A Very Rushed Post, featuring a story about my Niece

It’s been an exactly a year since I posted! Oh my goodness. I can’t let this go on. So here I am typing up a little blog post just so that it won’t be “over a year since I’ve posted.” That’s such a terrible reason, and I have almost NO time to type this either.

What’s to report? God is good! So good! All the time! Isn’t it incredible how He can be so good to us and we can still doubt Him when the going gets rough? Our church conference is this weekend, starting tomorrow, and the topic is “Grace through Suffering.” I know it will be good. And since band practice last night, which meant going over some of the songs we’ll be singing, now I REALLY know it’s gonna be good! The songs that have been chosen (I even got to choose one, yay) are so good!

God is very good to us. Sometimes His goodness is shown through his providence. Sometimes His goodness is shown through His discipline. One of the songs we’re going to sing this weekend has a line that says, “Why should I complain or want or distress, temptation or pain? He told me no less.” It makes me think of Job who said, “Should we receive good from the Lord and not receive evil?” If we weren’t so head-smart, we’d be able to see more clearly the goodness of our God in the good times, so that we could trust Him more fully in the evil times.

One time when I was babysitting my niece and nephew I had to swat my niece’s hand. Mariposa was about a year and a half old, and she is generally a very sweet child who wants to please, but she started testing her boundaries just a little. I told her twice not to touch something, and the third time she reached for it, I took her hand and popped it. It probably scared her more than anything. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I guess I expected Mari to get angry and reach for the item again, or I at least expected her to run away. If I had been on the receiving end of that hand-swat, I’m pretty sure I would have been angry, insulted, and rebellious. If I wasn’t angry, I’d be scared and try to get as far away as I could. Instead she burst into tears and fell into my arms. Without hesitation.

I was pretty confuzzled. I had just told her not to get something she wanted, and when she had insisted on getting it, I gave her pain. So why did she run right to me? How did she know I still love her? Why did she think (and rightly so) that she could come to me for comfort, right after I had inflicted pain?

Maybe because in her simple but trusting mind, she’s a lot smarter than the rest of us stupid blockheads!

I don’t have time right now to expound on everything this means to me or just what an impact her trustfulness in me made. I’ll just tell you now that I do love her. She knew I loved her. And after she was finished crying, she continued to cling to me and draw cuddles from me until it was time to go, when she started crying again and broke my auntie heart. I cherish that memory of her. We truly need to have faith more like that of a child.

Until Next Year! (haha, just kidding, I think)

Cheers!
Ellie

A Quick Clarification of Feelings and Gut-reactions

I feel like I need to explain something about myself, because I’ve only recently begun to realize that people don’t think the same way I do. Surprise! Okay, I’m kind of kidding, because I do know that people think differently, but I didn’t realize they didn’t understand my way of thinking, and at the risk of sounding self-centered, I want to explain.

If you’ve known me for awhile or if we’ve had extended one-on-one conversations, you probably know some of my weaknesses. You have probably seen at least part of my struggles, and you probably know some of the doubts I wrestle with. That’s because I usually give out that information without hesitation, especially if you have showed a bit of your own vulnerability to me. But I realize some people might be confused as to why I so readily share those things. Here’s why–because I am encouraged when others share their own vulnerability, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This will sound mean for a moment, but when I hear that others are struggling with the same things I do or in the same ways I struggle, my first thoughts are thoughts of encouragement (to myself, I mean.) I think things like, “I’m not alone.” “Other’s have been here too.” “This problem is defeat-able.” “We can do this together.” That is why when someone shows a piece of their heart to me, my gut reaction is to show a piece of my heart to them, and show the same struggle in my own life. I will say (or at least think) things like, “Yes, I’ve struggled along those lines.” “That happened to me too at this time and that time.” “I deal with this too.”

What I’m realizing is that this doesn’t always come across as an encouragement. It either comes across as 1) trying to one-up their pain with my own pain or 2) giving them an excuse not to deal with it. That’s not it at all! My pain is no more important than your own, and even though some trials seem so much larger than others, I know that while you’re in them–they are all painful! What might be a small deal for one person, is huge for another, so to each his own. Also, if you are dealing with sin, there is no excuse to let it sit and fester. I only want to be there to help you.

Before I close, I do also acknowledge that my feelings above are not always the case. Sometimes I am in a bout of self-pity, I am too self-centered, and I talk before I listen. That aside, I only want to understand and be understood.

I suppose all I would like to say is that I really do care, I want to fight with you, and I’m sorry if I’ve ever hurt you by talking about myself instead of letting you talk about yourself.

Darwin’s Dilemma

I held my cat for a long time tonight. I had felt a surge of panic as I thought of the day’s conversations and everything I had done wrong, and before I knew it, the cat I was in the middle of putting outside was clasped tight under my chin. I’m amazed at the gentleness in her. Most of the time she doesn’t like being held like that, probably because her old joints need specific support to be comfortable, but I must have gotten it right, because she didn’t struggle once but purred and rested against me. I hugged all the anxiety away. I know I’ve said it before, but my cat seems to know when I am sick or hurting, and I’m always amazed. Animals are amazing.

Our family also watched a documentary tonight called “Metamorphosis.” After a (rather long) exploration of the journey from caterpillar to butterfly, and then a look at the Monarch Butterfly migration, the biologists finally made the point they were coming to, two points actually.

The first has to do with metamorphosis itself. In metamorphosis, a caterpillar, inside the chrysalis, does something similar to decomposing. Its cells break down, they die, they turn into a pile of mush. Some of those cells disappear, and others are used to the reorganization of a completely different body. Wings, legs, proboscis, compound eyes, antennae, digestive tract, heart, and reproductive organs–they are all completely new and altogether different from the caterpillar. This metamorphosis poses a problem to the common-held theory of evolution which states that creatures evolved by natural selection and slowly grew in complexity over time. Because metamorphosis doesn’t work like that. First off, a creature wouldn’t (figuratively) kill itself unless there was a planned outcome. It cannot just randomly develop this habit of committing suicide inside a chrysalis and killing off most body cells without a system already put in place to rebuild itself. Secondly, it cannot slowly develop this process. So many things, tiny and huge, have to happen all at once for this to work. If the wings and eyes worked, but not the organs, the butterfly would die. If the legs and proboscis worked, but not the connecting muscles, the butterfly would die. If everything, by some happy, random chance, was put together perfectly except for one thing, the butterfly could not survive. For all of these amazing developments to happen at once is quite improbable, maybe impossible. The more logical conclusion is that it was designed.

The second point the biologists came to was that because of the art and beauty in the world that we observe, we can perceive that there must be intelligence behind it. There are approximately 20,000 species of butterflies in the world, and every single species has a different wing shape and pattern. In some cases, patterns help the butterflies to survive, but in many they are simply there. Natural selection has no reason for beauty, and no explanation for how it came about.

Look at a sunset. Look at the stars. Look at a cat. Look at a tiny butterfly. It is art. It is simply the logical response to assume that something intelligent is behind it all, and it is simply the right response to give our praise to that something.

 

In awe,
Ellie

I’d Like a Laptop….

Imagine me packing up my laptop to stroll in the park. Under a favorite tree, I would unpack, settle down, and write. Out in the fresh breeze, under the blue sky and leafy boughs,inspiration would flow, stories would be written, truths be sifted through and explained.

Or imagine taking the laptop with me to a coffee shop where, with stealthy glasses, I would watch people enter and order, and write them down as characters to use in a novel. And picking up my handy Criminal Writer’s Reference Guide, I would plot out a mystery novel. Or imagine me with the simple opportunity to withdraw into a quiet bedroom with coffee and cookies nearby to write to my heart’s content.

I would like a laptop. But so far, it hasn’t come to reality. I have to put up with a desktop in the living room where the entire family lives.

Even more than a laptop, I would like selflessness. I feel chained to my own desires and comforts so that I cannot love as I ought.

I would like diligence, the ability and will to complete what I start and struggle through trials.

I would like self-discipline, to read the Bible and pray consistently and faithfully.

I would like grace of speech.

I would like wisdom and discernment.

Okay, the list goes on and on. (Yours probably does too.) I feel like such a baby Christian sometimes because I lack in all these areas.

Well, I read today from the book “Pentecost-Today?” by Iain H. Murray. He was actually quoting another book that said,
“Some things that we might think desirable we may not have. Before Christ was brought face to face with the tempter, he was fitted for his service by being kept hungry for forty days; and it may be that some things we desire may in like manner be kept back. But faith should always claim that that which God has given us, and is giving us, is sufficient for present needs. If faith is only in lively exercise we shall know this, That no single thing we do not possess would be a help to us today. What does the Word say? ‘No good thing will he withhold’ (Psa. 84:11) ‘My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:19).

That struck home. A laptop would not be a help today, nor patience or compassion, as strange as that sounds. Because for some reason in God’s grand design, I’m not supposed to have it. I don’t know when I might ever get a laptop, but God does. And after all, true freedom is being a slave to Christ, including a slave to His plans for me.

And since the key to contentment is gratefulness, I have already begun to mentally review all the blessings God has given to me. Material goods are all around me, including the green grass and sweet smelling lilacs. And even looking at my character, which can be depressing, I see how I have grown and matured and I’m very grateful God has been patient to bring me this far. With His grace, I can only grow closer to Him.

In Christ,
Ellie
 

Update on Life, April Edition

April hasn’t been a terribly busy month in the way of events, but it has been in the way of spiritual battles.

April was Camp Nanowrimo month, but sadly, I didn’t compete for more than a few days before I felt it best to quit Nanowrimo this time. And honestly, I feel like I’ve conquered an idol. When November comes, I’ll do it with spirit and gusto, but not with all my heart, nor all my time. 🙂

God has been dealing with me in the way of pet sins, small ones that we think don’t matter but have lasted a long time. Things like attitude adjustment and habit breaking. Sometimes breaking away from those sins can be very painful. I hold on to them and grow more and more depressed, knowing that I will only grow more so, but still stomping my foot like a two-year-old, unwilling to admit that I’m wrong. I still don’t understand how I can be so lenient about some things, and so stubborn about my own comfort. It is painful, but at the end of each struggle is grace and peace.

A funny thing happened after I wrote those two blog posts, Our Fallen World and In the World but Not of the World. I wrote those in perfect conscience, but afterward realized that I wasn’t applying a lot of the truths I had just written about. God has been placing messages in my life to show me where I am holding on the world and where I need to let go.

I’ve been reminded of God’s goodness through some passages of scripture. Psalm 103, being one. Also Psalm 73, Job 42:1-6, Daniel 2:17-23, and Acts 2. (I also heard and have been meditating on this sermon by one of our pastors.)

I recently fell upon an old hymn that not many know, but you’ve got to love.

Matthew Smith has rewritten the melody, which I like more than the original. Go memorize the song. It’s short, simple, and so true!

I’ve also noticed that my blog seems to have become a big love proponent. Every post seems to have the same central message, “Love.” I want some diversity as much as any of you, but I’ve had a recent insight on love that I want to share. It’s good! And it’s short.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is self.

I have had that in mind recently. If only we could love each other perfectly! If we could put aside our own interests to love each other with pure and unhindered love, then our joy in Christ could be full, and we could truly change this world. As for me, I am very self-centered instead of being God centered. I enjoy my own comfort and pleasure too much, but with God’s grace I hope I am getting better.

So that’s inward life right now, and God is always faithful.

The Mexico Mission Trip is coming together!
Last time Psalm 67 had a team there, they visited several Christian Rehab centers. They heard amazing testimonies from the people down there, ex-cartel members and lifelong drug addicts who had come to these centers and heard the gospel. Now they want to be pastors! However they have little resources for studying the Bible, and when our team leader suggested the idea of building a theological library for them, they had an enthusiastic response, even including tears. Several rehab centers asked if we could help put together libraries for them. So that’s what we will be doing on this trip! As far as our funds let us, we will be building shelves with the people there, and giving them books to help them study the Bible. Right now we are raising funds. If you feel led to give, you can visit the blog and donate. Or you can mail:

Psalm 67 Missions Network
3671 Telegraph Rd
Arnold, MO 63010

I’m very excited about the team I’ll be going with. Please pray for them by name:
Sarah and Billy Jackson
Gennie Jackson
Myself
Aaron Sutton
Russ Sanders
Mark Akins
Savannah Weber
Barbara Fudge
John Parker

I’m excited about the church we’ll be partnering with and the ministry we’ll be doing! It’s hard to believe the trip is less than a month away.

As far as reading goes, I have quite a few that I’ve been picking up every day to read.

  • Pentecost Today, a Biblical understanding of revival
  • The Universe Nextdoor, a basic worldview catalog
  • Writing Great Books for Young Adults, not a book for young adults, a book for writing books for young adults. I’ve read it before. Nothing special, I just had an inkling to review it.
  • The Thief, I’ve read it for the fourth or fifth time, and now I’m trying to find out how Megan Whalen Turner writes books so well. I have learned some things, but I also learned that she’s married to a professor. No way! No wonder….
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight, a wonderful little book, derived from the book “Desiring God,” by John Piper
  • The Brotherband Chronicles, book 2, which is just pleasure reading. I finished all of the Ranger’s Apprentice and moved on the the Brotherband series, which I like more.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s been lovely. Read it if you haven’t.

I’ve umpired my first game of the season! And compared to the other two games that went on that evening, mine was a piece of cake. I think this season will be much better than last. ;D (Btw, I did end up writing a poem for my test, but it wasn’t nearly as cool because it had real references and made sense.)

And that’s just about my month summed up. I’m sure I’ve left out something, but this post is already too long.

So on to May!

May looks like a lot of fun! 😉 Just you wait.
Ellie

 

Edit: I know what I forgot to mention! Grace Camp Meeting at the beginning of the month! I might make a separate post to show a few pictures and share some notes. But if you want to listen to the sermons, go here. They’re all good!

Updates on Life, February Edition

God is very good.

To someone who succumbs to laziness daily, loses patience more than daily, neglects priorities, and can’t seem to mature He is amazingly gracious.

Sometimes I feel like Lot who wouldn’t leave behind the city (that was about to be destroyed anyway) until the angels grabbed his stubborn hands and dragged him out. Even when I’m reluctant to leave the old behind, God still drags me into the new, and the new is good!

Even though I feel like I don’t mature, I do feel this attachment to the world is constantly fading. Its opinions and ideals mean less and less. “Living life to the fullest” has certainly lost its charm. More and more I just want the joy and peace I get in God and I want the fellowship I get from the church.

And that’s just about it.

So, looking over the month of February, I’ve learned

  • Improv piano is more enjoyable than written piano
  • Walking onto a stage to stand up for half an hour while sick is not ideal
  • The book of Revelations is mainly dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem
  • The Destruction of Jerusalem is much more significant that I ever realized
  • Daniel Webster was a jerk to invent a dictionary
  • Life without math is wonderful
  • Poetry is a good writing practice, both reading and writing it
  • Glow worms are disgusting

Another new, sort of new, accurance—well, I’m umpiring again.

I hated it so much last year! Before every single game I told myself I would never umpire again. And now for my second year I’ll be expected to improve—what was I thinking?!

I HAVE NO CLUE! So don’t ask.

But it’s too late to back out now.

I do have some plans of strategy to make this a more successful year:

  1. Study my rules and know them front and back. The only way I can be confident in my calls is by being dead sure of them
  2. Do my best to stick to softball, which means talking with the Chief Umpire
  3. Practice communicating with my other umpire, even if it’s just waving “hi” after every pitch

I have a bit of time right now to come up with a poem for the test, as I did last year.

I’m not feeling the inspiration though. I can’t get anything written. So we’ll see how that goes.

I want to thank one specific person. My darling friend Alexis constantly pulls the plug on my pride and also my gloom.

She has a beautiful and simple heart to love God and love others. She insured that “Singles Awareness Day” was anything but melancholy and has inspired me to love over and over. Our ideals, interests, and theology differs, but her smile is impossible to smother.

And now to go rolling into March–

I remain,
Yours Truly,

Ellie

Beginning Writer and some team work

First, by way of introduction….

_MG_9353

This is Jimmy!!!!

_MG_5976

_MG_7786

_MG_6006

_MG_7120

_MG_3855

_MG_5741

_MG_7774

_MG_7726

Alright, so now that you know Jimmy, I can tell you he’s a new writer! He is writing me a lovely story about a “dee” (bee). Today he was super excited to do it–give me a story to edit and revise for him.

He is smart you know! Today he told us, “Lighting bugs must eat the sun.” When I told him it was too cute he said, “I mean, they sit out in the sun so they can glow at night. That’s like their food.” That’s why he should be a writer. I told him so and that is where this started, but obviously he’s had this idea of the bee in his head for quite awhile, since he learned about them in school.

So here’s his story.

_MG_7345

Translation: “Once there was a bee, but he didn’t have wings or a pattern. He was a little worm shape. One day he woke up. He was shaped like a bee, but he did not have a pattern like a bee, so he ate furious but they….”(I’ve only received one page. He’s still working on the second.
After he proudly gave me his work–I revised it. Here’s the second draft:
“Once upon a time there was a bee, well, he was not really a bee, not to himself. To himself he saw only a little worm shape, and honestly, he really was just a little worm. No wings, no stripes.
He waited quite awhile, depressed because he never thought he would be a bee. Not now, not ever. But the day came when he found that his head was shaped very finely, and his body as well. But he was not a bee, and he knew it, because he had no stripes, no pattern.
He went on with his life, admiring his head and eyes, but not doing much else–except eat honey of course; the real bees above poured it down on his head constantly….”
Watch out Washington! Look out Times Square! Here we come to rock the nation!
Happy Writing!
Electric Bubbles