Saturday, May 30, 2015

Thank You!

Today, I reached 10,000 page views on this blog! I owe all of the success it has experienced in the last year to the One who inspires me to write and Who prompted me to begin this blog in the first place. Thank you all for your interest and support over the last year and for contributing to this special goal. I appreciate every one of you and pray that what has been said here has impacted your life in some positive way. May you be blessed as you continue to journey further into Grace! 

Quote of the Day

"Everything I am. Everything I'm not. I belong to you, Lord."
-William Carey

Friday, May 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

" God's grace meets us in messy places because messy places are all that there are."
- Tullian Tchividjian

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

" It's okay that you don't have what it takes. You have a God who does."
  - Kyle Idleman

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quote of the Day

 " What keeps us under trouble is either we do not expect what God has promised, or we expect what he did not promise. We are grieved at crosses, losses, wrongs of our enemies, unkind dealings with our friends, sickness, or for contempt and scorn in the world. But who encouraged you to expect any better? Was it prosperity, riches, credit, and friends God called for you to believe? Do you have any promises for these things in his Word? If you make a promise to yourself, and then your own promise deceives you, whom should you blame for that?"
                                   - Richard Baxter in Voices From the Past 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rain

 In my neighborhood every summer, a little bird comes to visit called a Hermit Thrush. I can still remember the first time I ever heard this bird singing in the woods behind my house. My family and I couldn't figure out what kind of bird it was…only that it had the most beautiful song in the world. We called a friend of ours that was a birdwatcher and asked him if he knew what it might be. After much deliberation over the phone, he said he would come out and listen to it and see if he could tell what it was. Upon hearing the bird's call, he told us, "That's a Hermit Thrush." Ever since that day many years ago, we always look forward to that sweet bird coming to our area for the summer. Just the other day we heard it for the first time this year. What a moment of excitement! 
 One thing about this bird that I find fascinating is that it usually sings its loudest when it rains. While out for an afternoon walk in the rain the other day, I heard its lyrical melody echoing through the dense woods of my neighborhood. As I strode along, it occurred to me that this bird can teach us a valuable lesson about life. In life, sometimes the rains come hard. The drops fall in numbers and the clouds hang low. In these times, the views seem hidden. When these times have arisen in my life, I have often complained. I have asked God to remove the rain, to make it sunny so that all would be pleasant once again. I have despised the rain and dared it to leave…not realizing that it could be my opportunity to grow. In thinking about the Hermit Thrush, I stumble on a profound conclusion: perhaps the presence of Grace is never more evident than when you choose to sing in the rain. Filled with regret, I see that I have squandered so many chances to choose joy in the sorrows; to be as happy when the skies are grey as when they're blue. To realize that the view may be hidden but the scenery is still beautiful. The mountain heights may be obscured but this only means that I must look lower in order to see the beauty. Just because it's raining doesn't mean that my happiness must diminish or my joy cease to be evident. Like the bird, I can shine my brightest when the drops pour down and the clouds hang low. And so I say, "Let the rain come. I will choose to sing!"

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lest We Forget


Lest We Forget

See how the little children play
Always a game of war;
Never do they realize
What's gone before.
How can the debt be paid 
To those warriors they never met?
Many died for them to live
Lest we forget.

From every walk they came to give,
From every corner too,
Gathered to defend the right for me and you.
They fought alone in clear blue sky,
Trench, and the salty spray,
Strangers all to those they spared who live today.

We shall remember; we will recall
Heroes who gave their lives, answering the call.

Give them the peace in Heaven, Lord,
They were denied on earth;
Father, rest their souls on high -
Such is their worth.
We who remain to gather here, 
Sad that they're lost, but yet,
They'll have life within our hearts,
Lest we forget.

Lord, hear our voices raised in song:
Praise be to Thee on high;
Help us in our hour of need when it comes nigh;
Show them, O Lord, that nothing's changed
After the battle's won;
In the stillness, let me hide;
Thy will be done.

We shall remember; we will recall
Heroes who gave their lives, answering the call.

This cannot be the path of man.
How could it ever be? 
For the way of loneliness is hard to see.
Let not the lives of those who've passed
Dim, though their sun has set. 
Father, hear us here on earth;
Lest we forget.

               - Peter Buchanan



Sunday, May 24, 2015

More Than Just Names

 As their names cross my mind, I can see their young faces now - brave men they were. Men with families, with talents, bound by their love of country and freedom. Men who sacrificed their lives for their fellow comrades and for those waiting back home. 
 I see Army Capt. Ben Tiffner, a West Point graduate whose love of God and others touched countless lives during his short military career. Ben had the amazing ability to make friends with anyone and to leave a lasting impression on those he met. Now, eight years after he died while serving with the Army Special Forces in Iraq, Ben's life continues to impact those who are left behind, and his legacy endures in the memories and hearts of every one of them. 



 I see Marine Lcpl. Grant Fraser, a fellow Alaskan whose smile and love for life infused this world with a much-needed touch of happiness. Grant was gifted with a wonderful ability to laugh through life's storms and to find joy no matter what the circumstances. Always spontaneous, he would look for any opportunity to lighten the mood and cheer up a forlorn human heart. Grant was an outstanding musician, actor, and lover of all things Alaskan. He died while serving with his Marine Corps reserve unit in Iraq, deeply mourned by those whose lives he blessed and touched. Nearly ten years later, his life is still remembered through the memorials that bear his name, the high school auditorium  where he performed (and which now is named for him), and the memories and stories of his friends, family members, and community. Grant was a ray of sunshine to so many and that warmth still remains in their hearts today. 



I see Marine Cpl. Michael Lasky. Almost ten years ago, I met Michael and his family at his homecoming when he returned with his unit from Iraq. Michael was a bundle of energy and had a great way of motivating and encouraging others. No task was too daunting to him, no problem too hard to be solved. His fellow Marines and his friends loved him for his can-do attitude and his fearless way of running toward danger in order to protect those he loved. A year after coming home from Iraq, he volunteered to go back and serve there. He ended up giving his life while on this deployment but, in the words of one of his fellow Marines, "he died doing what he loved." I am thankful that I got to briefly know this brave young man and that my life was one of the many that he touched in his short time on this earth. I miss him greatly and continue to remember him as the years roll on. 




 I see Army Spc. Shane Woods, another Alaskan who proudly joined the military to protect the ideals that were important to him. While still in high school, he wrote a paper describing himself as a Christian soldier. A year ago, I posted a piece about him titled, "Lasting Legacies," which described the incredible story of this godly young man. Shane wasn't always the most faithful Christian but, toward the end of his life, he began to take his beliefs more seriously than before. Soldiers who served with him still talk about the amazing way in which Shane would talk about his Savior. Shane had many things he wanted to do in this world, one of which included starting an orphanage in India. But he ended up going home to be with his Lord while serving in Iraq - long before he could accomplish these things. He did depart in peace, though, knowing that he was going to a far better place. I have been honored to get to know one of Shane's close friends in the last few years and, while I never met Shane, I never cease to be inspired by his love for God and his nation. 


 These faces you now see described here - they are more than just names on a roll call sheet, or engraved on a memorial for those who gave their lives. These were real people who loved this country enough to serve it and to sacrifice their lives for it. They loved you and me - their fellow Americans - enough that they took on the role of protector so that we would not have to do so ourselves! For this reason, Memorial Day takes on a personal meaning for me. It isn't just a day where we gather for barbecues and celebrate America -that is reserved for July 4th.  It isn't a day to thank the service members who are still living - that is reserved for Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day. Rather, it is a day to acknowledge and reflect on those courageous souls who "more than self their country loved and mercy more than life," as the song says. This is why I spend my Memorial Day every year out at the National Cemetery on the military base near where I live. That is where the true meaning sinks in for me, and I am reminded of the price of freedom. 
 Memorial Day should be a time of immense gratitude to those who have chosen to serve and who were willing to give "their last full measure of devotion," in the words of President Abraham Lincoln. They did it for their buddies fighting next to them; they did it for their loved ones at home; they did it for their communities and their friends. Even more, we are able to live the busy and productive lives that we do because of what they did on our behalf. That is something worth being thankful for and something that we should never take for granted. This Memorial Day, try to take a minute to pause and think about this sobering reality. Say a prayer for those left behind, and be grateful that such brave men have unselfishly done what they did. Their faces still grace the memory, and their actions and lives still inspire and warm the heart. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Conversation

 I wrote this poem several years ago in response to the many soldiers and Marines I'd met who bravely carry on in memory of their fallen brothers-in-arms. As we approach Memorial Day, I thought it was a fitting tribute to those who have given their lives in war to the service of their fellow Americans and the world.


Conversation

Although you can't see me or know I am here,
I have come to your graveside to shed a few tears,
For you'd want me to visit, come to this cemet'ry,
And tell you, my comrade, I miss you, you see.

I'm kneeling right now, thinking back to the days:
You were always looked up to in so many ways;
You always looked out for us, showed that you cared,
And you willingly taught us and constantly dared.

Honor was that by which you lived your life,
Whether home in the peacetime or out in the strife;
How we valued your input! Your presence was all
That anyone needed to answer the call.

It's hard to think, comrade, that now you are gone,
That your young life has ended like the setting sun.
I'm sorry - but here I must pause, just to grasp
That I'll nevermore see you or feel your handclasp.

No one thought that we'd lose you that terrible day
That you wouldn't be among us, forever to stay.
It's been hard to move on, though we know what you said:
That we shouldn't be sad just because you are dead.

Each one owes you our thanks, for you gave us a gift:
In sealing your fate, you allowed us to live;
But we love you and wish it had been us instead,
So you wouldn't be lying on this earthen bed.

Comrade, let me just tell you: you're still very near;
You remain in our hearts, for, to us, you were dear;
With my hand on your headstone, I kneel here to say:
We wish you could visit us just for today.

Though we're sad that we must say farewell for now,
Still you wear a green laurel upon your brow;
We thank you our hero for all that you gave
For the country and those that you wanted to save.

I must leave, my friend; I bid you to rest
With the thanks of your nation ever blest.
I miss you, my comrade, yet resolve to be true
To all that you taught us while we served with you."



Friday, May 22, 2015

How They See It

 Over the last ten years I have befriended many of our service members, and I have often approached days like Memorial Day wondering, "What does a day like this mean to them? How do they see it? How does someone who has seen war take the lives of those they fought with remember them?" Perhaps the answer is contained in the poignant words of the song, Rest In Peace:

"Lord, give me wisdom to comprehend
Why I survive and not my friend…"

 For many, they feel a sense of "survivor's guilt," as it's termed - a feeling of intense loss  and regret for not having been in their fallen warrior's place. They think of the warrior who died and what his life might have been had he lived. As civilians, we will never know the depth of that bond which brothers-in-arms share. A bond that goes to the grave and beyond. For the past few Memorial Days, I have had the honor of visiting the gravesite of one of these fallen heroes and doing so in the presence of his close friend. Through the stories and memories he has shared with me, I've been able to get a better understanding of just how deep the ties between fellow warriors are. Because of their love for one another, there are few times where this is more evident than on Memorial Day when the names and faces come flooding across the memory with even greater meaning.
 With each passing year, warriors recall their now fallen friend as if his death happened only yesterday: the last movie they watched, the last laugh they shared, the last words they spoke. In the case of some like my friend, they know that their buddy is rejoicing in the presence of God. He is in a far better place, and this parting is only temporary. Such fallen do, indeed, rest in peace.
 On this day, the warriors who once fought alongside these brave individuals now pause to remember them and the things they did to serve their nation unselfishly. However, to those who served with the fallen, every day is Memorial Day. They don't need one day set aside to commemorate the sacrifice of their friends. They live their lives with purpose because they remember others gave their lives so they can live their own to the fullest. In some way, great or small, the memory of the fallen motivates them every single day.
 Maybe we all can learn a lesson from the ones who understand Memorial Day the best: the ones who carry the greatest burden - that of keeping alive the memory of those who gave all. This Memorial Day, if you see a veteran, ask them who they are thinking of that day…because, more likely than not, there is a special person on their mind that they will be glad to talk about and share with you. 




Thursday, May 21, 2015

Soldier's Prayer


Soldier's Prayer

Thou are my Master; I resign
To Thy own marvelous design;
Thou art my Maker; Thou hast said
That Thou would feed me with Thy bread.
 To claim that victory is mine,
When Thou hast all my steps aligned,
And to assume that I could win
My constant battle over sin,
I'd be a fool and deny my King;
Thou, for me, hast done everything.
I cannot live without Thy arm
To keep me from all present harm;
Thy love has all my fears abased;
I rest in Thy unchanging grace.
With humble trust, my sin I leave,
For simply to Thy cross I cleave;
I ask that Thou would deign to spare
My life, and give me strength to dare.
My great Commander, to Thy will
I now resolve to follow still;
Align my heart with all Thy ways
So I can serve Thee all my days.
Do not forget me, though I sin
And battle all the flesh within,
For, through Thy grace, I'll overcome,
And Thou wilt lead me to Thy home.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Lord, teach me more and more of Thyself and of my own poverty, misery, and weakness. And oh, unfold to my longing eyes and heart what there is in Thyself to supply all my need, and in Thy loving, willing heart to do all for me, and all in me, to fit me for Thy service here and for Thy presence hereafter! Sanctify abundantly all Thy varying dispensations to the welfare and prosperity of my soul, and increase in me every gift and grace of Thy Spirit, that I may show forth Thy praise and walk humbly and closely with Thee. Thou knowest what a poor, worthless worm I am and how utterly unworthy of the least mercy from Thy merciful hands; but Thou loves to bestow Thy favors upon the poor and needy, such as me, Thou, most precious Lord. Thou hast been a good and gracious, sin-pardoning God to my soul, and a very present help in every time of trouble. Helpless as an infant I hang upon Thee, to do all for me and all in me. Oh, what a friend is Christ to me!"
                                  - Mary Winslow in Seasons of the Heart

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quote of the Day

"…Is it not wonderful that God should help us at all? Have we not wondered hundreds of times at the singular help He has given? If we have not, what ungrateful blindness! He has been giving it ever since we were helpless babies. The very little things, the microscopic helpings, often seem most marvelous of all when we consider it was Jehovah Himself who stooped to the tiny need of a moment. And the greater matters prove themselves to be the Lord's doing, just because they are so marvelous in our eyes. Why should we fear being brought to some depth of perplexity and trouble when we shall know He will be true to His name and be our help, so that we shall be "men wondered at" because we have been so marvelously helped. 
    Let us turn our special attention to it each day. We need help of all kinds all day long. Now just observe how He gives it! Even if nothing the least unusual happens, the opened and watching eye will see that the whole day is one sweet story of marvelous help. And perhaps the greatest marvel will be that He has helped us to see His help after much practical blindness to it. And then the marveling will rise in praising the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you." 
                       - Frances R. Havergal in Seasons of the Heart

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Same God

 The same God who created the majestic mountains I behold also created and cares for me. The same God who holds the universe in His hands and who rules the vast world from His heavenly throne - He is still concerned with all that involves me. And He loves me fiercely! O that I could grasp such favor! To return such mercy is impossible but to live in full embrace of the grace being given is to show gratitude. Today, may I be filled in wonder that God chooses to know and care about me at all! May I acknowledge His divine assistance in everything I do and never cease to be thankful that He who made this incredible world I see - that same God preserves and guides me. 

"Moment by moment I'm kept in His love;
Moment  by moment I've life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am thine."
- Daniel Whittle


Saturday, May 16, 2015

What God Is To Me

 Several years ago, I was introduced to a beautiful poem that I would like to share with you. It was written in the 1300s and was later set to music by the British composer, John Rutter. It echoes my love for the God I call Lord and Friend and the many ways in which He surpasses all that this life can ever offer. He alone fully satisfies.


As The Bridegroom To His Chosen

As the bridegroom to his chosen,
As the king unto his realm,
As the keeper to the castle,
As the pilot to the helm,
As the captain to his soldiers,
As the shepherd to his lambs,
So, Lord, art thou to me.

As the fountain in the garden.
As the candle in the dark,
As the treasure in the coffer,
As the manna in the ark,
As the firelight in the winter,
As the sunlight in the spring,
So, Lord, art thou to me.

As the music at the banquet,
As the stamp unto the seal,
As refreshment to the fainting,
As the wine-cup at the meal,
As the singing on the feast-day,
As the amen to the prayer,
So, Lord, art thou to me.

As the ruby in the setting,
As the honey in the comb,
As the light within the lantern,
As the father in the home,
As the eagle in the mountains,
As the sparrow in the nest,
So, Lord, art thou to me.

As the sunshine in heavens,
As the image in the glass,
As the fruit unto the fig-tree,
As the dew upon the grass,
As the rainbow on the hilltop,
As the river in the plain,
So, Lord, art thou to me.

- John Tauler




Friday, May 15, 2015

In His Pastures

If the Lord is my shepherd - and a good one at that - why do I go looking for other pastures? Do I think He is not enough? My heart is so easily led astray. Like the lost sheep, I find myself on the hills of sin and valleys of death so often, far from the care of my Good Shepherd who loves me. So faithfully though does He seek and find me still. So graciously does He bring me back into the pastures where I belong. Today, may I find my rest where I am placed. Remove from me, Lord, all discontentment. My soul is satisfied only when it is with thee. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Psalm 23

 When I was a little girl, this was one of the first Bible passages I learned to memorize. But only in recent years has it come to mean more to me than perhaps I first realized. I have recited in at my dying grandmother's bedside; I have quoted it to myself as I walked  down the hallways of hospitals, wondering if my father would live. Today, I hold it dear because of Who it speaks of and describes - the Savior I know and love who is, and always will be, my Good Shepherd. 


Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in 
the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou
art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence
of mine enemies; thou annoinest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the 
days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Loving Shepherd


Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep

Loving Shepherd of thy sheep,
Keep thy lamb, in safety keep;
Nothing can thy power withstand,
None can pluck me from thy hand.

I would bless thee every day,
Gladly all thy will obey,
Like thy blessed ones above,
Happy in thy perfect love.

Loving Shepherd, ever near,
Teach thy lamb thy voice to hear;
Suffer not my steps to stray
From the straight and narrow way.

Where thou leanest I would go,
Walking in thy steps below,
Till before my Father's throne,
I shall know as I am known.

- Jane Leeson



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Quote of the Day



" Would a soul continually eye His everlasting tenderness and 
compassion...[then] it could not bear an hour's absence from Him;
whereas now, perhaps, it cannot watch with Him one hour...Every
other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from
Him; but if the heart be once much taken with the eminency of
the Father's love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered,
and endeared unto Him."
- John Owen

Monday, May 11, 2015

Quote of the Day


" Only trust in God is able to make a man happy.
Those who have the great men of the world to trust in
may seem happy, but only he who hath the God of heaven 
to trust is happy."
- Thomas Case in A Treatise On Affliction

Saturday, May 9, 2015

For His Glory Alone

"When we have done anything praiseworthy, we must hide ourselves under the veil of humility, and transfer the glory of all we have done to God."
- Thomas Watson



Friday, May 8, 2015

What I Would Tell Them

 This past weekend I went to a friend's college graduation. As I sat there and listened to the speakers and observed all of the graduates, I noticed something that has long bothered me about modern society's approach to this season of life. As our youth exit their high school or college years, we tend to promise them things that may or may not ever happen for them. While we all hope they experience success in life, more than likely, they must taste failure first. While we want them to accomplish their dreams and we encourage them to pursue greatness in their goals, more often than not, some of those will never come to fruition - some dreams aren't meant to be and will die in order for better ones to emerge. But we never talk to them about this. Our graduation cards focus on all these things and never bring up the ultimate idea which is: you will never gain unless you lose; you will never learn to succeed unless you fail; you will never become who you're meant to be unless you rely on God and others. It's usually all about what you can accomplish, how far you will go in life, and how only you can make these dreams a reality…as if it all depended on the grad in the first place! 


 As a former graduate myself, I remember well going through this phase of life and hearing many of these same things. And, in my youth, I believed many of them. Life taught me otherwise, however, and now I talk to other graduates differently as a result. 
So many of the well-wishes, while well-intentioned, came up short from the aspects I mentioned earlier. Life is so much about inversions, of realizing that its not about how much I can accomplish, but how much can be accomplished through me! Life isn't all about me as my culture tries to put it. Unselfishness is to be far more prized than ambition. Giving another a helping hand is of higher worth in the eyes of God than how many personal accomplishments I obtained along the way. My life - and the life of any other graduate - is a combination of many investments along the way: parents, friends, teachers, pastors, etc. who poured their lives into that one person's and helped make them who they are today. They are who they are because of those who have taken the time to unselfishly give to them. The only hope of those people is that the young person will go and do likewise for somebody else. 
 If I could talk to any young person and give them advice for this next phase of life, I would tell them this: expect the unexpected; don't be afraid to lose because you will gain far more when you do; be more concerned with who you help along the way than what you can accomplish for yourself. Most importantly, a life lived for God will not be wasted…even if it takes different directions along the way. 
 I would hope that, because of this advice, these young people might be spared the surprise of reality that I experienced in my post high school years. Life is an adventure, and the sometimes harsh reality of it shouldn't quench the awesome experience it can bring for a young person with aspirations and goals. Perhaps, though, a more-frequent word of caution is needed for our youth so that they learn that life isn't about never falling, but learning to rise from the falls and become a better person because of it. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Our Only Hope


"The only hope we have for ourselves is to
give up hope in ourselves."
- Tullian Tchivijian


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Quote of the Day






" Many years have passed since I made my boast in God...Satan is 
unquestionably waiting for me to fall. If I was left to myself, I would
fall prey to him at once. Pride, unbelief, or other sins would be my
ruin and lead me to bring disgrace upon the name of Jesus.
No one should admire me, be astonished at my faith,
or think of me as if I were an amazing person.No, I am weak as ever.
I need to be upheld in faith and every other grace."
- George Muller

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In Constant Need


I Need Thee Every Hour

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford. 

I need Thee every hour; stay Thou nearby.
Temptations lose their power when Thou are nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need Thee; O I need Thee!
Every hour I need Thee! 
O bless me now, my Savior;
I come to Thee.

- Annie Hawks

Monday, May 4, 2015

Quote of the Day

" Do not be content with the easier and cheaper work. Every morning in the planning of your affairs, acknowledge your own disability and commend yourself to the work of His grace in desire and action. Entreat Him for help that Christ may live through you." 
                            - Samuel Ward in Voices From The Past

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?"
                          - Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Spiritual Depression

Friday, May 1, 2015

Quote of the Day

"…Thus, they that are taught of God in affliction can speak experimentally, in one degree or another, of the gains and privileges of a suffering condition. They can speak experimentally of communion with God, 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil' (Psalm 23:4). Why? 'For thou are with me': I have had comfortable experience of thy upholding, counseling, comforting presence with me in my deepest desertions; so of other fruits of affliction, this I have got by my sufferings; I bless God, I have learned more patience, humility, and self-denial; to be more sensible of my brethren's sufferings; to sit looser to the world, to mind duty, and to trust safety to God; to prepare for death, and to provide for eternity."
                                   - Thomas Case in A Treatise On Afflictions