Friday, August 29, 2014

Faithful Friday: Lean on GOD's Understanding

Happy Friday to you!
I hope your week was a very blessed one.
This past week has flown for me as it was my first week back in school.
I am so grateful for the time off I had for summer, but it is hard to leave it behind
and not be home as much anymore.  The positive in that is that will only
enhance my appreciation for the privilege of spending time at home and
getting time to do the things I love.  
I am thankful that this is a long weekend and am so looking forward
to jewelry making and baking a cake and spending the days with my family.

.          .          .

I was hoping to share something with you in the middle of the week, but
time got away from me with reading and assignments, so it is so nice
and refreshing to get to write a post to share today.

Recently, I came across these beloved and well known verses and read them,
 then thought of one aspect of them in a slightly different way.  I am always amazed how
 God can allow you to see something new or different in words within His word
that you have read hundreds of times.  It is so neat and captivates me, a feeling
of joy at seeing something from a different angle, so to speak.
I am in love with the words in these verses, their meaning, the comfort and 
assurance they make me feel... to imagine how, if we submit to the Lord, He Himself
guides our paths.
The portion that I saw differently the other day was "Lean not on your own
understanding".  I have read that so many times and I always think of it, every single
time, as God telling us to not relying on our own thinking and our own way of doing
things.  It also means to me to trust God with all our situations and trials because
he sees the rest of the picture and we do not.
However, I had never thought of it as meaning that we should not rely on our own
understanding of God's ways and His qualities specifically.  This was something
new for me to think about in reference to this scripture and that is the way I
suddenly saw it, with this new meaning added to it.
Maybe that sounds like something simple and obvious, but it is so interesting how
we all think of things differently and interpret things differently.  I had just not
taken those words to have such meaning before.  Personally, I found this so important
and a true revelation in my faith because I viewed it suddenly as pertaining to God's
working and His views of us...
How important it is to not think that we know everything about God, about
His love for us or about whether or not He will or will not do something.
  I think of this in terms of sin and being forgiven especially.
So many of us may feel like something we have done wrong or some habit we have
that we feel is a sin is unforgivable, feeling that God cannot forgive us.
Maybe we even feel like God is unfair in His ways concerning why He lets
death happen, why illnesses and suffering are happening all around us.

It takes great faith to believe that God can forgive you or that he can take away
the suffering in this world, but it takes even greater faith to KNOW he WILL forgive you
and that HE knows what the future holds and will put an end to those things.

Seeing this scripture in a different light or in other terms reminds me that
faith is not just leaning on God instead of yourself to get through tough times, but also
to lean on not your understanding or your opinion of what he will do, but to look
into His word to see the facts and the promises he holds.
He promises that if we are heartfelt in our repentance, God is quick to forgive us.
He is happy to forgive us.  God promises us this several times throughout the bible,
yet it is still hard for us to believe those words and we keep doubting that.
For me, this is because I find myself leaning on my own understanding of what He
means, rather than taking His word for what it clearly says in front of me.

This is a struggle for so many of us.
This scripture reminds me to pray for one another and for
ourselves to better understand God and what He feels for us and what
He can or cannot do.
May we listen to His promises as they are written instead of listening
to our own worries or are own concerns and doubts.

God bless you!

Wishing you a beautiful holiday weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Faithful Friday: Angels

Lately, I have been blessed to have angels on my mind.  I have had them on my heart as I have meditated on their roles within scripture and God's purposes for them.  In particular, I have been amazed to ponder over their connections to us here on Earth.
I have been reminded recently of the passage at Psalms 91.  This has got to be one of my favorite chapters of the entire bible...

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,

    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.
(Shared from: Bible Gateway)

...Angels have always been a part of my spirituality and I grew up being reminded of how God allows them to be a part of our lives.  As humans, we may not be able to see angels or know what they look like, but it is incredible, comforting, and just a wonderful feeling to know that God would care about us and love each of us as his creations so much that he commands his heavenly angels to guard us and watch over us.

I write about this today because this bible passage is one I had not thought of in awhile and when I finally did again, I was so thankful I had come across it.  My heart bursts with joy just to think about this verse, verse 11, especially.

The Lord's love for us inspires strength and is comforting in ways there are no words for... his display of caring and tending to us as His children is shown in countless ways and one of those is through His arrangement with the angels.  I am always amazed to think of the purposes behind God's ways, to think that while He and Jesus are more than enough, he allowed even more amazing heavenly beings to be a part of heaven... and that they have so special a purpose.

In another verse in Luke, we are told of how the angels care for our spiritual well being as well.  What a blessing to our walk in faith to know that not only God and Jesus, but also the angels, care for us and rejoice over our repentance and watching us serve the Lord!
"In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10.

How beautiful to know that as you go about your day each day of your life, you can feel calm despite your hardships just knowing that God has commanded an angel to guard your ways and lift you up!  

Are you amazed by this verse, too?  What are your thoughts on angels?

Blessings to you!
Have a lovely weekend ♥

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #10

Happy almost Friday! :)

Today I am joining Ms. Patrice and Wendell on the Farmhouse Porch for a chat!  It's always a privilege to get to join the chat when I get the chance.

Here are the questions for today...

1.  What are you most looking forward to in the remaining months of 2014?
It is so unreal to me that it is even time to start thinking about 2014 only having a few months left.  It was just January!   In the remaining months of this year (which I hope will not go by too fast) I am looking forward to so much... sewing projects, hopefully planting a Fall garden, getting deeper into my studies both in school and things I love to study on my own, writing projects, Fall decorating, spending time with my family during Thanksgiving break, seeing friends and family I am missing, chillier weather, taking a little road trip, and Winter being here!
2.  Tell us about the last movie you saw, or book you read.
The last movie I watched was RV, with Robin Williams.  I was so sad to hear of his passing and I really couldn't believe it.  When I was little, I watched the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire,  all the time.  From then on, I thought he was such a wonderful actor, so talented and genuine.  But more than that he had a quality about him that made him seem like he was a truly decent, good-hearted person.  I'll always remember seeing him smiling and being so loving and caring with the children in his work with St. Jude's.  His love for them and for others in general was beautiful to see and inspirational.  I know you can never fully know what someone is like if you don't know them personally, but he had a kindness in his eyes and a tenderness in his heart.

3.  Do you ever make smoothies or juice?
I love making smoothies.  They are so refreshing, especially now in the 104 degree heat.  My body feels so clean and healthy when I drink smoothies and they are fun to make because you control what goes into them and their flavor.  I would really like to make juices also and have been wanting to get a juicer.
4.  Who do you wish you could talk to right now?
Everyone I've lost in death.  I miss them and I think often of how much I'd like to have them here again to talk to and laugh with again, just to hear their voice, share my heart and my dreams with them.  I miss the conversations we would have had and the things I would have gotten to know about them if they were still here.

5.  Please finish this sentence:  "If I could spend a week in a lovely cabin in the mountains, I would like to
...spend as little time as possible inside the cabin.  I would want to go out and hike and lay out under the stars with the towering pines overhead and write or just stare at the skies.  I would go adventuring to find a waterfall and sit by it and just listen or a creek to hang my feet in.  On our trip to Colorado that we just returned from, I felt so blessed to find a couple of glorious waterfalls on our hikes and get to do just that, and I wish I were there again.  That feeling is like nothing else.

I'm so glad to get to spend some time on the porch today.
You can head on over and visit Ms. Patrice and Wendell here at Everyday Ruralty!

Have a blessed day and weekend ahead!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Faithful Friday: Surrounded by Your Glory

Before I write anything more, 
I want to first say thank you with every part of my heart
for all of your kind words and prayers for my family.
This is such a hard time... hard to grasp what happened and hard to
deal with everything, and the comments on my "In Loving Memory" post
about my Aunt were such a blessing to my soul.
Thank you so much for your kindness.  Reading the comments several
of you so sweetly left was so encouraging and strengthening
and put such a smile inside of me because of how heartfelt they were.
It is amazing to know girls and ladies that I have never met
are so caring.  You are a true blessing to me.
Thank you ♥

.            .            .

 Yesterday got away from me and I was having trouble thinking of exactly
what I wanted to share this week, so I am posting today instead.
Today is what will probably seem a simple Faithful Friday post. 
Among the words I shared about my Aunt a few days ago, I shared a song.
Many of you may have heard that song several times before as it is 
a pretty well-known worship song.
It is by far one of my most favorite... I feel a love for the Lord and His
love for me perhaps more than ever when I am soaking up the notes, lyrics,
and feeling within that beautiful song, I Can Only Imagine.
If you have ever had a song that connected you to your faith so indescribably,
you know exactly what that feeling is like.


It has been in my head constantly since we returned from
the funeral and each time I start singing it in my head, I noticed that I always
start off with "Surrounded by your glory".
I thought about it and that is my favorite part, because of the incredible
meaning within that phrase.

Those words may sound simple, but it is a gift to really soak in their definition.
Surrounded... completely surrounded by God's love and His

The way I think of this personally is so beautiful to me, so priceless...
these words, to me, convey the most comforting and amazing picture of God being
with me every minute of every day.  Because he is.
No matter where we are, if we carry God in our hearts with us
he surrounds us with his glory.  His spirit is with us.
I am in awe of this truth.
There is no better place I can think of that I'd rather be than
surrounded by the most powerful force in my life.

I reflect on the times when I know undoubtedly that God
is with me... which he is all the time, but sometimes it is impossible even
more to not feel it... when I see an amazing sunset or the sun's rays
behind the clouds, when I look down at my faith bracelet, when I smell
a rose or see a mountain scene like I did in Colorado,
when a verse is put in front of me somehow at just the right moment.

Living everyday reminding yourself of how you are
surrounded by God's glory each moment makes every day 
more of a blessing than it could ever be otherwise.

May you wake up each day with the knowledge that no matter
what you may face throughout that day or what may come your way-
good or bad- nothing can really break your spirits
when you are surrounded by the glory of the Lord.

.            .           .

Here are the full lyrics to I Can Only Imagine
and the song for you to listen to if you'd like, 
in case you missed it on my last post, or have just never heard it.

Faithful Fridays is no longer a link-up and I will miss linking-up
and reading the posts of others.
I thought I would mention that because I do not have
the usual button I include at the bottom of this post.

Thank you for reading.
May you have a blessed rest of the weekend!

What is your favorite worship song?
I would love to know :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Loving Memory... I Miss & Love You


When you pray for someone you love to be healed, you pray with all your might and every part of your being, hoping and wishing with your complete heart that they will get better.  But sometimes God has a different plan.
My Aunt had been fighting cancer for several months, when suddenly things took a turn for the worst.  I don't think I have ever prayed quite so hard or determinedly in my life.  My whole family was praying, and there are so many of us that I imagined all of our prayers coming together for a miracle.  However, my Aunt Betty ended up passing away.  This was last week, just shortly after we returned from our trip.  It is so hard to believe, so difficult to grasp, and it was so sudden.  Losing her is a jolt to my mind, awakening me to what I so often take for-granted, how precious each day is, how blessed I am to be alive, and how valuable each memory of each moment with those I love is.  She was so young and had so much life to live and love to give.  When I lose someone, I mourn because of how much we miss them and that there is a hole in our family where they should be, but I also mourn for how sad I feel to know that that person can no longer be with their family and that they can't enjoy the little things of life that they loved.  Every time I do something that stands out to me as a moment that makes life so beautiful, I think of them and how I wish they were still here to feel that, too.  I think of the things they are missing out on getting to do now.  My Aunt was an amazing seamstress and that is just one thing I think of... the dresses she won't get to sew and enjoy creating now.  I grieve over the weddings and family events she will be absent from, the special moments she won't be there for with her children, grandchildren, and us as her whole family.  When someone lives a life as beautiful as she, it is hard to accept that they won't be here anymore to keeping living it.

For living a short life so far, I have experienced much loss in death of friends and loved ones.  Death never gets easier to deal with.  This time was harder for me because I am older and I think I have a heightened sense of the ache of sadness that it leaves you with.  It was also devastating to our family because of the strength of character and beautiful soul that my Aunt Betty had.  She was a rock in our family.  I will miss her so much... miss getting to know her better as a young woman instead of a girl, miss her bright smile that is forever stamped in my mind (such a beautiful smile), her sparkly eyes, her voice, her giving heart.  I pray for comfort for my Uncle- her husband- because I cannot even imagine how much he is missing her and all of those remarkable things about her right now.

I am at a loss for words, so in describing her, I will take the words straight from her beautifully written obituary.  Whoever wrote this could not have said it more perfectly.

"She was a beautiful person with the most loving soul. She was kind and selfless to anyone that crossed her path. Her ultimate passion in life was to give her very best to her family. She loved her husband, children, and grandchildren deeply and without measure.
She delivered her creativity to the entire community through her beyond rare ability to craft custom heart felt hand-made creations. 
One of the most important things to her was her relationship with God. The legacy she leaves on this earth is that her children will grow in their relationship with The Lord and pass that love and devotion on. 
Although she was taken too soon from those that loved her, we know she will always be with us and we will remember to keep her in our hearts everyday.
We love you always and forever."

Our hearts are so heavy, but I am thankful to be blessed with a large and loving family that is so supportive and holds each other up during times like this.  Her memorial service and funeral could not have been more beautiful, and being there and mourning with my family has allowed my heart to let out some of the ache I have felt over the past week.  My Daddy played Amazing Grace for her at the church service the day of her funeral, lovely verses were read, and beautiful songs were played.

My Aunt Betty was most passionate in her life about her faith in God and about caring for her family, devoting herself to raising four children and to her 37 year marriage.  She was kind and selfless to all she met and went out of her way to help others.  She leaves with me the highest inspiration to live my life with that same kind of devotion, reminding me of what in life holds the most true meaning.
Looking at her photos at the service and now, my heart feels a sorrow that is hard to describe.  I am thankful to have been blessed to be her niece.  I will miss her and wish that I could have spent more time with her, but I know that someday I will get that chance, because it isn't goodbye forever. ♥

When I think of her, I will picture her beaming smile and her loving spirit.  I will also think of this song that she loved, because it was played at the service.  It was also played for my Grandma's when she passed away.  This song makes me think about how our faith as a family is the only way we are getting through this loss.  I cherish this song for it's meaning, and now because it will be a reminder to me of the beautiful person that my Aunt Betty was and that she will always remain with us in our hearts.... our inspiration of strength, because she was undoubtedly one of the strongest, if not the strongest, women I was ever blessed to know.  She went through tragedy and sorrows in her life, but she relied on God even more and became even stronger because of it.

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not
be dismayed, for I am your God; I will
strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous
right hand"
-Isaiah 41:10

"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted"
-Matthew 5:4

"I grieve for all the tomorrows that will
never be.  I grieve because God now
holds you instead of me"

"Goodbyes are not forever, are not
the end; it simply means I miss you
until we meet again"

I hope you have a blessed day!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sunflowers... (Blog Award & Nominations)

... I cannot think of many flowers, let alone things in general, that are so bursting with the feel of Summer at their very mention.  So, what better award to be nominated for in the Summer? :)
My sweet new blogging friend, Hannah, at "Bits of Simplicity" was so kind to nominate me for the Sunflower Blogger award recently.  Thank you, Hannah!  It has taken me awhile to get to writing this, but I knew this would be the first post I wanted to do when I returned from my trip.  So now that I am home I am happy to get to write it.  Not only am I grateful that she nominated me for this award, but that I have the pleasure of knowing her through her blog that I may be inspired and encouraged by her thoughts.  She has the most beautiful, old-world, lovely writing style, painting scenes of her life and the things she shares with such captivating delight.  She is also genuinely sweet.  I hope you will make a visit to her blog.

As part of this award, I am to answer the ten questions that Hannah created for her nominees.  Here they are:

1.  What is your favorite Christian song?  What does it mean to you?
There are so many worship songs I have grown up with in churchand also many Christian songs that I hear on the radio or elsewhere.  It is tough to think of just one.  I would have to say, though, that although I really know nothing about the artist, there is a song that has lyrics that speak to my heart in such a comforting way.  The song is called "Show Me What I''m Looking For".  I'm not even sure that is a Christian song, but the words and the feeling it conveys is so beautiful and gives me a feeling of being led by God even when I am lost.  So in my heart, as long as I have known about that song and from the moment I first heard it, it has felt like a worship/Christian song to me and I have never looked back because of what it makes me feel.

2.  Pretend you are writing a fictitious story about a courageous and valiant heroine who sacrifices her life for her family.  What would you name her?
I love it, a writing question!  I would name her... Claire Gallagher.  I just chose something Irish because I would probably make the character from Ireland.  I've always wanted to write a book set on the Emerald Isle.

3.  If you could live in any period of history for one year,  which would you choose?
I would probably ask to leave after five minutes because of the combination of heavy dresses and no air condition, but I would love to see the Antebellum South, the grandeur of the homes in all their glory.  It would be so amazing to see the land then and the architecture as it was, instead of just restored as most of the homes and buildings appear now.  The balls at those homes and the fashion then, especially the Southern Belle dresses, would all be so neat to see.

4.  If you could play one, which would it be?  Baroque-style cello or Appalachian-style mandolin?
I have not heard the sound of a mandolin in a while and have not had experience playing either, but I believe I remember the mandolin being an instrument with a very striking, beautiful sound.  I think I would choose the mandolin, also for the fact that I'm used to playing a smaller instrument so I might find that easier.

5.  If you could master any accent, what would it be?
I love Irish accents.  Recently, though, I have been wishing for some reason that I could speak with an Australia accent.  It has such an interesting quality about it that I think makes it pleasurable to hear.  It seems like kind of a soothing accent to hear.

6.  Courtship or dating?
Courtship, or "dating with a purpose" as some call it.  I actually wrote a whole post about courtship and purity, here.

7.  Espresso or pink lemonade?
Pink lemonade!  Lemonade of any kind is a staple of your childhood here, especially this time of year. However, if the choice was instead hot chocolate or pink lemonade, I think it would be a lot harder to decide ;)

8.  Would you describe yourself as dreamy and idealistic, or practical and down-to-earth?
I think I am a good mix of both.  I am always dreaming.  My faith and my dreams and my faith IN my dreams are what keep me encouraged and going, but I am also practical in that I am aware of reality and I am very down-to-earth.  I find a nice balance, though, between being in reality and dreaming.  I think I am dreamy more often because you have to be.  Within my dreaminess, I believe I am less idealistic.  Dreams, to me, are meant to be less about perfection and more about passion for your future.

9.  Give the choice, which country would you visit on a two-week mission trip?
A few places I can think of are the Dominican Republic, somewhere in South America, like Chile (I hear there are a great deal of orphanage ministries there), or Spain.  I recently went on a trip to see one of the Spanish missions that was set up here in the 1700's to bring Christ to those who did not know Him.  It was amazing to see and made me think how interesting it would be to go to the country where the founders came from. 

10.  What scripture verse means the most to you?
Right now, the verse at Isaiah 41:10 has very special meaning for me as I pray for a loved one: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".

.           .            .

Thank you again, Hannah, for allowing me to be one of the girls you nominated, and for making such interesting and fun to answer questions!

Now for the rest of what is included in being nominated: The blogger awarded should nominate six other bloggers who have less than 200 followers, but I'm going to tweak that rule, because I can't just choose six! The second thing is to create 10 new questions for those nominated bloggers to answer.

The inspiring, lovely bloggers I nominate are:
Grace at His Daughter
Joy at Doodlebug
Ty at Life of Ty
Jerralea at Jerralea's Journey

Here are my 10 questions...
1.  What is your passion in life or your most favorite hobby that you are passionate about?
2.  What is your favorite bible verse that most strengthens you?
3.  Where in the world would you like to travel to for your next vacation?
4.  What about blogging do you most enjoy?
5.  Your favorite style of music?
6.  Do you know what your name means?  
7.  What type of landscape do you find most beautiful: mountains, prairies, canyons, beaches, etc.?
8.  What is something nostalgic to you about your childhood that you cherish in your memories?
9.  Which season is your favorite?
10.  If you could be a prodigy at something, what would you want it to be?

On another note, I wanted to say how much it meant to me to get to read the comments many of you left on my post about our trip, wishing my family and I a great and safe trip.  Thank you!   It was an amazing vacation, and I can't wait to share photos with you as soon as I get a chance.

Be blessed!

Have a wonderful day!

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