Thursday, November 27, 2008

God is great... in innumerable ways

I'd dreamed of writing a post on God's greatness every day of this past week. Apparently, that was one dream destined not to come true.

It's been a week so full of good things that I haven't remembered to eat at the proper times, let alone visit the happy land of Internet -- which, in itself, is one of God's greatnesses to me. Not the forgetting to eat, I mean, but the good things. God has revealed His greatness to me this year in surrounding me with beautiful people who love Him and love others and point me heavenward. He's shown me His greatness in the smiles and chubby hand-holds of my tiny niece and nephew. He's shown me His greatness in keeping my family safe in spite of travels criss-crossing the country all year long. He's shown me His greatness in providing all I need for physical health and security. He's shown me His greatness in the constant reminders of His character as revealed in the Psalms. He's shown me His greatness in making me wait when I want some things now. He's shown me His greatness in His mystery.

God is great -- in 2008, and always.



Beth -- new contacts or specs coming up? I think I may be needing some next year, too.

Staish -- I really *should* read that most famous of ridiculous books.

ASourceofJoy -- I just made a few posts on the theme -- as you can see -- but it was an awesome exercise in looking for evidences of God's goodness this year. Is your lappy up and running again?

Karli -- tags, yay!! I'll be doing your tag meme soon :).

Bethany -- an award? Ooh!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend XIII :: in pictures

If a picture tells a thousand words, there's something like 97,000 to document my Saturday: over at flickr.

Beth -- now there's a question! Last year, we were all organised and made up Christmas wishlists, but this year we haven't given it half as much thought. I, for one, love surprises so I tend not to anticipate "what might be". How about you? *goes off singing All I want for Christmas is youuuu*

God is great... in the small things

God is an intensely personal God. And this year especially, He's reminded me of His love by unexpected little everyday miracles.

It's kind of embarrassing to confess that my primary love language, according to all the little tests, is gifts. (It makes me sound like the greedy kid at school whose birthday party you went to and were horrified at the present-opening rampage you witnessed as a result.) But it's true: somehow, small tokens of affection make me feel all loved and warm and fuzzy.

It makes sense that God, who somehow saw fit to place that little quirk somewhere in my personality, would reveal His love in similar ways. It's happened over and over this year: a long-overdue cheque arrives just when I'm down to my last penny. A fat letter from a friend comes in the mail on a grey day. I find a bargain just when I am in need of something new to wear. A secular fiction book offers me a lesson on life and faith that is right for me in that very moment.

It happens too often to be coincidental. No, these small miracles are everyday reminders of the God who sends "every good and perfect gift".



Caitlin -- it's crazy that these most important things are the ones that are easiest to forget. Argh! Love you! xox

Beth -- I'm so glad God's lesson for me blessed you in the retelling.

Staish -- oh, clarity! It's awesome when it appears.

Friday, November 21, 2008

God is great... in the silence

Someone somewhere has called it the 'dark night of the soul'. For me, in spots, it's been more a dark year of the soul -- though I think it really began last year when we moved here to Queensland from Western Australia. I've written before of how that very experience stripped from me the securities that I'd been unwittingly clinging to in place of faith. It caused me to turn more to God and to ask myself why my trust and confidence weren't finding their foundation in Him.

It only begins to make sense now, looking back, but essentially I attempted to replace one false sense of security with another. Instead of turning from the paltry, uneternal safeties (of community and financial ease and friendship) to the one enduring security of God Himself, I turned from those things to my experience of God. Not in so many words, of course. Are we always truly aware when we walk head-first into a mistake?

I didn't see it clearly at the time.

Sometimes I still don't, when I'm flurrying around in the quagmire of doubt. Instead, I see others' experiences of God, and how their experiences differ from mine. I see how I used to be, in relating to God, and how He 'once was' to me. I have wondered where the fresh revelations are, where the small everyday miracles have gone, why God sometimes seems silent, why I haven't felt His nearness. I have asked myself, "Am I no longer His?"

It's taken a long time to even begin to understand what God has been doing in all of this. I once was blind, but now I start to see: God is not what I experience of Him. God is, and whether I hear Him speak, see Him work, or feel Him near (did He ever say that we would feel Him near? I am not so sure), He still is. His character is unchanging, and His promises never grow old. This is a beautiful truth.

Because I have been guilty of this -- this viewing God through my experience and how I imagine it should be -- He has sent me back to the baby Scriptures, the ones we chant thoughtlessly in Sunday school or memorise quickly so we can get another sticker on our rewards chart, verses that remind me of who God is and what He has done. Verses like, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life. And, If you confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

And with the re-statement of such old truths, has come a fresh understanding of their deeper meaning.

I grew up thinking that confessing Jesus as Lord meant simply saying, "Jesus is Lord", and believing it. Believing what? Just that He exists, and that He is God's son?

This year, in the seeming silence and in the reminders of such well-known but perhaps not understood truths, God has shown me how many times I deny Jesus as Lord. When I am worrying about the future, I am denying Jesus as Lord of the years to come. If I fret about money, I am denying Jesus as Lord over my needs. If I complain about some aspect of my appearance or personality, I am denying that Jesus was Lord over my creation. If he is truly Lord, he is not only the Lord of salvation: he is also Lord of the past, of the present, of the future, over my finances, over my love life, over who I am and what I will become. Jesus is Lord.

I am so glad that God, in His seeming silence, has instead been sending me that message, loud and clear.



Bethany -- even just a sentence here and there about God's goodness to you this year would still delight the rest of us, your eager readers! :)

Meaghan -- best comment ever!! That made my afternoon. I love you, too! xox

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God is great 2008

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia. It wouldn't make much sense, seeing as we didn't exactly have any pilgrim fathers arrive on our land and have to survive on candy corn given to us by kindhearted native americans. But the simple act of giving thanks is never out of season, and so I'm really excited about joining in the week-long carnival of Thanksgiving, hosted by my precious friend Abigail.

Here's what she has to say:
We live in uncertain times. 2008 has held much that I never would have anticipated, and I'm sure you all can say the same. We're not where we were a year ago, nor where we thought we'd be by now. For some of us, the unendurable has occured; dearest dreams have been birthed and died, precious blessings have been given and taken. Some of us have empty seats at the table and great hollows of loneliness in our hearts.
Yet, through it all, God has been abundantly faithful.
As I was praying about the theme for this year's thankfulness challenge, I kept coming back to this central truth: God is great. Our unspeakably generous Father gives us countless blessings each day, and we do well to receive them gratefully. But these are not gifts to be clutched in sweaty palms, buried under ground, or fearfully weighed as a measurement of how much God loves us at the moment. We must not begin to value the gift more than the Giver, the creation more than the Creator, or the love-token more than the Lover.
Instead, we joyfully receive the gifts with open hands, lifting our eyes in thanksgiving to the One from whom all blessings flow. He is great, good, merciful, loving, and all-wise - therefore He gives, therefore He withholds, therefore He takes away. Our gratitude, joy, peace, and security rest not in the gifts, but in our confidence in the Giver - a confidence founded securely on the unshakable reality of the cross. When we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us! He who loved us that much will continue to be faithful.
Will you join me through the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, as I praise God's greatness? Starting on Thursday, November 20, I'll be writing daily blog posts, each touching on one of God's attributes that has been especially meaningful to me this year. If you aren't able to write that much, consider participating through your Facebook status, by initiating family discussion around the dinner table - or whatever methods work best for you. The point is to purposefully focus on God's greatness...and to publicly praise Him together. He IS worthy!
He is totally worthy.
(If you want to join the celebration, go here for more details.)
And stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My favourite colour... just now, anyway

Blaze Danielle asked, "What's your favourite favorite colour?" You know me -- my favourites are never forever -- but just now I'm loving soft, creamy white. Loving it.

1. Creamy Small White, 2. Creamy white violet (Viola striata), 3. Creamy White Snowdrops and Yellow Celandines, 4. SOFTEST CREAMY White Vintage LUCIE ANN of Beverly Hills Nightgown, Floor Length and SWEEPING!, 5. peaches and cream ;0), 6. the humble cbc studio.



Caitlin -- I know! Somehow the carols bring with them all of that excitement and anticipation and joy!

Bek -- I tried to hold off playing any Christmas CDs until the first of December... but I already caved :). And yay Krispy Kremes!

Beth -- Nativity scene rearranging is a little-respected form of high art. Continue in your pursuit of this elite work, in spite of opposition. I'm with you all the way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The goose is getting fat!

My sister Lauren and I spent this afternoon in conversation and smiles (and chocolate peppermint fudge!) with Ruth. We got chatting a little about Christmas, our plans to go see the carols in the city together, and Ruth loaned us Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God to listen to and enjoy. On the way home, Lauren and I stopped off and did a little Christmas shopping, and the result of all this is that I'm now very much in the mood for Christmas.

I'm a dork about Christmas. I know that lots of people are sad about the commercialism and the craziness of the holiday, but it's always been such a special (yet low-key) time for our family that I can't help getting all excited. I don't mind the big crowds in the malls. I love planning a menu and opening the pantry to find extra snacks for "just in case" guests pop in. I like stumbling across nativitymovie re-runs on commercial television. I love hearing 'Jesus' and 'peace on earth' in the mouths of people everywhere, even if they don't always understand what it means. I like writing my cheesy yearly newsletter. I love opening cards from friends, many of whom we only get to catch up with once a year. I relish our family's corny Christmas traditions. I even like hearing Let it Snow on the radio when I'm melting in the humidity.

Last year my mother tried to suggest that maybe we're too old now for some of the Christmas traditions we've celebrated for ages. She thought we might have outgrown things like finding gifts in our individual pillowcases (mine is the blue Smurf one) on Christmas morning. Or getting tiny boxes of cereal (ones we were never allowed, like Fruit Loops and Coco Pops) for our breakfast. We shouted her down, and the traditions lived and thrived for another year.

One family tradition that I think will last for many years to come is the setting up of the nativity scene. When I was a little girl, my grandfather made a small wooden stable with a star above it, and my grandmother gave us a set of nativity characters. They're posh and formal and slightly medieval-looking, but every year on the first of December, we set them up in their little hay-lined manger (with my brother enacting various idyllic and not-so-idyllic barnyard scenes incorporating sheep and lambs and the occasional rampaging donkey). It's a tangible reminder of what it's really all about. Ah, Christmas!



Staish -- oh, you got it! The new photo is from the upstairs window, remastered with the Japanese photo tool thingy :).

Bethany -- yes, new hair! Well, a fringe really. You can see proper-ish pictures here and here. And when it's in a ponytail, it looks a little like a bob from the front.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Greetings from the void

I apologise for the lack of posting and commenting, and offer you a sheepish face until next week when I hope to a) find where the date stamp on my blog posts has disappeared to, and b) attempt some regular posting again.

What's new in your worlds?
Simplythis -- you already know this, but I love how you write about books and your responses, and especially as regards these ones. You are quite awesome.
Southeastcountrywife -- yes, it's creeeepy.
Sarah -- I think you nailed it (again!): the issue is not about imagination or fantasy, but whether evil is celebrated. Bravo!
Lauren -- the first comment from you! Woo :). Hmm, we need to do more research, I thinky.
Karli -- awesome!! I'd heard pieces of info about "real" vampires before, but never real facts. Thanks for posting those!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In the Twilight zone

I hate controversy and I run (on tiptoe, so no one will notice) from confrontation. I do, however, like a good discussion if it's rational and full of feeling without angst or anger.

So let's talk about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Have you read them? If yes, what did you think? If no, why not?

I haven't read them, so my information is based only on what I've heard secondhand. I'd love to pretend I'm cool and make it like I'm not reading them purely because they're not literary masterpieces or because I'm immune to pop culture. But the fact is that I'm a desperate follower and all too influenced by what everyone else is doing.

The real reason I'm not reading them, I guess, is because of the subtle deception such supernatural stories create. I guess it's tricky, because none of us likely know any vampires in real life. It's easy to shelve them in the "pretend" corner with fairies and elves and trolls because they don't seem real. And they're not, really. Not the handsome, passionate vampires we find in storybooks today.

But history has revealed that there are real people who get their kicks from vampiric behaviour (I'm reminded of a specific news story I read years ago that still makes me sick). The vampire legend itself stemmed from stories of demons and evil spirits -- which, as Christians, we know are true. Nothing very romantic about that.

I don't believe that everyone who reads the Twilight series is going to be harmed in some deep way just as I don't believe that everyone reading Harry Potter is going to turn into a wizard.

But it seems slightly scary how today's popular fiction repeatedly attempts to make evil appear ever more attractive. Isaiah 5:20 says, Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.

It's something to think about.



Sarah -- I think what you've said is a really good point. If we're looking for hope in one man, we're always going to be disappointed. Unless we're talking about The Man, of course :).

Simplythis -- thank you, Ruth! You know I'm such a chicken, especially about putting thoughts out there, double-especially when it comes to hot-button issues. It's nice to know someone understood me :).

Staish -- I don't know lots of the ins and outs, but Obama's pretty big on abortion. See Beth's comment at the last post for more info. <3 to you.

Beth -- I think you nailed it. If God doesn't know what He's doing, then it doesn't matter who's president. And since God *does* know what He's doing, it still doesn't matter who's president, because it means God let him be put there. So God bless Obama, I say!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


or my first and last post about the election

I am glad that I'm not an American and therefore didn't have to vote in this election. Mind you, the free Starbucks and Krispy Kremes would have been super-nice. But there was something very cool about getting all excited about the election and then realising that I cannot add to or change the results in any way. It reminded me in a way I possibly wouldn't have understood otherwise that God is sovereign over all of this. It's simple, but I'm forgetful.

Regardless of who I would or wouldn't have voted for, I'm excited about the election of Obama for the same reason a lot of people are. I think Patrick Moberg's illustration summed it up perfectly.

For hundreds of years, men and women of colour have been persecuted and killed because someone else decided they were less than fully human. And now America has elected a black man president.

This is pretty huge -- and very awesome.

But for hundreds of years, babies in the womb have been persecuted and killed because someone else decided they were less than fully human. And none of them will get the chance to run for president.

This is also pretty huge -- and very terrifying.

We are so proud of our tolerance, but we are only tolerant when those things we proudly tolerate do not impinge on our freedom.

We have begun to learn something -- but in other ways we know nothing.



Sarah -- thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers! I look forward to seeing what God does in the next few months. How are your own writing projects coming along?

Staish -- I. miss. you. xox

Monday, November 3, 2008

New beginnings, times two.

November is the month of new beginnings for me. Crazy that the beginning of the silly season should also be the time to launch into new projects, but that's how she rolls, baby!

New project #1: the [half]year of writing furiously
I've written furiously this year already -- the novel-writing project saw to that -- but since July, I've been really prompted first by some subtle hints from above, and then by the encouragement of my family, to give this freelancing thing a shot. I've done lots of odds and ends with writing over the last couple of years; now I'm aiming to give it six months of concentrated effort and see where it takes me. I don't want to be rich, but I do hope to be able to earn a little doing something I really care about. I intend to work my tail off and see what doors God opens -- or closes. And at the end of six months (and probably at the end of every day until then), I'll take stock and see what surprises have appeared along the way. Watch this space.

New project #2: the year of reading chronologically
I've done read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans before, and found them really helpful in guiding my everyday Bible study. What I don't like, however, is knowing that on the 1st of January, I'll be reading Genesis 1, and that around Christmas time I'll be wading through Revelations. So when Justin Buzzard launched The Year of the Bible, starting November 1st, I was all ready for it! It'll be good to have that sense of discipline and direction guiding my daily Bible reading. Plus, the .pdf you can print your reading checklist from folds into a nifty little bookmark. You have no idea how appealing this is to a dork like me.

I covet your prayers regarding item number one up there on that list, and as for item number two: want to join me? We can compare notes on what we're reading in Scripture, and talk about the Bible, and get all excited and stuff. Yay!



Narelle -- boy, thanks! That's encouragement indeed. Maybe I will have to try working it up into something publishable :).

Abbie -- what a fun way to spend a birthday! I totally want to steal this idea :). Please pass on late birthday wishes to Grace from me :).
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