Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Beautiful, Messy, Dependent

My siblings and I are nearing the end of our three-month bible read through, and are currently in the letters of Paul. I love to spend time in the Psalms, and to re-read the gospel of John over and over... but I am also always drawn into the letters of Paul. They are truth-filled. They are full of passion. And they are filled with a beautiful love and care.

Paul loved others. He couldn't help it. The love he knew God had poured out on him just overflowed out of his heart, and he saw everybody he met as another person who needed the same love. And so he always, unashamedly, unwaveringly, and unselfishly gave them the Word of the Lord. Told them of His love. Gave them the good news, and told them that grace, salvation by the blood of the Lamb, was for all. Without ceasing. It was his life mission, given -and obeyed- from God.

But another thing that I love about the writings of Paul is that even in the midst of teaching, correcting, rebuking, and showing these people God's love, he couldn't contain his own love for these people. Reading through Paul's letters, passages such as these make me pause for a moment...

"...Without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gifts to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both your's and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented) in order that I might reap some harvest among you as among the rest of the gentiles..." -Romans 1

"...I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. ...Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved..." -Romans 9 & 10

"For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you." -1 Corinthians 2:4

"...But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoice still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret -though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved in repentance.... therefore we are comforted...." -1 Corinthians 7

"...Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you... for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. ...I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. ....If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account..." -Philemon

"So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us." -1 Thessalonians 2:8

This love, this encouragement, is beautiful. The fact that he took the time to write with such care letters to these churches is something I love so much. When I read these books of the bible, I realize that they hold truth for me today, and I love to study them any chance I get, but I always remember that these were written with specific people in Paul's mind... and I can never forget that they were written by a real person, as well.

Because I have been in a place before where I wanted to be with someone, to encourage them in the faith in person, and the Lord hasn't brought that about. I have been in that place where I have had to write words of truth to a friend who was erring, like Paul did to the Corinthian church... real people that he loved. And I know the affliction and anguish of heart that is accompanied with this action of love. I know that feeling of regret at the thought of their pain when they receive it. But I also know the feeling of comfort when the Lord uses my feeble, broken words, written in fear so great that I could never speak them over the phone, to bring them truth and hope. And I know the sheer helplessness that I have to save others. I am more selfish than Paul... but even I am able to feel a small likeness to the love that would give up something deeply loved, desired, and sought after, just to see those I love know Christ.

 It's a beautiful, messy, painful, humbling and dependent place to be.

It's a path I'm walking again.

That path were something terribly painful is happening to someone I love, whether by the natural causes of their own sin, or by a blow that comes out of nowhere and leaves them clinging to the Lord, asking for His strength just to hold on to some small bit of hope. And I can't do anything for them. Not really. But I feel led to speak words of comfort, encouragement, or rebuke. And I pray that the Lord holds them, and uses my imperfect words to bring some ray of His truth to rest in their hearts.

It's something that makes me feel like my heart is being torn out and brings tears to my eyes late at night, as I can't find the words to pray, and just ask the Lord to use this for His glory, and bring beauty from the pain through showing them more of His grace in this valley.

No matter what the cause, I wish I could protect them, shield them from the pain. I ache to comfort, to encourage, to bring hope to their crying heart. I yearn -I have plead- to be able to be used to bring them some sort of peace through the storm.

But right now... walking this road again, reading the letters of Paul, and reaching the end of myself in a situation that feels bigger than those that I have been put in at times in the past, I am reminded of one thing.

I can't do this.

I've never been able to do this. I've known it, of course. But when you are given proof that not even sharing your heart through written words can do any good whatsoever if the Lord doesn't step in and change something... it brings it home a little more. Or a lot more.

Paul wrote in love. But the only thing that made that writing of any use was the repentance of the people's hearts when they read those words. That repentance was only possible by the grace of God. He is the only one who can bring peace, comfort, joy, hope, healing.

God gave Paul the love for these people. God gave the truths that would set those people's hearts burning for His righteousness. God gave Paul the words to say to remind them of that truth. God gave the people a heart of repentance. God worked it all out so that those words reached their hearts at the perfect moment, and they turned from their sin.

But Isaiah was sent to give truth to Israel long before that. "How long, O Lord?" he asked. "How long until these people hear your words and repent, turn toward the righteousness of your truth?"

Not until Isaiah was gone. Not until after the captivity. Not at any time while the truths I am putting into your mouth are being prophesied. Go do it anyway.

God doesn't guarantee that those we speak truth to will turn. And if it's not His will, they won't. I am dependent on Him for the fruit of my words. It's not up to me. It's a humbling thought. And honestly, it's comforting. No matter how beautiful or painful what he brings about is, no matter how messy my emotions may get as I obediently reach out in love and offer His truth to others, His grace still remains, and He is the one who brings it to bear on the hearts that need it.

It's a beautiful, messy, painful, and humbling place to be, obeying Christ in ways such as this. And I'm so glad I'm dependent on Him in the midst of it.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Snail Mail Blessings Book Subscription "Tour"!

Some of you may know Ashley, a fellow blogger at Precious Moments and fellow Etsy seller from the shop Snail Mail Blessings on Etsy. I received one of her book subscriptions yesterday, and I wanted to share with you my package :)! Each month's subscription is different; I got the February one! Ashley mails these out early the month they are scheduled to come out, even though she "has" about three weeks to get it done, so you aren't left wondering when it will reach you :). She also packaged it carefully to avoid damage, including a note on the back to make sure I didn't use scissors to break into it... which was a good call, because I was already reaching for scissors before I noticed it ;). 

Opening it up, it's like she's sent you a little gift package! Individual items were wrapped in tissue paper and ribbons, and then they were all tied together with yet another ribbon :)!

I loved this little touch, it showed simple gratefulness and was eye-pleasing <3!

The colors of these little hearts in the blue and white stripes made me happy, too :)!

Ashley put together a package that went with the theme of the story she sent out - "My Heart - Christ's Home". Have you ever read it? It is a creative and thought provoking story. What if you were really to invite Jesus as a guest into your house? What would He see, and what would He think of your actions? Would you invite Him to be Lord of your house, or would you turn from Him?

The little house coaster was truly adorable, and beautifully made!

Oh, this little scripture word art! I absolutely love lettering and watercolor backgrounds... but that little bird just adds so much to this card, I want to squeeze him, haha :). Not very nice to do, maybe, but look at his little glasses! Heehee :). I wish I could watercolor like that!

The complete round up of package goodies :)! I was given an extra booklet with topical bible verses for times of need sorted into it, and some tea, along with the items I pictured above :). One thing that really stood out to me was that Ashley sent not only a coupon code for future purchases, and a little extra note of encouragement, but also a list of every item that was being included in that month's subscription so that I could be sure that I got all my items :)! Ashley's customer service is wonderful, she's thought of everything :)!

If you are interested in getting a book subscription, they come out once every two months, and you can get them from Ashley's shop, "Snail Mail Blessings".

What are some good books you have read this month :)? What are some things you would love to receive in a book subscription package? Have you checked out Snail Mail Blessings :)?!

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri :)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Not a Monthly Wrap-Up Post

That wasn't sarcastic or satirical. It's actually not.

Last year I tried my hand out on something I had always wanted to do and on something that I loved reading on other people's blogs and something that I found I really loved putting together, too; monthly wrap-up posts.

But despite it being SO MUCH FUN when I was actually doing it, it took five or more hours out of each month just to write those posts, so I could never get to it "on time". And so it would nag at my mind for usually eight to twelve days out of thirty each month. And I would feel like I couldn't do a DIFFERENT post until that post was out. And then once it WAS posted, I either felt like I'd just posted and y'all wouldn't want to see anything already or, more usually, that I DIDN'T want to spend another hour and half on the blog so soon. About November, I decided I wanted to finish the year out, but I could do three blog posts in the same amount of time if I spread it out over the month, with a whole lot less feelings of failure. It was one of those "practical" decisions of my goal for Rest (which I'll talk about more sometime), and I'm not regretting that decision.

But, regardless of that; I did still have some weird little moments saved in draft form. And I did have some pictures on my phone, which, though blurry, are 3 times easier to upload to blogger than from the camera. So, it's not as long as formerly. And I'm not organizing it like I used to. But here's a few small things to look back on :)!


My brain: "I need to go..."
My words: "I need to glow."
Thank you very much, self, I prefer the term sparkle.

Tori: "Show me your muscles!"
Peter: *flexes his hand right into his head* "...Ow."

Abbi and Emmi playing "Life", while keeping a running conversation between the peg characters as they move along:
Abbi: loses all of her money
Emmi: "Hey Mom, can we get lunch?!"
Abbi: "No!"
Emmi: "Awwwww, why not?"
Abbi: "BECAUSE. We're not getting lunch; we're *getting* poor!"

Random idle thought: why do people command others to eat cake on their birthday? I mean, it makes us non-cake-lovers feel like a disappointment to you when you give such a sincere and animated command to EAT  SOME CAKE!, and we have to tell you that we can't see wasting our birthday on cake. We don't tell you to eat brownies on YOUR birthday... even though you should. Haha!


I made donuts while I listened to a sermon one Monday morning. Donuts are so much fun to make... and take so long thanks to needing like 3 1/2 dozen mini donuts, haha! Listening to sermons has been another of those little decisions of Resting :)...

I love to hang up quotes and bible verses all over my room. The goal is to change them every few weeks, but I didn't change the Christmas ones until I undecorated, haha. And Emmi just reminded me last night that I forgot the scripture references, oops. Do you see how Rest slipped into these, too?

Two things I enjoyed last month: marking things off to-do lists, and attending our Church's first conference since we moved into the new sanctuary. It took some effort and some planning and some late nights, but it was worth it. It was refreshing, it provided food for thought, and gave me a chance to connect with our church a little more :). The theme was Biblical Responses to the Gospel, and there was beautiful singing at the beginning of the sessions, and it was a wonderful week :).

He's still one of the cutest. That grin. The way he loves to read. His hair that is getting curlier in the front, but still doesn't curl as much in the front as in the back, haha! He has started pretending he is a puppy... he crawls around and "woof!"s and pants (and, if we aren't careful, licks, yuck), and I have been trying to get a picture, but every time I stop petting his head to get out my phone, he leaves...

Gramma got me this book, called "Should I Share My Ice Cream". I saved it to read with the little ones, so it took a few weeks to get alllll of them together at the same time. But when I did... if you want a biography of me... well, here it is. Indecisive, ice cream loving, glasses wearing, sentimental, easy to touch, plans always going askew or backwards and yet life being full of the little moments that make happy endings, me. It was short, but it was spot on! I told my gramma, and she said she wished she'd read it... she just saw glasses and ice cream. Haha!

We were given a bag of knit items by a kind lady at church,and Noah was positively dashing in his church sweater and this hat, even if it still had the tag on!

Lots of games with my little sibs made my early January extra fun! Peter was so studious over this Othello game!

This six page, double sided letter took me a whole afternoon to write. But it was so. much. fun. I love when conversation, even on the page, is not forced!


And I have a little shop announcement! Here's what I shared on shop's social media this afternoon...

"So, I am doing things just a little bit different this weekend! Are you ready for a sale and a chance to win a giveaway?!

If I get $25 worth of sales in my shop this week, one of YOU gets a free item of your choice ($26 or less in value) for helping me reach that!

You don't have to make a big purchase, though! My lace bookmarks are 50% this weekend, and then smallest of them is only $2.25 right now. For less than three dollars, you get a chance at a free $26 item!

Or, you could just spend $25 yourself and automatically win it... it's totally fair per the rules ;). Just make your purchases by Sunday night!" And I would very much appreciate if you would share this "event" as well :)! Comment and let me know if you do, so  I can thank those who deserve it <3.


Love in Christ to each of you,
Bri <3

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Strengthen Your Wings, But Rest in the Lord

Her wings move steadily and fiercely. The wind she's creating with her efforts send seeds and feathers everywhere. They lazily float down to the carpet where eventually I'll vacuum them up... but for now, I'm watching her, just a little heartsick as I think of what might be going through her mind.

She's got the desire. She has the strength. She's putting forth the effort. It's a God-given, worthy desire, not something she shouldn't be trying. She's doing everything right.

But it's not time for her to fly yet.

And sometimes, while I watch her, I wonder. What would go on in her little mind if she thought in words?

That one can fly. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe, just maybe... I wasn't made to fly. I think that it's something placed in me at my creation, but maybe it's just wishful thinking. Maybe I should be doing something else.  Maybe I should give up. When will I learn, I fail to fly?

Does she know? Does she understand?

It's just not time for her to fly.

You see, her wings were shortened so that she could learn a lesson in trust. They were clipped short so that she would be kept safe in a new chapter in her life.  It's not anything she's done. She's not a failure. She just needs to wait patiently. She needs to learn to Rest in the fact that we want the best for her. Her wings will grow in time. And when that happens, she'll be able to move further and faster with much less faltering.

She might not see when that will be. As far as her eye can see, she might never fly. She would be totally justified in giving up, and just pulling herself up the walls with her beak forever. Why try when you've failed?

But how dangerous it would be for her to stop exercising those muscles. Because that purpose built into her; it was given by God. To ignore it, it would destroy the future use of that purpose. To give up because that goal didn't reach fruition the first time... or the second... or the tenth... it would mean that she'd never know when the day came and she'd spread her wings... and they were ready. And to refuse to try while it's uncertain would cripple those little muscles that need to be constantly challenged to grow in strength as her wings grow in length, so that on the day those wings are fully grown, she's prepared to soar.

You aren't a failure, Dawn. Your dream isn't worthless. You aren't doing anything wrong. It's just not time yet. You are being held back by someone who loves you, to teach you invaluable lessons that will keep you safe and sure once the lesson is learned. And there will come a day those lessons are grasped and you are given the privilege of moving on, with greater responsibility and even higher purposes as your horizons widen. Because those lessons have prepared you to fly in safety; they were never meant to harm you.

And while I watch her and these thoughts pass through my mind, I find myself thinking that this is not unlike how I am tempted to feel myself at times.

They are moving forward. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe I'm not right for this. Maybe, just maybe... I wasn't made to do this. I thought it was a life-purpose that was given me by God for His glory, but maybe it's just wishful thinking. Maybe I'm trying to be someone I'm not. Maybe I should give up. After all, if I'm not getting anywhere, am I not failing?

And maybe I don't know when it will be different. Maybe, I don't know that it will. I might be justified, looking at the surface, to give up. Why try a second, or third, or tenth time?

But how dangerous it would be for me to stop working towards those things laid of my heart to reach for. To deny the fact that those passions to spread God's love are a part of who I am as His daughter, and to refuse the use of them, would not only cripple me, but be the very opposite of bringing Him glory. If I stop living for the purpose He has given, one day I'll miss that opportunity He wants to prepare me for now. If I refuse to take those little actions now that are small imitations of what my heart longs to do for Him, then on that day when the real thing is opened up before me, I won't be ready.

Because before I can be given greater responsibility and even higher purposes, I need to learn lessons in trust. I need to be prepared for the things I will encounter once that time arrives. I need to learn to Rest in the sovereignty of a God who has created me in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). I need to constantly be preparing myself for the fulfillment of that purpose. But I also cannot force the fruition to happen before the lesson is learned. If a butterfly were to stay in it's cocoon because to leave it is hard, it would never see the light of the sun. But if something were to let the butterfly loose without a struggle, it would not have the strength to face the life it has been given to live.

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138:8

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where does Your Hope as a Christian Come From?

I watched this video this morning, and wanted to share it with you. Sometimes it is nice to be given reminders such as these. While I "know" the things presented in this sermon, I can lose sight of the real reason for my confidence; and sometimes a fresh prospective can make us think a little more about something we have taken for granted.

Our salvation does not start with us. Our salvation does not even start with God's love for us. Our salvation does not *depend* on us!!!

Our salvation was planned before our lives ever existed. Our salvation starts with God's love for the Son and the ultimate plan for His never ending glory. Glory that has never been apart from Him, and never will be. Our salvation depends only on the truth of the Lord's words... and He can never lie.

"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God." -2 Corinthians 3:5-6

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Christmas Pictures ✽ And Lots of Little Stories

It's snowing for the third time in two weeks here in SC. It's not sticking around this time either, but just the sheer fact that it's TRIED three times in two weeks is something to give it credit for. And so, with snow outside the window, coffee under my nose, and before we take down all the Christmas-y things, I'm taking the time to share some little moments from our Christmas :).

Do I drink coffee all the time? No. Do I have a struggle when I do drink it deciding which activity I want it to enhance... reading, writing, or blogging? Yes. I'll be honest ;).

Christmas Eve, of course we had Gramma and Papa Nate and Granny over...

Gramma thought that my readers needed proof that she really brought a trailer ;). I stand corrected though; this wasn't a rental, but my Papa Nate's trailer. I'm not sure how I got that confused, haha :).

Gramma got these adorable little books made with the little one's names in them as the main characters. Noah's is about a little dinosaur :).

Josiah's Christmas = Made before Christmas even came, hahaha! He came to me after he opened his box, and told me how cool/useful it was that he was given batteries, haha! And then he got this construction truck set that is TOTALLY his thing... and then the crowning item was a light up car track with battery cars. It's not been turned off for more than an hour all his waking hours since, haha!

This is Emmi, "I got Shopkins socks?". Look in your hand, girl! Haha...

This is a big hit with all the boys, too. It's a floating/helicopter ball that moves higher when something is  held under it, they all think it's so neat. Andrew has had to hide it a few times ;).

Bethi loves puzzles, unusual ones, anyway (she helped my Aunt with her puzzle while we were there, but nobody ever helps me with one here, so I'm not sure what that means ;)...). She sits for hours working on origami puzzles. (She won't do an origami figure thanks to my horrible teaching-while-I-learn skills last year, but she'll do origami PUZZLES with no instructions? Explain to me the logic. I haven't touched them, ha!) This ball is like an odd version of a rubiks cube, so it was perfect for her ;).

After family left, we had supper, the middles finished wrapping some gifts, and our annual Christmas Carol movie, most everybody went to bed. Mama and I stayed up another hour to feed the birds, carry alllllll the gifts downstairs, and make them pretty under the tree. 4 a.m. is a really tiring time of the morning to go to bed... haha!

This is just a reminder that the family photos you see are never the first ones that were taking. I mean... what is going one here, hahaha!?

Noah looking at the gifts is cute though :).

Close enough ;). 

After Cinnamon rolls and a Christmas documentary,  we unwrapped the gifts the siblings gave to each other :). Josiah thinks that the coolest thing ever is to drink water out of a water bottle rather than a regular cup, so guess what he gave Peter?! Peter shared with him, sweet little guy that he is ;).

Noah :). He was kind of excited about water too, haha!

If you want some great gift memories, let a three year old pick a gift from the dollar store for each member of the family ;). One year I got "I can read!" certificates... haha! This year, Abbi got dishsoap.

And so did Andrew. It was hilarious, haha!

Mama said Josiah knew what he was getting me before he even got to the store... he knows my love for candles that I have a hard time bring myself to burn because then they are gone, haha :).

Peter wanted to help Andrew dress for the day with his gift ;).

My Grandparents gave us older girls gorgeous fans for Christmas. Abbi and Emmi fell in love with them, and so siblings slipped some into their purchases :). Abbi is an expert at that little "flip" to open it!

As a guy, he had to take random items off the floor and juggle them ;). Also, see me cup? I wanted a Christmas cup all  Christmas, and I got two! I've been enjoying them since, and look forward to having them all year next year!

Such a strangely wrapped package. What could it be? Oh... wait for it...

The moment of realization...

And hilarious laughter and explanations given!  Peter saw a toilet brush and asked to get it for Andrew. I told him, well, let's see if there is anything else... and he found something else, so I had Bethi put the toilet brush away, because, Um?! Haha! But he really meant it. We got home and he wanted to know where Andrew's "thing to fix the toilet" was. Mama figured he meant a plunger, so she went ahead and got them as a set, and it ALMOST won the "most funny gift" of the day. Almost.

Abbi gave Peter his first mug for Christmas. It's this little penguin head with a winter scarf that is sooooooo Peter! I love it... and so does he, he uses it for everything, including his water, and he is always using it unless it's getting washed!

Andrew made the little boys a car ramp, he loves to build :).

Bethi is smart. She places all her gifts TO people in a basket, and then when she hands out her gifts, she starts putting all her gifts FROM people in it. That way nothing gets lost in everybody else's shuffle. Which would be nice. Haha! The little ones were losing things like crazy!

This gift was the official winner of funniest of the day. It was a total gag gift, and those of you who know what it was (and who it was from) are privileged. The rest of you can just wonder, hahaha!

Noah LOVES animals, but especially birds since we got Dawn and Misty. He got so many birds for Christmas, haha!

We took a break for dinner and advent/devotions. Because... it was getting really late, haha! Then we went back and opened the gifts from Mama and Daddy. And if you want a perfect gift, trust my Mama to find out what it is!

A little ABC theology book. I'd never seen one like this, too cute!

Peter LOVES his Penguin/Bear books!

Noah <3.

Noah kind of stole the show in a lot of the pictures from the evening, it was hilarious going through them!

That look of confusion? Don't let him fool you. He has beaten or tied with e.v.e.r.y.b.o.d.y he has played with so far!

This game is the new Monopoly in our house. It's similar to said Monopoly, but has it's own little twists, too, and it could be addictive!

Bethi's day was made with a peg doll supplies kit. She LOVES making those little dolls up, and so I suggested to Mama that she get something like this for her, because I remember that two of my favorite birthday gifts when I was little were a stationary kit and a sewing supply kit. I'm happy to say, I didn't lead her astray, haha! I was slightly worried... but mostly sure ;).

Andrew got a wood burning kit! He loves to build and create, and is excited about the possibilities this brings! 

Noah loves his "persons!!!" He carries them around everywhere, haha :). He prefers to put the shapes in by opening the back door rather than matching the up though... ;).

After presents were opened and some toys assembled, our night was finished out by some pie and the movie "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey"... which doesn't make me cry as much as the children's book (I don't read it aloud anymore -I'm not sure why it gets me so much worse in written form!), but is still one of the most touching Christmas movies out there.

It was a wonderful day... these are only a few snippets of it! I hope your Christmas was blessed as ours, with family and laughter and love and reminds of the great joy that makes the day so important, the birth of our Lord and Savior! But now that I've given you these little peeks, I am off to make some hot chocolate and popcorn, because, though the snow may be gone already (::sigh::), we're still calling it a snow day, because we don't see signs of a more promising one coming, haha. We were spoiled in VA!