Thursday, November 26, 2015

Journal | thankful, grateful, blessed

I don't think I've ever been at a point in life before where my blessings were as obvious as they are to me now.

I've always been able to look around and count them off:

--roof over my head
--food to eat
--family to love
--friends who care

Going through the motions, taking that one day a year to pause and dwell briefly on the "little things" I guiltily was aware that I took for granted... but didn't everybody? And we did our part to stop and allow ourselves guilt about it for that one designated moment on that one designated day. Then we had been humbled adequately, and life went on.

But when your whole life gets turned up-side-down and shaken... things do change.
There came an actual point in time where I very well was not guaranteed the "little things" (that are actually huge things). There was a point where everything got questioned.

--family to love me
--friends who cared

And all that was certain was God.
I am so grateful for His help, for protecting me-- and my family-- through so many circumstances. From age 0 to age 18, He's never failed. And I'm still here! Praise God.

In addition to the little-huge things, there are blessings beyond the necessities-- He got me my GED and guided me through the SATs... He's provided me with the ability to go to college-- at no cost to me. He gave me the most amazing job this past summer where I met people and did things that I know have impacted my life forever, (and things just fell directly into place for all of that, when the process of meeting requirements looked so complicated!) He helped me pass the road test, gave me my license-- He even gave me a car! Family closer than ever, friends that I can trust with my life, a blessed relationship, my HOME, and always His peace, His guidance, and His protection.

I could go on forever.

But Lord?

You also give me the sunrise. You give me the full moon in October.
The birds that sing in the morning, the woods to walk through, the stream that babbles.
The leaves that turn colors, the frost that beautifies the window glass, the fog that blankets the morning air.

The work to do that keeps the home cozy and clean, the wood that heats our water, the cows to milk that sustain us. The young chickens that lay eggs in abundance, the kittens to snuggle.

The dishes because it means we have food, the laundry because it means we have clothes to wear, the clutter because it means we have even more than we need.

I'm grateful for the hard lessons.
The difficult times because they make me appreciate the good ones.
The truths that I might not want to hear sometimes, but definitely need to. I'm thankful for those who have the courage to speak them, who care enough to put my spiritual well-being above my comfort.

I'm thankful for being able to see when I mess up, to be able to identify when I'm doing something wrong or even thinking with a wrong perspective-- and also for those who help me see when I just don't. I'm so thankful for new mercies each day, and for the constant offer of grace, the opportunity at any given moment to change for the better and to grow.

I'm thankful for hindsight. Being able to look back and be in awe of all that's come to pass, and all I've miraculously been carried through. Seeing how much I've changed, and those around me have changed. And it reinforces my trust in God, knowing that there is more to come, that it is worth it, and that it will be more than alright with Him leading.

Change hurts sometimes. But strangely, I love changing.
Because I Love Him, and His ways are higher than mine.

Lord, the two little words sound so inadequate... but Thank You.
Help me to live a life of thankfulness, help me to keep the right perspective, to breathe gratitude, and to give away what You have given me. How amazing that this is one of the only things You have asked of me!

Help me to be appreciative-- I know I fail.
But I know how BEAUTIFUL life suddenly becomes when someone is living with a heart that is simply in awe of Your wonders and overwhelmed with gratitude. I want to live like that.

You are Awesome. So Awesome.

(And also... thank you for coffee. )

Friday, November 20, 2015

Journal | peace, be still

The infant cries and whimpers in my arms as I rock her back and forth.

Her sobs are loud and violent, she will not be comforted.

I sing to her...

You call me out upon the waters,
The great unknown, where feet may fail...

I murmur words of comfort to soothe her, but she cannot hear me above her own voice.

and there I find You in the mystery,
In oceans deep, my faith will stand...

Back and forth in the rocking chair, surrounded by the cool darkness of the nursery. Her sobs turn to hiccups; her hiccups to sniffles.

And I will call upon Your name,
Keep my eyes above the waves.

When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace.
For I am Yours...
and You are mine.

And now she is still.

Lord, as I rocked the little child to sleep tonight, I recognized something.
I recognized that in those times I despair, and cannot be comforted, there is not one moment that You are not holding me in Your arms, whispering Your words to me, and trying to give me rest.

Blinded by my tears, I cannot look about the proverbial nursery, at the many framed memories on the walls, and see the proof of all You've brought me through. I forget the victories, forget the joys. Yet they are there, if I would only see.

You do not forsake me. I cry for answers, for affirmation-- but I cannot hear You above the roar of my sobs. My tears are an ocean. I stare at the crashing waves.

But You? You speak in a still small voice. You walk above the waves.

And I? I must be still so that I may listen.

For You walk upon the water, and You call me out to join You.

Song lyrics from..
Hillsong United. "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" Zion.  Hillsong, Sparrow, 2013. CD. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Love Song | a ballad of November

For my two Dearest Loves...

This month we'll look back on three crazy years and give praise again for everything He's brought us through. Our lives changed forever that late November night. We knew we had stumbled into deep waters... we knew Jesus was the only way to survive... but it's amazing to me now, looking back, the exact depth and width and enormity of all that was really going to happen.

I've done a lot of walking and praying-- through muddy corn fields, knee-high snow, pastures with birdsong and new growth all around-- over and over, throughout the changing seasons. Looking to God... being taken apart and rebuilt again, surrendering to Him all over, so many times.

Not my plan, not my will, Lord... but yours be done. I trust You.

So much letting go.
Letting go of Me.
Letting go of my life.
My fears.
Believing He was holding me.
And letting go of you, Zachary. And any control I might reserve for myself over what was going to happen.

The commitment to wait was graced and gifted with God's peace-- it is the only way we ever could have done anything. To chase after You, Lord, is not a quest You let us undertake unequipped. You provide generously-- all the strength and joy and patience we need to endure.

Zachary, I cannot thank you enough for being the man you were, willing to let go and become the man He wanted you to be. The man you are today is amazing to me, and you're still changing.

Thank you for putting your hope in Him.

And most of all, thank you for stepping aside and pointing me to Jesus. Thank you for that selfless act that made Love true.

Lord, You overwhelm me with all You've designed, how I see it now falling into place. Your ways are unsearchable, and Your promises true. You are so wise and so good, and your plans so much greater than I could ever conjure up for myself. Without You, I'd have missed one of my life's greatest blessings... Thank You for Zachary Scott.

I knew true Love was not easy, and that it would hurt. I was so afraid of failing. And falling.

But I have come to know two Great Loves, one the sun, the other the moon: one shining glorious warmth and joy into my heart and life, redeeming me; the other a precious reflection of that light, and earthly example to me of the heavenly realms.

I have learned a lot in this journey to True Love... and I look forward to the enormous amount I have yet to attain.

Father, I had to learn of Your Love first.

I discovered Your wondrous Love for me, amidst chaos and uproar. You were my only option for peace and guidance. As soon as I took hold of You, I was shown the truth: that Your were all I really needed. I'm glad for the struggles, I'm grateful for the hardships-- I never would have appreciated You fully without them. I just Love the thought of You ruining Satan's plans, of the way You were able to use His darts for my good, once I surrendered to You.

You caught me up in Your arms. You taught me Love. You took away my fear, and You led me into Love with You. I was a cup overflowing, and I was learning to share what You had given me. To spread it.

There was a revolution in my Heart. A paradigm shift in my mind of how I saw You. When I found out who You really were, and how You cared for me, it changed the course of my life forever.

I always knew that marriage on this earth was created to be a reflection of the Believers' unity with You, that marriage was a sort of trinity, Man and Woman bound with God, just as You are a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before I entered any sort of earthly relationship, I truly wanted to have the right focus and the right direction. Thank You so much for giving me the opportunity to prepare, and for sweeping me away in a fashion I never could have imagined You would.

The greatest epiphany a person can reach is recognizing that HE Loves us. First. His Love is an unconditional choice. He doesn't Love us only once we choose Him. He Loves us first.

Often, people run from Love, from commitment.
Because of Fear-- fear springing from past experience.
Fear of being let down again. Used again. Hurt again. Rejected and discarded.
Because they dared to reach out and Love first once before, and they were betrayed.

But you see, God doesn't fear to Love us. Even though He knows that so many of us will turn away. He still dares to Love... to reach out, to even die for us. Despite the fact that He'll be ignored, despised, and betrayed. Even, on occasion, by those who do in fact love Him back.

When a person realizes that You, Father, Love them first, and that You always will... they can't help but fall in Love with You. Because there is nothing to fear. Not anymore. Your perfect Love casts out fear.

We Love Him, because He first Loved us.

God, the same went for me.
I'd been raised a Christian... but it wasn't until I was 14 that my understanding of Who You really were exploded. That's when my relationship with You became my own... and it's been quite the journey ever since. (Another story for another time. :) )

And down here on this earth? Amidst all this beautiful chaos?

A reflection was stirring.

When did I finally choose to Love you, Zachary?

When I couldn't help it anymore. When I knew beyond a doubt that you Loved me. And you had dared to Love me first.

You had proven too many times that your Love was real. You didn't pack up and leave when it was clear that your affections could not be reciprocated. You waited for me, when I told you not to. You Loved me even in my fickleness, my doubt, and my {unintentional} hurt of you.

I remember my heart crashing into a wall when I realized what I was doing. What I was rejecting. What I was letting fear barricade from my life.

Zachary, you were no where near being Jesus. ;) But God used you as a prominent vessel for His voice into my life in those days. You actively encouraged me and pushed me to build my life more closely upon God's promises. I saw so many traits of Christ embodied in your actions... And gradually, as I had thrown aside fear for Him and accepted His Love... I knew I could do the same with you.

And honestly I don't remember when I crossed that line in my heart and finally Loved you. But sometimes, Love just comes softly. And Love, in our human capacity for it, is built. Love is a choice, it is action, it is sacrifice, it requires change and growth because it cannot just sit comfortably still and expect to flourish... Love is hard. And Love is so worth it.

Lord God, I cannot thank You enough for the life You have given me. I know much will be asked, and I pray for Your guidance and strength to answer the call and follow wholeheartedly after You. No matter what the obstacles and trials in life. I praise You for the wondrous work You have going in me, and for the fact that You will see it through to completion.

And tonight I praise You for the work You have done in the man I have the privilege to call my Best Friend. Thank You, praise You, bless You! --for Your mighty Love which flows over and sweeps us away. May we only grow closer to You Lord, and in so doing, grow closer to one another.

You are the Song that we sing, and may it be a Love Song to You.

In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How to Blog (the right way)

Spoiler alert! -- there is no right way.

And I'll let you in on a small secret: (I have no idea what I'm doing.) 

It's really hard for me, because I've have all of these plans, all of these ideas in my head of how things should go, what I want to make happen, and when I want it done.

I've written before about how God gave me this inspiration, and I've also written about letting Him lead. Every time I sit down and open up Blogger, I make myself surrender it.

Because I want everything I say to be led by Him. I want everything I write to be approved by Him. I don't want to post anything that is solely my own... because it's junk.

Goodness! I have so many topics I've wanted to cover. Even the fact that this is a Relationship blog bugs me, because more than anything else so far, I haven't been writing much at all about relationships, but about self and the personal commitment of following after God. Because that's what's been put on my heart. It's taking a lot of trust and a lot of patience for me to do this and not forge ahead with my own ideas. But I know it's going to be worth it... because it already has been!

What I've seen happening through my blog reminds me of that Emily Dickinson poem, If I can stop one heart from breaking... though at a slightly less drastic level. Every single time I get feedback from anyone in a comment, or see activity on one of my posts through sharing on social media, I'm flooded with gratitude. Thank You, God!  Because if what He allows me to write can help even one person, none of this is in vain.

It just makes me SO GLAD to see people being able to relate, gleaning encouragement, or giving me a kind word of reassurance, too. You're all proof to me that I'm supposed to be doing this, and I can't say thank you enough.

In regards to blogging and the various technicalities, I'm learning how to improve and personalize everything, little by little. There is a lot to learn!

(Notice the new blog look? :D Let me know what you think, honestly.)



How to blog-- the right way?

Well, for me, that means giving it to God. Then blindly letting things unfold. *gulp*

At any rate, I'm going to write to you all about 4 key points of my blogging life. Everyone has their own unique quirks and strategies.

As I said, there really is no right or wrong way, there is simply what has been proven effective to draw audiences across cyberspace, for those who make a living through their website. As for me, my path has proven to be most unconventional. But it shows promise, and I'll see where it goes.  :)


Anywhere and everywhere. I'm a weird person: my most whirlwind inspiration moments come to me while milking the cows. I'll blog in my bedroom, at the kitchen table, in the barn, in the college library, or up in the woods. Internet connection or no internet connection. (I'll tell you how I do that, below.) Really, it's anywhere that I'm inspired or an idea hits me.


Most people will say set goals and be consistent, and yeah, I really wanted to be able to do that. In the beginning. But I've come to know I need to wait for the leading. If the trend so far is any sort of indicator, I post once a week (or 3/4 times a month). But that's subject to change, either by increase or by decrease. Usually I'll have a post in the works for quite a while. I write a little, leave it. Come back and edit, write more, leave it again. Sometimes I get on a role and finish it up. Then it gets published. I'm working on my blog behind the scenes most every day, it's just that things take time. And that's more than okay!


Either I'm using my father's laptop (because I'm in the process of replacing my Dell that's giving up on life), or I'm "blogging" in a notebook. Yep, I've got a leather journal dedicated to Project Patience. I can write my rough drafts, brainstorms and notes, or even just pour out some journal entries, and sometimes those evolve into posts, or spur the topics for them. While spending time in the Word, themes will stick out at me, and even some schoolwork assignments have been the inspiration for posts. As a general rule, live life, and life will present you with tons of writing material. :P


Because you've got an awful lot to offer.
I blog because I'm being led to. Because I have a story to tell, and to each chapter there is an appointed time in which to tell it. The same goes for you. You have a story to tell, so why not blog?
Above all, remember: the point of telling your story is to Glorify God. To show how He's fulfilling His promises, to rejoice in all the amazing and often unexpected ways He reveals His plan. He is doing great things, every moment. In all of our individual lives, at our own rates, we are living and learning. There's so much to grasp in this walk with our Love, so much to obtain in knowledge and depth of insight. It's such a blessing to have the opportunity to also learn from each other! To spread the news of what He is doing, to share, encourage, and uplift one another in Jesus' name.

The question isn't why share?, it's why not?. ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Skipping Breakfast | feeding the spirit

Too often, I skip breakfast.

I'm rushing to get out the door and make it to my 8 o'clock class on time. 

I'm throwing on clothes, cleaning up if I happened to have barn chores earlier, getting my hair out of my face, sometimes applying make up, making sure my bag is packed, and (usually) putting a lunch together if I even have time for that. 

Coffee! -- I just need coffee!

And as I'm driving up the road, I turn on my Christian music and try to talk to God before I get to the busy village and my attention is torn away from Him. 

This is my typical morning. 

Rushed, crazy, jumbled. For what? I realize that, ultimately, the majority of my time is dedicated to my outward appearance, isn't it.

I don't eat breakfast.

I don't feed on the Word.

I go through my day super hungry.

And yes, the physical part is taken care of at lunch time.

But my Spirit starves. Honestly, I think I feel those hunger pangs more sharply than I feel the other. 

Just this past week on a Monday morning, I got to class and took my place. There were a handful of us there, waiting on the professor. The click of heals came echoing down the hall and a woman appeared in the doorway to inform us that he was out today. 

Well-- an unexpected gift of 75 minutes was mine to do with as I pleased. And driven by hunger, I found myself seeking out a secluded window seat at a desk behind the library shelves...

Prayer, and His word, and journaling, and music flowed freely. I had time to myself with my Father. And oh what an impact it had on the rest of my day!

I sat there and did not want to leave. 

When I finally did, I just wanted to go and smile at people, and to serve them with a Heart of Love in any way the Lord instructed.

My focus had been realigned. 

This was how I wished it could be every day. (And why isn't it?)

I love when "making time for God" goes from being a challenge to being an addiction. At first it is hard to get to that place-- but once you do, you can't drag yourself away! You just want more. And it becomes your priority. 

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your Spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (Romans 12:11 NIV)

We are not striving to remain zealous or to be passionate for passion's own sake.  Our passion and zeal comes from a  deep understanding of the AMAZING things Jesus has done, and for the great calling He has for us!

Passion? We shouldn't be able to help ourselves. 

Sometimes, I'm really not that excited. I lose the joy of my spiritual fervor, because I stop feeding it. 

And I'm not talking about feelings-- the floaty, excited feeling similar to falling in love that you probably experienced when you first came to know Christ-- that initial euphoria will fade, because it is only a chemical reaction in the brain. 

No, I'm talking about something far more real. I mean that knowing of God's unshakable peace, His inherent joy that cannot be suppressed. Because the deeper you delve, and the more you steep yourself in Him with a heart hungry to know and willing to receive, your Spirit will ignite. 

You're a candle. Without oxygen you cannot help but burn out. Your Spirit needs the Word, or it is going to be suffocated. Your mind will run rampant with the fleshly nature if it is not filled with His Truth.

Battling our sinful selves is hard enough without neglecting our daily meals and completely discarding the armor with which we were supplied. When I deny myself the very balm my Spirit knows I need, yet my mind doesn't feel like putting effort toward... I've signed my own death sentence. 

NEVER underestimate the vitality of the Word. 
Put your Spirit first.

I've been trying so hard lately to put those two selves into correct perspective-- My spirit and my soul, the supernatural versus the natural. I know that I am supposed to shed the old self and put on the new self. I keep asking God to help me walk in the Spirit instead of falling to the flesh. And I've been so discouraged because I've felt like it just isn't happening. 

But honestly, which self have I been feeding?

How can I expect to live and thrive by the Spirit, if I consistently put the flesh first?
Of course the flesh is going to be healthier, stronger, and dominant! 

I'm finally realizing the source of my daily problems. 

But praise be to God for revelation, for restoration, and for everlasting Grace-- He always lifts me up, sets my feet upon a rock, and leads me forward again. 

Jesus, I Love You.

Hannah Scarlett Smith, it's time to put things in their correct place. I'm tired of returning to the Spiritual milk. It's time to mature in my faith, and to move on to meat. Amen.