Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 One Thing! Challenge: The End... and Another Beginning!

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."
Revelation 22:20-21

Last year, under the leadership of Pastor Mike, our church committed to read the entire Bible together during 2010.  We planned to be on the same page each day as we let the Lord speak to us through His Word.  It has been an amazing year, and I am blessed to belong to such a Bible centered fellowship of believers!  Through difficulties and change, Pastor Mike led and taught us by his faithful example.  For this, I am extraordinarily grateful.

This is the last day of the One Thing! Challenge.  I didn't manage to get through the year perfectly -- there were days that I missed -- but the practice of a disciplined Bible plan helped me in my spiritual growth, and it gave me the accountability to read my Bible on days when I might otherwise have missed out on God's great gift to us.  In an attempt to finish strong, I made it an almost daily habit to post my One Thing! thoughts on this blog starting in October.  What a blessing this year of Bible study has been!

2011 will see me reading the Chronological Bible, and I look forward to another great year of reading as the Lord instructs me through His Word!

One Thing: Jesus is coming soon!  Be faithful as He is faithful!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Thing: Peace

"True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity."
Malachi 2:6

Peace.  Do we really know what it means to have peace, and, if we do, what steps are we taking to have peace?  Am I being a peacemaker?  I do so want to have peace in my life and relationships!

I have found that peace is often the hardest to achieve when I feel I am right about something and others don't see it my way.  That is exactly what this verse in Malachi is addressing.  We need to take care that we do speak truth and are not wrong when we speak, but we are to walk in peace and uprightness at the same time.  That is the hard part!

Peace can be difficult to walk in when there is a "point" to be made and we want to persuade others about the correctness of our ideas and behavior. But what are we trying to accomplish?  It is my desire to turn many from iniquity, and how does Malachi 2:6 instruct us to do this?  We are to speak truth while walking in peace!

One Thing: Please, Lord, help me to have a soft, peaceful answer.  Help me to speak truth with gentleness so that those I speak with are drawn toward You and away from sin.  Thank you for your patience toward me, and help me to show this same patience toward others.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Thing: Defend

"Open your mouth for the mute,
   for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
   defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:8-9

One Thing: It is my duty to defend the rights of whose who can't speak for themselves.  Who is that in my life?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Thing: Strength vs. Honor

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
   in those who hope in his steadfast love."
Psalm 147:11

One Thing: Strength or talent is not what matters to God.  Hope solely in Him and give Him all honor and obedience.

Monday, December 27, 2010

One Thing: Stop Talking

For pressing milk produces curds,
   pressing the nose produces blood,
   and pressing anger produces strife.
Proverbs 30:33

As I was meditating over what this verse meant -- and how to practically apply it to my life -- I checked my dad's Twitter account.  He has been most faithful this year to post his One Thing thoughts on both Twitter and Facebook. His most recent post said exactly what I was trying to capture in words, so, today, I am adopting his One Thing:

"There is a time to stop talking -- learn to recognize it."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Thing: Worship

"Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
Revelation 14:7

One Thing: Nothing can compare to the greatness of His power.  Worship the Creator this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Thing: No Condemnation

"Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God."
Revelation 12:10 

One Thing: In Christ, there is no condemnation.

Night Sky

Yes, I stayed up for the lunar eclipse.  It was a sight to see!  It went from looking like the picture above to looking like those below.  It got even neater looking than this, but I will leave those pictures for the experts.



Monday, December 20, 2010

One Thing: Nothing Hidden

"For you formed my inward parts;
   you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
   my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
   intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
   in your book were written, every one of them,
   the days that were formed for me,
   when as yet there was none of them."
Psalm 139:13-16

I absolutely love this Psalm. Life is precious, and we are each fearfully and wonderfully made.

One Thing: Nothing about me is hidden from the Lord.  Live every day in a way that is worthy of His book.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Thing: Rejoice Always

"...Yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
Habakkuk 3:18

By reading the verses that come immediately before this one, we see that Habakkuk is declaring his continual rejoicing in the Lord -- even if things go really wrong.

One Thing: Rejoicing in the Lord is not based on happenings; I can always take joy in His mercy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

11 to 22: A Story of Friendship and Love

Zachary and I have known one another for about half our lives. When you know someone that long, you collect a lot of memories and stories together. This account could be much longer, but this is the short version of our long history!

Zachary and I started having music lessons together in 2000 when we were both 11 years old. Although we didn't talk to each other at first, we became good friends by the time we were 14. Our friendship continued to grow when we were 15, but our schedules took us apart shortly after our 16th birthdays. We did not see much of each other at all for a year until our paths crossed again. We did not stay in contact for long, however, and events outside of our control divided us again in the fall of 2006.

Zachary was easy to like (and imagine a future with), but I needed to keep my heart and will in the right place and let God rule that part of my life. After an intense emotional struggle, I surrendered my desire to have a future with Zachary to the Lord on November 11, 2006 -- shortly before our 18th birthdays. I never expected to talk to him again. This time in my life was incredibly difficult, but with God's grace, I learned to trust the Lord with our futures.

Once my heart had been checked and placed in my Lord's capable hands, He was able to work wonders in our lives. Zachary began attending the church my family went to -- First Baptist Church -- in October 2007. He was in Sunday School and Choir with me so -- once again -- we saw each other regularly. Even though Zachary had not done anything wrong, I was reluctant to be his friend again. I had given him up for good, and I was afraid of becoming emotionally vulnerable again. Zachary persevered, and we were able to be reacquainted during 2008 as I graduated from my high school studies, got a job, and planned for college.

My hope of a future with him had been reignited, but I was confused and unsure of his feelings. He was always such a good friend and gentleman -- which I admired -- but it didn't make interpreting him any easier. Understandably, I was confusing him as well with my somewhat friendly but distant interactions with him.

On August 11, 2008, Zachary removed all doubt and asked my father's permission to court me. I was overjoyed! Even though our parents wanted us to get to know each other better before an official courtship was entered, it was a milestone in our relationship. We began to spend much more time together. My admiration for Zachary grew quickly, but I was still partially withdrawn and reserved. I was afraid he would decide not to move forward with the relationship, and I would be left heartbroken. There was no question in my mind that I loved him.

There was no need to fear; Zachary assured me of his love (which I gladly returned) on October 11, 2008, and our official courtship began on April 11, 2009. In the following months, our love only grew as we enjoyed long walks, games, church activities, and conversation together and became more than friends; we became sweethearts!

Zachary and I were at the Cann Memorial Gardens on April 24, 2010 when he asked me to marry him. We had been talking about it for some time, but he still managed to surprise me! We held hands for the first time that day and chose a wedding date: June 11, 2011. He had spoken to my dad the day before, so my family knew it was coming, but it was so exciting for me to tell them all the good news!

The Lord worked a miracle in leading Zachary and me to each other! Our engagement has been a productive time of work and college, but we are both eagerly anticipating our wedding and a life spent together as husband and wife!

One Thing: Neither Poverty Nor Riches

 "Two things I ask of you;
   deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
   give me neither poverty nor riches;
   feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
   and say, "Who is the LORD?"
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God."
Proverbs 30:7-9

One Thing: Desire moderation and be content with "enough."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Thing: What is Good?

"He has told you, O man, what is good;
   and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8

One Thing: Be just, kind, and humble.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Thing: Bless the Lord!

I related to several parts of today's OneThing! reading.  First, I can say with Agur, "I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out" (Proverbs 30:1).

It has been a long two and a half years of college, but I have finally fulfilled the requirements for my bachelor's degree in English.  I submitted my last essay last night and took my last examination this afternoon.  I am done.   Finished.  Tired.  My mind was whirling so fast last night that sleep eluded me, and I had a work Christmas party at 8:00 AM this morning.  So, I am weary.

But more than weary, I am thankful!  God has sustained me through these long months (often using my incredible family and Zachary).  Right now, I want to shout with the Psalmist:

"Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
   who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
 Lift up your hands to the holy place
   and bless the LORD!"
Psalm 134:1

I feel like shooting off fireworks in celebration, and I would do it if not for a few considerations...

1. I don't own any.
2. They are illegal within city limits.
3. It is cold out.
4. I know nothing about shooting fireworks, so...
5. It wouldn't be safe.
6. Most importantly, I am exhausted!

So, short of fireworks, I am enjoying a big mug of tea and the knowledge that I can sleep in tomorrow!  Have a great day!

One Thing: Bless the Lord!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One Thing: Source of Justice

"Many seek the face of a ruler,
   but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice".
Proverbs 29:26

It is just a thought, but is our nation looking to the federal government to solve our problems when we should be turning to the Lord and asking Him for justice?

One Thing: Ask the Lord to be your source and rely on Him.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One Thing: Trust

"The fear of man lays a snare,
   but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe."
Proverbs 29:25

One Thing: Fear only makes the situation worse, so give every concern to the Lord and trust Him with it.


This is my last week of college!  There were once 12 notes on my door to represent the last semester of my school work, but there is only one left. My Children's Literature final exam is this Wednesday afternoon, and I have an essay to write for "One Writer's Vision: Jane Austen." I am almost there!

COMING SOON: A short story about Zachary and me will be posted on Friday!

My Advent One Thing: Hope

Psalm 131

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
   too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.

 O Israel, hope in the LORD
   from this time forth and forevermore.

My family has been studying "hope" during our Advent devotions this year.  Today's One Thing! reading from Psalms perfectly coincided with our theme.  God is our hope, but what is hope?

Hope is the secure place of refuge where our enemy cannot reach us.  It is the expectation of good.

God is all this and more to us, His children.  We look back and see His faithfulness in sending Jesus to earth as a baby, and we look forward to His second coming with hope. This is what Advent or "arrival" is all about.

As in so many years in the past, my dad has led our family in our nightly Advent devotions this season.  I want him to know how grateful I am for his leadership in this area.  He has been a rock of sound advice, loving discipline, godly fatherhood, Christian faithfulness...  

This is my last Advent season at home with my parents, and I feel blessed that both my dad and mom devoted their time and energies to teach me the true meaning of Christmas.  Our Advent tradition has meant so much to me, and I look forward to the next two weeks of Bible reading, teaching, and prayer! 

Thank you, Dad!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Thing: Seek

"Seek good, and not evil,
   that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
   as you have said."
Amos 5:14

One Thing: Endeavor to find the good, and the Lord will be there.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

One Thing: Fruit of Your Labor

"Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
   who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
   you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you."
Psalm 128:1-2

One Thing: Walk in the way of the Lord and work hard.  Blessing will follow, and all will be well.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

One Thing: Mercy with Fear

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."
Jude 21-23

It can be difficult in our minds, hearts, and attitudes to distinguish between the sin and the sinner.  While hating "even the garment stained by the flesh," we are to show mercy to doubters.  This isn't easy.  There is a lot to consider and pray about in these verses, and I do not pretend to understand it completely, but it does remind me to love others while hating the sin.  We are to do what we can to snatch "them out of the fire," but whatever course they decide, we must be merciful and remember that we are not the Judge.

One Thing: Show mercy and love toward doubters -- but with fearful understanding of the spiritual danger they are in.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

One Thing: Influences

"Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good."
3 John 1:11

One Thing: What is influencing me?  Find what is good and imitate that.

Monday, December 06, 2010

One Thing: Venting

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
   but a wise man quietly holds it back."
Proverbs 29:11

One Thing: Don't "vent."  Wisely hold your tongue.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

One Thing: Help

"Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 127:8

One Thing: I hope in the help of my Lord!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

One Thing: Greater

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
1 John 4:4

One Thing: The Lord is bigger and greater than my problems.  He will handle them.

PRAYER REQUEST: There are two weeks of school left, and I would appreciate your prayers.  I have 7 papers to write in the next week, and the midterm I took on November 11th never made it to my mentor.  Please pray that the college would find it quickly and get it to my mentor as soon as possible.  Thanks.

UPDATE -- 7 Dec 2010
I received an email from my mentor today with good news!  She received my midterm and will grade it within a few days!  Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, December 03, 2010

One Thing: Back It Up

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
1 John 3:18

One Thing: Back up your words with deeds.  True love is active and demonstrated physically though your behavior, conduct, and attitude.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

One Thing: The Source

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121: 1-2

These verses encouraged me this evening.  My help does come from the Lord.

One Thing: I will look to my Lord for the rest, strength, and peace that I need.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

One Thing: Wisdom

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
   but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:26

One Thing: Don't let education make you foolish.  Rely on God's Word for wisdom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Thing/Advent: The Light

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."
1 John 1:7

My Advent One Thing: Jesus is the light, and it is His sacrifice that cleanses us from Sin!  Praise the Lord!

I had a wonderful time with my family and Zachary today!  To all my friends and family who made my birthday special, thank you!




Monday, November 29, 2010

One Thing/Advent: Waiting

They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." [...] But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [...] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
From 2 Peter 3
  
My Advent One Thing: Wait Well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Thing/Advent: Faithfulness


Advent!
Today is the first day of Advent -- a season I look forward to every year.  It is a time of reflection and remembrance.  We look back on God's faithfulness as shown through the first coming of Jesus, and we look forward with faith to His second coming!


One Thing!
 "A faithful man will abound with blessings,
   but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished."
Proverbs 28:20

One Thing: Be faithful, and God will take care of the rest.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

One Thing: Myth vs. Truth

"For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
2 Peter 1:16

I had to learn about the four kinds of traditional literature for my children's literature class: folktales, fables, myths, and legends. The definition my textbook gave for "myth" included the following (emphasis added).
Every ancient culture made up stories that answered questions about the creation of the world, the origins of people, and the reasons for natural phenomena.  the Greeks called these explanations mythos, which means "tales" or "stories." Today, people sometimes use the word myth to describe any story they consider to be untrue. However, in literary terms, a myth is a story containing fanciful or supernatural incidents intended to explain nature or tell about the gods and demons of early peoples. In distant past, as in some traditional cultures today, the stories were taken as fact and made sacred by religious belief.
Many people would consider the Bible a myth and attach this definition to the Holy Word of God.  It is not. We can have confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ.

One Thing: Be bold.  We do not tell mere myths; we have been entrusted with the Word of God.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Zachary and Elizabeth

Sweethearts!

One Thing: Gift

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace."
1 Peter 4:10

One Thing: Everyone has a gift.  Use yours to serve others.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

One Thing: Thanksgiving

"To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise..."
Daniel 2:23

This verse is fitting on the day we set aside to thank the Lord for His many blessings. Yesterday's post listed  many things I am thankful for, but I am reminded again today of His amazing provision.  I spent a special Thanksgiving with family and friends -- my last as an unmarried girl -- and there were a lot of questions about the upcoming wedding, Zachary, our plans, etc.  I may not have all the answers, but I am confident that our Lord will provide; He is faithful!  It will be nice to spend Thanksgiving with Zachary next year instead of just thinking about him! :)

One Thing! Give thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Thing: Preparing for Thanksgiving

"Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious."
1 Peter 3:4

One Thing: Be more concerned about the state of your heart than the outward impression you give others.

In Thanksgiving news, my family is excited about seeing some dear friends of ours and my grandma tomorrow.  Two tired ankles and a burned middle finger means I am able to put sweet potato pies on the table -- you should see me trying to type this with one hand while my blister is soaking!

As I anticipate tomorrow, a few special blessings to give thanks for come to mind:
  1. My incredible fiance Zachary
  2. My supportive and understanding family
  3. My church
  4. My job
  5. Only 3 1/2 weeks of school remaining
  6. My health
  7. And above all, the amazing grace of my awesome God
Thank you, Lord!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Thing: Put Away

"So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander."
1 Peter 2:1

"Put away."  You mean they don't just go away by themselves? No, we must work at it and continue in obedience.  With His help, we must put away these sins and honor Christ.

Later in the chapter, Peter went on to say, "Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 1:10).

One Thing: We are God's people. Honor Him by being true, humble, forgiving, content, and gentle.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Thing: Mercy

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3

One Thing: I am thankful for God's mercy today!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One Thing: Grumbling vs. Thanks

"Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door."
James 5:9

There are so many ways that we can grumble. You can gripe and complain under your breath, to your best friend, to your mom, to a group, to a coworker -- even to yourself by dwelling on a "situation" longer than you ought.  Grumbling comes naturally, but it reflects an ungrateful heart.  We have so much to be thankful for!  Grumbling doesn't help anyone, but a thankful heart encourages, uplifts, and gives glory to God.

One Thing: Be thankful for the people in your life and focus on their good qualities instead of complaining about them.

A Fourth Study in School Books

Monday
I started reading Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Tuesday
 Both classes have kept me busy reading!

Wednesday
I read many contemporary, realistic fiction storybooks.

Thursday
I wrote 1 1/2 book evaluations about Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi and Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams.  I also finished reading my favorite Jane Austen book: Persuasion. 

Friday
No school! Zachary and I spent the day at the zoo. We had a marvelous time. I will post a picture later when I get it from Zachary (taken on his camera).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One Thing: Humility

"There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?"
James 4:12

I am often too quick to judge or criticize others, but the Bible shows me that this is not my place. Verse 6 reminds me that, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

One Thing: It is not my duty or right to judge others; be humble and let the Lord handle the rest.

Friday, November 19, 2010

One Thing: Peaceful Wisdom... and Zoo News

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17

One Thing: Make God's wisdom a priority to be sought after with all diligence.  Practice gentle manners and a peaceful spirit.

For today's news, I spent a wonderful day with my fiance at the zoo!  We had so much fun, and it was a blessing to having a schedule free day and just enjoy spending time together.  Check back later for pictures or visit his blog to see a video he will post sometime on Saturday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Thing: Slow to speak

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger..."
James 1:19

I read our One Thing! scriptures out loud to my mom tonight.  We decided our One Thing today should be "Keep your mouth shut" -- at the appropriate times, of course. :)  I am so thankful for a mother who has read the Bible out loud to me for so many years.  Now, I can read to her while she crochets, and we continue to form wonderful memories together.

James was very pointed in his instructions, and both my mom and I agreed that we need to work on being quick to hear and slow to speak.  Oh yeah, and slow to anger too.  A lot of trouble -- and sin -- will be avoided if we slow down, listen, and consider our words carefully before speaking.  We must not be hearers only of the Word, but doers also.

Thanks, Mom, for being an example of a godly woman who desires to become more like Christ!

One Thing: Be slow to speak.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Thing: Joy During Trials

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:2-3

Stuff happens.  Trials are inevitable.  How do I react?  It my faith tested and found true?

Questions.

I don't like being inconvenienced.  I don't like being wronged.  It hurts when people misunderstand me or think I am not doing something "just right."

"Count it all joy."  How do I count it all joy when I am not happy?

It is not about happiness or what is going on around me.  It is not about everything being just so.  I make mistakes.  I cause more problems for myself than anyone else could ever manufacture.  God will help me find His joy in every situation and problem.  I am being tested, and I trust that it will produce steadfastness.  Steadfastness will have its full effect in my life, and I will (with God's grace) be made perfect and complete -- lacking nothing.

One Thing.  Live in God's joy -- regardless of the trial.  Be steadfast and use every situation as an opportunity to grow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Thing: Contentment

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:5

Am I satisfied with what God has blessed me with?  Do I have peace of mind?  One of the definitions for "content" from Webster's 1828 Dictionary reads, "Rest or quietness of the mind in the present condition."

One Thing! Whatever my situation, be content with what God has already given me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One Thing: Peace and Cake

"Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
Hebrews 12:14

One Thing: Strive for peace and holiness.  It is worth the effort.





The carrot cake with pineapple was frosted and eaten with gusto tonight.  I couldn't let the autumn go by without this annual favorite!  This year, I chose not to put nuts in the cream cheese frosting, and I used almond extract instead of vanilla.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Thing: Discipline

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

I don't like being wrong, and I hate it when others think I am wrong. Discipline isn't something I ever enjoy, but I am thankful that my parents loved me enough throughout the years that they took the time and effort to train me.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

My parents aren't the only ones who have disciplined me, however.  I have the Holy Spirit who is working in me as He transforms my life. While painful at times, I pray that it will yield peaceful fruit of righteousness.

One Thing: Accept discipline -- from God and others -- with grace.
In other news, I baked an October tradition in November this year.  This carrot cake will be frosted tomorrow!

A Third Study in School Books

Monday
I wrote my essay about Jane Austen's Emma on Monday.  I made edits throughout the week and submitted it on Thursday.

Tuesday
My modern fantasy book evaluation was about Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans.
 
Wednesday
I wrote an essay about suspending disbelief in modern fantasy and used the example of Mary Norton's The Borrowers.
 .
Thursday
My Intro to Children's Literature midterm examination was on Thursday morning.  I continued to read from my textbook and poetry books in the afternoon. 
 
Friday
I read a lot of poetry by many authors, but I wrote my essay about Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.

Saturday
I wrote a book evaluation about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.  I am happy that I have only five weeks of school left!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One Thing: Dripping

"A continual dripping on a rainy day
   and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
to restrain her is to restrain the wind
   or to grasp oil in one’s right hand."
Proverbs 27:15-16

It has been raining for two days.  It is slightly irritating, but at least the walls and roof of my house keep the rain and wind from sounding like it will never stop. These verses remind me of the kitchen faucet, however, since it will drip continually if you don't turn it off right.  I know I don't last very long in the kitchen without adjusting it.  The dripping can grate on me, and I am compelled to get rid of the sound as quickly as possible.

What if the dripping kept going, and there was NO WAY to turn it off?

I am going to be a wife in seven months, and I don't want to be compared to dripping water that won't stop.  I don't want to irritate my (future) husband as much as the dripping faucet irritates me.  So, what do I do?

One Thing: Practice peace.  Work at avoiding a quarrelsome attitude.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One Thing: Faith

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

There are many things we can't see, yet we know they exist.  I can't see oxygen -- yet I breathe it.  I can't see my college diploma, yet I expect to earn one soon.  I can't see the home Zachary and I will live in next year, yet I know God will have a place for us to live.  This is normal.  This is faith.

Yet, it isn't always easy -- especially when it comes to God's promises.  A spirit of doubt has overtaken much of the world.  Even Christians are not always immune.  We can have assurance that God is faithful.  He promised his followers eternal life with Him.  He promised that our needs will be provided for.  He promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.

The list is virtually endless.  Do we believe it?  Do we trust Him?

One Thing!  Have faith in God's promises.  Not seeing something doesn't make it any less real.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Thing: Confess

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."
Hebrews 10:23

Confess.  What does that even mean?  In part, it means "to own, avow or acknowledge; publicly to declare a belief in and adherence to" (Webster's 1828 Dictionary).

How public is my declaration of the work of Jesus in my life?  This is a work in progress for me, but I trust that God will help me get out of my quiet comfort zone and declare His good news with boldness.

One Thing: I must not waver in my confession of Jesus Christ.  He was faithful, and He will help me be faithful too.

By the way, I took my midterm for Children's Literature this morning!  I don't have a grade yet, but it wasn't traumatic!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Thing: With God

With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.
Psalm 108:13

My One Thing!  Do not worry or take too much onto yourself.  With God, we are victorious!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

One Thing: Deliverance

He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
Psalm 107:20

I am sorry I do not have much to say today. I am tired beyond measure.  On one hand, I am counting down the hours until I can go to bed; on the other, I am overwhelmed by the school work that still needs to be done.  At a time like this, it helps to look at the big picture.  Because school is the most time consuming thing in my life right now, the big picture can look no bigger to me sometimes than the 12 week courses I am in right now.  But that isn't the big picture.

The real big picture is that I am eternally grateful for God's continued grace. I don't deserve the magnificent grace He has given -- and continues to give -- to me.  He sent me His word.  He healed me.  He delivered me from my destruction!

No wonder we can say:

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 107:1


That is my One Thing! today.  Give thanks!

Monday, November 08, 2010

One Thing: Loving Justice

"Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
Ezekiel 18:31b-32

Many people turn their backs on Christianity because they think God is mean, judgmental, vengeful, etc.  Ezekiel shows us that our God is just and righteous, but he finds no pleasure in disciplining His people.  It is our choice to obey or disobey his righteous law.  I am thankful for His mercy -- which gives us the opportunity to turn from sin and rely on His loving forgiveness.

One Thing: Our God is just, and it is His love for us that causes Him to say, "Turn, and live." 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

One Thing: Mind and Heart

I will put my laws into their minds,
   and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
   and they shall be my people.
Hebrews 8:10b
.
The One Thing! Challenge is now in Ezekiel, Hebrews, Psalms, and Proverbs. The Old Testament readings have been about the blatant disobedience of the nation of Israel. Despite their consistent unfaithfulness, we learn in the New Testament that God chose to send a Savior and initiate a new covenant.

Israel did not deserve it, and we do not deserve it today.  Yet, God loved us so much that he made a way for the law to be on our mind and heart instead of just on tablets of stone.  Jesus died for us so we could have the special relationship with Him that Israel was always meant to have.  He said, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

The choice is now ours.  Will we accept His gift -- the gift of having his law on our minds and hearts?

My One Thing!  Thank you, Lord, for your continued faithfulness.  Thank you for putting your law on my mind and heart! 

A Second Study in School Books

Monday
I read my textbook on Monday. It was a long but blessed day!

Tuesday
I worked on my Jane Austen class and read more of the textbook.  As you can see, it was Election Day!

Wednesday
More Christmas music!  Oh, and that paper has my assignments on it.  I wrote my discussion post for Children's Literature and kept reading.

Thursday
Believe me, I did school. It was a long day, so I didn't get a picture taken.  Thursday was also the day I had my last coaching call with CollegePlus!  I will miss my coach!  I was blessed with two wonderful ladies during my CollegePlus! days.  They provided needed accountability, prayer, and encouragement.  What a blessing their friendship has been!
Friday
Friday found me working on an essay about the four types of traditional literature.  My midterm is next Thursday, so I have been devoting a significant portion of time to studying for it.

Saturday
I wrote a book evaluation about Rapunzel -- retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.  I am also spending a lot of time on the chapter about modern fantasy from my textbook and reading The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

One Thing: Active Thanksgiving

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1

The Lord is perfect in his goodness.  He does not falter or waver.  It is His nature to love forever.  So, when the going gets tough, and I wish there was a pause button for my school and work schedule, I know He is with me, and I will make it through with His love.  Thank you, God!

One Thing: His love is forever!  Be active in your thanksgiving.  Complain less; praise more!

Friday, November 05, 2010

One Thing: Life

"...that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 14:11

This is my prayer for my city, state, and nation... though I don't pray as I ought.  I attended the annual fund raising banquet for our local Christian pregnancy center last night.  They provide guidance, pregnancy testing, limited ultrasounds, baby supplies, referrals for adoptions, etc.  The annual event raises public awareness for its ministry and raises the funds to provide these services to girls and women in crisis pregnancies.  It is always a heart wrenching... and encouraging event.  The room was full of people who support life.

The speaker, who had been adopted as an infant, spoke about how she had always taken life for granted -- until she met her birth mother and was told the miracle story of her birth.  She discovered that she was a twin, and an abortion attempt had been made on their lives.  She survived; her twin did not.  The speaker told us that she no longer takes life for granted.  Neither should we.  I pray that our nation would turn from its sin and not defile itself anymore by killing those that are most vulnerable.  A mother's womb should be a place of safety -- not murder.

Find out if you have a Christian pregnancy center in your area, and please support them with your prayer and resources.  Every little (and big) bit counts.

One Thing: Don't take life for granted.  Pray faithfully for revival and restoration in the hearts of fathers, mothers, politicians, and others throughout the nation.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One Thing: The Unexpected

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Proverbs 27:1

I never know what a day will bring.  Surprises can thwart the best made plans.  For someone like me -- one who appreciates structure and planning -- it can be unsettling to not know what tomorrow, next week, or next year will bring.  Yet, I know I can leave it in the Lord's hands and trust him today to take care of tomorrow and every day after that.  I may not boast in my plans, my intentions, or my dreams.  My hope is in the Lord.

One Thing: Do not rely on your plans or become upset when expectations are disappointed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One Thing: Grow Up

"But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."
Hebrews 5:14

I want to be constantly growing in my relationship with God.  It is never mature to be content with what we already know. I pray that God would give me powers of discernment and I will be diligent and practiced in distinguishing good from evil.

My One Thing: Do not be dull of hearing.  Do not settle. Instead, grow in maturity by practicing discernment of good and evil.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

One Thing: Help in Time of Need

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

I don't know about you, but I need lots of grace.  I was just getting used to it being October when I was forced to flip my calendar page to November.  A horrendous sight came into view.  Every day of this first week of the month is full of events and abnormalities... and this calendar did not even include my school assignments!

When I get overwhelmed, little things can seem really big.  I knocked my head this morning on my way to work, and all of a sudden it became an emotional as well as painful event.  Shock and stress made me vulnerable, and I felt like a target as unforeseeable issues arose at work.  On days like this, I need to draw near to the throne of grace and receive His mercy and grace in my time of need.

One Thing! I am needy, but His grace is enough to get me through my day.  Thank the Lord!

Monday, November 01, 2010

One Thing: Unaffected

"Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house."
Ezekiel 2:6b-7

Here in the United States, we don't have the kind of persecution that many Christians throughout the world face; we won't be arrested, beaten, or killed for our beliefs. Yet, many of us remain quiet about our Savior.  Why?  Some of it may be because we don't want people to look down on us.  We have become afraid of what they will say or how they will look at us.

One Thing: I am going to take these verses from Ezekiel to heart and remember that only God's words and thoughts matter.  Today, I resolve to remain unaffected by people's tones, remarks, and looks.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Study in School Books

Monday
It seems as though each day has a different set of books or writing project associated with it.  I wrote book evaluations of The Star-Spangled Banner by Peter Spier and A Polar Bear Journey by Debbie S. Miller on Monday.
 
Tuesday
Tuesday saw me writing a book evaluation about Edward and the Pirates by David McPhail and a discussion post about Emma by Jane Austen. 

Wednesday
I took the day off from school on Wednesday to enjoy a visit from my grandmother -- hence the black picture! We had a great time!

Thursday
I wrote an essay about alphabet books on Thursday.  I also wrote several responses on the Emma discussion board while listening to Christmas music.  Yes, I know it is only October.  I started the Christmas songs back in September, or was it still August?

Friday
 I wrote my last book evaluation for the module on Wanted: Best Friend by A. M. Monson.

Saturday
I submitted my assignments for the module and checked out a lot of new books from my library in preparation for the next.  I am sure to need more, however!  You can also see from the photo that I am making sure I have my Sunday School book ready (I help in the third and fourth grade class).

Week 6, here I come!

One Thing: Everlasting Love

"But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments."
Psalm 103:17-18

I had a difficult time choosing One Thing from my Bible reading today.  We are in Lamentations, Hebrews, Psalms, and Proverbs, and there is so much!  Psalm 103, however, really ministered to me today -- especially verses 1-5.  Let me share:

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

One Thing! Glorify God, and trust His everlasting love.  He forgives, heals, and restores.  Praise God!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One Thing: Do Not Fear!

"You came near when I called on you;
you said, 'Do not fear!'"
Lamentations 3:57

It is easy to look ahead at the dark unknown and have fear.  Right now, there is a countdown in my own life.  According to my fiancĂ© Zachary's blog, our wedding is in 223 days.  I am so excited about it, and I have no hesitation.  I look forward to being married to my sweetheart so much!  At the same time, however, there is some nervousness.  Zachary and I have both grown up with wonderful parents who have taken care of our needs.  Soon, we will be taking care of our own needs (with the Lord's help), and that is quite a thought.  There are the unanswered questions about finances, housing, food, etc. that make one realize how serious life actually is!  How will it all work?  When fear knocks at my heart's door, it is easy to crack it open and pear into the dark unknown with trepidation.  I am thankful for the Lord's provision, and I fully trust Him and my wonderful Zachary.

The unknown is still just that: unknown. Yet -- and this is my One Thing -- there is no need to fear!  When we call on the Lord, He hears, and His answer is, "Do not fear!"  He will provide!

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Thing: Dependability

"Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say."
Philemon 1:21

Today's reading shows two very different pictures of following commands. We started Lamentations today, and it tells of the consequence that came to God's people because of their blatant and repeated disobedience.  They rejected the Lord, and suffering and famine was the result.  They turned their back on God's blessings.

Yet, in our New Testament reading, we read Paul's letter to Philemon.  Essentially, Paul is asking a favor of Philemon, and he has confidence that Philemon will honor Christ and do even more than was asked.  I want to have that obedient heart.  I want to be dependable.  It is not something that comes easily, I am sure of that.  It takes sacrifice and prayer -- and lots of practice.

My One Thing:  Be dependable.  Do more than is asked, and do so consistently without complaining. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One Thing: Sarcasm

"Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I am only joking!'"
Proverbs 26:18-19

This proverb from today's reading reminds me of sarcasm.  I hate sarcasm for three reasons.  First, I do not appreciate it when others are sarcastic with me.  Second, I tend to use sarcasm, and I know other people don't (or shouldn't) appreciate it from me.  Third, it is wrong and immature.

The definition of "sarcasm" isn't pretty, but, practically, what does it look like?  I know that I typically use it when I may be less than happy about something, but I can't say so directly, so I say something I don't really mean in order to vent my unspoken emotion.  How often have I said, "I am just joking?"

I say things that could be hurtful -- or at least unhelpful -- and then think I can make it all better because it was all a deceit; "I was only joking!"

My One Thing: Don't hurt others with sarcasm.  Be honest and make sure your jokes are funny for everyone.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Thing: Feminine Character

"Train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
Titus 2:4-5

Not all of this applies to me yet, but I need to practice good character now, so that it will become a natural part of my lifelong service to God and family.  I can demonstrate self-control, purity, proper work priorities, and kindness now.  Also, I can practice submission now my being obedient to my family and learning to put my fiance's needs ahead of my own.  What a tall order!  But, God expects excellence, and He will always be with me to help and forgive me along the way.

My One Thing: Strengthen a servant's heart now, that the word of God may not be reviled.

In other good news, my Grandma is coming to visit from out of town today!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Thing: Discipline and Temper

"He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined."
Titus 1:7b-8

There is so much to dive into here, but the word I am picking out for today is "disciplined."  I need a lot of discipline these days.  You might say my online classes require "regulation of practice" (Webster's 1828 Dictionary).  I also need to balance school -- which is most demanding -- with my other responsibilities.

My One Thing for today is: Be disciplined in my spiritual, academic, and relational responsibilities.  Being quick-tempered is not a right that comes with a full schedule; it is a sin.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One Thing: Endure

"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
2 Timothy 4:5

It has been awhile since I posted any of my One Thing! devotions.  There is no excuse, I know, but my pretended excuse is that I write so much for school that I don't have time or desire to write anything else.  It doesn't hold water though; my devotions are the most important part of my day.  So, today I wanted to share 2 Timothy 4:5 from my One Thing! reading.

A definition for endure is, "To bear with patience; to bear without opposition or sinking under the pressure."  Am I enduring the little things I consider suffering?  Or am I just putting up with them?  Am I fulfilling my ministry -- even when it isn't easy?

So, my One Thing! for today is: Don't sink under the pressure.  Endure patiently the big and little things that trouble me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two Down, Two to Go

This is just a quick update to thank those who commented on my County Fair Time post and let you all know that I completed African Encounters and Literary Roots of Western Culture last week.  I am now working on Introduction to Children's Literature and One Writer's Vision: Jane Austen.  They are the last courses needed for my BA in English!  God bless you all!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

County Fair Time

My college studies have taken up most of my time lately.  There is also work, more school, and driving lessons (yes, I might have a college degree before I have my driver's license).  Somewhere in there I have fun too.  My fun this week included trips to the county fair.  The Anniversary Quilt I made for my parents won first place in the "machine pieced, hand quilted, full size or larger" category. 
Thank you, Dad, for taking these pictures!