fun with sound effects on this one. Grim and intense, after floating amongst stars in the previous track, this one catapults you to earth and places you in a crossfire - between the beauty of music and the deadly sound of bullets firing. It's a treat for the ears and is seamless, but it's no walk in the park. It's a risk to incorporate sounds like that into a musical track like that, but it definitely worked.

This one is just too much fun. More fun than should be allowed. Pardon my dance background, but it would make a riot of a tap and jazz number. Personal opinion.
Almost purely percussion, you'll be tapping nearby surfaces and possibly nodding your head to the beat in no time. It doesn't go so long as to get old, and it's a nice breather before the solemn...

Earth Forgotten
Another one of my favorites. Can you tell I like the slower, serious ones?
It's hard to find words for this one. It's gorgeous, that's for sure. Hauntingly so, or perhaps in the way of an almost-completely-faded memory. There are vocals in this track as well, and they are masterfully used and don't stand out like a sore thumb the way I've noticed vocals can in instrumental tracks like these. It takes its time, builds, and carries you to the peak of a mountain range and shows you glory before fading away again in a grave farewell.

Always And Forever
Is atmospheric the right word? This track has a bittersweet air, another one that is easy to get lost in. Superb in its emotion, it's slowly hopeful, like a smile gradually earned through tears. Dare I say romantic? Aye, it's romantic, but not sappy in the slightest. Gorgeous, in a word.

That Feeling Of Falling
Heroic. You can practically visualize the hero sweeping in to save, and the impending peril. Definite excitement and intensity. Driving down the freeway blasting this one would make such an ordinary thing epic for sure. In case y'all are like me and you listen to music while you drive.

Into Battle
This one sends you reeling into combat, for sure. It's almost hummable which is a bonus. Again, not overkill in the intensity department, perfectly balanced. Stirring with bold lines of heroism and the feeling of now-or-never.

Anger Management
Reminds me of those epic trailers we've been seeing these days: giant ships looming over cities, tower toppling, people running around... you know, cool stuff.
Seriously though, this track is just. Well, epic.

And here it is, the stunning close to a glorious album. Epic music, indeed, and this one tops the whole listening experience off. Mesmerizing, it paces itself, growing like a giant rising to his feet, and we watch in awe. Utterly breathtaking. It rises to an epic climax and then goes somewhere special - a place of praise, in wonder of the Creator, the maker of music. If there was a way music itself could lift its hands and declare the vastness of God, this is it.

Okay now. You're gonna go give this album a listen or two, right?
Here's a link:

Many thanks, Jonathan. And praise be, always, to the Great I AM, who makes beauty like this conceivable.

Friday, December 6, 2013

letting the Lord speak, second guessing, and animated movies because what post would be complete without them.

Where did we leave me last?

Frustrated with art in Michigan, I think.

I've been pretty darn frustrated with everything. See, I got a big enough glimpse at the secular world, and suddenly I see art, self-expression, in a new light: selfish. vain. meaningless. I've hated it. Hated the pursuit of it. Hated the fact that it's such a part of me.

I've tried to suppress it. It also bugs me, just devoting my life to art, because it's not practical. I've kind of kicked myself into a new direction. I'm considering nursing. It's practical. It's useful. 

It also requires a lot of math and science and Heaven knows my brain does not comprehend much in the way of sciences. But I'd like to try and work hard for something that I think I could be confident doing. You couldn't really be critical of someone taking care of people, right?
But I don't even need to look beyond myself to find a critic for choosing a life of creativity.

So it's actually ridiculous the amount that the Lord speaks to me through animated films.

I was just scrolling through facebook and someone shared this video. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I watched this clip and I didn't know why but I totally started crying and now the song is on repeat as I type.

You may or may not cry.

After showing it to my family, my mom pulled me aside and told me something.

She told me about someone who is a very creative person, but when she was 18 or 19 chose instead to try and be practical. And she never really amounted to much in terms of career. She tried to stem what she was gifted with and do something 'better.'

And my mom doesn't want me to do the same thing. Because if God has given me gifts and a passion, trying to do something else, in my own power, is be trying to be something I'm not. And I'm doubting Him, ultimately. I hadn't thought of it that way before today, but it's true.

As long as I'm abiding, doing what I know I'm supposed to be doing, I'm glorifying God through obedience. And if I am somewhere He doesn't want me, He will tell me.

So I shouldn't quench the things He's given me a passion for.

I'm still trying to find balance. Make sure I don't fall into meaningless art, self-expression that does not honor God. Filmmaking in particular comes with a lot of compromises and I don't know how to navigate that yet. With God's help, in time I will.

But the fact that the scene in the clip above moved me so much means fiction can't be totally useless.

In fact, I have an amazing friend who has been sharing things the Lord has been showing her through fictional stories. And it's been such a needed reminder. Because anything that can be called 'good' points to God in some way.

And heck, I guess God invented art.

Of course, if I am called to something like nursing, or teaching or something less 'creative', it'll be great. If it's what my Creator wants me to be doing, then doggone it, I'll do it to the best of my abilities and depend on Him.

But right now there's a fire in me that I'm trying to ignore and it's been making me miserable.

I suppose I ought to just let it go and stop trying to be perfect.


Here's to using what God's given us and walking in His will; to not disregarding our gifts and being who we've been created to be.

(it's like Jack Frost too because he was searching for his purpose and was freed up once he understood his gifts and how he was supposed to use them see what did I say about animated movies)

If God's given you a fire for something, a gift- use it. It could be anything. Literally, anything. And maybe other people don't see it or don't get it. But when you're using what God has given you, when you are who you are, it's even more breathtaking than that ice castle in the sunrise.

Imagine if we all simply abided by the Spirit and let ourselves go and did the incredible things, big or small in the eyes of man, that we have been given the ability to do, working in harmony and unison as the body of Christ.

Wouldn't it be beautiful?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

because songs


Well last night I couldn't sleep
I got up and started walking
down to the end of my street
and on into town
well I had no one to meet
and I had no taste for talking
Seems I've been talking my whole life
it's time I listen now
Keep On Walking; Passenger

Was it a friend that I needed,
or a lie?
so I could make myself believe that
What do you think I was waiting for?
a sign?
I was waiting for someone
to call themselves mine
Can't you see my body's out
of time
Sometimes it's a sadness 
that won't fit
between your lines


awake at night
cry you know it's
not alright
to feel like you're falling into nothing
you can learn to fly
just call 
His name
just call His name

Where do we go
call out His name
Lift up our hands
completely ashamed
Give it all up
dropping our pride
Rip us apart
Change us on the inside
Now, change us now

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Long Overdue Hornblower Appreciation Post

 I have been waiting to make this post for years and the time has finally come.

I was foolishly procrastinating on some homework and decided to scour the internet for Hornblower, well, everything. 

For those ignorant, soon to be fully informed, Horatio Hornblower is a character created by the writer C. S. Forester. He is a Napoleonic Wars era officer in the British Navy, and throughout his entire career he has one sort of adventure after another. The series is 11 books long. And there is a miniseries created by A&E that is eight episodes long.

I hold all of them- books and episodes- very close to my heart.

The time has now come for me to share this beauty with you.

My internet scouring mainly resulted in photosets and a few amusing posts/cartoons. This is not a review post, it's more of a fangirl-gushing general appreciation, ah, thing.

If you already are acquainted with Hornblower, then glorious. We shall gush together. If you haven't read or seen Horatio Hornblower, then my friend, you must. 

This is quite long because there are so many photos, so I'm sticking the rest beneath a jump.

But here's a pretty photoset to lure you in.

Monday, November 11, 2013

sometimes I wax eloquent on accident

"The Bible is, essentially, all about access. Mankind's access to God. From the Garden of Eden to the events of Revelation. 
From Adam's descent from holiness, from mankind's fall from perfection. To God's calling of Abraham, a heathen, to become the father of a nation. Proving His love and power and glory again and again to that nation, a beacon and testament to the surrounding peoples. To Mary, the birth of Jesus- God allowing Himself to be contained in a mortal vessel, living as one of us, sinning not, letting His creations mock and scorn and slay Him, making it possible for us to be with Him again by His blood and resurrection. Releasing us from the bondage of sin, allowing there to be peace between God and men. To His coming, which we look forward to not with wishful thinking or futile hope, but with a certainty stronger than a watchman on a wall awaiting the dawn.  

This world is a long poetry, an epic saga of God, the maker of this world, showing Himself to mankind, inviting them to join Him: to go places they would never reach on their own, doing wonders, defying sinful human nature by His Spirit; experiencing life, truth, understanding the mysteries of the world, dancing the ever enchanting spiritual dance of communion and peace with God, having the immeasurable hole that is carved in every one of our hearts, filled. And certainty of the future, of our passing from these mortal vessels to eternal ones, in the presence and unending fellowship of the One who loves us more perfectly than anything we can imagine. 
It is glorious. Utterly glorious. To sit in one's bedroom with an open Bible in your lap and know that God is there with you. To step outside and survey the trees, the sky, the clouds, and know that God placed them there. To know the Creator. To no longer struggle against Him, nor fight in our strength against our fallen nature, but to understand that we are filled and covered by the Almighty Spirit of God from whom all good things come. That it is not a boring, mundane, safe, or pain-free life we signed up for by asking Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives, but rather an adventure that will outlast our stay on Earth. To understand that we were made by and for God. That we will never truly be happier than when we are in fellowship with Him, learning more about Him, rejoicing and worshipping this great, boundless, perfect, unfathomable Being who is truly unmatched. Who spoke everything we know into existence, and sings over us. Who delights in you. Who bled for you. And who cannot wait to be in true, eternal fellowship with His bride.
And I, for one, cannot wait for the day when we shall experience Love in its- rather, His truest and most perfect form. "
~taken and embellished from my Bible journal