Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

2.28.2012

Rose from the Brier


God is faithful. So last fall, when He started moving me past my status quo habits, He was faithful to replace them with worthy habits. And in the winter, when He convicted me to give up all internet video for a season, He faithfully sustained me to keep that commitment. And then in January, still failing to draw the parallels, I made a first-of-the-year resolution: to make God preeminent in my affections, above all other attractions, so that, loving Him with a whole, pure heart, the things of this earth might grow strangely dim.

And in less than two months, God has faithfully drawn me closer. Two funerals in two weeks of January brought sorrow, but Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 sums up just exactly what they meant to my heart: “Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”

My reputation was falsely challenged, but so was the idol in my heart; I cherished a good name above my God. Yet the Lord of the universe “…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).”

A harbored dream, the hope that Mama was finally getting healthy again, acceptance, and my plans for the year: all of these have come to naught in the last two months.

Do you conclude I have had a terrible time of it? Do not think so, for because of these circumstances, I have sought God’s face like never before, and He has been faithful. He wakes me up in the morning with a song in my head with which to praise Him and a joy unspeakable to greet the day. As my heart strays, He reminds me, once again, of His presence, and calls me to worship. While housecleaning, I sit down, mortified by my longing for those old idols, and then comforted by His grace. Late at night, while doing computer work, I must go to my knees, because His presence is there with me, and I weep in awe.

God has called me this year to give up my costume jewelry in exchange for His treasue, to say each and every day with Amy Carmichael, “My Lord, my Love, I am content with Thee.”

Thou hast not that, My child, but thou hast Me,
And am not I alone enough for thee?
I know it all, know how thy heart was set
Upon this joy which has not been given yet.

And well I know how through the wistful days
Thou walkest all the dear familiar ways,
As unregarded as a breath of air,
But there in love and longing, always there.

I know it all; but from thy brier shall blow
A rose for others.  If it were not so
I would have told thee.  Come, then, say to Me:
My Lord, my Love, I am content with Thee.





PS--Our giveaway is still going strong! Click here to enter.

Photograph Credit: nicolas_gent. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

2.25.2012

Bibliophilia

Bookstore in Amsterdam, Photo Credit

In which Mikaela and I wax longer than usual, have more fun than should be allowed, make complete fools out of ourselves for you, answer some of your questions, and discuss one of our greatest loves: books.  Now that you know the topic, don't you think we deserve an Oscar simply for keeping our vlog from verging on feature-length film territory?  Please remember that in real life we move around a lot more, say things in unison more often, and talk about books for even longer periods of time.  'Nuff said! 




Now it's your turn!  We compiled these questions at random from here and here.  But now we tag all of you to answer these delightful queries and then tag as many people as you so desire!  Our alterior motive in all of this being, of course, that we may discover some new literary gems through your answers! 

Bibliophilia Tag Questions:
  1. Which book are you currently reading? And why did you choose that book?
  2. Have you ever bought a book just for the cover? And if so which one?
  3. Which book-to-film/TV show transition did you think was done the best?
  4. If you are a writer, where does your inspiration come from?
  5. Who do you think is the funniest or most villainous character Jane Austen ever created?
  6. Which author do you own the most books by?
  7. How many books do you own?
  8.  Is there any one thing that you think could have been improved upon in one (or all) of Jane Austen's books? What is it and why?
  9. What is your favourite genre of book?
  10. What is your favorite Jane Austen quote?
Don't forget to enter our ongoing giveaway for one of Mikaela and my favorite books and a gift certificate for beautiful music!  You can enter here until midnight, PST, on Monday March 5. 

2.24.2012

The Night of Noble Men, Part II

A Guest Post by Susanna



Just then the iceberg gashed the starboard bow, brushing along side of the ship. Everyone was hurled forward. The ship’s forcing angle pinned me against the icy rail. “Dear God in heaven: please help us!” The words carried by the bitter cold wind echoed in everyone’s ears the moment they heard the pleading cry. I could tell by the astonished comprehending looks: we were all thinking the same thing. How could we have thought of God so diminutively? And now we were all being punished. I felt so helpless.    

“Water’s rising quickly—look!” A man gripping the corner wall whimpered. Westin shot me a quick glance that asked if I was alright. As I clung to the rail, I was only relieved to still be breathing.

“We must go to the Captain for fresh orders, quickly.” We cautiously walked up the increasingly slanted deck to find the Captain.

“Water has risen 14 feet from the bow. The first five compartments are begin’in to take on water.”

“Are we going to live to see sunrise?” someone in the crowd called.

“As soon as I can find… Oh there he is—Thomas!” The Captain beckoned to a rather nervous looking fellow, speedily heading toward the middle of the crowd. “Thomas is the ship's designer. How long do we have Thomas?”

 “I have calculated that the ship can stay afloat for no more than 1 to 1½ hours.”

“The ship is doomed,” something inside me whimpered. Nearby, Captain Smith shouted out many instructions. "C.Q.D." was sent out as a distress call. It was now 5 minutes past Sunday.

“Holman. Don’t fall apart now; we need your help with the life boats.”

I looked up at Westin. “The boat already has.”

“No it hasn’t, man—what are ye talkin’ about? Stay strong for all the woman and children. Alright?”

“Yes the woman… and children.”

“Woman and children first!” The Captain called. Many men didn’t even bat an eye at the thought of being left behind. I helped uncover the few boats we had as I tried to take it all in. Rockets were sent to the sky in hopes that a ship not 14 miles away would see our distress signal. Boats were being hoisted down with the first few passengers.

“The Carpathia, has received our distress call and is immediately heading our way,” The Captain announced.

Westin grunted under his breath, “She won’t reach us in time. ’Tis about some 58 miles away.”

I lifted crying children and helped frightened woman into the boats. Thinking I knew more because of the sailor outfit I wore, many asked questions that I could no more answer than they could. Nevertheless, I tried answering them calmly and giving the children dull reassuring smiles. But under my strong fa├žade, I had crumbled. I glanced over to another boat where Turvey was forcing an older woman to stay seated, while others lowered it down from him, into the darkness.

“Good bye mama! I will be alright—Jesus will take care of me. I love you! Don’t forget that.” he called after her. In between sobbing cries, she tried telling Turvey the same. I came over to attempt convincing him to leave with the next boat, but then I realized there was no trace of fear in his tear-streaked face. “We must hurry to get all the other woman and children! Come!” He said. I looked at him with a puzzled gaze.

We searched room after room. I entered a gloomy, deserted room and was about to leave, when I heard what sounded like a small cry. When I walked further in, I discovered a small, abandoned baby wrapped in a wool sheet, crying for anyone who would listen. I picked her up and cradled her in my arms as I slowly walked back to the boat docks.

“Is my baby going to be this precious?” I wondered. She didn’t cry anymore, but only seemed content. And then I had an idea.

“Westin—hold the baby for a moment will you?” He looked nervous as I placed her in his rough arms. Then after scrambling for pencil and paper, I quickly leaned over one of the upright barrels and scribbled out a letter:

My darling Louisa, I’m so very sorry I cannot return to you.  I was wrong; never doubt God’s might. I can’t tell you how much I will miss not seeing you every morning or never being able to meet our baby, but God has sent me a small glimpse of her. I have loved you and will continue to love you until my last seconds. -Harry               
            
Then I folded it neatly and wrote my address. When I took the baby back,  I placed her in one of the opened bags of mail and slipped the letter inside the blanket. I carefully set the bag in the boat and gave her a small kiss on the forehead. Then, helping many other men lower her away, I noticed Reverend Harper.

He was kissing the cheeks of his daughter, and setting her in the boat. The tears in her eyes pained me—to think she would never see him again. And I would never again in this life lay eyes on Louisa! I melted right there, slumping down on the wooden deck into a desperate cry. It was like someone had taken my heart out and squeezed it for all it was worth.

“It’s too much! I can take no more!” My  chest ached as I sat there, tears rolling down my whiskered cheeks into the now moonless nightmare.

“Man ye have no vest... Take mine.” I looked up from my place on the cold deck floor to see Harper.

“We’re going down anyway. I don’t need it.” I said, turning my head in hopes he wouldn’t be able to notice the pathetic tears sliding down my face, like one of the other little children.  

“But that’s just it, I’m not going down. I’m going up.” He smiled as I took the vest and then he walked over to the singing band. He encouraged everyone to join in prayer with him for the unsaved upon the ship, and for the life boats to be rescued. I just sat there and gazed through the veil of my blurry, wet eyes.      

The last boat left at 1:40 a.m. We could sink any moment. The sea was now only 10 feet below Promenade deck. I watched as the Reverend led many in a prayer meeting. I pondered what I should do. Slowly standing, I managed a wobbly walk toward the praying group, and I was reminded of how cold I was when the cool breeze made my drying tears freeze and my body shiver. I knelt down next to Charles.

“I need help. Can you help me?” I looked up at Reverend Harper.

“No man,” he said coming toward me. “But God can. He’s the only one who can save our souls.”

“I’m a sinner dear Lord! I need your compassionate forgiveness. Please, please forgive me…” I cried.

“He already has,” The Reverend couldn’t help but smile.

Captain Smith interrupted us. “Crew, Phillips just has sent the last C.Q.D. and S.O.S’s by radio. The ship’s forecastle deck has sunk underwater. It is now 2:17 a.m. and the tilt still grows steeper. It's every man for himself.” Dejected, he then returned to the bridge to await his watery grave.

Turvey looked up at me and smiled. “I’m so glad you have answered God’s beckoning call.”

“Yes, I can’t help but be joyful! It’s astonishing; God has taken my burdening cares. He has made them all disappear like a vapor. I only hope He will save my dear wife and baby too.”

We then started singing, as huge roars were heard all around. Every movable object crashed towards the submerged bow. The ship's lights flickered once, then turned off, for good. We still kept right on singing, all one-thousand-five-hundred-twenty-two voices getting louder like the choirs of angels we would soon see. 

As I could no longer feel my numb arms or legs in the icy water,  I thought of two final things: how I love my Louisa so much, but how God loves me and her much, much more.     

After the Titanic sank seconds later, Westin had yet another visit with Reverend Harper in the water where the minister quoted Acts 16:31: “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”






About 4:10 a.m the Carpathia picked up the 705 survivors, including Mr. Westin and the baby, and brought them on to New York City where they arrived April 18th to over one hundred thousand spectators. The baby lived to become one of the last Titanic survivors of the 21st century. Mr. Westin continued Reverend Harper’s ministry in spreading the Gospel and frequently thought of him and Mr. Holman. He would often tell people one of the most important lessons he had learned that horrid night was of the wonders of God Who cannot be compared the R.M.S. Titanic.



Susanna is a fourteen-year-old homeschooler and the fourth daughter in a family of six children. She loves God, animals, and gourmet cooking and plays violin and piano. Oh yes--and she just happens to be our beloved younger sister who always has a special gift for us, whether that be her entertaining tales, her thoughtful questions, or her behind-the-scenes service.





Photograph Credits:
#1: ISD 191 Performing Arts Program. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License
#2: Barker, J. W. TITANIC Life Boats on Way to CARPATHIA. April 1912. Photograph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005011317/. No known copyright restrictions.
#3: Harold Bride, Surviving Wireless Operator of the TITANIC, with Feet Bandaged, Being Carried up Ramp of Ship. May 27, 1912. Photograph. Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002714434/. No known copyright restrictions.
#4: Crowd Awaiting Survivors from the Titanic. April 18, 1912. Photograph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001704324/. No known copyright restrictions.
#5: Raquel from God's Daughter. Used by permission.


2.23.2012

The Night of Noble Men

A Guest Post By Susanna

Many stories have had their chance at the telling of this fateful night, 100 years ago, April 14. I know this one doesn’t give it justice, but here’s yet one more, out of the 2,227 true stories that have almost been forgotten.

The ship’s forcing angle pinned me against the icy rail. “Dear God in heaven please help us!” The words carried by the bitter cold wind echoed in everyone’s ears the moment they heard the pleading cry. I could tell by the astonished comprehending looks: we were all thinking the same thing.

It had only been 8 days earlier—that day which I had proclaimed to my beloved wife, Louisa Josephine, to be one of the most exciting days of my life—that all this had commenced. At the Southampton docks, Captain Smith, a proud but kind man, looked over my earlier background with ships.

Harry Holman, ca 1910
“What’s ye name lad?”

“Harry… Harry Holman.”

Then he extended his rough worn hand to me with a smile, “Welcome ab’ard the Titanic laddy. We’a pleased to have such an able seaman atops the Royal Mail Ship.”

My face burst out from its nervous desperate state into instantaneous joy. “Thank you sir, so much.” I was shaking from the tops of my head down to the soles of my boots as I entered our one-room apartment above a small Hampshire shoe shop, to tell my wife the most wonderful news. We had been expecting our baby any day now. Oh how welcoming it was to see her so round yet so joyful. Stunned tears sprang to her eyes when she heard the news. Happiness was written all over her beautiful face. 5£ a month would be enough to keep us going.
 
 “We will only be apart for a short while until you have had the baby. Then you can come with me.”

“But Harry The sea is an untamed creature, you have told me before of the terrible…?”

Fear swept to her face until she heard my calming but stern reply, “Darling Louisa, God Himself cannot sink that grand ship.” 

The Olympic and Titanic under construction


Only a few short days later—the tenth—it was time to weigh anchor. I could see tears once again stinging Louisa’s eyes as she tried with all her might to keep them back. The blast of the horn bellowed  its final goodbye. I watched as my sister, brother in-law and wife stood on the dry docks waving along with the other thousands of excited Englishmen there to see the Titanic off, on its first voyage to New York.

It felt so good to be back where the salty wind wrestled with my sandy hair. I had never seen such wealthy people before nor so fancy a boat. All other boats I had sailed with before were like dwarfs compared to this one, with the many elegant rooms and exquisite chandeliers.

“The captain isn’t pay’n you to be a day drim’in.”  I quickly turned about, and there was a tall muscular man standing not one foot away from me, with a stern scowl on his face.

“Ah yes dreadfully sorry, and to whom do I have this pleasure?”

“I’ount know about pleasures but my name is Westin.”

“Well Mr. Westin—glad to have met you. I’m Holman.”

“Are ye a deck man?”

“Yes sir. Though I haven’t had much time to get familiar with the boat yet.”

 “Come on then, I shall show you around our fine lady.”

As Mr. Westin led me around, I was simply amazed at the extravagant bed chambers and dining halls—there was even a pool! The floors’ marble tiles and the ceiling’s golden light fixtures decorated each room like jewelry. 

The Titanic, to be launched.
The next days were fairly smooth sailing and full speed ahead, covering 386 miles of fine, calm, clear sea. But those who had not tamed their sea stomachs yet found it hard to keep the cook’s gourmet meals down in a secure spot. Many of the woman helped with the poor sickly people. I knew that would be exactly where Louisa would be spending all her time. I was enjoying my job, yes, but oh how I longed so much to hear my wife’s joyful voice. It was comforting though to know that she was being well taken care of by my sister and brother in-law until I could come back. We had made a stop in Queenstown Harbor to pick up many mail bags and passengers, but now it was non-stop through the Atlantic Ocean, on to New York. I was quite surprised of the record speeds we were making: 519 miles headway on the 12th–13th alone. We did, however, receive various ice warnings which meant nothing for a normal April crossings.

Early the next morning, on the 14th, the thermometer proved it to be quite cold out. It was my turn to be on the full day’s deck watch; this usually meant I would have to make sure passengers weren’t prowling around the top deck. It was a lonely job more often than not.

“Good morning sir,” a kind man with twinkling eyes said in the cloud of his foggy breath.

“And a good morning to you too.”

“I’m on my way to the conference foyer and have lost my way. Would ye be so kind as to show me were it’tis?”

My iced-up finger tips were peeking out from the blue muffatees my dear wife had knitted me. They seemed to be pleading with me saying, “Oh please can we get out of the cold just for a minute?”

“Alright I only have but a moment; follow me,” I told the man as I led him through a pair of doors into a warm hallway that wound down to the main staircase. I was beginning to know my way around the ship rather well. The man carried on a friendly conversation until we reached the entry door to the conference room.

“Thank you dearly man. But perhaps I could ask yet another favor of ye. My name is Harper and I am holding a morning church service in this room. Would ye be able to spare just an hour of your time to worship our Lord?”

I tried to think of a reasonably polite excuse why I didn’t want to waste my time with the lot of praying Christians. Thus occupied, I failed to notice Mr. Westin had come up behind me.

“Um… excuse me preacher…” he uttered breaking the silence.

 “Mr. Holman has more important things to busy his time with than sini’n a lot of those religious songs to a God who is weaker than this ship.” I just stood there with a guilty expression sinking deep into my reddened face. The gentleman had now lost most of the sparkle in his eyes which had earlier brightened my morning.

“But not even on a Sunday?”

“No. Now if you may excuse us.”

Reverend Harper then laid his hands on my shoulder as his eyes met mine. “Very well, but I will be praying for ye both.”

While we headed back up to the top deck, Westin revealed he had a purpose in finding me greater than just to embarrass me.



“Master Turvey, the messenger boy, has just picked up a wireless message from the R.M.S. Caronia warning us of a field of ice about 42`N from 49` to 51`W. Captain Smith says as a precaution to avoid the ice; he might have to ‘alter ship's course later this evening. Slightly to the south and west. Not ‘uge, but Captain wants a few more men to be on the alert.”

“Well if he decreases speed we probably won’t have need.”

“20 ½ knots is the slowest the Captain ‘el go. He’s determined to break every record in the book.”

After twilight, I was trying to stay warm while remaining alert. Charles Turvey, the 16-year-old messenger boy, helped pass the time by keeping me company.

“It’s a mighty clear night. Wouldn’t you say? Look at all the many stars.” I said, briskly rubbing my hands together.

“Yes that most likely means we’re to have a fairly cool day tomorrow, with no cloud cover for tonight.”

“There ya are boy I was lookin’ fer you.”

“Mr. Westin we were just admiring the night sky. Isn’t it lovely?” His eyes didn’t even shift upward at my question.

“Holman have you seen that there moon.”

“Why of course…” I answered.

“That sliver my dear friend is a sign of bad luck.” I could tell this really bothered Westin, but Charles, not being a superstitious boy, debated the matter. 

 “But if anything it should be a sign of good luck. Coming just before the new moon, I…”

“Listen to me boy I ain’t goina argue this with ya. My father always told me that it is never good luck to be on a journey when there’s barley a moon to guide you. Now… I need your help…”  

"Ding, Ding, Ding!"

“Is that the warning bell?” I asked.

“Aye Holman.” Then Mr. Westin turned away and shouted to the lookout man.

Frederick. What is it?”

 "Iceberg dead ahead Sir. 500 yards!" Our stunned eyes met. We dashed to the front of the ship. There above the water rested a mighty iceberg towering 55 to 60 feet above the water. My heart sunk as I stood motionless, gawking at the giant ice block.

“Hard a starboard.” Alarming calls and bells were going off all around us.

Westin grabbed my arm rushing toads the rear of the boat. 

“Veer to port!”

“Holman. Brace for impact!” I vaguely heard him shout into my ear, as we crouched down next to the dozens of barrels huddled against the wall. It was chaos as we waited there for mere seconds, but it seemed much longer. Men scrambled to help, as some ran only for a safe place to be. I sat there wondering if my life was going to be over any moment. I knew I wasn’t ready to die.

~To Be Continued Tomorrow~




Susanna is a fourteen-year-old homeschooler and the fourth daughter in a family of six children. She loves God, animals, and gourmet cooking and plays violin and piano. Oh yes--and she just happens to be our beloved younger sister who always has a special gift for us, whether that be her entertaining tales, her thoughtful questions, or her behind-the-scenes service.








Photograph Credits:
#1: Harry Holman about 1910; Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #5519, accessed 23rd February 2012) http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/harry-holman-about-1910.html. No copyright restrictions. 

#2: OLYMPIC and TITANIC. 1909 -1911. Photograph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002721382/. No copyright restrictions.

#3: TITANIC, to Be Launched. 1911. Photograph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Web. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001704329/. No copyright restrictions.

#4: brizzle born and bred Used by permission under the Creative Commons License

#5: Raquel from God's Daughter. Used by permission.


2.22.2012

From Someone Who's Been There


Four Essentials to Prepare for Marriage & Motherhood
Ruth and her husband Chris on their wedding day.
The Lord has taught (and is still teaching!) me a lot of wonderful lessons through being married and having children. My husband is truly the man of my dreams! He has a heart for the Lord, compassion for others, and skills beyond what I will ever know. Thankfully the Lord has used my husband to sharpen me to be a more godly woman. I can’t imagine what I would be with out him. I had attended my church since birth (my Father is the Pastor), and I was very involved with children’s choir, teaching junior church, the decorating committee, singing in the choir and Bible studies. Then one day a very handsome man began attending our church. The short of the story is that we were family friends for 2 years, courted for 9 months, were engaged for 7 months and were married on a beautiful summer day in 2006. We now have two young children—a 3 year old and a 3 week old. Here are four of the more important lessons that God has brought to my attention through the experience of marriage and children.

1. Love your family
God has placed you in your family for a specific reason and He knows this is the best family for you to grow in. No family is “perfect” and always easy to love because we are all sinners. It is our choice to love them. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.” (Eph. 5:2) Be a sweet smelling savor to your family in your actions and attitude. Loving your family is God’s sovereign training ground for you in regards to the potential husband and children He has for you. This is a test of our faith—we have to trust Him in this. If you’re not happy now, then getting married won’t change your happiness later. Spend time with your with your parents and find ways to encourage your siblings. Your success at home now is your gauge of how prepared you are for your own family later.

2. Make your hands useful
Your single years hold valuable time to advance your skills and talents. The woman of Proverbs 31 kept her hands very busy, working willingly, sewing, shopping, helping the poor, cooking, etc. All of these skills take time to master. Don’t make the mistake of “preparing later.” Now is the time to keep your hands busy serving in your church, family, and community. If God leads you to marriage, you will be prepared—and if He does not lead you to marriage, you will not be found “just waiting around.” Instead, your years (and your future) will be full of bountiful blessing. Once you marry and have children, your time serving others and learning new things will be limited. I love the Ephesians 5:16 command to “redeem the time.”

3. Be selfless
Ruth's son, Leo, and daughter, Jacquelyn.
One of the greatest things God is teaching me in being married is to humbly think of my husband and children first. This can be extremely difficult. We constantly think about what we want, what we need and what brings us joy. Breaking the selfish habit is one of the best things to prepare for marriage. We are commanded to submit to our husbands who are under the authority of God. (Eph. 5:21-22) There have been many times when I acted selfishly and it always ended in unhappiness—and I mean always! When I am humble and act selflessly it gives me peace, makes our relationship sweet, gives me true joy and fulfillment, and most importantly it radiates the beauty of Christ to others. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2)

4. Love the Lord your God
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut. 5:6) What a wonderful verse! If we follow these simple and precise instructions there is no doubt you will be prepared for what the Lord brings to your life. Our main goal as believers is not to focus on whether we marry, where we work or what school we attend. Our main goal is to daily seek God’s will for our lives. Love God with all your heart and follow His will—there is no doubt you will be where He wants you. When I first met my husband we both unknowingly made a decision to not flirt with each other. (Do we want flirting to be what attracts our soul mate?) Instead we focused on serving the Lord and seeking a deeper relationship with Him, knowing that if it was the Lord’s will to bring us together He would make it happen no matter where we were. Having a sincere and growing love for the Lord made the relationship with my husband even richer.

When I was single I memorized a verse that directed me through school decisions, relationships, courtship, and now marriage. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Hold fast to this amazing promise where ever the Lord leads—and watch it come true for you!

As I have gotten to know Ruth, I have been so blessed and impressed by her shining love for the Lord and heart to minister to others!  Ruth lives in Washington state with her husband, and children. She was born and raised in a God fearing home with 2 sisters and 5 brothers.  Ruth loves to encourage and bless people, have coffee with sisters in Christ, sing, garden, decorate for almost anything :), hike, play tennis with her husband, play golf with her son, and shares a passion for giving young ladies a vision of living for Christ in every area of their lives!   Be sure to check out her blog, Becoming Beautiful, and also her ministry website for young ladies, where you can find information about upcoming conferences and retreats.   

2.21.2012

Precious of the Watched


Hurrying down the crowded, mud-caked street, the lass shuddered, pulling her finely-woven cape closer ‘round. Seized with a sudden fear, her hand again slid frantically to the hidden pocket of her gown, where the crumbling touch of parchment breathed assurance to her fingertips and sent a sigh of relief to her lips. It was safe. As she cast yet another apprehensive look about her, she was haunted by the starving, desperate faces of those who lined the street, or peered cautiously from the looming stone abodes. Every day, those once-grand monuments dissolved a little more into the black mist, surrendering greater spaces to the growing shadows. Every week, the eyes of the people grew a little duller, bespeaking their lives of death. Every month, the teeming by-ways grew a little closer and a little darker, sending chills of hopelessness to the very bone.

The girl shivered. After all, she knew their plight – had she not once been amongst the Watchers? Until that glorious day when everything had changed…she fingered the rumpled paper again as an overwhelming peace warmed her. Now, she was the Watched. That magnificent Word! The moment she had accepted it, life as she knew it ended, freeing her of the town that was slowly, unconsciously, dying from blackest despair. Reaching the castle gates, she turned once more to look upon the Watchers, and fought a lump in her throat as she spoke the parchment’s Word to the gatekeeper. “Why?” She wondered, as she entered the sun-soaked land beyond the gateway, “Why does He not give them all a parchment?”

Clear as crystal, the remembrance of her rescue sprang to mind. She remembered crowding around a collapsing window with her friends, clothed in putrid rags, peering down at the King of the Watched as He strode along their filthy lane. Stopping directly below them, He had looked up straight into her eyes. “Come,” His voice of warmth brought feeling to her long-benumbed heart, “it is time for you to leave this place.” Dreamlike, she had left her jeering companions, and joined Him. “You will need this,” He told her gently, holding out the beautiful Word, upon a trifling scrap of paper, “Go to the gate and speak it. It is My most precious possession, and it is all you need.”

~~~~~

Removing her cape, the tired lass melted onto one of the garden benches, pulling the paper from her pocket to clutch between her hands. What was precious must be guarded above all else. Yet, her heart broke for the Watchers, who knew nothing of the sun and warmth which lay just beyond the crumbling cold and darkness of their world. Footsteps broke her reverie, and before she could wipe her eyes, the King stood before her. “What? Tears? What is the matter with my precious one?” He queried, wrapping a comforting arm around her shoulders. “Papa,” she sobbed – for such was the kindness and love of the King, that she was now one of His own daughters – “I can’t help wishing… Can you not… Are there no more parchments to give the Watchers?”

Silence followed, and afraid she had gone too far, the princess explained: “I know you told me this parchment was your most precious possession, and therefore I must keep it safe, but the Watchers–“ “Daughter,” there was a gentle rebuke in the voice of the King, “you misunderstand Me. It is only precious things from the world of darkness that are kept to and for oneself. All precious things in and of this land are to be given freely and liberally. You will never lack, but rather have greater wealth if you give everything. Those things which are most precious to Me are the things I share most generously.”

Surprised, the girl lifted her head to search the King’s face. “You mean, the parchment…”

“Is for you to give the Watchers. Some will refuse My gifts,” here the eyes of the King held a sorrow so deep, the princess had to look away, “but many will accept, if you will only share what I have given you.” For a brief moment, the girl hesitated. Was she willing to give everything she held dear to the Watchers? Troubled, she raised her eyes to those of the King, and saw in them the answer. Anything from the Land of Light was precious because it could be given again and again, without being lost. Such was the will and design of the King.

“I will share this Word of Yours,” she whispered, relaxing her hold on the paper and turning to once again don her cape, “They need to know what precious means.” And standing tall, the Princess of the Watched turned toward the gate.



Sarah is our oldest (ancient!), dearest friend whom you have no doubt become accquainted with as a regular part of our life, and therefore One Bright Corner. She is a follower of Jesus Christ, and her greatest joy is learning more about the character of God. The oldest of 10 homeschooled kids, she lives in the most beautiful place in the world--the green Northwest--where she serves God with her family and teaches violin and piano. Sarah blogs at The Lord's Lass.




Photograph Credits:
#1: SkeletalMess. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License.
#2: Courtesy of Sarah

2.20.2012

Three

Photo Credit
Robert Frost once said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on [1]." So it does, and so  this week, we are joyfully (and incredulously) commemorating the third anniversary of One Bright Corner. We loved our blog design too much to change it this year, but please click around on the tabs, because everything has been dusted and polished to a high-wattage shine just for you! You'll also notice all our pictures have been updated, from profile pictures, to sidebar pictures, to the tab page pictures, and it's all courtesy of Raquel over at God's Daughter! We had so much fun doing a photo shoot with her, and love having pictures that are not two years old to put up on the blog. ;-)

Of course, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, you will get to hear from three fabulous ladies who have written guest posts for us. Their posts are encouraging, creative, enlightening, and convicting, so make time to visit One Bright Corner every day for these gems! Saturday we will once again upload a vlog-style video to conclude the week, so you can observe us in all our awkward glory (*wink*).


Our blog anniversary would not be complete without giveaways--our thank you to our faithful readers and commenters who make the blogging world go round. Purchased by us with much thought and consideration, we are giving away two items:




A gorgeous antique copy of one of our favorite books of all time by one of our favorite authors of all time: Opening a Chestnut Burr by E.P. Roe (of course we've blogged about him before; click here to read that post). This book drew us in with its intriguing romance and then inspired us with its focus on godly womanhood and manhood. Just writing about it makes us want to re-read the book!



Photo Credit
  A $10 digital gift card to Sacred Audio, a wonderful website with a vast collection of conservative Christian music, audiobooks, sermons, movies, bible studies, and more. Some of our favorites available from them are Eine Kleine Kaffeemusik (a collection of gorgeous instrumental music that falls somewhere between classical music and movie soundtracks), Bright Canaan (creative vocal arrangements of favorite hymns and new hymns set to a wonderfully joyful and Appalachian style accompaniment), and Springs of Living Water (every track an astounding and unique experience as two concert pianists perform hymns arranged for duet). The choice, however, will be up to the winner entirely!



So how to win? So glad you asked! We will have two separate winners; you cannot win more than one item; and one entry will give you a chance to win either one of these two prizes. International readers are welcome to enter, but will only be able to win the gift certificate and not the book. For the first entry, you must be a follower of our blog and leave a comment on this post with a question for us or a suggestion for a future blog post. After this entry, there's also some extra credit! You can gain an extra entry by
  • Putting our blog button (you'll find the code on the sidebar!) on your blog (or leaving it there if it's already up ;-)
  • Announcing the giveaway on your blog with a link to this post
Photo Credit
For each extra entry, please leave a separate comment telling us that you did it! (Do not include all your entries in one comment, as this will make our job more difficult when we sift through all the entries.) Your comments must be entered by midnight PST, Monday, March 5, and we'll announce the winners in Tuesday's post on March 6, when you will have 48 hours to respond with your mailing address (for the book) or email address (for the gift certificate).

We are always excited and inspired by the questions and suggestions you leave us in your comments; this past year, we answered every single one, and we look forward to working through the new ones in 2012. Some of your questions will be answered in Saturday's video (provided you submit them in time), some may be answered in the comment section, and some will be answered in full blog posts throughout the year.

Photo Credit

Once again, thank you so much for your support. We are blessed with wonderful readers who encourage us when we are headed in the right direction, critique us when we are not, and inspire us through it all. The relationships we have formed with you are the greatest gift of all in this blogging experience.

Love,

        &




THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED


Photo Credits:

#3-5: Lauren
#7: Dr Phil

All photos used by permission under the Creative Commons License.
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