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 :)!

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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!

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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!

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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.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/UnderTheTapestry

Love in Christ to each of you,
Bri <3