Thursday, December 27, 2012

christmas, cousins, and college

Well, Christmas is over and gone and the new year is approaching quickly. Can you believe it?
I can't. For some reason, it really did not feel like Christmas to me, and I can't really put my finger on why. It began feeling more like Christmas when my cousins from VA came to visit, like they do every year. We all have changed so much and do not have as much in common anymore, but we still enjoy our time together. Yesterday we got a few inches of snow, so we took a nice long walk in it and sledded a bit. It made for some good memories. 

Unfortunately, the cousins leave tomorrow, then the new year will arrive, then I will move to IWU. I have so much to do before I transfer! I have to do laundry, pack, buy my textbooks, and all in a week. I leave next Friday. I am quite nervous about the move, but am excited as well. Change is always scary, but it doesn't mean that it is bad. Truly, I believe that this is a good change and it will improve my life academically, physically, and spiritually.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas eve surprise

Today I made a special Christmas eve lunch for my family. I saw both of the recipes on Pinterest and thought they looked cute and easy! It took me a little while to make everything, but the surprised look in my family's eyes when they sat down to the fancy, fun meal made it all worth it.

The pancake reindeer I made. The antlers are made out of bacon, and the eyes and nose out of chocolate chips.

 A yummy Christmas parfait I made. The recipe can be found here.

I am not much of a cook and do not enjoy working in the kitchen very much, but I really wanted to help Mom out and make a special surprise for the family. Surprises are so much fun aren't they? I almost think they are more fun to plan and create than they are receiving them........even though I like that too.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

the confidence of Christ

 "The most beautiful women I've ever observed are those that have exchanged a self-focused life for a Christ-focused one. They are confident, but not in themselves. Instead of self-confidence, they radiate with Christ confidence."
~Leslie Ludy


Saturday, December 22, 2012

being a witness, gingerbread style

My sister and I went to a gingerbread house making party last night. Before I even arrived, I knew what I wanted to do, a nativity. I have made gingerbread houses before.....really good ones at that, but that's what everybody does ya know? I decided to do something different and to create the manger scene, which is the true reason for the season. Because it was different than the rest, it caught everyone's eye and I got many questions asked about it. Who knows? Out of all of the people there last night, maybe there were some who didn't know about Jesus who came as a baby so that He could become a sacrifice and die for our sins.

I just think that this song Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice is so meaningful.
It isn't just a song, it is a prayer.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

as long as it takes

"I'm tired, do I have to keep proving myself?
I'm weary and drawing from an empty well
I need You more than I ever have
So Jesus come and shatter my darkness somehow

I won't speak until You speak
I won't move until You move me
I won't sing, sing over me
I will wait as long as it takes

I'm restless for something significant
But I'm helpless cause I've done all I can
I want You more than I ever have
So Jesus come and hold me, I'm shaking right now

I won't speak until You speak
I won't move until You move me
I won't sing, sing over me
I will wait as long as it takes

You are the Comforter so comfort me
You're the Sustainer so be enough for me
You are my Father and Your love for me
Is where I find my rest

I won't speak until You speak
I won't move until You move me
I won't sing, sing over me
I will wait as long as it takes"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

be born in me

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to be Mary? We all know the story, seen movies, watched pageants, and have read the account in the Bible more times than we could probably count. But have you ever actually taken a few moments, closed your eyes, and put yourself in Mary's shoes?
She was a simple, young, teenage girl who probably considered herself rather plain and normal. She had just found out, what she thought, was the biggest news of her life........that she was going to marry Joseph. She could have known Joseph her whole life, a few months, or not at all, but either way, she knew that Joseph was a good man and would take care of her no matter what. What came next, though, would test the "no matter what" to the extreme.
Imagine this: one day she is walking down the road to perhaps get some water from the well or maybe returning from working in the fields, when a strange voice calls out her name. She stops dead in her tracks and looks in every direction for the man that is calling her.........but he is not there. She slowly turns back around and prepares to run away when a bright light shines down from heaven. Automatically she collapses to the ground, face down, because she now knows that this voice is not a man's voice, but an angel's.
      "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
Mary knew that God was always with her, so that part she understood. But what about the 'O favored one' part? And why was and angel speaking to her, plain, simple, little Mary? As all these thoughts enter her head and the reality of what is happening sets in, she begins to shake uncontrollably. She really can't help it. Suddenly the angel, knowing how frightened Mary is, begins to deliver his message.
     "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."
Me? Found favor with God? Mary thinks, confused. What have I done to deserve His favor? I'm nothing special. How could a God so holy find favor on a lowly girl like me?
     "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 
What!? Mary can't believe what she is hearing. It doesn't make sense! "How can this be since I am a virgin?"
     "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."

Now.......time out. What would you have said if you were Mary?
  •, that all sounds so amazing but.....I just don't think I am cut out for that job. You might want to find someone else.
  • You see, this is kind of a bad time for all this to happen. I just got betrothed to this really nice man, and since we aren't married yet, me becoming pregnant would be kind of strange and I don't think he would like it very much.
  • I don't think I'm ready to have a baby just yet, let alone the Son of God! Can this wait a few years?
  • But what would people think of me? Being pregnant without being married! They will shun me, hate me, even kill me!
 Would you have given any of those excuses? Those were all very true for Mary. She was just a ordinary, young girl. She had a good reputation, but wasn't anything special. She had just been betrothed to a great man. And she knew, that if she became pregnant, that life as she knew it could crumble away. Her family could disown her,  her friends could shun her, and her husband to be could even stone her because, after all, who would believe that she became pregnant through the Holy Spirit and that she is carrying the Son of God? Even though those were all true, she gave no excuses and no 'ifs, ands, or buts'. She simply said,
     "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
No argument. No reasoning. No excuses. Just submission. She knew what could happen. She knew the pain and tribulations that she could suffer. But she also knew that God had a plan, and that she was chosen to bear His son, the Son of God.
The story doesn't end there. The miraculous story of Jesus' birth continues in the book of Luke. If you haven't read the Christmas story yet this year, I recommend you do it. Don't just read it like you have read it a million times though, put yourself in Mary's shoes. Read it like you have never read it before. After reading the Christmas story, I recommend you watch the movie The Nativity. It really brings the birth of Jesus to life.
Mary's submission is amazing, the birth of Jesus is amazing, God's word is is time that we start treating it that way.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

it's christmas!

It is finally starting to feel like Christmas time. The temperature has dropped, it snowed a little yesterday, I am almost done with my finals, Christmas music is playing everywhere I go, and the house is all decorated.

I don't know about you, but I am so ready to start making Christmas treats, watching Christmas movies (I have already seen Elf.........which is my favorite), wrapping gifts, caroling, and attending all the Christmas parties coming up!

This Saturday is the first Christmas party of the holiday season, Sunday night is our church's Christmas music service, then Tuesday some girlfriends of mine are getting together and having a big sleepover at Clifty Inn. The sleepover is half birthday party for a friend and half good bye party for me. (I'm headed off to IWU in Jan!)

Sounds like next week is going to be full of holiday fun. What do you all have planned during this holiday season?

Monday, December 10, 2012

a Christ-centered friendship

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4)

     As I look at the world around me, I am constantly amazed at what the world calls a "friendship". Most friendships today are fickle, self-centered, fake, and emotional roller coasters. Many Christian friendships I know are unfortunately the same way. They are almost worse because they call their friendship "Godly" yet it is no different than the world; they are hypocrites. I believe that a majority of people today, Christian or not, do not understand what true friendship is. True friendship is modeled after Christ and putting the other person first.

     As the verse above indicates, we are to be selfless and focused on the interests of others. " is a daily disposition, a constant commitment to purposefully put the other person's needs above your own. When that is our attitude toward our friends, instead of thinking about what we can get out of the friendship, we begin to ask, 'How can I die to my own agenda for this friendship and be Jesus to her?'" Tell me, how many friendships do you see that revolve around THAT mindset? I must admit, I have never seen a friendship like that, not in my life, not in the life of anybody else. Sending little notes of encouragement her, paying for her coffee, surprising her with a memorable gift are all very nice things to do, but it goes beyond that.

     Friendships today are often not truly governed by Christ-like selflessness and because of this there is constantly misunderstanding, moodiness, emotional pain, and drama. Honestly, who really wants that? Yet we all seem to accept it like normalcy and do nothing differently. So, should we not show our feelings and emotions in our friendship? Should we keep it emotion free? Not at all. " of the sweetest aspects of a Christ-built friendship is having a shoulder to cry on and someone who will point you to Jesus in both sorrows and struggles." That is the key. Our friendships should not just consist of us running to each other with every single thing that has us upset, filling her ears with our complaints, giving worldly advice, and plotting what should be done about it. It is about us being a friend who points her to Jesus, both in the good times and the bad times.You know what that means though? We as individuals have to be controlled by and looking to Jesus, both in the good times and the bad times. "When two people are controlled and sustained by Christ individually, and then allow that to carry over into the friendship, the natural outflow is a relationship in which emotion, when it is present, only serves to edify and unify."

     We all get on each others nerves at some point. It is bound to happen, we are all human. There is really nothing we can do to stop it, but we can decide how to react to it. When your feelings are hurt by your closest friend, when she takes everything you say the wrong way, when she is selfish, what should your reaction be? Would you lash out and try to get even? Would you give her the silent treatment? Would you cry and put on a big show? Would you gossip about what she did to you? Or would you show her kindness, grace, love, and forgiveness? "The more God shows us our own lack, the more we realize that building a Christ-honoring friendship requires giving the other person as much grace for their mistakes as we want them to give us. (Col 3:12b-13a)" Our reactions as Christians should be totally opposite to how the world would react. We are to follow God's pattern of humbleness and forgiveness. Instead of focusing on your friend's shortcomings, you should really try to see what God is doing in their life, how God is working in their heart.

     How are your friendships? Are they Christ-honoring and Christ-centered? Are you being a Godly and selfless friend? If not, are you willing to be? Perhaps you are willing to be, but none of your friends are want to change. "If any of our close friendships are not pressing us on into a deeper spiritual life and shaping us into selfless, others-focused friends, it may be time for us to ask God what practical things we could do to change them so that He, and not the joy of a kindred spirit, is the prize." It is not going to be easy, but it will most definitely be worth it. It may not happen right away, but God will bless you for your perseverance and your want to change and be more like Him, even in your friendships.

"A friendship that purposefully makes Him the center and draws both people closer to Him will become a beautiful testimony of patient graciousness, humble servitude, and selfless love- spurring others on toward that same, single-hearted pursuit."

*All quotes are from the Set Apart Girl article "A Set Apart Friendship" by Tessa Hershberger and Amy Meyers in the Jan/Feb 12 edition.