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

3.30.2012

Monumental: A Movie Review


What is wrong with our country?  Tolerance is advocated for everyone except for the intolerant, the lie of separation of church and state is propogated to the extreme, and America is headed, in Kirk Cameron’s words, “to hell in a handbasket.”  Out to tackle this very subject is Kirk Cameron’s new documentary Monumental, which I was able to see on Tuesday with Mama, Mikaela, and Sarah.  We drove an hour to to attend a thrillingly sold-out showing, and it was so worth it. 

Once we were settled down in the only remaining seats—the front row—and the movie began, I wondered what we were in for.  In the first few minutes, Kirk drove the point home that something is “sick in the soul of our nation.”  It was a bleak first few minutes. 

But then he delved into the heart of the movie: a quest to go back in time, to search out like buried treasure the lives of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, to discern what truly motivated them, and to discover what their vision for our country was.

Kirk Cameron journeyed to England, and I was able to see the beach where the sea captain betrayed the Separatists, the prison where they were held, and even the location where they lived in Holland.  As the best storyteller I have ever heard, a British historian, wove the story of the Pilgrim’s journey from just your average peasant to visionary country-founders, I got chills.  And I suddenly realized that the Pilgrim’s position in England bears many similarities with our position as Christians in America today.  This movie had my full attention. 

Kirk Cameron interviewed Marshall Foster, Paul Jehle, David Barton, and others.  He travelled across the ocean and across our nation.  In my favorite scene of the movie, he expressed to Marshall Foster his wish that the Pilgrims had left some sort of instructions for us on how they founded this country and what we should do if we ever found ourselves straying from their model.  In Kirk Cameron’s words, “Did they leave us the secret sauce recipe?”  “Oh, they did!”  Marshall Foster replied.  “But no one knows about it!”  Indeed, the largest solid-granite monument in the United States is “hidden” in a residential area, but I had no idea such a thing existed, even though I have been to Plymouth. 

Joshua 4:6-7 describes a very similar memorial:

"That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever."


When the documentary ended, it was with hope, as Kirk Cameron rose from the chair he had been sitting in at the beginning and pledged, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  He put the challenge to us in unequivocal terms, and I left not inspired, but compelled to do something, and to ensure the lies of revisionist historians never win out over the true history of our country. 

The documentary was professional, with a contemporary style of cinematography, and it was easy to follow and understand.  The only thing that belied the professionalism was the soundtrack.  Its repetition, lack of subtlety, and overuse of the electric guitar annoyed me as a musician, to say the least.  But it wouldn’t keep me from seeing the movie. 

At first, as Kirk Cameron was recounting the story of the Pilgrims (much of which I already knew) and how he never learned any of it in public school, I began to worry that the whole movie would be only a review of what I already knew.  But he quickly proved my fears groundless as the documentary took off and I began to see even what I thought I already knew in a new light! 

Every Christian American needs to see this movie.  Go here to watch the trailer and find out if it is opening tonight in a theater near you.  If not, click on “demand the movie” on the sidebar of the Monumental website, and enter your zipcode.  With enough votes, the movie will come to your city!  (In fact, my zipcode only needs four more votes, so please vote, friends that live near me!) 

"Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."

 --John Hancock, History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.


3.27.2012

A Literary Afternoon

Some felt imprisoned by the four walls of grey steel, perpetually suspended in the air and forbidding escape. Others saw the diamonds shattering on the windows, the roof, blades of emerald grass, and rejoiced in the rainbows the prisms cast. The vast majority, however, only experienced precipitation, and their bare-headedness declared that they took no notice of the constant event—the sum of fall, winter, and spring on the northern Pacific coast.

Then a trifecta of days interrupted routine. The steel walls recoiled upwards, the diamonds melted away, and the rain—why, it evaporated in the rays of the spring sunshine! Enamored by the light, a familial quartet gathered in the bloom and the the bright.  

The boys are barefoot and bare-armed; the girls are ensconced from head to toe in knits, wraps, and weaves. With tea diffusing its fragant aroma and kitty claiming his caresses, the four youths take turns speaking aloud a narrative. Some in clear tones like ringing bells, with voices and accents that draw the listeners in, conduct their part. Others, in murmured whispers that rippled and swam, take their turn. To the casual observer, a varied group of young people—one boy flung down on his back, his arms spread wide, his eyes closed in supreme enjoyment and concentration; another girl huddled in her fuzzy scarlet blankets like a camel in Alaska; a blond boy reading quickly and strongly, twirling the mane of the cat; and a girl overseeing it all and mending a pink dress meanwhile.

James Shannon: Jungle Tales
"Jungle Tales" by James Shannon

But to the insiders—to this group of siblings who know each other better than anyone else, so much more. Through two chapters, they read aloud, practicing their voices, continuing a morning tiff, correcting each other’s pronunciation, and helpfully defining words. They relish brother’s newfound bass tones, admire the youngest’s cheerful and willing fetching of any needed article, and breathe relief when the sisters' dispute melts into forgiveness. They know each other’s beginnings and middles and pray with unmitigated hope for each other’s ends. They dance in the steely rain and laugh in the sunshine. Yes, they fight and make up with equal passion. They read together—oh, yes. They read together. Three grade levels and a college student—something that should never happen on a school day!—reading together. And by the end of the two chapters, one of the boys is shivering, the tea mug is dry, and the afternoon sun is waning.

They all go their separate ways then—school for one, cello lesson for another, imaginative adventures for the youngest, and dinner preparations for the oldest. But as she walks back down the stone path, the girl smiles peacefully to herself about the joys of a literary afternoon with her siblings. Who knows how many of them will be left?  


Photo Credit: Jungle Tales by James Shannon. Courtesy of deflam. 

3.23.2012

Quibbles Over Foibles and Flaws

Photo Credit

“Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I don't mind the other things so much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I CANNOT imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, 'Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing.' But all the time I KNOW it is just plain red and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow.”

So quoth Anne of Green Gables to the long-suffering Matthew at the beginning of the first book.  And while I disagree with Anne and have always secretly longed for red hair, I have a feeling there other girls out there who, like Anne and me, have quibbles about themselves.  “Do my friends notice my lack of a rose-leaf complexion?”  “Does that family really think we are disorganized and chaotic?”  “After that bomb of a conversation, has that person realized I am an ignoramus?” 

Even worse, we girls often fall into the trap of imagining that when God brings the right man into our lives, the one we have been waiting for, that our discontentment and desires for black hair or rose-leaf complexions or sinless perfection will disappear—our own self-worth miraculously validated by true love.  I doubt that most of us think this falsehood out loud, but if we are honest we will have to admit that it often permeates nonetheless, simply buried deep under the surface. 

The danger of imagining love will solve discontentment and doubt

Marriage is not about self-satisfaction.  It is not about boosting my self-esteem, and it is not about validating my lifestyle.  Marriage is about glorifying God, sanctification, and selfless love.  If all I am looking for in marriage is someone to sky-write “You are beautiful and perfect!” on the blue horizon every day, then I am already on the steady path to missing God’s best for me! 

Furthermore, current discontentment and doubt will not disappear because I put on the white dress and take a new last name.  I will still be the same person after the honeymoon is over, and discontentment will still be there.  It will still make me so miserable over the same old issues that I am ready to wriggle out of my skin, unless I reject it altogether.

The Solution

Poor Anne could not be happy with her red hair until Mrs. Lynde gave her the hope of it darkening into a beautiful auburn.  But even if my flaws will never change, I have been realizing lately how important it is to thank God for them!  I Thessalonians 5:18 says,

 

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

I need to realize that my so-called flaws are just like Anne’s: unique and beautiful because that is how God made me! 

Concerning my foibles of character, growth should always be my goal.  Becoming more and more like Christ every day must be my daily motivation that I wake up to and live by from morning to evening.  But I also need to understand that I will never arrive until I arrive in Heaven.  Others will always have wisdom from which I can humbly learn, and their greater wisdom or maturity is not a dent in my armor, but an extra layer of protection for me.  I cannot become more like my Savior without first humbling myself and losing all pride.   

In the end, I must find contentment in how God has made me now, not look for validation from others in the future.  I must take joy in spiritual growth as a single young woman or risk carrying unrealistic expectiations and immature attitudes into life as a married young woman.  It is thrilling to realize that I am part of the church, Christ’s bride, and it is in Him that I find my worth as His beloved!  The earthly symbol of that relationship may come in God’s timing, but it must be second to my special, sweet place in Christ. 



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

3.20.2012

The One and Only Oatmeal Cookie

  

In the world of oatmeal cookies, there is only one recipe really worthy of your consideration, time, effort, ingredients, and appetite: The King Arthur Essential Chewy Oatmeal Cookie. Complex in its flavoring with five different extracts and spices, perfectly tender in its chewiness, this was a a staple in our house two years ago (as evidenced by the pictures of my adorable but 600-days-younger brother, Jonah) and it remains a classic today. 


Butter and Margarine: Modern Art Exhibit 1


 Life is so much more fun with a cheerful sous-chef at your elbow!


Modern Art Exhibit 2: Sucrose and Fatty Acids

Almond extract, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon at the ready!


Spices added: bliss in the making.


"I got this egg-cracking bizness covered, Sis. Do you really need to supervise and document the evidence with your camera?"


Corn syrup is a secret ingredient in these cookies.


As is the milk. Shh! Don't tell!

In case you weren't aware, all recipes with chocolate in the ingredient list warrant careful sampling of said chocolate by one with a discerning palate.

Combine the lovely dry ingredients together (and don't let the Sous-chef lose interest).

Add in only the chocolate and butterscotch chips which pass your kitchen's stringent quality standards (see sampling instructions above).






The Essential Chewy Oatmeal Cookie
from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion Cookbook
Yield: 45 cookies



½ cup unsalted butter
 ½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons milk (not nonfat)
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips



  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, extracts, spices, salt, and baking soda, beating until fairly smooth. Beat in the egg, scraping the bowl, then beat in the corn syrup and milk. Stir in the oats, flour, and chips.
  3. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.


3.16.2012

Knee-High is the Best Height

Photo Credit

I always promised myself I would never ever forget what it was like to be a kid.  When Sarah challenged us to write something imaginative for her giveaway of the book Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child  I knew what I wanted to write: a letter from a little girl to her unborn sister. 

Dear Baby Sister,

It’s tricky being a kid sometimes.  So I’m writing you this letter to make it easier for you to be a kid, so you’ll know what to expect. 
For one thing, adults have already decided that your favorite meal is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  It is not mine.  I like fettucine. 

And then there is the problem of adults always saying, “Wow have you grown!  Why do you keep getting so big?”  And I think that it is because they keep giving me peanut butter and jelly and if they do not want me to grow they should not feed it to me, but I do not say this, of course. 

But those are the only bad things I can think of right now.  Mostly, being a kid is fine.  Except, I guess, when you make the mistake of using words you’re not supposed to know yet.  Like when I told my swim teacher, “This life jacket makes me feel like a thickly encumbered mammoth!”  and she gave me that strange look.  That look was ‘cause I forgot I wasn’t really supposed to use those words yet.  I can’t wait ‘till I’m old enough to use “dilapidated” without people thinking I’m nothing but a show-off.  What if no other word will work?  What am I supposed to do?  This is a problem with being a kid. 

Here’s another piece of advice: When boys sneak up on you and scare you or adults just talk over your head while you stare at their shirt buttons, you need a secret spot.  That’s what my sister tells me, anyways, right before she skips off to her special spot.  But that doesn’t bother me, because I found my own special spot!  It gets quite cold there after awhile, and sitting on muddy splinters is uncomfortable, but I think that being uncomfortable is supposed to make all the other bad things in life feel better. 
Never:

     Steal chocolate chips.  
     Tell someone they’re thick.
     Pinch an adult on St. Patrick’s Day.  (They usually forget what day it is.)

Also, Mama and Papa are not like most adults.  They don’t mind getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day.  They are more like…me, and you.  Kids…but they are really smart.  You’ll understand what I’m trying to say in a few years. 

Last year, I always liked to pretend I was a grown-up.  I would talk on the phone and type really fast and read all at once, and I thought it was fun.  But this year, I’ve been watching most grown-ups, and I’ve decided that my age right now (6 and ¾) is the best age there is.  Once you get a little bit older you have to do really hard math, where it takes an hour and an entire page to do one problem!!  But if you are any younger then you are sent to bed too early.  6 and ¾ is the perfect age, even if you do have to have peanut butter and jelly every day. 

Sometimes grown-ups have sad looks on their faces and have to whisper about depressing things for hours.  Even though I’m curious, I’m glad I’m not old enough to know those things, because I wouldn’t want to be sad. 

And some adults can’t play.  You might not believe me right now, but it’s true.  It’s strange, but when some people get to be too tall, they can’t even remember Hide and Seek or House anymore!  As I said, Mama and Papa are not like that, but I thought I better warn you that some other people are. 

I really can’t wait for you to get to the most perfect age of 6 and ¾ so that we can play together.  I’ll wait for you!  And I promise I will never ever get too tall to play with you. 

Love,
Your Sister 


3.13.2012

Don't Die Asleep

me in the mouth

You may have read about him in the Washington Post, Reuters, The Huffington Post, The Associated Press, World, or one of the other hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and websites that picked up the story. Jeremiah Small: an American Christian shot to death in Iraq by one of his own students in his own classroom. For me and my family, though, this event is not just another news tragedy--it is a tragedy that has happened to our friends. And while I never met Jeremiah (he started teaching English and history at the private school in 2005, a year before I met his family), I have mourned with his dear family as the realization that the world lost an amazing man on March 1st dawns on me.

dancing on 
My spirit is kindled by this man of thirty-three years who was so submitted to God, he chose to minister in the one place I have always hoped to circumvent. He hazarded peril over safety, exchanged comfort for the unfamiliar, and left family for friends he had not yet met. He lived in war-torn Iraq the way I want to live in my corner of the world. "'Inside and outside the classroom, Jeremiah made clear that he loved Jesus Christ,' said his former student Amed Omar, 'but he never demanded that we read the Bible or become Christians. You did not have to be a Christian to be a part of what he was doing, but Jesus Christ was ubiquitous everywhere in his life.'[1]" Ubiquitous ("existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent [2]"): will my epitaph testify that Jesus Christ was ubiquitous in my life?

mygirlsJeremiah loved his family and friends deeply. He was passionate about Medes School, he was fond of the Kurdish culture, and he avidly pursued hiking. He loved life, certainly--but he loved God more, knowing that "he who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:25)."

Mr. Dan Small, Jeremiah's father, had long ago given his son up to the perfect and sovereign protection of God: "'Every time he went through the airport scanner we knew we were having to let go, not knowing if we would ever see him again. He was doing what he loved doing and his students are testifying to that. He told his mom at Christmas that he didn’t want to die in his sleep.'[3]"

Jeremiah emulated the archetype in living his life, "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28)." I, for one, hope to be as worthy a servant as Jeremiah Small. To serve in the little things and the great. To love the lovely and the unlovable. To live with abandon in the ministry of reconciliation to our Savior. To die with courage and prayer as Jeremiah's students testified he did: "'Mr. Jeremiah’s hands were still folded in prayer when he fell,'[4]."


climbing and conquering




All photographs from jeremiah in iraq.

[1] Belz, Mindy. "A Rush of Life." Editorial. World Magazine 24 Mar. 2012. WORLD Magazine. God's World Publications, 24 Mar. 2012. http://www.worldmag.com/articles/19280.

[2] ubiquitous. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ubiquitous

[3] Tracy, Deborah. "Harbor Teacher Killed in Iraq." The Daily World [Grays Harbor] 1 Mar. 2012. The Daily World. Stephens Media Group. http://thedailyworld.com/sections/news/local/harbor-teacher-killed-iraq.html.

[4] Belz, Mindy. "A Blessed Legacy." WORLD Magazine. God's World Publications, 5 Mar. 2012. http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/19250

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

3.09.2012

Dear Jesus...Love, Your Daughter

Photo Credit

Dear Jesus,

My heart would have given out long before if it were not for You.  In fact, I would have been dead a half-dozen times over were You not my mighty fortress.  Precious Jesus, Your merciful, gentle care of me overwhelms my soul, and it drives me here to my knees in tearful praise. 

I still have no idea what You are doing in my world—but knowing doesn’t matter so much anymore.  It could be high noon, and still I cannot see my next step.  But then I meet with You in Your Word, and a ray of Your Light illumines the spot where I am to set my foot down.  And Lord, I thank You now for not showing me that step in advance, for I know I only would have fretted over Your perfect plan.  It is enough for me that You know that next step and hold me steady as I walk. 

I find myself resting on You more and more lately, Jesus, leaning heavily on You, finding that is the only way to stay upright against the winds of trials and temptations.  And though humans tend to give way if I lean too much on them, I am so thankful that You, Lord Jesus, are not just my resting place, but my Rest.  You’re not just my support for leaning—You are my very life Support!  I want to live that every second of every day! 

My Lord, my Love, it shames me that I ever wander to other sources of fleeting comfort.  I ask Your forgiveness for this.  The best the world has to offer for comfort is like a garbage bag for protection against a hurricane.  The world’s offers are foolishness, and I cling to You, my Strength, and ask that You would hold me close to You and seal my heart with Your Kingly name. 

I love you, Lord Jesus, and I wait on You alone!
In the precious name of Jesus I pray these things. 
Amen. 


3.06.2012

Looking for Bothers

{Stay tuned to the end for the giveaway winners!}

Every Sunday, after arriving at church, I would set my purse, Bible, notebook, and coat on an as-of-yet-unclaimed seat in our family's row. Then I would be off to get out and tune my violin and play during the worship service. Inevitably, after putting away my instrument and tiptoeing up to my seat just as the sermon began, I would find that some other family member had innocently set my things on the floor and sat on my seat. And inexplicably, my Bible would be at one end of the row and my coat at another end, while I tried to climb over ankles and knees to reach the empty seat, collecting my possessions as I went. Once I finally plopped into my seat, my face was red not only from embarrassment, but also from agitation.

I inwardly fidgeted and fumed, wondering why the same scenario had to be repeated week after week--why my family could not just clue in and stop sitting in a seat with my belongings already placed there! Looking back, I highly doubt this happened every week, but when I was in the jungle of irritation, every vine and tree looked like an annoyance to me.

Then one week, the light bulb came on. As I considered berating my family for yet again scattering my Bible and purse far and wide, I realized a genius innovation. From then on, I have always kept my things in the back of the church with my violin. At the end of the worship service, I pick them up after putting away my violin, and happily go to whatever seat my family has left for me.

"A fool’s wrath is known at once,
But a prudent man covers shame."
Proverbs 12:16


This has sparked a major change in how I deal with bothers in my life. Many times, God places these exasperations in my path to bring me to a greater maturity and to expand my character growth (obviously, my reaction to the Sunday service situation was immature and sinful). Certainly I am not supposed to wiggle out of these "opportunities" and take the easy path of eliminating them. However, as I have discovered more than once since this first realization, finding an effective solution to irksome circumstances usually requires that I turn the binoculars off my neighbor and use them on myself, only backwards, so that I can actually fit every flaw in the lens. 


Photo Credit

A pet peeve of mine--that is, a cherished and much beloved means of being harassed--used to be the people who lick their fingers. Have you ever noticed the prevalence of this action? Responsible for the spread of colds, the flu, whooping cough, chicken pox, and I'm sure heartburn, broken limbs, and poverty, finger-licking can be observed in people counting out money, turning pages of a book, eating a particularly delicious meal, or pulling out paper bags. I made a nuisance of myself reminding people of their germ-spreading habit, and I'm afraid my family got the benefit of the bulk of my rebukes. They annoyed me, I annoyed them, and suddenly, life was rather annoying.

That is, until I realized that I was choosing to be disturbed. I adopted a relatively small problem and nurtured it into a full-grown issue. There are so many more important concerns--was it really worth the time and effort (not to mention emotions) to continue the Anti-spit Campaign? So I quietly resigned from my self-appointed position as founder and president; for awhile, this resignation involved much tongue-biting and mental dialogue. Lately, however, I find I am not even nettled by the saliva-spreading habits of others.

Love your family, friends, and enemies: this includes covering their faults in love and choosing not to be annoyed. So join me in brightening your corner by choosing not to be vexed, by overlooking the blunders of others, and by examining your role in the recurring nuisances of life.

And now onto our anniversary giveaway winners. Elizabeth, you won the $10 gift certificate to Sacred Audio, and Savannah, you won Opening a Chestnut Burr! We have Elizabeth's information. Savannah, please comment within 48 hours with your mailing address, or we will draw a new winner. (Your comment will not be published.) Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered!



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Photograph Credit: Bethan. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License.

 

3.02.2012

Gift Wrapped

Face after face.  They scroll through my mind’s eye like snapshots from a slideshow.  Every face I can ever remember.  Cheekbones, high like the peak of a tent.  A grey mustache.  Round eyes with milky whites.  A cheeky smile.  Tanned skin, tired eyes, a brown birthmark, freckles on creamy pale skin, a gentle flush on the cheeks. 

These snapshots float through my mind: faster than I can grab at them they slip through my fingers.  So I focus on the eyes: brown, forget-me-not blue, gold-flecked, long-lashed, oval, small, deep-set.  Dripping tears, shining green.  And those eyes, they lead me farther, to a place I can see parts of but cannot truly know—the soul.  The very breath of life in all of these people. 

God, He does not have merely the hundreds of faces I know flashing before Him.  He has all of the billions that belong to those who have lived in every year, in every nook of the globe, for every moment of their lives—He has all of those people before Him not as a flashing slideshow, but in steady focus.  And not just snapshots of faces, but absolute, intimate knowledge of their souls. 

But His omniscience does not end with mere knowledge of all of these souls.  Not only are you before the God of the Universe and known by Him in an infinite way, but He designed you, not as a two year old designs a Mr. Potato Head, and not in a haphazard act because He had run out of unique combinations, but with omniscient, sovereign purpose. 

Don’t you think He knew today would come when He knitted you together?  And don’t you think He planned you for tomorrow as well?  Don’t you think He even understood that there would come a point when you would fall on your face and cry out, “Why, God?  Why did you make me like this?  Why did you give me this great weakness, this thorn in my flesh?”  And don’t you think that God knows that that part of you that you most despise is truly your greatest gift?   

And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” --2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God sees you.  He sees and knows your soul.  He designed every aspect of you with care, precision, and love.  Health problems, heartaches, handicaps, enemies, flaws in beauty, strong wills, reserved temperaments, difficulties in school—no, these are not weaknesses according to our traditional understanding of the term, flaws that make you “less than.”  Anything is a gift that drives us to the foot of the cross, it is just that some of our gifts come wrapped in the paper of weakness. 

We can leave the gift unwrapped, the weakness weighing on our hearts and discouraging our souls, and many go to their grave with unopened gifts.  On the other hand, we can unwrap the painful package to reveal the priceless gift beyond that God yearns for us to discover. 

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.”--Psalm 139:16-18 


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