Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pictures from Recent Adventures

Hello Everyone! Makenna invited me (Ariana, her sister) to post my pictures from our family's recent adventures! So, here they are.

                                           We recently visited the Woodland Park Zoo!

 Our family at Megarama Day! It's a huge farm where families who have Down Syndrome children can come and ride horses, go to the beach, and meet one another! It was a lot of fun.

                                                        Enjoying a few moments at the beach!

Conner Dressing up at Megarama Day!

                                                         Makenna- a cowgirl at heart! =)                                       
  Camera Man

Enjoying her coffee

                                                                 Our family Kayaking

Hope you enjoyed the pictures! Have a glorious day! =)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Life Lessons: Sickness, Surrender, and My Precious Jesus

Hello dear readers...

I'm terribly sorry that I haven't yet posted the pictures that I promised to. My mom and sister have been sick for the past couple days, so I've been much busier than usual, taking on the "motherly" duties. :) It's been a wonderful time of once again recognizing (I feel like this is a continual lesson) my need to lean solely on Christ, especially when I'm tired and worn out, my emotions are spent, and there's still a million things to be done.

Over the past two days, there have been many times of falling into impatience, anger, self-pity, and bitterness. But isn't our God so good?!  He continues to pick me back up and graciously lead me to surrender...again and again.

Surrender. Giving thanks in every circumstance. Serving with a joyful heart. These are the things He is teaching me right now, the lessons that are so hard to learn. But He is teaching me, slowly but surely. Even when I don't feel "spiritual", even when I don't think that I'm growing in Him, even when I see the ugliness that I thought was gone boil up inside my heart again, I must trust my God. He has promised to continue refining me into His image; shouldn't His Word be enough? I must look to Christ, not myself.

"I am Yours; save me!" These words often pass my lips throughout the day, yet I wish that I reminded myself of this truth more. It needs to be His work in me; there is nothing I can do to change my selfishness, my bitterness, or my pride. He alone can change my heart and bring forth the dawning of His light in the dark night of my soul. I must trust Him. Oh Lord, help my unbelief!

I came across these verses tonight from Micah.

"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, o my enemy. Though I fall, I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me."
~Micah 7:7-8

Oh, this is so beautiful! How great is our God; He is our ever faithful Rock! And though we may fail, though we may fall, He will pick us up and bring us to victory in Him! Oh, my friends, let us wait for our God. Let us surrender ourselves completely to Him and watch expectantly to see what He will do.

Well, I wasn't planning on writing all that I did above. I came on my blog planning to write a quick note saying, "Sorry that I haven't posted pictures...don't have time, so here's a quote from Charles Spurgeon,"(by the way, the quote from Spurgeon is below) but I just started typing and that's what flowed out of my heart.  Now that I think about it, I probably could have posted the pictures in the time it took me to write what I did. :) But, it's okay. The pictures will get posted eventually, but I needed to reflect on His faithfulness tonight...and He knew that. Again, I'm overwhelmed...He is so good.

So, here's that quote (that I mentioned above) from Charles Spurgeon. I read this tonight and it blessed me greatly. May it turn your gaze towards your Savior with a heart overwhelming with gratefulness and love. He is certainly worthy of it!

"My Master has riches beyond the count of arithmetic, the measurement of reason, the dream of imagination, or the eloquence of words. They are unsearchable! You may look, and study, and weigh, but Jesus is a greater Savior than you think Him to be when your thoughts are at the greatest. My Lord is more ready to pardon than you to sin, more able to forgive than you to transgress. My Master is more willing to supply your wants than you are to confess them. There is no music like the music of His pipe, when He is the Shepherd and you are the sheep and you lie down at His feet. There is no love like His, neither earth nor heaven can match it. Lord, teach us more and more of Jesus, and we will tell out the good news to others."
~Charles Spurgeon

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sneak Peek~ Recent Adventures

I know it's been several weeks (or has it been months?) since I've posted family pictures up on my blog. And because I've had several requests to post more pictures, I believe it's about time.

I was hoping to post those pictures today, but since I didn't have time, here's a sneak peek of the blogpost that will be coming in the next couple days.

I hope you're all enjoying this beautiful Monday, rejoicing in the goodness of our great God!

Megarama Day on Whidbey Island

Kayaking in Bellingham

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Forever Reign~

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting

Oh, I'm running to Your arms,
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I'm running to Your arms
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other Name
Jesus, Jesus

Friday, August 3, 2012

True Encouragement

Friendship. It is one of the Lord's greatest gifts, isn't it?

But let me ask you...
  • What type of a friend are you? 
  • What do you enjoy doing most with your friend? 
  • What is the highlight and foundation of your friendship? 
  • What draws the two of you together?
These are usually pretty eye-opening, and sometimes gut-wrenching, questions to ask yourself. What are your answers to them?

Alright, now hold onto those thoughts, and let's transfer over to another point I want to make.

A couple days ago, I was reading through 1 Samuel 23 and was impacted by something I found in verse 16. (For context purposes, both verses 15 and 16 are posted below.)

"Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God." (1 Samuel 23:15-16 NASB)

"Encouraged him in God." I had never heard that phrase before in the Bible and it begged for me to stop and ponder its full meaning. 

Well, what do other translations say? I wondered.

So, I started by looking up the same verse in a couple other translations, to see if I could unbury some treasure there. Here's what I found:

New International Version (NIV) - "...And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God."

English Standard Version (ESV) - "And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God."

Looking at all three translations together paints a beautiful picture, doesn't it?

Saul, the king of Israel, pursuing David for his life, even though (and I think especially since) he had been anointed by Samuel as the future king. Jonathan, the king's son, betraying his own father and risking his neck to visit his best friend in need. 

But why did he visit David? Was Jonathan lonely? Did he just need some "man time" with his friend? What was his reason for going on such a dangerous mission?

"And Jonathan...encouraged him in God...strengthened his hand in God....helped him find strength in God."

That was his mission. Those were his reasons.  

What a beautiful example of a Christ-centered friendship! And oh, what a convicting message!

How do I react when I know my friend is in need? When she is hurting? Or doubting? Or fearful? Or discouraged? Am I an encouragement or a further discouragement? 

And if I am seeking to encourage, what type of encouragement am I giving? Just typing in "Christian encouragement quotes" into Google proved to be quite an eye-opener. The below quotes are supposed to encourage the struggling Christian. Here they are:

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

"We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival." ~Winston Churchill

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do any of you distinguish a problem here? The first thing to be noticed: Why is there no mention of Jesus Christ at all?

Yes, those statements might be true to a certain degree, but where is the strengthening encouragement in looking at what "lies within us"? According to the Bible, my heart is
"more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick." (Jeremiah 17:9) And how do we find inspiration from suffering itself? Suffering alone does not bring inspiration.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that strength lies in Him and not me. I know that my friend doesn't have the strength to overcome fear, doubt, or depression on her own, so why would I point her to anything or anyone other than the only One who promises to be her strength, shield, and help in trouble? 

I must point my friend to Christ.*

And that is exactly what Jonathan did. He pointed David to the Lord. He encouraged and helped him find strength...not in himself, not in the strength of his men, or in reminding David of his incredible victories. Those two little words at the end of verse 16 make the difference between true Christian encouragement and its worldly counterpart: "encouraged him in God."

So, my dear reader, may we seek the Lord and ask Him to make us into people who are striving towards Christ-centered friendships. And may He give us His heart to love our friends with His love and His wisdom to point our friends to Him and the glories of His precious promises.  

*One word of warning though. When I say here that you're supposed to point your friend to Christ, I'm not referring to your unbelieving friends. Yes, we should point them to Christ with the Gospel, but not encouraging them with His promises. The promises of God do not pertain to unbelievers.