Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photography lessons...and other shenanigans

Yesterday was just wonderful!  My sisters went to help a girl from our church at the horse stables, so I got to stay at their house for a few hours with the younger girls.  It reminded me that my little sisters are rapidly growing up and are no longer little girls.  So before I need to grab my box of tissues, lets us move on to some photos.

We had an afternoon filled with hide and seek, piano playing, flower making, drawing, duck duck goose, (which actually was a variety of animals) and photo taking!  I took out my camera to show them some of my cake photos, when the youngest became infatuated and wanted to take a picture (which turned into over 100 pictures : ) it then proceeded to trickle down the line.  I have to admit, that the little girls caught onto the functions of this camera faster than I did!  They were taking crystal clear photos and reviewing them while saying to themselves, "nice"! : )  It was more fun than I can covey.

So to start off, let me introduce you to the 3 little girls I spent some time with...

Meet Chloe!  Chloe has the most incredible freckles and red hair I have ever seen! 

This is Sophia, my little sidekick. 

And this is Phoebe.  She amazed me with how well she can take photos!  I felt like an idiot by the time I was done looking through the pictures she had taken.

Phoebe was very curious about the camera, so after I had taken a couple photos, I showed her how to take some.  It was incredible to see things the way she sees them.

She thought this one was "nice".  {photo credit: Phoebe : ) }

This one was also dubbed as "nice". 

We were making these plastic flower things and Phoebe proceeded to take pictures of us engaged in our activities...

Don't ask...

{Photo credit: Sophia}

Michaela, (their older sister) was a bit camera shy...  {Photo credit: Phoebe}

{Photo credit: My sister, Michelle}

Then we decided it was time to master the art of mirror photos

Sophia's flower...and Phoebe's expression.

???  {Photo credit: Sophia}

{Photo credit: Phoebe}

Phoebe inspired me with her photo above (evidently)

Ceiling... {Photo credit: Phoebe}  : )

I suppose being short does cause an infatuation with looking up at the ceiling. {Photo credit: Phoebe}

lol  {Photo credit: Sophia}

{Photo credit: Sophia}

When I was finally granted permission to use my own camera again, Phoebe let me take this one.  I love spending time with these girls who hold a very precious place in my heart.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bombardment of Difficulties...(and Selfishness)

I have had so many thoughts on my mind as of late...wondering how to handle lots of difficult situations that seem to be inundating me.  (Lets just be frank, shall we?... "My name is Shelby, and I am a human magnet for all kinds of circumstances in which people find the most peculiar ways of trying to impute their nonsense into my brain.  My permanent dwelling place seems to be 'between a rock and a hard place'...") 

I wish that life would just slow down for one second; just long enough for me to think about how to handle everything.  

I sometimes feel so frustrated.  The tasks just keep piling up on my plate.  About the time I think things will slow down for a brief moment, they get busier than they were when I was hoping they would slow down!  So here is a little glimpse of all the things I would like to do. (don't skip this part, I know it is tempting to just slide on through this barrage of annoyances I have listed below.  But you won't understand the point in my post if you skip it) 

  • I want to read!  I have a huge stack of books I want to read....and it is not getting any smaller
  • I want to finish every single, solitary speck that has been scribbled (alright---typed) onto my to-do list
  • I want to have time to experiment with some cake and just have fun with creating new edible creations : )
  • I want to write
  • I want to garden 
  • I want to practice my cello for more than just a few snippets here and there 
  • I want to broaden my studies in theology, history, poetry, writing, homemaking; etc.
    • I want to organize!  (*guilty confession*  Just because someone is an organization lover, does not mean that all of their stuff is organized)  
    • I want to spend a day doing absolutely nothing!  
    • I want to become a more accomplished seamstress
    • I want to be more disciplined and get in the habit of rising very early in the morning.  5ish is ideal!  The reasoning behind this, is of course, so that I can get more of the above done!  (Go ahead!  Laugh!!  See if I care.  Well, I won't care, because I won't know... ; ) 

    There are loads more things I could add to this list, but I fear boredom would light on you readers and the end of this rambling post would never be reached.

    So there.  Notice anything?  C'mon, you saw it, right?  I made it really easy!  : )  

    Everything above starts with..."I want".  It is all about the things "I" want to accomplish!  You know, the evil little monsters that dwell inside of us, named "Me, Myself and I"!  They pooch out their lips and fold their arms and say, "my way, or highway!  This is what I desire, and so shall it be!"  Then, when what we want to have accomplished doesn't come to fruition, we feel frustrated and angry.  We stomp our feet and wonder why things are not going the way we feel that they should.  We might feel unprofitable, disgruntled and blame it on lack of time!  (as I did at the beginning of this post)  But the truth is, that our focus should be on fulfilling God's desires and plans for our lives.  And given the fact that He is sovereign, He brings us all the situations we face everyday and He has a purpose in them!

    I sometimes feel that I am not productive enough.  That in order for me to be a suitable vessel for God and a good wife and mother someday, I must be doing what in my mind constitutes the cultivation of those things.  But God knows what I need to fill the shoes He wants me to wear, and I don't need to take all of that into my own hands all the time!  (No, I am not as big a control freak as I sound, but I do like to feel profitable and productive...of course, I sometimes like to define that on my terms. ; )  So while none of my above desires are wrong; is it more important that I help the elderly people who need it and be the light of Christ to the world, or that I practice the Bach that is so beautifully beckoning my name?  Is it more important that I serve those around me, or that I steal away and jot down a poem or a few thoughts that are stuck in my mind?  You see, God has this wonderful way of showing us how He is accomplishing more important things through what sometimes feels like drudgery.  We just need to relinquish our non-existent power and stop kicking against the pricks!

    When I feel like I am in a situation that I don't want to be in; (sorta, kinda, maybe an argument *wince*) I need to understand that at least two, if not more, things are happening.  First off, God is building my character!  He is teaching me how to handle opposition in a smaller context.  He is teaching me how to defend my faith with graciousness and humility!  These are invaluable learning opportunities that I should not ever despise!  And also, He could be using me in ways that I cannot even imagine!  How dare I be selfish and wish that things were easier on me!  God has been so good to teach me so many things about Himself, and I get so excited to share what He has taught me with others; so why would I bristle when He affords me those moments, just because I might not always recognize what is going on?  In our flesh, we often times wish for babyish comfort.  We want to feel pampered and indulged.  But that is not what we have been called to!  We have been called to war for  the kingdom of Christ!  We are not to love luxury and ease.  We are to love fighting!  We should rejoice when we get to slay demons and sever dragons!   That is what we are meant to do.  How is that even describable on the scale of wonderful?  I cannot begin to convey the feeling of knowing that our lives are the lives of warriors.  That we were not put on this earth to discover a life that is driven by a man made purpose; but our gracious God has put us here with a purpose already in mind and clearly outlined in His word!  He doesn't keep it a secret from us.  It is right in front of our faces.  We should grab at this opportunity with eagerness and make every endeavor to prepare our minds, spirits and even bodies to battle for the cause of Christ.

    Our entire lives we will fight our flesh.  We will seek every day to put off carnality, all the while, discovering a new avenue that we need to conquer in our flesh everyday.  The more we grow in our Savior, the more sin we see in ourselves!  The closer we get to His likeness and perfection, the more imperfection we see in our own hearts, and it grieves us and causes us to mourn; but it makes us solely dependent on Him to be perfect for us.  We do not have to be blameless before the throne of God, because Jesus Christ has already done that for us.  Now we just need to strive to honor and glorify Him on this earth and further His kingdom while we are here.

    We have been given a calling...let us implore the grace of almighty God, and fulfill it!

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    To Debate, or...Not?

    I have encountered a struggle as of late...

    It has confused my poor little mind and I am not quite certain what the biblical approach to the situation is...

    My conundrum is this:  I was in the midst of a discussion, and could not formulate a reason to state my defense without being disrespectful.  I, indeed did not know what to do!  I wanted so badly to scream the biblical definitions that needed to be declared, but felt that if I had done so, I would have overstepped my bounds as a young woman.

    My predicament lied with another woman, but she would be considered my elder.  So I was flabbergasted as to whether or not I should stop biting my tongue and just let all my studies in theology, apologetics and philosophy be put to good use!  I love to debate and it is a fact I am well aware of, but I wanted to be exceptionally cautious, that I didn't let my zeal for God's truth overwhelm my obligations to maintain a meek and quiet spirit.  

    I feared being disrespectful, and in my efforts to proclaim the theological reasoning that lies behind one's depravity and convey a proper perspective of sanctification, I was afraid of being too harsh and appearing to be more along the lines of a *know it all*, as opposed to a godly and respectful young woman.  I don't even come close to possessing all the answers and I have very little knowledge; and while sanctification is a process, I am not a fraction of what I should be.  So in the end, I did not have a clue what was the right way to approach the dilemma that was boldly staring me in the face. 

    "You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord."  (Leviticus 19:32)

    Later on, as I began to deliberate whether or not my actions were correct; I came to the conclusion that since I was in doubt, it was not completely bad that I held my tongue. However, it did make me think...what should I do next time?  Should I keep my mouth shut?  Or should I try and respectfully say what I know God has declared to be true?  (to me, the latter sounds more like a biblical definition concerning the nature of a true Christian)

    But the question still it right for me to express my beliefs in an opposing manner to someone who is my elder?  In light of this question that has boggled my mind, I felt the necessity to delve into some scripture study regarding the situation.

    "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked our for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 3-4)
     "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man..."  (Romans 1:18-23)
     "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."  (2 Corinthians 13:8)
     "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ..." (Ephesians 4:14-15)
    "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."  (Ephesians 4:25)
     "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."  (1 Timothy 4:12)

    The Bible emphasizes over and over the importance of speaking the truth!   I cannot be silent and let others think that I consent to the false doctrines they are so vehemently clinging to.  How can my conscience be clear, if I have not imputed the truth of Jesus Christ into a hypocritical conversation?  It is just like when someone wants to question me about having the desire to be a wife and mother and use my single years at home to better serve the body of Christ and prepare for the purpose God has intended my life to fulfill...They might say things to me like... "you are so smart, why didn't you want to do something purposeful with your life?" (this is emphasized so much better if you can hear the condescending tone in which it is always said : )-I don't let that kind of rubbish go and just ignore what they are saying to me, I state the biblical precepts that have nurtured the convictions I possess!  I convey how God has called me to be a wife and a mother and to further His kingdom on this earth, while embracing His role for women, and that, that was the place where my heart had nestled. I am often times told that I can have both a career and be a wife and mother.  But the thing that the world has a hard time grasping, is that I don't want to live my life in a way where I just raise my children to grow up and pursue their own worldly desires!  But to train them to live a life that is actively seeking ways to glorify God in every single thing that they do...a life where Christ is the center of the home, not worldly gain!  I am noticing more and more how subtle and tantalizing the lures of the enemy are!  Sometimes they come in the tiniest packages, while other days, they might scream in our faces.  It can be so hard to stand against the false teachings that are constantly beckoning us and whispering sweet, empty sentiments in our ears, but we must, by the grace of almighty God, resist them.  We cannot let our hearts be turned!  We cannot let temptations come into our lives that will deter us from doing the beautiful work that God has laid before our feet!  

    So the conclusion I have come to is this:  I do not believe we should ever dishonor those who are older than us by taking on the attitude that we are going to teach them a thing or two.  However, false doctrine is false doctrine, no matter who is professing it! (to reiterate the advice a very good friend gave me)  We should be kind, gracious, respectful and honorable; but we cannot let others shove their false doctrines down our throats simply because we are young.  We need to constantly be burying our faces in the Word of God and wearing out our knees because of our faithfulness to pray to the majesty of Heaven and earth!  Then, we may proceed to proclaim the truth in a humble and reverential attitude.
     "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."  (1 Peter 3:15)

    So, I shall proclaim with Patrick Henry:

    "Should I keep back my opinions through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country and an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings." (and I have to just take this opportunity to say how difficult it is to properly convey the depths of my admiration for Patrick Henry)

    It is hard, but I now possess a confidence that with the grace of God and an attitude of humility, I can stand firm for the truth contained in the Word of God without any fear of being dishonorable.

    (p.s. All scripture quotations were taken from the NASB...actually, they were taken from my *new* NASB...the one my Mother surprised me with the other day!-- just so you know! ;)