year in review

as another birthday comes around, another year passing, I like to take a look at the year I’m leaving behind me, the year closing, and see how I’ve grown, how God has been working in my life.

last year’s.

this past year has been, well, a roller coaster ride.  last summer was good (to be perfectly honest it always seems to me like the summers are just an amazing blur filled with so many fun days and other days that are…. well let’s just say less fun), and the end of the summer was just spectacular (we went out west to see some friends). the fall was pretty rough, and I know that God was using it to teach me lots of things. the winter was a lot better, and I find when you look back at something it’s a lot easier to see how you’ve grown through it and the difference between where you are and where you were.

once again, I thank the LORD that I read 1000 gifts because I have truly discovered in my life that when I am off track, the best way to get on track is simply to spend more time with God, and count your blessings. this spring has mostly been lovely. {I say mostly, and what I mean by that is that it has indeed been lovely, but there are days here and there, which are not so much, ya know?} I know that I can look back over the past year and see that God has had a plan to work in my life, and there were things that hurt, and while I was in them I wished I didn’t have to, but now when I look back I see how much closer to God I have grown and I can say honestly that I am okay with it all. but only because God’s got a plan and He works in my life, and He worked through that.

some things God has been teaching me this year include but are not limited to:
1. biggest thing. God will work in every little detail of your life. everything that God brings you into He will bring you through and out of, and if you use that as an “excuse” to run to Him, He will bring you out of it closer to Him.
2. contentment (if you read this blog at all you probably already know that haha!). there are some things in your life you can change. go out and change those if you don’t like them! …but there are lots of things you can’t change -and so why would I want to waste all that time wishing for something I didn’t have? time is precious people! make the most of what you’ve got!
3. living on your own power is just. so. exhausting. when I don’t start my day with the LORD, and “stop in” a few times a day, I do stupid things and by the end of the day I’m a mess. yes.

some books I read this year that helped me grow that I would totally recommend to others:
1. A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. you have a life to live. you can make art where you are now. you don’t need to be a painter or a musician or anything like that to make art. to make art with your life is to glorify God.
2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. this book is great!!! it’s pretty deep and a little confusing at times, but it’s written in a way that is so easy to read… I have learned a lot of great things from this book.
3. The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins. I will admit that while I did read the first part of the book I only skimmed the second part… but I liked this book. did you know we spend a crazy whack of time waiting in our lives? (at the grocery store, the doctor’s, etc, or for bigger things like university acceptances, or a baby etc) and I know that I tend to think of waiting as a waste of time, but God has given us this time for a purpose and we’ve got to use it too!

a few songs that God has used in my life this year:

my favourite hymn-y-worship-y song lately: Crown Him (Chris Tomlin & Kari Jobe)

I need Him. Oh, yes! Every hour, every millisecond, whether I realize it or not!  Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

Holy Spirit -Francesca Battistelli (honestly, I am so loving her entire new album!)
“Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for / To be overcome by Your presence, Lord”

I also made a youtube playlist with ‘just a few’ of the many many songs that I loved this year. (those that I remembered yesterday anyways lol)

 

this year I spent a lot of time in the Psalms, Isaiah, Philippians and a few other epistles. some verses (&passages) that have meant a lot to me:
(if I didn’t put the passage there is a link)

Isaiah 58

Isaiah 55:9-11

Isaiah 46:4

Isaiah 44:22-23
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.”
23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this;
    shout aloud, you earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
    you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    he displays his glory in Israel.

Psalm 25: 12-13

Psalm 27:4

Psalm 27:13-14
I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 34:8

Psalm 37:4, 23

Psalm 51:10-12

John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

2 Corinthians 12:9a,10b
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Philippians honest to goodness, I so love this book! picking a few favourite passages was very hard, please go and read it yourself. slowly. over and over and over again.

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:9-11

Philippians 2:5-11

Philippians 2:15b-16

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:19

Colossians 3:17, 23

God has got a glorious plan for our lives, so that we might be part of the beautiful tapestry He is weaving for His glory. I pray that I would never forget that. We worship and great and Almighty God, who has loved us wayy beyond what we can comprehend. I pray that we would live like we know it!
I hope that you got something out of this mumbo-jumbo ;)

love Em

taste and see

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8

Image

please note that this verse says ‘that’, not ‘if’. once you have tasted, there is no choice. the LORD IS good. this is an absolute truth, not a preference thing. God, whose glory extends beyond time, and beyond the scope of our minds and imaginations, IS good, and what you feel about that doesn’t make a speck of difference in the matter. to those who believe that they have tasted and found that God was not good…. all I can say is that you must not have truly tasted. there must have been something sinful, something of the flesh that you were keeping between you and the God. and I earnestly pray that you would truly taste and experience the LORD, for you will find that He is good. it is simply impossible to find otherwise. God is good beyond our experiences and our world, and just because you may have had a bad time in life DOES NOT mean that God is not good.

I know personally, that there are certainly times when you’ve got to work at it, but I can also tell you, without a doubt, that when you have tasted the LORD and found shelter in Him, there is NOTHING that can compare.

bless you, friends.
~em

with my head and not my heart

*sigh*

this week I’ve attempted any number of times to make a post. I think and think about something to write about, and then I start it. usually I have a whole bunch of half formed ideas rolling around in my head on that subject, and when I try and spit them out, they end up all jumbled and messy and not really what I think I’m trying to say. so I just left all of them to be finished at a later date when those thoughts become more fully formed.

I wasn’t exactly sure why I was having this problem, but as I was talking to my dear friend last night, I was saying that my walk with God (and much of how I’ve been going through life lately) felt very much right now like I was doing it with my head and not my heart. I’ve been faithful at reading the Bible, and mostly faithful at praying, I have lovely blogs that I follow, I’ve been going to church, I have praise music on almost all the time, so it’s not like I’ve ‘taken a break’ from any of those activities. I just feel like it’s all so ‘half-there’. it’s so much easier for me to just read my chapter or two of the Bible for the day then it is to journal, and even praying feels sort of fake. I’ve tried crying out to God, asking Him to let this be more real again, let me feel it. and nothing happens. this isn’t a case of my not believing anything about Him, I truly believe that He is there, and He loves us, and “all that”. I just don’t feel it. I’m sure that it’s something going on on my side (after all He’s not left me, or anything, He’s still where He was), but I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET OUT OF IT!!

but then I was thinking about it. and I realized that it’s what we do when we don’t feel like it, that’s what makes us grow. it’s easy to follow Christ when you feel like it, when there’s depth in your relationship, when everything is going good. but it’s when it’s not so easy to follow Him that we show what we’re made of, and how strong is that grace that saved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

I can’t wait until I start moving through life with God with my heart again! but right now I’m going to be faithfully walking with my head. if you are going through a similar experience, keep plugging away! if we all waited until we felt like it to do anything, we wouldn’t do anything! rather, at some point, the feelings will follow the actions. prayin for y’all!

love Em

preparation

“Every experience God give us is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.” Thus saith Corrie ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place; where, as you journey through the lives of the ten Boom family, you cannot help but see that this is true. There are many lessons to be learned in this wonderful book but it seems to me that this is the thread that ties them all together.

In any book, whether it is fiction or a true story, it becomes clear to the reader throughout the account, but especially at the end, that all of the events fit together in such a way so that the characters end up where they are supposed to be. The same is true with our lives. Each of our lives here on earth has an endpoint, and only God knows when and where that is, and what it holds. We can only see the events in our lives as we go through them, and then as we look back upon them. As we look back on our lives, often we can begin to see how certain circumstances will fit together, leading us to where we are today. This is valuable; but think that as finite humans, how limited our view of all that is in comparison to our infinite God. He can see the whole of our story, and not just that but everyone in the history of the universe’s story – those in the past, present, and the future – and how they all fit gloriously together to point to the greatness of our God. Life is like a tapestry, from the bottom we can see nothing orderly, nothing beautiful; only tangled up threads. But from God’s vantage point, He can see how it all fits gloriously together into an image, as Corrie once said “Only heaven will reveal the top side of God’s tapestry.”

Pain hurts. But pain with a purpose can allow us to hope. Oftentimes when we are going through a hard situation, when we are feeling hurt, it feels as if it is pointless.  But the Bible promises that this is not so! In Romans chapter five verses three and four Paul writes: “Not only so, but let us also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Another similar passage is James 1:2-3, which says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Clearly, suffering and pain is not meaningless. We will grow through our hard times, making us more mature and prepared for what God has planned for us down the road…which will then prepare us more yet again for what comes after. Corrie also says “Our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him.”

We cannot see the future – but God does. We cannot possibly know what we will need when we get there, or even how we will get there, but He does. That encourages me a great deal, knowing that if I am walking in God’s will for my life that He will give me everything that I will need in the future.  Even if it means going through hard times; if it is where He wants me to be, then that is where I want to be, because “when a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” (Corrie ten Boom) God is the engineer. Even when life doesn’t go the way that I think it should, I can rest assured that God knows where I need to be going and He will get me there. There is nothing that can happen to me that He does not allow, and He will use all of it to prepare me for what He has in store for my life, to bring Him glory.

Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (Eph 6:23-24)
Blessings!
~em

connections

the more I learn, the more I see that everything is seriously connected.

right now, I am really dealing with contentment. (favourite blogs writing about contentment for 31 Days in Oct: Sarah Writes  and Cassidy Robinson :)) don’t we all say to ourselves – ‘I’ll be content when _______’ (fill in the blank for yourself), but I know for a fact that when I get there I will then be saying ‘I’ll be content when ______’ about the next step in my life, and this will keep going until I die unless somewhere along the line I learn to be content right where I am. so why not start now?

I am seeing that the key to being content is 3ish things, all of which are connected.

God’s presence. His character. who He is. dwelling on this y’all. Our God is the God of love, He is just, He is sovereign, He is good, He is best, besides a million other things that I don’t have the brainpower or time to list this morning. when we think, really think, when we soak in who our AMAZING God is – how are we not content? He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross so that we could have life??? *mindblown* our God truly is good, which leads me to my next point:

His promises. (favourite blog about His glorious goodness this Oct: With Love, From Here). there are many, many promises in the Bible (just googled it quickly and results varied from 1500-3000). when we know who our God is, and that He will not let us down, His promises have a lot of worth. we can hope in them, trust in them, and we can be content.

gratitude. (Ann Voskamp’s blog A Holy Experience has truly spoken God’s words to me during hard times in my life) I truly believe this is key to contentment. discontent stems from thanklessness. when we are not thankful for what we have, where and who we are, then what we don’t have looks better than what we do have, and this is discontent. when we give thanks for all things, we are accepting God’s plan for our lives. we are showing Him that we truly believe that He does not make mistakes and that He really does know best. when we neglect to give thanks we are telling God that we know better than Him what we need right now. and ummm, I’m sorry, but we don’t. contentment in each moment stems from gratitude in each moment. I could go on and on about giving thanks but considering this is just supposed to be an overview of some of the things that I feel are related to contentment I will save all that for another post ;).

other things related to contentment:

hope. (Sweetwater blog) sometimes I have trouble with this one because I feel like when I’m hoping for something, that makes me less content with where I am/what I have. but I think that when that happens to me, I am not hoping in the true sense of the word. hope should encourage us that God is good and what He has for us is good. we can hope for specific things and that is not wrong, but we can take it in the wrong direction and become discontent when we feel that God is not moving fast enough.

yearning and desire. right now one of my prayers is that the LORD would be my first desire. admission, often, He is not. :( and this makes me sad.

trust. in order for any of this to be of any worth to me I need to trust in God’s character, His promises, hope etc.

sometimes it is necessary for us to ‘fake it til we make it‘: go through the motions even when we don’t feel like it, and the feeling will follow along. maybe not for a long time; but it will. I promise. if we waited for the right feeling to be content/joyful/thankful/hopeful, it would never happen – at least not really and not for the long term. we need to choose contentment.

I don’t want to make any promises about what I’m going to post on next, but right now I have this idea of maybe going a little deeper into each of those sections that I’ve mentioned above. we’ll see if it lasts long enough to actually make the posts ;)

May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

love em

Year in Review

Being that today is my birthday, and I am beginning a new year in my life, I decided that yesterday was a good day to kinda ‘take stock’ of the old one; look at what I’ve done, and what God has been teaching me.

When I look back at where I was last year, well, I’m not sure exactly what I think. I was just nearing the end of a rough year of homeschooling (I wanted to go to school so badly!). In general, my life was good, I just had bad days sometimes (I would get the Monday blues for the first time in my life… I had always loved Mondays!). I went to church and youth group and I did read my Bible, just not consistently.

The summer was both weird and great at the same time. Yep.

School started up again and in my longing I tried to make it as much like school as possible – which made me hate it even more. We were still looking for houses, living with half our stuff in a storage unit…

A few years ago I read Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts, and I follow her blog. She sent out this 100 Days thing to help you make good habits. On September 10, 2012 I started, my three habits to make being to read my Bible, count my gifts (see Ann’s book), and to exercise. Life was good. I was still a little down. I started to rise out of it. I discovered that in my longing for school, I was trying to fit homeschooling into the same shape and it wasn’t working. Once I decided to embrace homeschooling I started to enjoy it. If I were given the choice I think I might still go to school, but I am happy where God has me.

I think there are several things that God has been (trying to) teach(ing) me this year.
1. give thanks. all the time, and for all things. when was the last time you thanked God for the sound of birds chirping outside for window? (for more on the giving thanks thing, see Ann Voskamp’s book, or her blog. life changing!)
2. don’t fear. Like I said here, I have been looking at all the fear-nots in the Bible. what I am learning is just. so. cool.
3. trust God. this one is overlapping of both of the others and is so much more. we cannot fathom all that He is. all He does. just rest in Him.

I think this song really sums up where I am right now. Especially the bridge: ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, what tomorrow may hold; but I know, but I know, that You’re holding it all, so no matter what may come….’

This song has also meant a lot to me this past year.

I was looking through my little notebook and found some verses/passages that I had written down as important to me, since September. (btw if I didn’t put the passage there is a link)

Job 37

John 16:33
I have told you these things so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.

Isaiah 43:1-3
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God,  the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Jeremiah 32:27 

2 Thessalonians 3:3 

Isaiah 40:28-31 

Jeremiah 17:7-8
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Psalm 81:10

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Lamentations 3:21-25

 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail.23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.
Three amazing books I would recommend reading:
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis (wow. what an inspiring story with amazing lessons to be discovered as you journey along with Katie. couldn’t put it down.)
Heaven by Randy Alcorn (while learning about Heaven I learned so much more about God too. what an awesome Saviour we have people!)
1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp (see the rest of this post. this is where my journey began and keeps going.)
If you are in tough spot, I would encourage you to hope. I would encourage you first and foremost to read your Bible, even in the days you don’t feel like it, because it will be worth it. If you wait until a day when you feel better you will never start. If you start today you will feel better. Read Ann’s book, make a gratitude list. Live in every moment. Trust God, be still, and soak in who He is. I just want to encourage you. I’m not trying to make last year look really bad, because to be honest, it wasn’t all bad. But I do know that last year, I was in a bit of a low spot, and this year, I have risen out of it! With God’s grace, you can too!
 
love Em
 
wow. that was long. ;)