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

12.31.2013

Favorites from 2013


Almost five years into this grand experiment called a web log, blogging has become a natural bi-weekly habit as I observe my surroundings, take stock of my inner ponderings, choose the most interesting of the several dozen pontifications that were profound enough to be remembered a few days later, and then type it up, revise it, and publish it on Tuesday morning. Some posts end up weird, others mildly entertaining, and a few (I hope) profound.

As 2013 slips away, I'd like nothing better than to celebrate the successes (and forget the failures) with a countdown. First, I share with you the top five most-visited posts on One Bright Corner:

Mikaela and I had been sent to bed long ago, but the falling summer sun was so orange and bright through our window and our gabled bedroom was so warm and stifling that we were certainly not inclined to fall asleep. We could wield our tongues with each other for time without end, and in the course of our whispered conversation we soon had crept out of bed to enjoy the night. We carefully opened the window and breathed in the sultry summer air. Sleep was forgotten. But the time of reckoning came. "Come down here," a voice suddenly called from the ground below the window. I slapped my hand to my mouth and stared, wide-eyed, at Mikaela. Read More>>

2
Waiting Room, Part II by Mikaela {but why would you want to start with Part II of this three part series? I'm linking to Part I!}
Have you ever asked God, “Why did you give me this vision—this desire that burns so greatly in my heart—only to leave it unfulfilled?” There are times in my life where I begin to think my hopes and dreams are just a mirage. Perhaps I was mistaken when I believed God anointed me for a very special task. Was I tuned in to the wrong station when I heard Him so clearly point me to marriage and motherhood? This isn't just an issue of marriage, though: college, discipling, and teaching music have all been points of desire and doubt in my life as well. Read More>>
Fun and random facts that offer a snapshot of our life in 2010. Read More>>


4
Lord, Let Me Declare by Mikaela
On my nightstand, one book has had the place of honor for a decade. This book, which began life as a charming black-covered creation with vivid red corners, is now a shabby stack of over 200 bound papers. The cover is long gone, the edges are curling, and the first ten pages have escaped the binding. This book, you see, began in the ninth year of my life, is my journal. Her name is Louisa, and here I offer you a look at my life through the last decade, complete with authentic spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors (oh, my!). Read More>>

5
Little Women by Mikaela
There is a little book which has resided on our family’s bookshelf as long as I can remember. Yet try as I might, I could never manage to finish the exactly 500 page volume. I began it at least half a dozen times over the years, never making it much past page fifty, despite its liveliness and my interest in it. Henry Thoreau was right, however, when he said, “read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all,” and so this very morning I completed the book: Little Women. If you have never gotten around to reading this treasure, I must warn you that while I empathize with your plight, I am on a mission to proselytize you. Read More>>

Since the most-visited posts give older posts a decided advantage in accumulating page views, and since only one of these posts was actually posted in 2013, and since everyone likes cliff notes, summaries, and big blinking arrows that say "turn here," allow me to present my personal top five favorite posts from 2013:

This is not a story of love at first sight. This is not a simple story of love, though this is the simple version. At times, it was messy and difficult and hard and required both people to die to their interest in each other. Nevertheless: this is my love story. Read More>>
“Mom, who’s Pilate?” “He’s the big shot.  Be quiet”
“I can’t see!”
“What do those words on the screen say?”
“Oh…oh…I am thirsty.  I am really thirsty!”
I was at an Easter play, trying desperately to get “in the mood”, but with the running commentary going on behind me, I might as well have been in Costco watching The Passion of the Christ on their big screen TV displays while people around me munched Polish sausages. I was getting fed up. Read More>>

Capitalization, in case the concept wasn’t painted across your forehead in grade two, is extremely important.  For instance, the time I forgot to capitalize God’s “Law” and several other synonyms in an important college paper all about God’s Law…and was docked ten points.  Ouch. Lesson learned.  If you want to gain points on school papers and camouflage your innate blondness, I highly recommend you capitalize on the discipline of capitalization. 

Which brings God the greater glory: to be worshipped by wretchedly sinful, incompetent beings or to be worshipped by completed, perfected beings? Read More>>  

10
In Theory by Lauren 
I wonder if Thomas Edison were one of our generation whether he would have theorized 10,000 possibilities for creating the light bulb, but never actually tested them. I wonder if Paul Revere were one of our generation whether he would have moaned about the poor colonists who were about to be taken unawares, but never actually mounted a horse to warn them. Read More>>
 
It's always fun to reminisce and look back, so I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did! I'm also enthusiastically looking forward to 2014; happy New Year everyone! Do you have a favorite memory or blog post (from your own blog) to share? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section! 


Photo Credit: ginnerobot

12.17.2013

The Last Page



Today, I turned the last page on The Last Battle with Jonah.  Nagged with secret guilt over our failure to read this culmination of our favorite series, he and I finally decided the only remedy was to make the time.  And so, several months ago, we plunged in together, and I read aloud to him this masterpiece by C.S. Lewis.  

Although there were parts that I loved as well as parts with which I did not agree, we made memories reading this dear book.  We gaped at the Ape’s brashness while driving to help clean a friend’s house.  We held our breath in suspense for the king’s life while on our way to dinner.  And with near giddiness we rediscovered our old friend, Reepicheep, in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  But today, at our lunch table, I turned the last page and read the words that will be seared on my heart forever:

“‘The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning.’ And as [Aslan] spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.” 

Even our most festive of holidays here on earth are only a shadow of the holiday of Heaven.  And thus even the most draining of exams in this life is only a part of the school term that will soon be over. 

Yet this short term of life is necessary.  It is God’s term of gift-giving, of sinner-loving, and of saint-commissioning.  It is my chance to fall to the depths of the ocean and find His love still there.  A chance to soar to heights of prowess and find His glory still greater.  A chance to despair that all is lost and the way out gone forever, only to see His saving Hand outstretched toward my shrinking fingers.  A chance to see the holy beauty of God in stark contrast to the wilds of this world. 

This world is only the Shadow-Lands.  It is only the school term; it is but a dream.  It is the landscape seen rushing past a car window.  The dress rehearsal, the prologue, the introduction...to eternity. 

This busy December Tuesday, hold fast to this hope without wavering: the end of the term will come before you know it, and then the holidays will begin!  


Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read

12.10.2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

My 2013 Ornament

I love the month-long traditions and anticipation of Christmas. I physically make ready, but I also spiritually and emotionally prepare for the exciting morning that is so inextricably linked to the cross and the resurrection--the Gospel itself. Don't miss these learning opportunities!

:: Hallmark Ornament Shopping with Sandi and Ron
:: Christmas Programs galore
:: Family and Church Advent readings
:: The creamy minty goodness of Candy Cane Lane Tea
:: Reflecting on the fact that, for Jesus, Christmas was a humiliation. It is grand and glorious   and worthy of celebrating and rejoicing over, because it is a part of God's master plan, but it signaled pain, temptation, and suffering for Jesus Christ.
:: Frosty snow! {Sledding, snow angels, snowballs, snow forts...}
:: Majestic Christmas concerts--attending and performing
:: Time with loved ones
:: A heart filled with gratitude to God as Joel and I continue to daily add to our burgeoning gratefulness list
:: Christmas movies {It's a Wonderful Life, The Nativity, The Christmas Carol}
:: Attending an outdoor reenactment of the Christmas story and understanding to an even greater degree the beauty of that night in Bethlehem so long ago.
:: Decorating
:: Christmas Eve candlelight service--a time for reflection and peace
:: Finding the perfect gift for each person
:: Getting our Christmas tree from the same farm as always, taking a picture in front of the chosen beauty same as always, riding in the trailer with the tree to the hot cocoa station--same as always--and listening to "The Happiest Christmas Tree" on the way home {same as always}!
:: Christmas CDs: old favorites and a new favorite from Joel, with the lyrics about Jesus: "the Promise showed their wildest dreams had simply not been wild enough."
:: Teaching Christmas songs--from "Friendly Beasts" to "Up on the Housetop" and everything in between.
:: Eggnog
:: Not bowing at an empty manger, praying to Mary, glorying in the angels, or shutting my Bible at "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel {Isaiah 7:14 NKJV}", but continuing on to "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." {John 1:14 NKJV} and rejoicing in "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." {John 3:16 NKJV}

How do you prepare for Christmas?
 

12.03.2013

What Your Schedule Says About You


If you’re anything like me, then the celebration of Thanksgiving Day last week signaled the start of a season in which eight days’ worth of activities and to-do lists are crammed into seven days of time.  The season in which my head still peels off my pillow at 6:21 in the morning, but doesn't find the pillow again until too late each night.  The season in which all the usual responsibilites fill the hours in between, but all the extra doings overflow the cup. 

But Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks, not giving gripes, and on that day the quiet conviction of the Holy Spirit was beckoning me to hold off on the chaos and join Jesus for time together. 

It was a wondrous morning hour, with blue sky in my window, and beautiful silence stilling my heart, and Jesus and His Word and me.  However, I soon discovered that I wasn’t spending that morning with Him just to experience wonder and beauty, but also to be cloaked in conviction, to taste humility, and to embrace repentance. 

For as I moaned about how strong fleshly habits are in my life, little did I know that He had foreordained 1 Peter 4:1, and that He had foreordained that I should read it on Thanksgiving morning with a heart ready to listen.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”  {I Peter 4:1}
Arm yourselves also. 

Here I have been struggling against the current without a life preserver. 
I have been carrying water without a bucket.
I have been running the car without an engine.

Most days I do read my Bible, but that’s often all that it is.  A cursory reading rather than a timely reveling.  And the Thanksgiving revelation of I Peter 4:1 is that I can struggle against sin and the flesh all I want, but unless I am armed with the same mind as Christ, my struggle is as useless as carrying water in my fingers to a raging fire.

Not spending that time with Jesus in the morning is the ultimate act of pride.  It is the supreme choice to love sin. 

It says, “I am powerful enough to live today with food and water, but without Jesus.”
It says, “I already know what needs to get done today, and it doesn’t matter if my ideas matter for eternity.” 
 
Conversely, even five minutes of quiet with Jesus is the ultimate expression of humility.  It is the greatest step towards victory over sin. 

It says, “I need you, Jesus my Savior.  I can’t make it through this day on my own.”
It says, “Teach me, Lord, what You want this day to be about for eternity.” 
 
Don't twist this humility.  There is no glory in the act of taking this step of quiet time, no bonus crowns stored up in Heaven as points for every extra chapter you read in Scripture.  No, the step itself is not glorious, but Jesus Himself is all glorious, and He knows whether I am dismissing Him on my to-do list, or listening to Him as my Lord. 
 
And the next time I find myself stickily bound in the quagmire of sin or boarding the train of chaos headed to despair, I know the Holy Spirit will again remind me: “Did you arm yourself with the same mind of Christ today?"  If so, the exit sign for the quagmire and the chaos train is that-a-way!



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: martinak15
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