#MonthlyMusicPost—December

Hey everyone! I haven’t gotten around to doing one of these in a long time… so here’s December’s. And no, it won’t be Christmas music. (I love Christmas music, but maybe I can do a separate post just for Christmas music.) Maybe.. Anyway, here are 10 songs I’ve been really enjoying these days:

1. Resurrection Day—Rend Collective

 

2. Build My Life—Housefires

 

3. Afterlife—The Royal Royal

 

4. Turn My Eyes—Bonray

 

5. What Freedom Feels Like—Cody Carnes

 

6. Lover of My Soul—Kari Jobe

 

7. Priceless—for King & Country

 

8. Wildfire—Bonray

 

9. I Come Alive (feat. The Gray Havens)—Out of the Dust

 

10. Valentina—The Hunts

 

What are you listening to these days?

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Break, etc.

As of yesterday afternoon, I am on thanksgiving break! It feels so good to be able to relax a bit. To be honest, I slept in today and took lots of little naps (I am SO overtired… I’m trying to slowly “pay back” my “sleep debt”, haha). It will be good to have this break. I’ve had time to do fun things, such as leisurely scrolling through Pinterest, or reading for pleasure, and it has been so nice.

By the way, while I am on the topic of reading, the other day I was wondering what I should do with my spare time, when I’m not in the Word, or socializing, or being with my family, or doing necessary life things such as cooking, doing my hair, cleaning, etc., … and then I remembered that there are these things called BOOKS. And they are a different kind of book than the ones I’ve been required to read for the past three years (Aristotle, DesCartes’ Meditations, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, Rousseau… not to complain, of course—I’m glad to have read these—but they’re not exactly FUN haha). I remembered that there are fun books, the type that makes one feel shivers of delight over the beauty of how the author using words, captured a human emotion just perfectly. I realized I have almost all of the L.M. Montgomery’s Anne series to finish, as well as a few books by Louisa May Alcott, and hey, when in doubt, I can always re-read Pride & Prejudice… and so I’ve started getting into reading for pleasure again. I am so happy, haha. I just finished Anne of Avonlea last night… oh, I love the Anne series so much. It’s so wonderful. Montgomery is such so observant, in the way she gives everyone such a unique and interesting personality, and she just knows the human mind and heart very well. She captures the beauty of friendship, and the difficulty of growing up and everything changing, and things like that so well. I just started the third book, Anne of the Island, but haven’t gotten very far into it yet.

Yesterday in class we explored texture by making rubbings of different surfaces… and blowing ink bubbles. It was so cool! We used this dishsoap/water mixture, poured some water-based ink into it, and used those little black coffee straws to blow bubbles onto paper and make cool little designs. How artsy. (No ink was accidentally consumed, don’t you worry.) We used this glossy type of paper (like the type most magazines use, but a little more dense), which didn’t fully absorb the ink, but kept it mostly to the surface of the paper. The results were pretty rad:

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

So fun! That first one is currently the background on my phone.

On a serious note now—I was marveling today… you know what’s absolutely wonderful? Having a solid hope to lean on no matter the circumstance. I’m talking about the Gospel here. Praise God for the Gospel. Life has been hard sometimes, with illness, and adjusting to a new season, and minor depression, not to mention the fact that I am a sinner, and fail multiple times a day and feel awful… but in all of this, I know one thing that is for sure: I belong to Christ. In Him my sins are forgiven.

“My sin is nailed to the cross

My soul is healed by the scars

The weight of guilt I bear no more

Praise the LORD, praise the LORD!”

– Rend Collective, Nailed to the Cross (this song has kind of been my anthem these days… so good and so full of truth)

And because I don’t bear the guilt of my sin anymore, I know a freedom that stays with me even when life is hard. Though I may not have happiness, I can have Joy. Though at times I may not feel free, I know I am, because the Bible—God’s Word, which is truth—says I am free in Christ. And I can trust God’s word, because God is not a liar. I was reading the first few verses of Romans 5 and thinking about the first part of Ephesians 2 today, and wow. While I was dead in my sins, and didn’t care, and was living like hell, following the enemy, who is at work in the sons of disobedience, doing and embracing DEATH, SIN, everything awful—God, in His great love for me, sent His perfect Son to become the sacrifice for my sin. Christ did this willingly, taking the wrath of the Father that I deserved to bear—on Himself. He died, and my sins died with Him. He rose again, because He has complete power over death, but my sin stayed in the grave. Sin, death, satan, are darkness are now defeated, and Christ reigns! Oh what freedom! I am no longer bound by these things… I am forgiven, set free by the sacrifice of Christ! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” … (Ephesians 2:8-9) This is the hope I have when I can hardly see past my doubts, when I’m feeling sick and don’t know if I will ever find physical healing in this life, when I feel crushed by the weight of my sin. It is finished. (John 19:30) The cry of victory is my anthem, my battle cry. There is still a war to fight, but the outcome has already been decided, and my Captain is the Victor.

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving! That’s exciting. But I try to be thankful every day, so even though it’s great to have a day every year to focus of gratitude, in my book every day should be thanksgiving. (I’m talking about the focus of the holiday, not all the food… then all things pumpkin and cranberry wouldn’t be quite so special!) But in light of tomorrow, and also because I don’t want to write another post tomorrow, I thought I might devote this little paragraph (or more like the list following this little paragraph) to gratitude. So with that, I’m thankful for:

  • (for the millionth time) God’s abundant grace in Christ. What love. What undeserved love. There is nothing better than this.
  • Friends. What blessings.
  • making new friends.
  • family.
  • music that feeds the soul (namely, worship music)
  • the warm, gentle glow of Christmas lights.
  • having a backup device when my laptop decides to go berserk.
  • days when I feel well and joyful.
  • the human ability to tell stories. And how that ability is a gift from God, and… He is the Author of a Story. Whoa.
  • the ability to create. Also a gift from God. Similarly, God is the Creator of the universe. *mind blown every time I think of this*
  • God’s Word, and the freedom to own it.
  • breaks during the semester.
  • being able to study what I’m wired to do. (Theology is great. Love it. I don’t feel called to be a theologian. Design, however… aw yeah.)
  • sleep. (I wish I got more of it.)
  • poetry. Writing it, and reading it.
  • getting a hug from a friend when I’m having a hard day.
  • Sunlight.
  • One-on-one time with people I love.
  • smoothies.
  • the foods I can eat.
  • adventures.
  • good memories.
  • heartwarming books.

What are you thankful for? How are you spending Thanksgiving? How are you students spending Thanksgiving break? Any good book recommendations?

Later,

— M

Life. 11/14

Hey everyone! I haven’t had a ton of time to blog lately. Currently working on a post, but I need to edit it some before I post it. How are you all? In a nutshell, life is alright. God is good. Some days have been absolutely wonderful, some days have been unbearably hard. Some days my faith has been strong, and some days I’ve struggled with guilt and unbelief, but I have been learning that my feelings and truth are not always the same thing (more on that later)—that I can choose to believe God’s word, although today I may not feel the truthfulness of the truth. (But I do want to feel that truth is truth while I believe it, of course.) I’ve been learning to preach the gospel to myself daily, to seek the LORD, to focus on Him, to enjoy Him and the good things He has given me, to be in fellowship with dear friends who love the LORD (for I have seen that it is sometimes through the words and kindness of other believers that He shows us truths that we need to hear—this happened last sunday when I was with a dear friend of mine…praise God for friends that point you to Christ when you are doubting!). Anyway. Other than that, in school I’m learning HTML and CSS in order to create a website, and designing a newspaper layout, and just this morning I gave a 3-minute presentation (for which I pulled an all-nighter in trying to prepare for it) on a painting by Albert Bierstadt. Life is good, sometimes it’s hard, but that’s life, and I have a sure foundation in Christ and in the work He has done. Overall, I am very blessed.

#MyriadsofBlessings:

  • squash (I love squash!)
  • a little bit of snow
  • thick hand cream for when my hands get dry (winter, though… it’s rough)
  • being able to spend time with a friend this past sunday! So nice.
  • being able to talk to a friend yesterday that I hadn’t talked with for over a year!
  • God’s faithfulness and sustaining grace.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Orange juice/cranberry juice when I have a cold.
  • ginger tea.
  • thick sweaters
  • comfy clothes
  • wool socks
  • smoothies
  • salmon
  • sweet potatoes
  • the Gospel.
  • This song. I’ve been listening to it so much lately. Its so packed with truth and it’s just so beautiful, and I discovered it right when I needed it. Plus it’s Rend Collective, so…

“When I stand accused by my regrets

And the devil roars his empty threats

I will preach the gospel to myself

That I am not a man condemned

For Jesus Christ is my defense”

-Rend Collective, Nailed to the Cross

There’s my super quick update on life. How are you doing?

Later,

M

Joy.

After weeks of constant prayer and struggles,

The LORD heard my prayers.

It happened gradually, over time,

But here I am now, realizing that I am looking at this season differently than I had before.

By God’s grace, I am learning to see it in the way I had been praying that God would help me to see it.

I don’t have time to go into details, as I have a huge exam tomorrow to study for.

But I will tell you this:

For now, the LORD has given me contentment here.

He has given me peace.

He has given me overwhelming JOY in Him.

He has been opening my eyes to the opportunities all around me,

All the things and people He has given to me,

And reminded me why I am here on this earth:

“To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

And He has been changing the way I’ve been living.

Changing the way I’ve been seeing my life.

Changing my attitude.

Helping me to enjoy Him and worship Him in this different, new time of my life.

I’m so happy I can hardly handle it. I’ve been praying for this for so long.

Praise the LORD.

MyriadsOfBlessings—10/7

  • A campus with nature, secluded from the crowds of people. I walk to that hill, climb it’s rather steep slope, and sit down in a sunny spot at the top. I sit back, breathe in the fresh air, and relax my tense muscles. It’s going to be alright. I recently discovered a new spot… a little hill on the seminary grounds… flat on the top, where there are several pine trees. It might be man-made, because the fact that the top is flat and that pine trees only grow at the top and not the sides is a little odd. However, I love that spot. Sometimes I go there, climb to the top of that hill, and lie down, staring up at the trees. Occasionally I will get interrupted by a frisbee golfer, however, so if I really want to be alone, “Sem Hill”—the steeper, higher, natural hill—is better. The other day I climbed the “Flat-Top Hill”, and though the ground was slightly damp from rain, I sat underneath a pine tree and drew pictures of the trees in front of me for an assignment, while listening to Audrey Assad and Shane & Shane. So wonderful.
  • Surprise mail. A friend I recently met online sent me a care package, and I got it last monday. It really brightened my day.
  • Being reunited with old friends. What blessings these people are.
  • “I love you.” After so many years of loneliness, and after praying for some close friendships that were deep, beautiful, and Christ-centered, and not shallow and fickle, three years ago God provided for me a few close friends, going above and beyond what I had asked for—friends that I am able to share my heart with, and who trust me with theirs. Friends that genuinely care for me, even telling me so. Friends who weep with me when life is hard, and rejoice with me when good things happen. Friends that I have deep love for; they are like sisters to me. I prayed, and waited, and the LORD heard my pleas.
  • This new season. Even with all of its difficulties. I am learning the skills I’ve wanted to learn. God is so good. No more analysis papers on history and philosophy. Now I can go to school to make photo collages and typeface comparison posters and fake editorial illustrations, or draw with real ink. I’m in love.
  • God’s mercy and grace. I need Him. I am weak, but He is strong.
  • Freedom.
  • Forgiveness. I am still a sinner, but in Christ I am counted righteous before God. Hallelujah.
  • Fall weather.
  • Fall colors.
  • Rest after a long week.
  • A few new friends at my new school. Sadly, I’ve been so busy that it’s been hard to get to know them better.
  • The internet. What a blessing. Not only can I more easily communicate with friends that live far away, but I can even meet like-minded people online, blog, gain a better following as an artist, etc., etc. I still don’t understand how it works. Haha.
  • Homemade applesauce. Way better than store-bought.
  • The song “Only Jesus” by Brian and Jenn Johnson. So beautiful.
  • Sweaters. It’s getting chilly out.
  • Ginger tea with honey.
  • Black olives. I could eat a whole can. (Sometimes I do…)
  • Homemade pumpkin soup. It’s more like a bisque, so you can sip it from a mug. It’s so easy: 1 can of pumpkin, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 3/4 cup of coconut milk, 7 cloves of garlic. Simmer for a few minutes until hot. So good.

What are some blessings in your life?

Busyness, The Weekend, and a Fall Party

It seems that every week has been hectic—constantly rushing around; going to classes; printing assignments (usually one printer is being used by someone else so I have to find another printer on another floor); sitting hunched over, staring at a screen, trying to make something beautiful in a limited amount of time (or something satisfactory, if I am running out of time); trying to do so much in one day. I’m so busy that I hardly have time to make friends, which is sad. (I am making friends, slowly but surely… I just haven’t had the time to be intentional about getting to know them better these days.) And I’ve found it necessary to prioritize my health. My heart has been causing me trouble. It’s felt weak, and sometimes, when I’m really stressed and have a lot on my plate, it feels almost tingly. All I know is that I NEED to take care of it. I need to take care of myself. What is the point of getting a degree in order to get a well-paying job, if I am slowly working myself to death in the process before I can even get the job? I’m speaking hypothetically here, don’t worry. I’m noticing my health is poor, and doing what I can to care for it. I’ve only got one life here on earth, and I want to steward it well—it is a gift from God, after all. That means every day (if possible) forcing myself to stop all homework for an hour (or two, if I really need it) and get out in nature, be silent, quiet my mind and heart from all the stress and tension in life, and just trust the LORD. He’s got me. He will provide. Even if I spend this hour doing nothing but taking in the peacefulness of the trees, the grass, the lake, and the breeze, while I could be doing homework instead… I’m going to give myself a break because my body needs it. Even though I have so much to do, I’m going trust the LORD, take a break to care for myself, and have faith that He will give me the strength to get everything done. And every week, I take a sabbath—24 hours of no school-related work—to just rest, sleep a lot, and do fun, life-giving things I can’t do during the week. This all helps me to survive.

I have this Wellbeing class. I’ve been enjoying it, it’s a really chill class—since stress is “not good for our wellbeing”, my professor tries to keep it as relaxed and calm as possible, sometimes by keeping relaxing piano music in the background, always opening and closing the session with a call-and-response sort of prayer, and doing fun activities like sitting on blankets outside, or watching videos on how food affects the brain, etc. Currently we are doing a 21-day sleep challenge, where we have to try to get 7 hours (at least… more is ideal) of sleep a night, track our hours of sleep, and write down how we feel the next day (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). It’s been really good. I wish I could get more sleep. In my perfect world, I would go to be at 9:30 or 10, but homework keeps me up till 11 or 12, and on some days, 1 or 2. (Awful, I know.) So you can safely conclude that I am very tired all the time. But I’m trying every day to be as efficient during the day as I can, and go to bed as soon as I can.

Well, the weekend is here. Friday night—Saturday night is my designated sabbath every week. No, I am not Jewish or Seventh-Day Adventist, if you’re wondering why I do not choose Sunday as my day of rest. The answer is, I’m still trying to figure out what it means for someone under the New Covenant to keep the sabbath holy (one of the ten commandments), and if we’re still required to keep it at all. I know, from my understanding that specific things like only eating clean animals and not getting tattoos no longer apply to those of us living under the New Covenant, but what about the basic ten commandments? Stealing, to this day, is still wrong. So is lying. And coveting. And adultery. So what about the one about keeping the sabbath holy? Does it still apply to us, as it seems that the others might? And what does “sabbath” mean for us? Does it still mean Friday at sundown until Saturday sundown like it did for the Israelites in the Old Testament, or does it mean Sunday, since Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday? I’m still trying to figure all of this out. For now, I’ve chosen Friday evening—Saturday evening as my sabbath, though that may seem strange to some of you. This is only until I discover the answers to these questions on what “sabbath” means for a follower of Christ living under the New Covenant. All this to say, I am currently enjoying my weekly sabbath, not letting myself think or stress about school; reading my Bible, blogging, scrolling through social media, listening to calm worship music, and… (yesterday)…   going to a party!!!

 

Every year my former school has a fall party. You probably remember blog posts in the past about it. I’ve gone every year when I was a student, and was really disappointed that I would miss it this year… or so I thought. Well, a dear friend of mine invited me (THANK YOU!!!), and so we together to the party last night. It was so. much. fun. I had been hesitant about going yesterday—my health felt fragile—but I realized… I needed fellowship. And a cheerful heart is good medicine. I needed some joy in my life. So I went, hoping I was making the right decision. And I think it was. It was so great. The drive to the farm (where the party was held) was about 45 minutes long, so I got to talk to my friend all the way there about our lives. It was so good to catch up. When we got there, it was raining, and so we spent the first 30 minutes or so in the half-basement of the barn (it was built into a hill), talking with people, saying hi (“It’s been too long!”), catching up, and then soon went to the main floor of the barn to watch a few rounds of tug-of war (boys vs. girls, sophomores vs. freshmen, etc.). The barn-dance instructor was late, so we talked/played games until then (I didn’t participate in any games, because I wanted to conserve my limited energy for dancing). Finally she came, and the dancing started. A couple of my guy friends asked me to dance, so I danced with them. I danced with my friend Bailey. We did a couple line dances such as “Popcorn” and the “Cha-Cha Slide”, then continued regular barn-dances. I was going to dance with my friend Claire but my gut feeling was “sit this one out, you’re overworking yourself”, so I did. I was surprised there wasn’t any actual square dancing, but that’s okay. The last song played (while the instructor was packing up to leave) was “Footloose”, and several people knew the dance, so that was really fun to watch. After dancing, there was—now get this—Reformation Trivia. (That’s this school for ya… haha… also, Reformation Day is coming up, plus it’s the 500th anniversary, so why not, right?) We played as teams, according to grade. I got to play as an honorary junior with my former class, and we only got 2nd place, but oh well. (In my defense, our team was the only one who got the spelling of “Huldrych”, as in Huldrych Zwingli, right (and I was the one who knew how to spell it, not to brag or anything, haha). After that, we closed the evening out with some worship and prayer. That was awesome. It made me miss wednesday chapels at my former school, with these same people, and the joy that was so present during those times. (I never go to chapel at my new school—my current school hasn’t proved to be very theologically sound, so I haven’t really bothered to take time out of my already hectic schedule to go to chapel. Also, I heard something that made me sad and frustrated… about them apologizing for a guest speaker who had, from my understanding, spoken the truth… because some people got offended by it. This makes me sad, and kind of increases my disinterest in going. Is that too cynical? I’m not sure. There are probably good chapel sessions sometimes, I suppose. I don’t know, because I’ve never gone. Truth is sometimes offensive to our sinful human natures, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak the truth out of fear of offending people. I’m thankful for the times I’ve been confronted by truth and felt offended—though I’m ashamed to admit my offendedness… what a sinner I am! Praise God for his mercy and grace—that offense turned out to be a wake-up call for me to believe what is true, and to be free. That said, I believe I’ll just stick with church every sunday. Anyway, that was a long tangent. Back to the party.) Soon we went home. It was 9:45ish, and completely dark. I rode home feeling very content and happy. What a time. That was just what I needed—to see my old friends again… both the ones I never get to see anymore, and the ones I still see every sunday at church; to be able to talk and laugh with them as if we had never been apart; to enjoy myself with this family as if I had never left the school. It was so wonderful. This season at this school was a blessing. These friends are a blessing. I’m so glad I got to spend yesterday evening with them.

I’m Here.

It all could have ended for me, several years ago, when I was about eleven years old—but by God’s grace, it didn’t.

We were driving to the park, as we did nearly every Wednesday that summer. Our church would meet there every Wednesday evening to have a picnic, fellowship, hear a short message, and maybe play some volleyball or frisbee. We drove through downtown and neared the bridge. By then a lot of traffic had built up, since it was around rush hour. It wasn’t terribly congested, but there was a decent amount of traffic nonetheless. My dad took his time making it across the bridge, partially because there was construction going on, and my four-year-old brother wanted to get a good look at it. We took our time, as my brother enthused over the construction vehicles, and the loud noises of workers drilling into the concrete. At last we made it to the other side.

“Did you hear that loud noise?” my sister asked us with wide eyes, several seconds later. I certainly didn’t hear it. “Nope.” We thought nothing of it—at least I didn’t—and continued on our way to the park.

While we were at the park, we heard some devastating news—that bridge had collapsed. And we realized, to our astonishment, that we had gone over that bridge only seconds before it had fallen. 

We could have died that day.

We could have been in the middle of the bridge when that loud rumble occurred, and it caved in. We could have all drowned as our van became submerged in the river. Or at least killed by the impact of falling from such a great height. Our car could have caught fire.

But here we were, safe, on the other side of the river; up until this point we had been oblivious to what had happened just behind us, as we had crossed safely to the other side.

This memory haunts me to this day. Rarely do I go over a bridge without thinking about it collapsing underneath me. When I think about this day in which everything could have ended—but didn’t—I get goosebumps, and gratitude overtakes my soul, surging through my veins…

I’m ALIVE.

I’m here.

My heart is beating.

God kept me. (I don’t think I was actually a believer back then, which is terrifying to think about.)

God had held up that bridge for us as we passed, and then let it fall. He didn’t have to keep me and my family alive. He could have decided that our time on earth was finished. But He had other plans.

He decided to let us stay for a little while longer.

God is so good.

5 Weeks In

It’s been about 5 weeks into the semester… I think. It still feels so surreal that I’m going to this school, learning what I’m learning. It’s been good. It’s been hard too.

It’s such a relief to finally be working with my hands, making things. Seriously, I’m going to school to make things on Photoshop and Illustrator, to draw with real ink and calligraphy pens, to edit photos… seriously? This is the most fun homework I’ve ever had, and it’s been so life-giving. But despite how easy and effortless it may sound, there is definitely a lot of hard work involved. A LOT. It seems like there’s been hardly been time to rest. But even still, I try to squeeze some time in to get out into the nature areas on campus and just forget about all the work for a few minutes. Every day has been full of constantly rushing around and getting things done, basically. There have been a lot of late nights, even one all-nighter (my very first ever of my college life). I’ve been so overtired, and therefore emotional. I wish I could sleep more, but it’s hardly an option. But I need to do so for the sake of my health… balancing self-care and school is hard.

I’m growing accustomed to the size and culture of this school. I’ve made a few acquaintances and a few new friends, which I’ve slowly been getting to know better. I have nice professors. I’ve ran into a few people I know who attend this school. Overall, though, it’s been a bit lonely. Making friends isn’t the easiest thing. But then again, I have nothing to complain about. Maybe solitude is a blessing. In fact, I’d say it is… in this solitude I’ve had more time to think, more time to pray. And solitude is helpful when my schedule is so busy, I suppose. At least I can focus on my work. I go to class, then I study for a few hours, then I take a walk around campus and explore the little wooded trails, or climb the hill. I pray as I walk, I look around me and take everything in. There won’t be many days of green and color and sunlight left, since winter is coming soon—I need to enjoy it as much as I can. Eventually I go back to the main building and study some more, then I go home when the sun sets. I then study for the rest of the evening, then go to bed. Repeat. Though it’s kind of lonely, I still see my friends at church, and every so often we get together to hang out. And I have a feeling that pretty soon I’ll feel more at home at this school—I’ll probably get to know more people and have more solid friendships there. Hopefully. The LORD knows.

I’m so thankful that this college has a campus. The last one didn’t, which was okay, but I’m glad that I have somewhere to escape to when I am overwhelmed with all the work and relax. There’s a large hill a minute’s walk away from the main building. I’ve climbed it nearly every day, and just would sit there on the top, between two oak trees, and pray, enjoy the sun on my face, calm my mind, and observe people walking by far away on the path below. Behind me, beyond that hill, is a maple tree, with bright orange-ish pink leaves, and beyond that, a little wooded path. That path… it’s so beautiful and peaceful. Once when I was walking on that path I saw a doe. It stopped for about 2 seconds, looked at me, and then ran away. Beautiful.

It’s so natural for me to focus on the negative things and not the positive. But I have to tell myself that there are so many beautiful things in this season, and that I will not have eyes to see them if I keep looking back with nostalgia and wishing I were still in that season. Yes, that last season had wonderful things, but it had its hardships too. Every season does. That’s life. But that’s not what I will focus on. May I focus on the positive things. Soul, open your eyes to everything that God has for you! All the grace He has… you finally get to pursue your dream of getting into design… you get to make things. You get to learn new skills that you’ve always wanted to learn. It’s only 5 weeks in and you can do so much already. And you’re HERE… by God’s grace; by His provision. This is such a gift. So be thankful. And don’t complain about the loneliness, or the change that is hard to adjust to. Every dream comes with its difficulties, but that’s the way things are. You can handle it, just trust the LORD, and He will be there for you in it all. There. I needed that self-exhortation. I feel so thankful now… God placed me here. And He will lead me through this season, and He will care for me and provide, according to His will. And I, by His grace, will do my best to be faithful and diligent. He’s given me this opportunity, so may I run after it wholeheartedly.

I’m so thankful the weekend is here. Praise God! Happy weekend, everyone!

M

 

With Open Hands

I cling to everything around me

With fists clenched tightly

Doing everything I can to not lose that which you’ve given me.

I obsess, I worry, I cling

To those things

which were never actually mine in the first place.

These things I did not earn; they are mine by Your grace

and You give and You take away,

Still, blessed is Your Name.

But I’m afraid

That if I let go and hold these things in the palm of my hand

Saying, “LORD, what is mine is Yours; have Your way”

That suddenly You would take them away

And leave me without these things I love so much—

These things I fear to surrender to You,

These things I fear so much to lose.

But I know that if I choose

To loose my grip on all this grace

And hold them up, say “Have Your way”,

That whether You keep or take away,

You are enough, LORD, still You remain.

And all these things You’ve given me

In this season specifically,

Are instruments through which I’d see

All the grace and love that You have for me.

And whether or not one day You say, “Enough”

And take back one of these things I love,

You know what’s best for me, not I,

And You tell me that all my needs You will supply.

And even if I were to have nothing,

You would be everything

Because You are enough.

You are sufficient.

Everything You created was made to point to You,

They never were meant to rival You

For a place in this heart that loves, that worships.

This heart, may it adore You alone.

Make this beating lump of flesh Your throne

And take Your rightful place,

The first place,

That You deserve.

So here am I, with open hands,

Everything I have, everything I love

Inside of them.

Every talent, every gift, every blessing, every treasured possession,

Every friendship through which You’ve shown me so much grace,

Every will, every dream for my future, every hope,

My life, my health,

Everything

I give, my loving, all-knowing Father, to You.

You know what is good for me more than I do,

And so, with open hands I trust You.

O, For Grace To Trust You More.

New opportunities are wonderful things. Like being able to study graphic design. I’m so, so thankful that God has blessed me with such grace as this.

But I regret to say there’s part of me that is still stuck in the past, looking backward, refusing to embrace what is ahead for all that it’s worth. I want to embrace what is ahead, but I keep looking back at what is past, wishfully thinking I could keep living those days.

Because I’m leaving my old school. I’m leaving many of my friends there. I’m leaving the city I’ve called home for the past 3 years. I’m leaving behind many things I used to be able to do as a student there, and won’t be able to do here. I’m leaving behind the weekly chapel services there that so often blessed and encouraged me. I’m leaving behind a close-knit community of like-minded people who have built me up and blessed me in so many ways, and have taught me so many things.

I’m actually closing a chapter of my life.

A very good chapter. A hard, but beautiful chapter. A chapter I will never forget.

And I’m afraid to start a brand new one.

But I must.

 

I am beginning to realize more fully that often with new seasons come sacrifice.

While it is very, very hard for me to leave this old season of life behind, I know I must leave it behind, in faith that God has new, good things for me in this new season.

I have noticed that in my life, with nearly every gain I can remember, came a little bit of loss along with it.

But that little bit of loss doesn’t mean that the gain isn’t worth it.

I am sure that there will be more good things ahead in the future.

I am sure that, LORD willing, I will be able to keep in touch with and get together with my old friends. We don’t live THAT far away from each other, though we are a bit further apart, distance-wise, than we once had been.

I am sure that I will eventually make new friends at this school, who love the LORD as much as I do.

And for sure, I am POSITIVE that in this new season, God will be with me, carrying me through it every step of the way, being my hope, my strength, my anchor.

He has led me here, and He will sustain me. So I will follow, by His grace.

No turning back.

God, I firmly believe that it is You who led me here… You made it happen so miraculously, so quickly. And so this seems to be what You have for me. And I want what You want for me, because You know what I want better than I do—You know what is best for me. Everything You do in my life is for my good (Romans 8:28) and ultimately for Your glory. And this season is no exception. I’ve seen You lead me here, and I’ve seen You provide, and I trust that You will continue to lead and provide. And where You lead, You WILL provide—You won’t just lead me somewhere to abandon me. You are my Heavenly Father, and You care for me beyond what I can imagine. You have much grace for me in this season, I know it, but right now it’s hard to imagine what You have for me ahead. So right now, in all of the unknowns, help me to just live in this season, obediently, with an open heart, open eyes, and open hands—ready to receive what You have for me, to see You and what You are doing here in me and at this school, and to do what You have for me to do.

I trust You. “Oh, for grace to trust [You] more.”

 

Never Too Busy

I’m very thankful that it is finally the weekend. This first week of school has been very fast-paced and rather hectic, just with all the stuff regarding credits not transferring, and because of the fact that I was accepted literally a day before orientation. Which is a miracle, and I’m not complaining at all—praise God that I’m here. Seriously. I feel so blessed to be in this season. I just hope that as time goes on I get into a groove. Now that I won’t have to be meeting with faculty so much to talk through my previous education experiences and why I don’t think I need to take an “Orientation to College Studies” class, things should be more manageable, and I will have more time and energy for homework.

I believe I am finally at a steady schedule now—I’ve been adding and dropping a few classes because of the uncertainty concerning transferring and which classes are required… but at this point I have 5 classes—Christian Worldview & Culture, Intro to Wellbeing, Typography, Intro to Digital Media, and 2-Dimensional Visual Thinking (which is an art class). Although the workload is nothing like the workload at my former school, I still am busy all the time and it’s been rather stressful. Every day has been go, go, go, with maybe half and hour each day of restful activity. And every day I failed in some way to deal with the stress. Sometimes I was not the most pleasant toward my family. I stayed up past midnight most nights, trying to get every assignment done WHILE learning how to navigate the student websites, which isn’t easy. Late nights caused me to have to fight hard to keep my eyes open and maintain consciousness in class (and even in a job training session yesterday… which is highly embarrassing. Thankfully I still have the job! haha) Besides all of this, there were one or two near-nervous breakdowns. Yes, this past week was kind of a mess, and so was I.

And this past week I kept thinking, I should really take some time to read my Bible and have fellowship with God. I know I need it… and I REALLY want so badly to just sit down for an hour or two in a perfectly quiet space and talk to God. But then I would think, But I don’t have time; there are so many things I have to get done TODAY. If I don’t I will FAIL this semester.

And so for the most part, my quiet times were put aside. Time with my Maker, Father, and Lover of my soul was put on a shelf. I’ll do it later.

In hindsight, I wonder how much this decision to “do it later” (a.k.a. hardly at all) affected my attitude, my outlook, and my level of peace (or lack thereof). My guess is, probably a lot.

No matter how pressed for time I may be, I can never be so busy that I don’t have time for God. In fact, spending time with God will depend on how the rest of my day will go—if I am spending some time with Him and asking Him for help to live this life to His glory, He helps me. My faith is stronger, my outlook is more positive, I am looking to Him rather than worrying about the future, and it is easier for me to love others. Apart from Him I can do nothing. And this past week, I seemed to have forgotten this.

This next week, I plan to not repeat this mistake, but to be more intentional about spending time in His Word, in prayer, meditating on His promises, being in Christian community, and following Him.

Hopefully this next week will be better.

-M

P.S. How has school been going for you, all you students out there?