Monday, March 31, 2014

Jane Austen Blossoms

The cold may still be lingering from time to time, but when the day warms up, spring comes back to life!

I went hiking with my grandmother this morning at Barnsley Gardens, and I was so glad that I took my camera. There were so many wonderful photo opportunities, and these are just a few of the 105 that I captured! Everything from Cyprus knees to tulips to daffodils...almost everything on God's green earth that could blossom...and even some things that don't blossom. (But mainly the blossoming things!)

I looked around, in totally awe of the nature around me. Walking back behind the mansion ruins, I told my grandma that I was feeling very Jane Austen-y. The atmosphere around there is so...regal. If there had been some place to rent time-period dresses, I would have been roaming these hills pretending to be in some BBC classic...and I would have done so happily. The air just inspired such a feeling....

Honestly, I can't think of anything else to say about these. They are pretty self-explanatory. Just look on and enjoy the beauty of nature, my friends!

Though I am curious....Which of these seems to really speak to you? What do you feel/see?

Have a wondrous Monday, my friends! ♥

P.S. You can now find me on Flickr! =D

All of my photos can be found here and there...only they are bigger there!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Giving My All

I have had a very anxious feeling in my gut as of late. Nothing medical and nothing serious along those lines, just a little twisting telling me that there was something I should be doing. Every Wednesday and Sunday this feeling would appear, jumping in my stomach like a living sticky-note with one specific phrase: "Go forward and pray."

Now, I have no problem with being in front of people, and no problem praying (though I admit that in my personal life I don't pray half as much as I need to), so why was this happening to me? Well, I'm no pastor, but I feel like it was God's way of calling me to fully dedicate my life to Him. I'm a born again Christian, and I believe in Jesus Christ, but I was probably still holding onto my life like the imperfect human I am, missing that very important bit of faith to just let go. I wanted to still be in control of my life, even though I know full well that God is in control of everything and will care for me. It's not that I don't trust Him, I just wanted to make sure that this aspect of my life would still be okay in my sight and care.

I have a feeling that this is what I had to go forward and pray about on the altar. I had tried praying about it from my seat in the balcony, I had tried at home, but there was just something about praying on those steps that I felt like I had to do. Something just wasn't cutting it with where I was because I probably wasn't going as far as I needed to. I tried to talk myself out of doing it for some reason or the other, and I actually think that Satan was doing his best to keep me from going down there and simply praying. I won with making myself stay where I was, telling myself that I didn't need to do it, I could pray from anywhere (which I can, but that's not the point), that I was being silly in thinking this way. But the knot in my stomach stayed, and every time my pastor stood down there during the invitation, I felt a calling to just go down and pray. Officially. Not from my seat, not from my bed, but on my knees at the altar.

Now, I'm not saying that this has made me some magical human being with super spiritual powers. Not at all. In fact, I'm still horrible. But the point is...that feeling in my stomach is gone. When I went down and got on my knees before the Lord, my anxiety over dedicating my WHOLE life left. Now when my pastor gives the invitation to come forward, I don't sit and squirm in my seat like before. I am confident now that God knows I will do my best to always give every aspect of my life to Him. I will fail, and there will be times when I grab on to my life and hold on because I feel like I have to guard it 24/7 lest something bad happens, but I made an effort to go down and tell God myself that I am giving Him the reins entirely. Even if I reach up and try to take those guiding ropes back, I know better, and ultimately He is in charge. There is a weight off my shoulders, and something I had been telling myself was silly and too small to go down and pray about in front of the whole congregation has turned out to be something that sat on my shoulders like two boulders until I gave it to God.

I feel invigorated as of late, and the past two sermons preached at my church further built my confidence up. Yesterday morning my pastor preached about giving selflessly. Even though it was in a tithing context, he made sure to tell how it wasn't just about giving money to God, but giving your trust to God. He said that we tend to claim full trust in God, but when it comes to giving God our money, especially when we don't have a lot of it, our trust runs off somewhere and we cling to it, telling God that we really need this right now and can't give it away. There is food to buy! Bills to be paid! But why should we not trust the same God who gave us that money in the first place to not take care of us after we give that money back to Him? Very interesting and encouraging for me that morning.

Then the evening sermon really built me up. Our pastor preached from Psalm 51, and I connect with this passage so much right now. Several verses stuck with me, and I will keep them with me from now on so that when I start to feel the way I had been feeling before again, I can just read these and remember how I am feeling now.

"Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice" (Psalm 51:8).

Sin takes away all joy in life. It may bring momentary pleasure, but happiness and true joy is lost as a result. So David is asking for his joy back by confessing his sins to the Lord. Then the last part of the verse is yet again asking for joy, but for joy after God's loving discipline. Sometimes we have to be smacked before we realize our error, and when we repent and come back to God, He gives us a reason to be joyful again...even when the smack hurt. I always want to feel joy. I know I will end up being smacked in my life, but I always want to have the joy of the Lord in me.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant ,e a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you" (Psalm 51:10-13).

These verses are ones I always want to remember. I want to be brought back to God and do His work with joy in my heart and soul. And more importantly, I want to help others achieve the same joy! I am going to be printing this up and hanging it on my wall as a constant reminder of God's love for me, even though I strayed and did not put my full trust in Him like I should have. These verses are so encouraging and inspiring for me, and I'm praying to have a humbled, joyful, teaching heart such as this.

Wishing you all a great Monday, and a Happy St. Patty's Day! ♥
(P.S. The peach tree is blooming!)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Springy Tidbits!

{Our newest family members: three Nigerian Dwarf goats! The two white ones are Pollyanne and Dairyqueen, and the tan one is Lady June ! All little darlings!}

 {With (some) days getting warmer, the very beginnings of Spring gardening have begun! Blueberry bushes are being planted, and the ground is being tilled and shoveled!}

{The family has also started early attempts in archery! This was taken during the process of lining up a scope for a crossbow intended for turkey hunting!}

Just some tidbits from my week. School is keeping me busy, but this week was great. I'll most likely be more blog-a-tive when Spring Break comes. Two weeks to go!

Hope you're all having a great Friday! It's almost the weekend! Huzzah! ♥

Monday, March 3, 2014

Free Time?

I don't have very much free time at all anymore. Truthfully, I have no free time. Don't get me wrong, I adore studying all the different subjects that I am involved in right now. Nothing makes me happier than having my nose stuffed into a book of knowledge (most currently, history and poetry!) As enjoyable as it is, I do hate having no time for anything but work. I know many people balance families, work, and school at the same time, but five classes are a bit much for little ol' me. I can't get a job this semester because of the schedule, totally due to the fact that I work ten hours a day on homework. Any free time that I do have in spent in seven hours of hibernation at night...where I dream about school and church constantly.

HOWEVER. I do sometimes get ahead in my homework on the weekends (if I'm lucky), and this is the result. I made these two weeks ago, but I did happily sit myself down for two hours and make the top necklace in one go, and then had some creative energy left over to almost finish the bottom one. It was relaxing and refreshing to follow a pattern then, and I only wish I had time to do the same things today. (I dedicated today to folding three weeks worth of laundry, however, so not a wasted day.) I experimented with the color scheme of the last necklace, and while they would not go together often, they have the same hue, or tone I should say, and I was inspired to stick them together for that reason. As a result, I have nicknamed this necklace "Fruit Cereal" as it looks like Trix or Cap'n Crunch.

The monotony of my semester was broken up last week, though, when my mom called with wonderful news: Goodwill had a huge bag of thread for six dollars. Now it's in my room, Christmas colored threads and obnoxious pinks and purples alike, waiting for me to have time to take them out of their bags and organize them with the twenty others I have. It makes me happy to see the collection growing, though, and I formulate projects for each skein every time I look at them.

Well, pretty much the past few weeks in a nutshell. I'm still working and working and working, living weekend to weekend and waiting for Spring break to come so I can actually think about something other than the gobs of homework I have. May brings the end of this semester and I look forward to every moment of it! For now, though, I'll drag a rolling suitcase around behind me two days a week, struggling to keep it hidden under my desk and out of the way of wandering feet. Grades await, and midterms are looming!